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Versed’s Melanie Bender Talks TikTok’s Viral Power

The clean skin care brand just wrapped one of its most successful campaigns on the platform.

Versed Skincare might not have been among the earliest adopters to plunge into TikTok, but once it did, the brand sure did make a splash.

“We never like to be the very first to the platform. We like to really understand: How is our community using it? How do they want to engage with us on it?” said Versed president Melanie Bender, speaking with Ryma Chikhoune, Eye and beauty reporter for WWD.

Bender, who launched Versed in 2019, watched while the social media sensation evolved into an awareness and discovery platform, home to interesting conversations around beauty and skin care.

As with other new platforms, Versed took a test-and-learn approach to TikTok, where it ventured into in mid-2021.

“How TikTok distinguishes itself is that it’s really not a social network. It’s not about finding people and staying in touch with them,” said Bender. “It’s very much an entertainment platform that’s driven by content and the algorithm. That’s led us to the initiatives that we found have driven the most success for us on TikTok.”

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Key to partnering with creators on the platform is finding those who are developing content that ultimately could be high reach, versus just focusing on those that already have large, established followings.

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Versed just wrapped one of its most successful campaigns, which began with an influencer partnership around the brand’s Doctor’s Visit Instant Resurfacing Mask.

Versed joined forces with creator Aisha Nur, who made a video showing her glass-like skin after applying the product. That garnered about 1 million views, but afterward, more than 70 other creators stitched together the video she made, adding their own responses and reactions. Altogether, those videos had more than 50 million organic views.

In a few weeks, Doctor’s Visit became the second bestselling product on versedskin.com, translating into a 3,000 percent sales increase there. In Versed’s other retail channels, Doctor’s Visit registered a 400 percent sales gain.

Concurrently, Nur’s social following skyrocked from 17,000 to about 100,000.

Lessons learned? Experimentation pays off. “It was really by giving the creator the right product — but also full freedom — to create what she wanted that ultimately we saw this incredible momentum,” said Bender.

Another key is finding people who have content that is excelling in the algorithm that a brand thinks is a great fit and works to its product strength.

“You also have to really think about the products that are the most naturally inclined to do well on TikTok,” said Bender.

Versed doesn’t look at “vanity metrics” — feel-good, fluffy data points that do not necessarily translate to the bottom line.

“Ultimately, you want to understand: What are your CPMs and cost-per-reach specific to that platform? How does that correlate to the health that we see in the business coming down to sales? What does that mean about how we should be positioning both our time and spend going forward?” she said.

Bender believes that if one only looks at metrics within a platform, the bigger picture will be missed, since all of the platforms have different ways of scoring themselves, even of defining the same metric.

Instagram is Versed’s number-one channel (correlated to business success), followed by TikTok and YouTube. On the latter two, the brand focuses on paid partnerships, whereas for Instagram it takes a heavily seeded and organic approach.

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