Why These Two Brands are Winning Social Media

Jonathan Gardner

The beauty and fashion industries have been two of the fastest earned media movers driving hard with social media strategies to increase consumer engagement. Big CPG companies and fashion brands are losing market share, getting beaten up by challenger brands that have found smarter ways to connect with consumers. Some marketers have developed smart programs to keep up and use channels like social media and influencer marketing to help them avoid digital advertising’s easily ad-blocked path. They’ve learned how to get messages in front of consumers who connect with branded content as a matter of course while swiping through selfies.

Ready for their Close Up

One of the smartest brands is cosmetics powerhouse Too Faced, which was crowned the Instagram engagement champ in a recent analysis ShareIQ conducted. Our research was cited by top industry media outlet Digiday, which said that from the start of the year until February 23, Too Faced has grown its Instagram audience by 4.5 percent, resulting in over 10.2 million followers. That’s far ahead of more traditional competitors like Maybelline and L’Oréal, which have 6.4 million and 4.6 million followers on the platform, respectively.

During the same period, it got 15 times the engagement of Estée Lauder and four times that of Revlon, both headliners in the category in ShareIQ’s last analysis, in October.

Its exclusive partnerships with Sephora -- in which certain products like its White Peach Eye Shadow Palette are available only at Sephora or on toofaced.com -- have paid off significantly. In fact, they’ve resulted in some of the brand’s highest-performing visual content.

The two images below, for example — both of which tag Sephora (which has nearly 14 million Instagram followers) — garnered more than 600,000 likes. The second one, which went one step further with the #SephoraLovesTooFaced hashtag, drove significant new traffic to the Too Faced account.

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Although Instagram is the predominant channel for the brand, Too Faced makes a point to share its content across other platforms like Facebook and Twitter to drum up engagement.

“Brands that cross-post content get higher engagement overall and drive their audiences to engage with all of their individual accounts,” said ShareIQ. “It also drives a significantly higher earned media value for each piece of content.”

An image of Too Faced’s Festival Collection that was first posted to Facebook, for example, received 20,000 reactions on the platform. When the brand reposted it to Instagram, it then garnered more than 260,000 engagements (the sum of comments and likes). Similarly, this image of its cheekily-named Glow Job Glitter Mask was first posted to Instagram, where it got 243,000 engagements, and then on Facebook, where it got 6,800 more.

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“Brands that drive higher value think of visual content as not just a single post that has a short life of 72 hours or so on Instagram,” said ShareIQ. “They look at the entire lifecycle [available for] content.”

And it’s not just imagery the brand is sharing -- Too Faced’s savvy use of hashtags is smartly deployed across Facebook and Twitter, as well.

For its branded holiday promotion on February 10 -- dubbed “International Better Than Sex Day,” as an ode to the company’s beloved Better Than Sex Mascara -- Too Faced used the #betterthansex hashtag across Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to promote various giveaways. The hashtag, which was already in use before the launch, now has roughly 100,000 posts on Instagram alone.

Too Faced is following a similar template to celebrate the recent launch of its festival-themed makeup collection. The #tflifesafestival hashtag is being used on all relevant content cross-channel, encouraging users to spread the conversation from platform to platform.

“The brand focuses on a single theme and pushes it hard across all channels, driving consumers to seek out the campaign on every social network they use,” said ShareIQ.

The Winning Social Media Outfit

As the industry thought leader, we conduct intensive research that has tremendous value to our marketer audience. Our insights on leading retail fashion brands were recently cited by fashion trade publication Glossy. In an analysis of digital engagement across popular lifestyle brands on Facebook and Instagram, Urban Outfitters has the highest engagement rate among competitors thus far in 2018, according to a report by Share IQ. Since the beginning of 2018, Urban Outfitters has received more than 26.4 million likes, 47 times the amount of Diesel and beating out Ralph Lauren, ModCloth, Abercrombie and Fitch and its sister brand Free People. The brand also reigned supreme on Facebook, despite high-profile social campaigns from peers like Diesel, which recently teamed up with the soccer team A.C. Milan and launched a buzzy fake “Deisel” label.

ShareIQ said the success of Urban Outfitters can be attributed to three key factors: smart content distribution, working with brand partners and influencers that resonate most with consumers, and establishing a consistent aesthetic tone. Here’s a look at how the brand approached each of these tactics.

Urban Outfitters has been able to maximize engagement and increase the lifespan of its most popular content by appropriating it on other platforms. One of its key tactics is to take a high performing Instagram post and repost it later on Pinterest or Tumblr to increase its longevity and visibility, Gardner said. One of Urban Outfitters’ most highly engaged images in 2017 -- a holiday campaign post of a dog laying across a woman’s legs as she watches “Home Alone” -- was largely circulated through Tumblr, according to Share IQ’s findings.

“When you post something to Instagram, it has a short half-life. It goes viral, and it’s at the top of everyone’s feed for a couple days, at most,” ShareIQ said. “When things get posted to and from Pinterest, however, it has a much longer life span. We’ve seen with other fashion brands that they can continue to get value for years.”

The cadence Urban Outfitters uses for social media promotions also mirrors the way it uses influencers, which is sparingly but thoughtfully. Recent posts feature wellness blogger Sophia Roe and lifestyle influencer Nuria Val, interspersed with curated imagery other consumers shared along with the hashtag #UOonYou. Additionally, Urban Outfitters has the benefit of having a wide inventory base that spans across lifestyle categories beyond just apparel, including beauty and home decor. ShareIQ said the brand has seen success in consistently using hashtags around these product sectors, particularly for home goods by using #UOHome.

“They judiciously feature influencers; they’re not all over the place,” ShareIQ said. “Some brands are constantly using influencers, but Urban Outfitters is using them in smart ways that also showcase brands that really map to the Urban Outfitters philosophy and aesthetic.”

Check out this case study of how ShareIQ helped a top CPG brand find hidden earned media value.

Too Faced and Urban Outfitters are Earned Media Champions
Jonathan Gardner

Jonathan is vice president of marketing for ShareIQ, based in New York City.