‘Engaging with our audience’: Why Olaplex is focusing on community building via TikTok, Instagram

The header image shows a group of hands holding phones.

This year, in an attempt to lift customer engagement and interaction, Olaplex is focusing on paid social advertising and is on track to double its total ad spend year-over-year. By doing so, the hair care company, which was founded in 2014, is aiming to build brand awareness as well as grow its community with forays into Instagram and TikTok.

“We are definitely spending more,” said JuE Wong, CEO of Olaplex, adding that until 2020 the company wasn’t spending much on advertising. “We do it as a percentage of our net shipments so the more we [sell] the more we spend [on advertising]. Because we have grown quite quickly as an emerging brand we have almost doubled our [media] spend because of the way our business has grown.”

To continue that growth, the company is focusing on social platforms where users are sharing hair care tips and tricks. Olaplex is not only using paid ads but also working with hair care professionals and influencers to get the word out. It’s unclear how much Olaplex is spending on advertising on those platforms or how it divides its media budget as the company would not share exact figures. 

“We’ve seen our engagement increase; we’ve also seen our followers increase on Instagram as well,” said Wong of the focus on paid social platforms and how TikTok in particular can help boost overall brand awareness and engagement on other platfroms like Instagram. “In January 2020, we had 1.4 million followers on Instagram. Now we have 2.2 million. All those followers want to be part of our community. We want to continue that same authentic engagement.” On TikTok, Olaplex has 55.4 thousand followers.

Aside from paid ads, influencer marketing and organic content, Olaplex is looking to engage potential customers by combing through hashtags to find content where it would make sense for the company’s account to comment. On TikTok, the Olaplex hashtag has 290 million views, up from 24 million in April of 2020, according to the company. 

“We’re commenting and engaging with our audience,” said Vanessa Schneider, director of social media at Olaplex. “That’s been really beneficial for our brand awareness. We’ll comment on a photo that’s either helping someone out if their hair [needs help] or giving them advice. Often that’ll get 6,000 likes or 9,000 likes — a large amount for a comment —so that’s why we’re really invested in building the team to [help] build community that way.” 

Focusing on paid social platforms like TikTok and Instagram makes sense to Nik Sharma, DTC investor and advisor and founder of Sharma Brands. “TikTok can be an incredible top of the funnel channel for brands,” said Sharma. “If you’ve got good content then it does well, it’s getting saved or commented on, so engagement is high. It’s almost used organically like Pinterest meets Instagram, which is why beauty brands have such success there.” 

While growing a brand using social platforms like TikTok and Instagram can be cost effective, it can also be a tricky balance for a more premium brand like Olaplex, explained brand analyst and co-founder of Metaforce Allen Adamson. 

“Clearly their product is relevant and the audience on TikTok is sucking up this type of content,” said Adamson. “They need to make sure they don’t get lost in all the noise of all the other [beauty] brands on TikTok and make sure they still stay aspirational.”


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