According to Forrester Research Inc., by 2016, U.S. companies will be spending $77 million on interactive marketing and within the next five years, social commerce sales are expected to reach $30 billion. Social media was at the core of conversation during the Cosmetic Executive Women’s Women and Men in Beauty Series event on April 19, titled “Behind the Strategies of Social Beauty’s Top Brands.”

The panel, moderated by WWD Beauty Inc. editor Jenny Fine, featured Rachael Ostrom, executive director of consumer engagement at Aveda; Alexis Rodriguez, executive director of public relations at Bobbi Brown Cosmetics; and Marisa F. Thalberg, vice president of global digital marketing at Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. All three shared their inside strategies for navigating the ever-changing social media landscape for beauty brands.

Fine began by asking the panel to define social media. “It is this profound change that’s irrevocable,” said Thalberg. “There’s no going back. It’s now participatory; it’s dialogue and it’s conversational. We [Estée Lauder Cos.] actually think of our function as social marketing because the media is the message and the content is social.”


The three discussed their primary goals when using social media, how they’ve used it and what works. “Our strategy for social media is centered around building brand advocates and maintaining loyalty,” said Ostrom. Rodriguez added to that by explaining Bobbi Brown’s use of social influencers. “I think it’s really important for the publicist to incorporate social. What we do is tap into social influencers that already have built-in audiences. This helps with marketing and positioning strategy,” said Rodriguez. Rodriguez also expressed how pertinent social listening is when marketing to your consumer. “Bobbi has very passionate, loyal consumers and they were tweeting us, posting on Facebook, coming to our counters and stopping her on the streets and asking her to bring back discontinued products. In February, we launched ‘Bobbi Brown Brings Back: Lip Color,’ where we opened it up to our consumers to vote for one of 10 discontinued lip shades. It not only rewarded brand loyalists, but also created purchase anticipation overtime.”

Ostrom explained how Aveda’s tactics have increased its Twitter followers by 30 percent. “This month we are doing a campaign on Twitter. With Twitter, we are utilizing promoted tweets and are ensuring that our message is staying in the news feed of the audience and segmented audiences that we’re targeting. What I’ve learned is to sometimes just keep it simple. You don’t have to always overthink it. The tweets where we’re saying RT, or re-tweet, this if you agree really draws engagement,” said Ostrom.

The panelists also revealed what doesn’t work. They recommended to not repurpose content for all of your platforms, and they stressed the need to recognize who your audience is, be relevant, participate in social listening and speak to each channel differently.

With the constant evolution of social media, new roles have been added and the community manager is the newest addition to the digital team. “They are sort of holding the keys of your brand equity in terms of how well they manage or how innocuously they may be slipping. We [Estée Lauder Cos.] put together a very comprehensive community manager-training program. We now not only certify our community managers but we ask their managers, who may never actually touch a channel themselves, to go through the program as well because they need to fundamentally understand the best practice,” said Thalberg.

In addition to community managers, social media has sparked the evolution of social commerce. “We think that social commerce, in a more expansive way, is the social evasion of the online shopping experience,” said Thalberg. “Women like to shop together and we want to relish that in a meaningful way. Experimenting with some initiative base kind of things, like Alexis described with ‘Bobbi Brings Back,’ that is something closer to f-commerce. It’s not just trying to replicate your entire store for another channel but doing it in a way that’s meaningful for that channel.”

“Don’t be everything to everyone; be something to someone,” said Rodriguez. “Master the platforms that you’re already on and do them really well.”

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