Recent shifts in the behaviour of online users have called for a change in the ways that brands use the internet to connect with their consumers. 74% of people now own a smartphone, meaning that mobile is no longer just a choice but has become a behaviour. Consumers now have the means to use the internet more spontaneously, meaning that the focus is now on instinct, rather than intent.

In the past year alone there were more internet searches for ‘how’ than ever before. In the UK there were 2 billion beauty queries searched on Google and 500 million on YouTube. YouTube has become one of the leading platforms for beauty brands because, like the makeup that they are advertising, the platform is an incredibly visual thing. In fact 66% of beauty product buyers say that YouTube influenced their purchases because it allowed them to visualise how the products would fit in with their own lives. As a result Elen Mackaskill, General Manager for L’Oreal Paris, says that today’s digital climate has made L’Oreal “rethink [their] whole business”.

However, not all brands are getting it right

Neil Davidson from creative agency Hey Human recognises that there has been a shift in the digital landscape recently, particularly regarding brand loyalty. He claims that because we live in the ‘Tinder Generation’, where people are incredibly fickle, they are reluctant to commit to a relationship with any one particular brand. Therefore brands need to work out what kind of relationship they have with their consumers and adjust their behaviour accordingly- are they destined to be soulmates or more of a casual fling? Should they focus on long term brand immersion or short term product placement?

So, what should brands do?

Change their content

In order to develop strategies that stick in this changing digital landscape, beauty brands should develop three different types of content to engage consumers- hero, hub and help:

  1. Hero content is intended to inspire and create an emotional response, through personal storytelling. This usually manifests itself in collaborations between ‘beauty gurus’ and brands. These projects can be more time consuming but are valuable because it can allow brands to reach whole groups of new users.
  2. Hub content is regularly updated to provide an engaging destination for fans who will then return to comment, like and eventually subscribe. This format is designed to connect with core audiences that already exist. Targeted advertising should bring the audience to your content in the first place, but its format should keep them coming back. This could be on the brand’s own YouTube channel.
  3. Help content should exist to educate or advise, e.g. makeup tutorials.

By creating these varying types of content, beauty brands are in the best possible position to grow, and more importantly sustain, a captive audience on YouTube, because they are responding to the consumers’ every need.

Collaborate with influencers

For beauty brands, authenticity is much easier to achieve through collaborations with content creators who have built up a level of trust with their viewers over a period of time. Therefore to establish a long term collaboration with these creators will help to increase the organic growth of a brand. For instance, popular YouTube vlogger Gabriella Lindley (velvetgh0st) has been working with the beauty and skincare company Liz Earle on an ongoing campaign for quite some time. The fact that it is a long term collaboration means that the brand get to understand Lindley as a creator and see how her content works, which means that they are able to be more subtle with product promotion. This is a really good example of a carefully crafted relationship based on trust and longevity. Overall it led to really positive results for both the brand and the collaborator, with an increase in sales and one of her videos receiving over 15,000 comments.

Be authentic

When brands are collaborating it is important that they look beyond just the numbers of views and followers. These are important, but not as important as the brand’s message blending in with their collaborator’s story. Viewers don’t want to feel like they are being sold something which is untrue, so if it feels like a forced collaboration the brand’s sales will be affected. There is really no choice other than to be authentic. Transparency is key.

Embrace off-platform

In order to successfully leverage their video content brands need to use social media as a form of digital word of mouth. To create an impact brands need to remain visible even after their content has been viewed, and social media shares are the best way to achieve this. Brands should embrace trends, such as using certain hashtags on Twitter, to make their content easily found. It is absolutely necessary that they consider digital content and social media in combination.

Ultimately brands need to pay close attention to their social insights. They should use any new trends in behaviour that they notice and change their content and digital strategies accordingly, in order to get the best possible results for their products and sales.