Benefit Cosmetics has an irreverent streak and Claudia Allwood, U.S. director of digital marketing at the brand, wants to take full advantage of it.

This story first appeared in the October 9, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

But in the free-for-all of social media, even brands with an edge have to be careful about how they jump in.

Allwood said it’s vital that brands maintain an authentic voice when they do pipe up. To that end, she offered several things marketers should keep in mind as they seek to “master the art of not crashing the party” online, while also being heard.

• Not every conversation merits participation: Allwood said brands need to show restraint and think about what they are giving followers that is sharable on social media. “What’s your social artifact?” she said.

A good guideline might be to listen to the advice your mother had, when she said, “If you don’t have anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Case in point — Miley Cyrus. While Allwood outed herself as personally in favor of twerking and keen as a marketer to latch on to the phenomenon, she decided to keep Benefit out of the fray. “Why would we slam her?” she said of the gyrating Cyrus.

• Join the conversation without butting in: Wanting to latch on to New Year’s, but skip all the downer resolution stuff, Benefit came up a more positive spin with #beautyboost. A tweet containing @Benefit and #beautyboost would generate an instant beauty compliment that Allwood described as “kind of a bad pick-up line” and some positive reinforcement from the brand.

• Plan for what’s known and make room for the unexpected: When a fashion week cross promotion with Uber featuring “emergency” mascara specialists ran into winter storm Nemo, Benefit pivoted and made use of the storm. The company zeroed in on the pink, snow-ready SUVs it had lined up for the promotion, featured them in its social media presentation and gained 50,000 Instagram followers. “Instead of pulling the plug, I was like Marky Mark going into the ‘Perfect Storm’ with this thing,” Allwood said.

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