According to the speakers – Benefit PR manager Camilla Bradley, YouTube influencer Fleur De Force and managing director of Glossybox Rachel Kavanagh – social media is everything.

Where the print ad once reigned supreme, the sponsored video is now King.

With social media rapidly changing the way beauty brands connect and communicate with consumers, here are seven ways it’s having the biggest effect.

1. Word of mouth

Glossybox is a monthly subscription service for beauty products, where 80% of its acquisition comes from word of mouth.

This is an astonishing statistic, but it just goes to show how much a company like Glossybox uses social media – not just as an additional tool, but as an integral part of its entire strategy.

By constantly talking to its online community, the likes of Glossybox are creating a conversational cycle that benefits both the consumer and the brand.

By building trust and authority online, as well as creating a place for fans to discover and discuss new products, customer feedback and word of mouth recommendations naturally occurs.

2. New platforms

First it was Pinterest, then it was Vine… new ‘must-use’ social media platforms appear all the time, and as a result, brands can find it difficult to know where to focus.

As Benefit’s Camilla Bradley explained, it’s not always about jumping on the bandwagon, but rather, utilising the platforms that work for the brand and its audience.

Additionally, it is also useful to avoid having a blanket global strategy, and concentrate market by market instead.

A great example is that while Benefit US has used Facebook Live to launch its ‘Tipsy Tricks’ series, the UK strand of the business is more aligned to using social to promote campaigns and events.

 3. The power of influencers

As highlighted in our Rise of Influencers report, social media personalities are having a massive impact on the way brands promote products.

Collaboration and sponsorship with creators is now par for the course.

However, according to YouTube star Fleur De Force, collaborating with influencers does not mean an automatic path to success.

The key to a successful campaign is all about choosing the right influencer.

A brand might set out to work with the star with the biggest amount of subscribers, but if a product does not naturally fit in with an identity or audience, it could be perceived as fake and even dishonest.

With natural and authentic campaigns being the most well received, brands should always prioritise engagement over reach.

4. Changing reputations

As well as a place to create conversation, social media has become a platform for managing reputation.

However, harsh customer feedback and intense trolling has resulted in a push back from some brands.

Boldly stating that the ‘customer isn’t always right’, Rachel Kavanagh explained how Glossybox in particular has changed the way it interacts with people on Twitter, deliberately avoiding knee-jerk apologies and customer mollycoddling.

Instead, by moving away from Twitter as a customer care platform, the brand is now placing more emphasis on its position as a thought-leader.

This way, it is able to maintain greater authority and control across all its channels.

5. Growing niches

While matte lips and bold brows might be the biggest trends of the moment, in future consumers will begin to desire products that are far more niche.

Usually the hallmark of small, independent brands – organic, sustainable and ethical products are predicted to become a focus for big beauty brands in future.

With YouTube videos based on these areas garnering increasing amounts of views, brands like Benefit are drawing on data to discover what people are talking about, and what exactly they want to see in their make-up bags.

In turn, this will result in the creation of niche products that are both affordable and accessible.

6. Omnichannel strategies

Consumers no longer live in just the one place. And for beauty brands, having an omnichannel strategy is becoming increasingly important.

From seeing a product on Instagram and reading a review on Twitter, to actually buying online, consumers now expect consistency across all channels.

With the journey to purchasing a product becoming increasingly complex, brands can’t rely on landing pages to be the first and only point of contact.

7. Killer content marketing

The beauty industry is beginning to realise the potential of in-house editorial teams.

For Glossybox, 20% of readers going to the Beauty Unboxed online magazine end up subscribing to the service.

Likewise, 70% don’t question the content, entirely believing in the brand as an authority on the topic.

This demonstrates how, from email newsletters to integrated blogs, social media is no longer about simply promoting an article on Twitter.

It is about creating quality content across the board, during all aspects of the customer experience.