How Smashbox Cosmetics used its video studio to boost its social following

The makeup-obsessed love to see cosmetics shown and demonstrated on Instagram and YouTube. So this year, Smashbox Cosmetics used its Los Angeles studio to create buzz across both channels.

Smashbox Studios has housed Hollywood and magazine photoshoots since photographer Davis Factor opened the space in 1990 (He founded Smashbox Cosmetics shortly after, in 1996.) In March, the studio put its team to use to drive beauty-obsessed YouTubers to its brand. “Made at Smashbox” is a program that brings top YouTube stars to Smashbox Studios to create original video, with free use of Smashbox’s top-of-the-line equipment and professional crew.

“Not a lot of people know that we’re based out of a photo studio in L.A., and we wanted a way to tell that story,” said Ginny Chien, executive director of global consumer marketing at Smashbox. “We thought it would be a great program to get these popular bloggers in here.”

Smashbox teamed up with entertainment company Collective Digital Studio to produce the videos. They brought in top bloggers like Weylie Hoang (1.3 million YouTube subscribers) and Cassey Ho, known for her fitness channel “Blogilates” (2.5 million subscribers), in the studio. So far, 30 videos have been created, 60 shoots have been scheduled, and 10 million views have added up on YouTube.

The bloggers got the studio time free, but there was a requirement: They had to post behind-the-scenes Instagrams teasing the YouTube content with the hashtag #MadeAtSmashbox. In terms of driving beauty lovers to the Smashbox Instagram account, it’s worked: In the six months since launching Made at Smashbox, the brand’s Instagram followers has more than doubled to 601,000 followers.

Chien said Made at Smashbox, in terms of metrics, has surpassed expectations, outperforming select KPIs on paid influencer programs.

“These bloggers are sharing photos because we didn’t pigeonhole them in the videos,” said Davida Hall, executive producer of fashion and beauty at Collective Digital Studio. “We didn’t make people use certain products or read from a script. We’re just helping them do what they’re already excited to do.”

Had so much fun on set yesterday! #MadeAtSmashbox

A photo posted by Caitlin Bea (@caitlinbea) on

A June study by YouTube marketing firm Pixability found that brands benefit in traffic and engagement by partnering with YouTube creators, and that they’re even more engaging than traditional Hollywood celebrities on the platform. Their pull also helps drive followers to Smashbox’s Instagram account.

The Made At Smashbox program hasn’t had a large impact on Smashbox’s YouTube subscriber account so far. Since April, YouTube subscribers have increased by about 4,000, to 45,000 total. But the brand is still working to catch up to other top brands on the platform. Pixability’s study ranked hundreds of beauty brand and blogger channels, and while Smashbox didn’t break the top 25 in terms of total views or engagement, it ranked 24th in subscribers and the 15th fastest-growing channel.

The Smashbox Studio in L.A.
Smashbox Studios in L.A.

Chien believes Smashbox’s origins as a photo studio give the brand a chance to stand out in the crowded market, which is why the team decided to bring in digital stars.

“The beauty marketplace is crazy saturated,” she said. “It’s really important when you’re in that channel to have a point of differentiation, and for us, it’s that the brand lives in a studio where Chanel and Vanity Fair have done photo shoots. We see that creativity first hand.”

Image via #MadeAtSmashbox/Instagram

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