In these uncertain times, marketers are trying to grasp the right way to connect with their audiences online. Now more than ever, social media is the key tool for bringing people together and sharing information.
Across all regions, there’s a rise in organic content. But a business-as-usual content schedule right now can feel out of place – and even insensitive. Not speaking up also feels like the wrong move, as audiences turn to brands for inspiration and information.
They also just want to hear how their favorite brands are doing. And they’re online.
The beauty industry is often at the cutting edge of social media content trends. But like everyone else right now, they’re learning as they go. Analyzing recent content from the industry, we can already spot patterns in communication, from standard issue statements to calls for charitable giving.
What’s cool to see is the direction independent brands and influencers are taking – showing us all what compassion and community can really look like in this new era of social distancing.
Baseline Communication: Everyone Delivers a Public Statement
A quick scan of the social networks shows that the majority of beauty brands and retailers have, by now, released a written statement on their channels.
These statements address important top-of-mind concerns from a customer perspective: Will existing orders be shipped? Will retail stores be closed? And, with distribution and fulfillment centers closing, how are employees being taken care of? Across the board, brands and retailers are able to address these questions with enough transparency and humanity to check the box.
A prime example includes Sephora, a massive retailer both in-store and online. They shared that, “All store employees will continue to receive their base pay for scheduled shifts for the duration of this closure. In addition, health and wellness benefits for employees who are currently enrolled will continue.”
The brand Urban Decay shared a similar message on Facebook, but also asked audiences what kind of content they’d like to see in the upcoming days. Makeup Geek, which is more focused on ecommerce, offered detailed information on shipping dates and stock to temper customer expectations.
Colourpop has given its customers a chance to cancel their orders consequence-free until they could provide more stable information on future shipping plans. The brand received praise and understanding for the decision to put customers and employees first.
Socialbakers’ own customers in the ecommerce space are also experiencing a boon in social media management, supporting their customers around the clock with new content and heightened community engagement across all social platforms.
In all, brands definitely need to share at least one personal statement to stay in step with the industry. Another consideration, however, is what comes next.
Brands should be sensitive about returning to familiar content so soon after their official statement. Product images, coupon codes, and flirty copy may provide a sense that life is moving forward as usual. However, with the news changing daily, a business-as-usual approach can actually feel unusual and perhaps isn’t the best route.
A Global Impact: Large Companies Take the Lead
The mega companies in the beauty and skincare industry are making international waves as they extend beyond their realm to make a global impact. News about Clarins Group, The Body Shop UK and US, The Honest Company, and more helping out on the front lines – shifting production to hand sanitizers and supporting healthcare workers – is major, and surely noticed.
A notable feel-good and do-good initiative is from UK brand Soap & Glory. In a March 4th Instagram post, the brand announced a partnership with The Hygiene Bank to help tackle hygiene poverty in the UK, a cause well aligned with their brand identity.
Since the first post, Soap & Glory has continued to bring the attention back to hygiene. It’s not a one-and-done statement, but rather a campaign they are perfectly positioned to lead, mobilizing support from their audiences when both hygiene and vulnerable communities are peak concerns.
Close-Knit Support: Indie Brands Champion the Community
Independent brands are also doing what they can at this time: supporting fans and followers as they navigate disruptions and heightened economic hardships. On social media, we can see CEOs addressing customers directly, and in a more human way – often from their personal accounts.
These independently-owned and operated brands are able to be more agile in their content schedule, with fewer levels of approvals and corporate responsibility. The advantage here is that these brands can take the temperature of how people are feeling that day and respond accordingly.
Jeffree Star, a beauty mogul, influencer, and owner of breakout brand Jeffree Star Cosmetics, has already proven to be a leading example. On Instagram Stories and Twitter, Star shares daily updates on how he has been able to help the community.
On March 21st, Star tweeted out that he wanted to send followers money using Cash App. All they needed to do was share their story along with the popular hashtag #JeffreeStarApproved. On March 24th, he continued the giving streak.
Since then, he has also teamed up with Twitter philanthropist Bill Pulte to donate $30,000 to one Twitter follower. While the @JeffreeStarCosmetics brand profile remains more business as usual, Jeffree Star himself is anything but on his own account.
Another indie brand giving back to the community is Huda Beauty. Owner Huda Kattan has been providing both positive financial and emotional support. She’s pledged to donate $100,000 total to 10 makeup artists during this time, sharing the news via IGTV on @hudabeauty, the Instagram profile that’s both the brand and personal account. This direct investment into the community feels very personal and authentic.
In an earlier IGTV video, she also announced that there would be no product content for the time being. In the caption, she talks honestly about how she’s feeling and her intention to unite and help each other with happiness and togetherness.
In Touch With Audiences: Influencers Remind Us What’s Good
As with most social media trends, marketers can continue to consult beauty influencers as good examples on how to act as content creators. Influencers tend to get one thing very right: they put their audiences at the heart of everything they do. Now is no exception.
@NikkieTutorials, a Dutch influencer and YouTuber with more than 13 million subscribers, has kept her audience close over the past week in emotionally honest and impactful ways. She doesn’t gloss over real life, but addresses it head on.
She opened a recent video, “Following The First Tutorial I Ever Watched” stating: “Before I start today’s video, I want to make sure all of you are safe, that all of you are okay. I hope you’re staying inside. I always want my videos to be like a little escape from the real world. That’s why I started my channel. When I started my channel, it felt like I could escape the world ... and do whatever I like and not think about what was happening outside. So I hope by me uploading my videos, that kind of distracts you from everything that's happening.”
Here, she purposely leans into business-as-usual, while not ignoring what’s happening around her. She knows the stress everyone is feeling; she also knows her place in all of this. As a leader in the community, she can do what she’s always done: sharing her love of makeup with a like-minded community.
And what about making audiences laugh? Humor may also be an option, if done well. Czech influencer and YouTuber @PetraLovelyHair has been able to leverage in-group humor in positive ways. In one recent Instagram video, she puts on full glam makeup and a sequin dress, a look meant for going out. Then she enters her living room, sits on her couch, and turns on the TV.
In times of quarantine and shelter-in-place, everyone is all dressed up with nowhere to go, together. Petra used this opportunity to make her followers feel light-hearted and connected, showing that while business may not be usual these days, we carry on anyway.
Marketers, now is the time to take the opportunity to connect with and support your audiences on social media. Engagement is still steady, and everyone’s online. From the beauty industry, the takeaways on content are clear.
Your brand should say something. You can start with a factual statement, but your audiences want to know how this crisis is affecting your operations, just like it’s affecting them.
Understand the unique ways your brand can make a difference right now beyond social media content. What causes are you suited to align with? For Soap & Glory, it’s hygiene. For Socialbakers, we know that for NGOs, communicating on social media at this time is critical. Offering NGOs free access to our platform is how we can help, in our own way.
Being direct and human with your fans and followers goes a long way. How can your brand humanize itself in a way that feels natural to your identity and to your audiences? Like Jeffree Star, Huda Kattan, and countless others have shown, it’s OK to lean into what’s happening and how you’re feeling to unify your community.
Come together with audiences on the common ground you’re used to: your shared interests. Transform business-as-usual content in a meaningful way, while still showing awareness to the current situation. Even consider connecting with your influencers at this time to discuss tasteful collaborations. They’ll know what feels right for their audiences at this time.
For more ideas on how to respond as a brand in uncertain times, follow the data. Check in on your competitors, industry, and region to examine positive examples and adopt emerging best practices. And, to read even further on this topic, visit our blog: Should Your Brand Respond to the Pandemic (Or Any Global Crisis)?
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on socialbakers.com. Any statistics or statements included in this article were current at the time of original publication.