Skincare: Four tips for #winning on Instagram

It’s no secret that skincare brands are lagging behind the rest of the beauty category on social. A socially savvy category like Cosmetics scores 15x more (organic) Instagram than (mostly paid) Facebook engagement, while in Skincare, Facebook remains the dominant platform. 

p{Given Skin brands’ 72% annualised community growth and constant engagement rate, expect the segment to (finally) get more impact from IG than FB. But how might skin brands accelerate their IG footprint growth without sacrificing content quality and platform engagement rate?}

*Excludes brands whose content is merged with Cosmetics 

Kiehl’s is leading the charge among skin brands on Instagram, with the largest follower base and an “above fair share” of engagement. Meanwhile, brands like Aesop and La Mer are failing to capitalise on the potential their communities offer.

So what are IG winners doing differently?

(1) Be Aspirational Inspirational and Relatable: use of local accounts 

Despite requiring more resources and attention, local accounts will prove increasingly wise as low ER accounts get penalised by the changing IG algorithm.  While a majority of non-english-speaking IG users around the world are prone to “follow” a global account after getting exposed to a great post, these followers end up sinking an account’s ER over time. All our data shows that engagement is higher for posts that are easy & quick to consume (visual and text), which is one reason why local (non-English) language accounts systematically score higher ERs.

In addition, local accounts enable brands to post locally relevant content about locally relevant #topics, #events and @people, all in a language that’s easier for hyperactive, multi-tasking consumer to process:

  • Kiehl’s have 39 local accounts posting location-specific content on a daily basis 
  • Aesop have 1 global account that must try to appeal to all consumers across countries and cultures–the brand risks losing followers by posting generic looking content with English captions

(2) Effective use of highly engaging #hashtags: #hashtags make content more findable, with winning brands such as Dermalogica using them frequently and seeing spikes of up to +60% for top hashtags. Dermalogica’s winning strategy includes the use of:

  • Category tags (making content more findable by category enthusiasts)
  • Locally relevant tags (e.g. #HKIG, #MyDubai)
  • Adjacent category tags (attracting ‘content seekers’ from other relevant categories) 

In contrast, La Mer appear to be using hashtags more sparingly (only 8 tags were used more than 8 times over the last 3 months). La Mer is also largely using only branded tags which only work to attract brand seekers/loveres and therefore generate smaller engagement spikes than consumer or category tags.

For more advice on how to get the most from hashtags see our previous post: Master hashtags to #DoBetterSocial: seven tips & tricks

(3) Strong visual content  By using consistent and instantly recognisable colours, content and narrative elements to connect the brand with consumers, some visuals are instantly more ‘likeable’ than others. Glossier have a winning content strategy through:

  • Use of ingredients as props to talk about the product and brand
  • Visually consistent imagery (i.e. similar lighting, backgrounds, colours, look and feel)
  • Images that pass the ‘blink-test’ (instantly identifiable as Glossier’s)

In contrast Caudalie’s posts lack visual consistency and often fail the ‘blink-test’:

(4) Posting frequency

Frequency is essential for maximising engagement, but should not come at the expense of content quality. Kiehl’s main accounts are consistently posting c.2-3 times a day, whilst brands like Aesop frequently don’t post at all. Some top tips for upping frequency whilst maintaining engagement:

  • Use local accounts: gives brands a chance to be precise and relevant based on time of day, local moments/events and moods
  • Play on relevant events, daily and weekly rhythms, and seasonality to maximise content diversity 
  • Rotate props and backgrounds to ensure visual variety without deviating from the core brand look and feel 

For more #winning tips please feel free to get in touch: