Hello, everyone! Today’s post is another installment of my Thursday Chats series, where I talk about issues within the beauty community. Today’s topic is the relationship between beauty brands and social media. With the prevalence of social media these days, particularly Instagram and Twitter, consumers are now able to easily follow and connect with beauty brands. There is no denying that brands are increasingly reliant on social media. I’m willing to bet most of us who have Instagram follow our favourite brands on there to keep up with the latest releases, am I right? While there are really good things about being able to interact with brands on social media, it’s also a double-edged sword.
Social media is a really good medium for brands to cultivate their relationship with their customers. Not only does it allow brands to give consumers a sneak peek of upcoming releases, but it helps to create a ton of hype for these releases. They do this through sharing information on their own Instagram page, as well as through content creators. Personally, I feel like social media has caused brands to up their game in terms of packaging – your products need to be Instagram-worthy in 2018!
In terms of consumers, social media easily allows customers to interact with brands. I really appreciate it when brands make an effort to respond to customer feedback or questions on Instagram or Twitter – I’ve found that The Ordinary in particular is really good about that (although their remarks can be pretty snide based on what your comment was, but that’s a discussion for later in this post). I personally don’t really interact with brands often, but I love being able to see sneak peeks of products.
Most brands run their social media accounts like a well-oiled machine, but a few seem to have had various PR issues which caused a lot of outrage. You can probably think of more than a few incidents where beauty brands messed up on social media in the past few years:
- Tarte reposting a meme that a lot of people deemed racist
- Tarte posting about fake palette they were going to release on April Fool’s Day, only to find out that everyone actually ended up wanting it
- The owner of Gerard Cosmetics calling a vlogger ugly after being given a bad review
- Z Palette belittling customers
- Urban Decay posting swatches on the wrist/arms for an eyeliner range called Razor Sharp Liquid Eyeliner
- The founder of Deciem/The Ordinary going on bizarre rants on Instagram
I’ve only pointed out a few incidents, but there are so many more examples of public relations gone wrong. Some people found these incidents offensive, while others were a little more tolerant depending on what the issue was. Regardless of our own personal feelings on these “scandals”, they did create a lot of uproar within the beauty industry. 10 years ago when social media was not as prevalent, the things I mentioned above never would have happened in such a public way, or at least they would have been a lot less common. It just goes to show how careful companies have to be, because how they present themselves on websites such as Instagram or Twitter is how consumers will view them as a brand.
Brands behaving unprofessionally on social media is only half of the problem. Another issue is that it seems like consumers are constantly exposed to a lot of drama and cattiness on social media. This either between two brands, or between a brand and content creator:
- Too Faced calling Tarte out for their collection (“The Amazon doesn’t have unicorns”)
- Jeffree Star and Too Faced
- Tati Westbrook and Too Faced (umm, is Too Faced the problem here?)
- Jeffree Star and Kat Von D
- Everyone and Kylie Jenner Cosmetics
This isn’t even touching on the topic of fighting between content creators – I don’t follow the ones with a lot of controversy, and even I hear all about the drama. I just can’t be bothered to keep up with it all. PR incidents are one thing, but calling other people out on social media is another. Honestly, consumers just want you to sell high-quality products or to see your reviews on products – they have no interest in seeing you air your dirty laundry with other people or brands online. It’s frustrating to me, because when I read about this stuff, it makes it so undesirable to support these brands in question (or the content creators). If you think about it in the sense of a traditional workplace, is it ever appropriate to throw a co-worker under the bus like that? I know it’s not exactly the same thing, but to these brands and content creators, social media is part of their job, and therefore they should approach it with some professionalism.
Consumers deal with these mishaps in different ways. Some people completely boycott brands or content creators they feel have crossed a line, some may take a break from their products for a while until the backlash has died down, and some people continue buying their products or supporting the content creator. I sometimes wonder if brands have seen decreased sales due to these incidents. A few brands, like Gerard Cosmetics and Z Palette, have completely plummeted in popularity – you rarely hear about them anymore. I have a feeling that most brands would likely have seen a dip in sales right after the incidents, but in the grand scheme of things, large brands like Tarte, Too Faced and Urban Decay are still household names for every beauty lover, and it doesn’t seem like they’re suffering much from their past actions.
I have to be honest: the way I deal with beauty brand PR incidents is I definitely pick and choose who to continue supporting. I still buy products from a lot of these brands. I didn’t find the meme that Tarte reposted to be racist, even though I am of Asian descent. In fact, I had seen that meme prior to Tarte reposting it, and it didn’t even cross my mind that it had racist undertones. But just because I wasn’t offended by it doesn’t mean other people aren’t allowed to be – I completely understand the backlash. In terms of the April Fool’s palette, I felt like that was more of a “don’t believe everything you see online” thing rather than something to blame Tarte for. I never trust anything I see on the internet during April Fool’s Day, and plus they called the palette Icy Betch. Hilarious name, but not one that a company like Tarte would actually use. When it comes to The Ordinary, I don’t know what to think about Brandon’s rants. They just confuse me, and I feel like it’s a cry for help more than anything. I do think that both he and Jarrod Blandino (owner of Too Faced) have way too much attitude when it comes to people criticizing him. Why respond to hateful messages at all when you own such a successful company?
I’m hoping to get some discussions here. My question to you is, what do you think about beauty brands and social media? Do you differentiate between the business owner and the business itself, or do you stop using products from ALL brands that do something online you don’t agree with? Do you pick and choose between which brands to continue supporting?