News of Snapchat bucking the Brexit trend by establishing its non-US headquarters in London has shone the spotlight on the social media shaker-upper once again. In so doing, Snapchat has nailed its colours to the mast in support of the UK’s £84 billion-per-year-strong creative industries. Brands are quickly jumping on the platform and the innovative approaches to marketing it offers its young audience. One sector that’s embracing these new-fangled marketing methods is, perhaps unsurprisingly, the beauty industry, where aesthetic online is just as important as one’s beautifully groomed features.
The superstars are those brands that offer a sophisticated output
A recent report from Codec, which develops data-driven platforms to help creative strategists by predicting audience interaction, reveals the extent of this embrace. The report ranks 84 major beauty companies on their social media capabilities and analyses the quality of their work based on their relevance to a Snapchat audience, their brand reach on social media, how relevant they are across key interests, and the quality of their content on Twitter. The superstars are identified as those brands that offer an exceptionally sophisticated output.
So what are beauty’s superstars doing right? We caught up with Codec’s co-founder Tom Graham to shed some light on what Codec’s results can tell us.
What’s the recipe for social media success in the beauty industry?
“When a brand implements a social media strategy, they don’t always have the best tools to measure how well that strategy is working. Sure, they can measure ROI for a particular product campaign but marketing has always been more than just sales. What you should be more interested in, on a long-term basis, is the development of your inherent brand value – the concept of ‘goodwill’, as it is known in accounting circles. The information backing this report should be part of the tool kit available to companies who want to assess the performance of their social media strategy on the overall standing of their brand.
“On our scale, a successful brand is one whose social media audience is a faithful subset of the general social media audience who are most interested in the beauty industry. A non-successful brand is one whose social media audience shows no signs that they are particularly engaged by the beauty industry.”
How do you gauge success to decide a company’s ranking?
“For us at Codec, what drives us is measurable data. So our rankings are not a subjective assessment of the reasons for a brand’s success (or lack thereof). The process wasn’t a case of ‘let’s look at MAC’s social media strategy and make a prediction about its effectiveness’; we know it has a winning strategy, based on our stated criteria, because the data prove it.
“Of course, this doesn’t mean we can’t work backwards and then hypothesise, based on our industry experience and knowledge, the reasons why brands perform well. We think it’s important to remember that we are working off results which are grounded in empirical data. This is something we are proud of, and what we see as a unique value-add we bring to the current commercial social media landscape.”
Snapchat doesn’t have any likes or favourites, shares or retweets
What do these rankings results tell us about the beauty industry’s social strategy?
“Let’s take a look at two examples which are at opposite ends of our ranking: MAC Cosmetics, which topped our list and Shiseido, who came in third last. What our results tell us is that MAC’s online presence is much more resonant with the online beauty audience and the Snapchat audience than Shiseido’s online presence. Part of the disparity in their rankings is probably due to the fact that MAC is aimed at a much younger audience than Shiseido, so they are producing content which is geared to do well on social media.
“But the point is that MAC is doing well on social media and Shisiedo isn’t. MAC has a diverse stable of celebrity partners; Shiseido doesn’t. MAC makes a correspondingly broad range of content; Shiseido doesn’t. MAC’s Snapchat channel is essentially a backstage pass through the work and the glamour of the brand; and in a moment of pure meta absurdity, MAC sent models down the runway at NY Fashion Week with real-life Snapchat filters on their faces and in their hair. Shiseido launched their Snapchat channel with a takeover campaign featuring Jen Chae, which feels unoriginal by comparison.”
MAC sent models down the runway at NY Fashion Week with real-life Snapchat filters on their faces
Where does Snapchat’s sophistication lie?
“Because it is such a new and non-traditional medium, the sophistication lies in how to make the more novel aspects of Snapchat work in a marketing context. So many of its defining characteristics would appear to fly in the face of what conventional marketing requires for traction.
“Firstly, it differs from all other media in that content on Snapchat is completely ephemeral. As much as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are feed-based and individual posts may not remain top of mind (or top of feed) for very long, they don’t just disappear automatically. Secondly, Snapchat doesn’t have any likes or favourites, shares or retweets, so you can’t expect to measure engagement using the same framework as for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube, which is what we have become accustomed to.”
Snapchat videos are lo-fi, behind-the-scenes kind of moments
To which metrics does the savvy Snapchat marketer refer?
“The metrics that you do have are things like number of views, completion rate, and the number of screenshots. In fact, these measures are probably much better at indicating true engagement, but also harder to do well in – given the average attention span of the Snapchat generation, it takes much more effort to complete a video than to click the ‘like’ button.
“To us, these points of difference are the natural result of a general shift in content creation strategy for brands – moving away from increasingly meaningless ‘likes’ to true engagement through storytelling (we recently wrote about this on our blog). Snapchat is the perfect vehicle for this (and, indeed, might be the driver behind it). It eschews hollow reactions in favour of ongoing narrative investment.”
There’s a general shift in content creation strategy for brands – moving away from increasingly meaningless ‘likes’
How can more brands up their game on platforms like Snapchat?
“Snapchat helps to break down and blur the barrier between brands as marketers and users as consumers. Snapchat videos are lo-fi, behind-the-scenes kind of moments, which are really effective for creating a feeling that you can come along for the ride; you’re such a close spectator. Custom Snapchat filters take this inclusionary attitude even further; the user actually becomes part of the branding when they use the filter. This capitalises on the fact that we are now all content creators ourselves – individuals have the potential to exponentially extend a brand’s reach and impact. And they’re more likely to do that if they feel like they are part of the narrative.”