How Benefit Cosmetics Builds Deep Relationships With Their Communities

The beauty brand has an incredibly active fan base on social media worldwide. What's their secret?

With creative and visual content, beauty brands are known as frontrunners on social media, building some of the most loyal communities out there. Taking a deep-dive into the beauty realm, Socialbakers hosted a candid discussion with Benefit Cosmetics – a brand with an incredibly active social media fan base worldwide.

During the panel, Emily Dybwad, Director of Digital Marketing and Rachel Bouvier, Senior Digital Analyst, Global Digital broke down critical trends and questions in the social space right now: 

  • How can brands scale a global content strategy that lands well in local markets? 
  • How should brands use data to make decisions to stay relevant today? 
  • What does it mean to have an audience-first approach to content? 

Taking Benefit’s expertise and practical tips to heart, brands can chart a clear course forward to grow their communities, in 2020 and beyond.

As With All Great Experiences, Trust the Locals

At Benefit Cosmetics, social media is run in a way that best supports the overall marketing strategy. For them, this means taking a decentralized approach, leveraging both global and local teams to deliver audience-specific, market-specific content experiences.

“Laughter is the best cosmetic” is a key brand value, but humor can be tough – and risky – without a clear understanding of audiences. “Humor is a key part of what we’re trying to bring forward, and humor is tricky. There’s the global way, but then there’s also how to develop that insight, that humor that really connects with someone in-market,” said Emily.

Benefit Cosmetics believes in the power of localized content on accounts like @benefitspain

Emily continued, “I think there’s lots of missed opportunities if you don’t empower people to develop their own local content. We strongly believe that audiences want to connect with someone in their local language, someone who understands differences and nuance.”

So, how do they pull it off? Benefit’s content strategy is three-fold, covering all bases and objectives: 

  • Global content to deliver a cohesive brand image
  • Local content to ensure deeply relevant and authentic messaging
  • Influencer content to bring in new fans to the Benefit community 
Benefit Cosmetics classifies content into three buckets: Global, Local, and Influencer Content

Managing this type of content strategy takes disciplined, streamlined analysis.

With a macro-level view, we can determine our success factors, such as brand awareness and relationship building. From there, we’ll decide how to measure them, then work closely with in-market teams who really understand the nuance of what’s happening to execute the vision.

Rachel Bouvier, Senior Digital Analyst, Global Digital, Benefit Cosmetics

Socialbakers is a key part of analysis.

We use Socialbakers to inform our three different buckets of content: global, local, and influencer. We’re able to look at what the engagement is across these buckets, including the different comments they’re getting. This allows us to recognize local successes and adopt best practices.

Rachel Bouvier, Senior Digital Analyst, Global Digital, Benefit Cosmetics

Follow the Data, and Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment

Being data-driven allows Benefit’s teams to work smarter and faster to deliver great content, but also empowers them to try new approaches. Using Socialbakers, they get a 360 degree view of their content channels and how different markets are doing things, and doing them well. 

What’s super invaluable from Socialbakers is the holistic view we have of our different campaign launches; it empowers us to make data-informed business decisions.

Rachel Bouvier, Senior Digital Analyst, Global Digital, Benefit Cosmetics

“What I enjoy the most about working in digital marketing is thinking about the ecosystem in which whatever we’re trying to do really lives. Like on Instagram: the combination of newsfeed content, stories, and even Live content,” said Emily.

For us on the global team, we’re able to use Socialbakers to take a step back and look at all of the information that’s coming in across markets to see if there’s a pattern or direction we should pay attention to.

Emily Dybwad, Director of Digital Marketing, Benefit Cosmetics

With data on their side, they’re also more open to testing new trends to achieve different outcomes. “We’re in such a lucky position in that we have these fantastic marketers in all these offices globally who are really open to experimenting on new platforms and seeing what will resonate with different users,” said Rachel. They encourage other brands to do the same; it helps the industry evolve and iterate.

Champion the Perfect Blend of Authenticity and Innovation

For Benefit Cosmetics, what helps drive results is choosing the right channel, and even content placement, depending on the message and objective. “It’s about playing across all placements, and defining what one placement means compared to another,” said Emily. Their strategy includes a calculated mix of influencer, organic, and paid content.

With authenticity front and center on social media, it’s important to stay close and grow along with audiences. Benefit’s own influencer relations team keeps a finger on the pulse of influencer marketing, constantly thinking about that strategy.

Influencer marketing is a major part of Benefit Cosmetics’ social media content strategy

“People definitely resonate with real people. Right now, we recognize that things are changing, and we’re adapting to the situation. But I would still say that partnering with people that are part of the beauty community, who have deep relationships with a brand, that’s always going to be there,” said Emily. For many brands who work with influencers, the nature of partnerships and objectives may shift, but the core promise of influencer marketing shouldn’t.

In terms of their organic/paid content split, Benefit’s current approach is to carefully put budget behind posts that will communicate very specific information. “Paid could be relevant to a new product launch or a consumer-based opportunity, like a sale. We use organic content to penetrate and deepen our connection with the broader beauty community that exists, especially on Instagram today,” said Emily.

An example of a consumer-based opportunity from Benefit Cosmetics

Options for content types and placements also gives brands the opportunity to lean into platform innovations. As Instagram, Facebook, and even Tik Tok offer users different social experiences, the platforms may get more specific about developing their own groups and communities, continuing to evolve as consumption evolves.

“I think that with the advent of people being very distant from each other physically, it has meant that the virtual world and the social platforms are really allowed to reclaim space,” said Emily.

Benefit Cosmetics leverages different content formats, including IGTV

“You may start to see that the social platforms will start to iterate and differentiate themselves more. Since Live video has taken off, I think we’ll see Instagram invest there. Whereas features for the content newsfeed or stories may decrease a little bit.”

The Takeaway

Looking into the data, Benefit Cosmetics sees growth ahead. “People are craving human connection, so they’re really just spending more time interacting on social. We’re seeing a positive trend for global impressions and reach on our content. My prediction for 2020 is this kind of positive trend line will continue,” said Rachel.

For brands looking to scale their content strategies and grow deeper relationships, it’s important to ask honest, and maybe difficult, questions about their current strategy.

  • Is your content relevant enough for your diverse audiences?
  • Are you able to adjust and react to current data insights, like engagement and sentiment?
  • How easily are you able to adopt new trends, technologies, and content formats?

With the content machine more demanding than ever, brands who are more digitally transformed, and even brands who strive to be as open and responsive as they can, will see greater success in the long run.

To dive deeper into Benefit Cosmetics’ approach and advice, watch the panel discussion now. And, if you’d like to learn more about the Socialbakers platform, sign up for a free trial. It’s easy to get started today.

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