This article was originally published at socialmediaweek.org.
Even if you’re not interested in mixing and mashing your lipsticks to create a custom color, you can still learn a lot from MAC Cosmetics’ Instagram page.
At over 18 million followers, MAC’s Instagram account is the most-followed beauty brand on the surging social network. Their page has blossomed thanks to a vast influencer network, great engagement, and a low number of vitriolic troll posts which have become all-too-common on the internet overall.
So, how did MAC become the leading beauty brand in social media? Before the arrival of Christina Peirona, the company’s former Executive Director of Global Consumer Marketing, MAC was hovering near the 1 million follower mark, posting 1.7 times a week on average. Now, under Peirona, MAC is a leader in driving social media engagement and performance. Peirona spoke at Social Media Week New York and discussed what she and her team prioritized in order to “build a community.”
Influencer marketing has been one of the biggest themes of Social Media Week New York 2018, and Peirona’s use of influencers is a perfect example of why: their creativity, authenticity, and high levels of engagement are unparalleled in the space.
The most effective way to utilize influencers is not to simply ask those with the most followers to re-gram your posts. “Look for something that aligns with what you’re trying to do. Ask, ‘What is the product I’m trying to launch and what is it going to look like in the world?’ And then find the influencers who connect with what your expectations are for that launch,” Peirona said.
“We do use big influencers, but we look at micro-influencers, maybe they have 5,000 followers, but those people are loyal and they want to know everything they have on. Don’t be afraid of that. Maybe they’re so right for this and it will help propel them as well,” she added.
Fake news and trolling appear to be a stalwart of social media feeds. For MAC, there was a time when almost a quarter of all comments on their posts had to do with false accusations of animal testing.
“We brought in BrandBastion because it got out of control, we couldn’t respond to every single comment. Within a couple of months [the number of animal testing accusations] was down to 2 percent. It was because we told the truth [and] responded with policies and links,” said Peirona.
Jenny Wolfram, CEO and Founder of BrandBastion pointed out that comments on social media feeds are immediate, and require immediate attention. Sometimes that attention comes in the form of removing hate speech. Other times, it’s helpful feedback.
“Over 20 percent of the comments on brands is about the creative,” said Wolfram. “Consumers are giving this feedback directly on your social accounts. The question is how well as a brand can you listen to this and adjust your campaigns to what people want.”
When asked if she had advice for brands starting out without a million followers to draw on, Peirona’s advice was simple: Ask.
“People forget this [and] we did for a while. Ask for the engagement. Don’t be afraid to say, ‘Hey guys what do you think about this? Caption this photo.’ Once you get them in front of you, ask them to participate. It doesn’t look needy, it’s engaging,” she said.
People are excited to interact with a brand. Give them the opportunity to voice their thoughts and opinions, and then “hit that like button” on their comment, as Peirona suggested, and watch your engagement soar.
On social media, it feels like you’re one wrong move from losing your following, or becoming the center of a controversy. Peirona recommends not overthinking your content.
“Don’t be afraid to put up a bad post. It’s so ephemeral. Try new things, especially with [Instagram Stories]. It’s there today, gone tomorrow,” said Peirona. “If you get negative feedback, read it, then react moving forward.”
When asked to identify challenges that brands will face on Instagram going forward, Peirona was quick to point out that a lot of companies are using the same influencers and the same techniques.
“[There has been a] homogenization of brands [and] everything kind of looks the same,” she said when asked what to look out for. “People start to lose the idea of the brand. Stay true to your brand, find the balance between the big influencers and conversations while still maintaining that brand voice.”
Your brand might not have something as colorful and eye-catching as a mix-and-match lip shade campaign, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to have fun. Figure out, as Peirona suggested, “‘How can I make my followers feel special?’ And constantly do that.”