The Beauty Beat
  • Content marketing

The changing face of Instagram and building a community with spirit

Hayley Smith
24th September 2020

When the world is battling a pandemic, fighting for equality and decoding fake news, some beauty brands have realised there can, and should, be more power behind an instagram post than just a pretty picture.

  • Beauty brands have reverted back to content that connects people and builds a community 

  • The rise of video and low-fi posting over lockdown has increased the demand for relatable content

  • Beauty brands should strive to be authentic on Instagram in order to not only build a loyal customer base, but to also sell

Social media platforms, with Instagram being the main culprit, have always been a place for picturesque locations and pretty people. Going on holiday? Make sure you get the best sunset photo possible! Going out for dinner? Make sure you choose the most aesthetically pleasing plate of food for you to post on your story! And brands were no different when it came to making “Explore-feed-worthy” content. Posts created by beauty brands consist of beautiful flat lays, pristine makeup tutorials and skincare routines on perfectly smooth skin. Add to this a personal feed that is cluttered with product placements and the superficiality begins to take its toll.

But, since we’ve been locked away in our homes for the past however many months, beauty brands have had to readjust their social media marketing strategy. 2020 has changed everything, such as the way people communicate with each other, the way we shop and the way we greet one another. When the world is battling a pandemic, fighting for equality and decoding fake news, some beauty brands have realised there can, and should, be more power behind an Instagram post than just a pretty picture.

Create content that serves a purpose  

The more time we spend in our homes, the more screen time we inevitably rack up. We’re watching more Netflix, video calling more and consuming more online content to keep us entertained and informed. Often, we’re multi-screening; texting while on a Zoom call with a TV on in the background, for example. Some might call this information overload. The pandemic-induced lockdown has changed how we have been consuming social media and those changes look set to stay put. This is why beauty brands have reverted to creating content that does more than tick an arbitrary box, but instead does what it can do better than anything else - connect people.

Lockdown saw the rise of Zoom and Houseparty. Facebook created its Messenger Rooms and Snapchat reported a larger spike in downloads. Despite the inability to enjoy physical face time, social media created new opportunities for people to engage with one another. Without shops and counters being open to the public, beauty brands had to become more creative with how they engage their audiences using these new opportunities. We saw Benefit inviting their followers to a virtual cocktail night, Rituals live stream mediation sessions, and SHISEIDO team up with fitness coach Ciara Madden to host an online workout. With the only option for connections being through a screen, beauty brands put emphasis on connecting with their consumers and making them feel part of the community when they are most receptive. By hosting real-life experiences that focus on relatability rather than pushing a hard sell through a depersonalised product shot, these brands increase their opportunity of maintaining a positive relationship in the long run.

When we were all stuck at home, traditional methods of content creation were interrupted. Studios were closed, locations were shut and the only backdrops people had to work with had to be inside their own homes. Not only do we now have a small insight into our colleagues' homes from video calls, but influencers have also had to expose their private spaces as public in order to create content and brands began to rely on photos and videos shot on phones. 

The rise of a more low-fi approach to content has changed our Instagram feeds from a facade of Instagram filters and presets to candid and unedited posts. During lockdown, people weren’t posing in front of ring lights but instead the outdoor mirror selfie was the latest trend, celebrating the wonderful collaboration between natural beauty and sun lighting. With TikTok taking over in the social media popularity contest and more people using stories rather than posting to their feed, there is no longer a demand for just a purely visual feed of filtered and fabricated photos. Video content is more engaging, more authentic and more raw.

Let authenticity take centre stage

Being authentic should be key to any beauty brand’s identity. Content should not come across as elite but rather, unassuming. With home bathrooms and messy bedrooms being the backdrop for content during the past months, brands are embracing marketing that mimics everyday life; skin blemishes are normal, unplucked eyebrows are normal and uneven skin tone is, yes, normal. It’s far easier for consumers to imagine themselves wearing a foundation when it is worn by someone in their bathroom getting ready for a night out rather than in a perfectly positioned model in a manufactured studio setting. Content should continue to embrace and celebrate difference and imperfection. That isn’t to say that there is no longer a place on Instagram for perfect and polished photos, but it would undoubtedly benefit from a healthy - and refreshing - dose of realness.

Talk to the digital marketing specialists

We understand the challenges many beauty brands face, especially when it comes to navigating the opportunities and various pitfalls of social media. If you’re struggling to build a loyal online community and create content that truly connects and resonates with people, do get in touch with our Social Media Coordinator Hayley Smith and take advantage of her expertise. We’d love to help.

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