How Glamglow became the skin-care brand with the most buzz on social media

Thanks to Glamglow’s social media savvy, it’s secured the top spot for earned media value amongst skin-care brands, beating out older brands like Clinique and Origins, which are also owned by its parent company, Esteé Lauder.

A new report from TribeDynamics found that, at $6.3 million, the brand’s earned media value saw a 54 percent year-over-year increase in 2017. It is followed by other brands that rely largely on social media for growth, including new entrant Farsali, which grew 86 percent year-over-year to $4.7 million, and Lush, the value of which actually decreased 25 percent year-over-year to $4 million.

Glamglow’s success is the result of the current online buzz surrounding face masks, a wide-ranging influencer program, significant YouTube traction and an emphasis on brand localization. Its giveaway-heavy feeds probably aren’t hurting, either.

The mask effect
From rubber to charcoal, masks are definitely having a moment, and, luckily for Glamglow, the product has always been its bread-and-butter. Initially famous for its Supermud skin-clearing mask, the brand has since gone on to launch various renditions that target different concerns including anti-aging (Gravitymud) and skin brightening (Flashmud). In the last year, the company has amped up the social media appeal of these masks by incorporating elements like glitter or rendering the masks in metallic shades.

When Allure editor Devon Abelman got to try out the brand’s new Glittermask early last October, she saw the boost on her own social channels.

“In all my nearly 26 years, I have never felt as popular as I did after using GlamGlow’s new #GlitterMask,” she wrote. “I posted a selfie (maskie?) on my Instagram Story after applying the mask, and the dozen or so replies I received immediately following made me feel like the homecoming queen I never was.”

Contributing to its snapability is how easy the mask is to peel off, leaving users with a glittery molding of their face to document further — a prime example of the industry’s sought-after Instagram “moment.

But Glamglow may not be able to ride on those effects for long.

“It’s very resonant at the moment, and they’re doing everything they can to be on trend,” said Chelsea Gross, an associate director of client strategy at L2. “They’re not going to be able to keep riding on this one year from now.”

Betting big on influencers
Overall, it’s the brands influencer partnerships that have most effectively moved the needle, said Gross.

Indeed, the brand has an undisclosed number of “#Glambassadors” who are paid in either product or cash to support its latest products. “Creating social tribes like this is always a win,” said Thomas Drew, a social media strategist at the creative and analytics agency BLKBOX.

The group includes lifestyle blogger Annie Jaffrey (250,000 followers on Instagram) and beauty blogger Drea Beauty (21,300 followers on Instagram). The original content that these influencers create is regularly reposted on the company’s Instagram account for added buzz, and it’s video-heavy, which is favorable to the current Instagram algorithm, per Drew.

As the boy beauty movement has continued to lend brands a new way to drive buzz and opened them up to a new audience base, Glamglow has also made a point to engage men, often utilizing the #menwhomask hashtag alongside photos of various different men using their products. The first official face of the brand, in fact, was the Instagram star/actor Nick Bateman, first announced last April.

Glamglow’s male influencer partnerships have drawn notable traffic to its website, said Gross, but the brand still doesn’t over-index on male-centric influencer content, compared to other brands.

A hit on YouTube
While much of Glamglow’s traction comes from Instagram, where the brand posts twice a day on average, YouTube also drives a bulk of its social traffic. In the fourth quarter of 2017, the platform drove 43 percent of that traffic, according to data from L2.

“This is not uncommon, but is particularly interesting for a skin-care brand,” said Gross.

Videos created by the makeup artists Jeffree Star and Patrick Starr have driven much of this traffic, but smaller influencers are chatting about the brand too — there are 89,700 results for videos featuring Glamglow products on YouTube. Its unclear how many, if any, of these videos are paid or how YouTube fits into the brand’s larger influencer strategy, and they didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Either way, the brand is letting influencers take the wheel here, as it hasn’t posted an original video on its YouTube channel in 10 months.

Going local on Instagram
Alongside its main Instagram account, which has 735,000 followers, the brand has numerous local accounts geared toward different geographies. These include the United Kingdom, South Africa and Canada.

While the accounts sometimes share content, most of it is specifically focused on influencers or beauty concerns that are of the most relevance in that area of the world. The U.K. account, for instance, recently posted unique photos of the British model Adwoa Aboah and the Welsh blogger behind Velvet & Glitter rocking Glamglow’s masks. Minky Mothabela, a South African beauty blogger, is featured on the brand’s South African channel.

The success of a localization strategy like this really depends on its execution, said Gross. “Sometimes it can parse a brand’s engagement too much across accounts.”

But if done correctly, with a real awareness to the local environment, it pays off, said Drew.

“Having branded Instagrams that speak to different countries and demographics is smart because different countries come with different norms. What drives sales in North America for this product may not be the same stimulus that drives sales in South Africa,” he said. “It also shows that your brand isn’t limited to the understanding of one specific group, which is amazing for brand sentiment — especially via social media.”

Giveaways with a boost
Glamglow is also partial to giveaways, which are effective from an engagement perspective, according to Gross.

Although the brand often hosts these on its own feeds, it also regularly works with retailers like Ipsy or individual influencers to host the events. To drive even more traction, it also often partners with like-minded brands, as it did recently with the skin-care tool brand Foreo.

“They rely heavily on an assortment strategy for their giveaways, which adds benefit,” said Gross, referencing how the brand tends to group various items together for its giveaways, rather than just send out one individual product. The Foreo giveaway, for instance, included two different Glamglow cleansers, one Glamglow mask and the Foreo tool.

According to data from L2, Glamglow’s posts involving product sets drive more traffic to its site than the rest, so adding a freebie element to them only fuels that. This is the case with most beauty brands right now, said Gross: “It’s all about bringing in the entire routine these days.”

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