Thursday Chats – Beauty Brands & Social Media

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.

THE GOOD

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.

TooFaced
From Too Faced’s Instagram page

THE BAD

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.

ColourPop
From ColourPop Cosmetic’s Instagram page

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?

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13 thoughts on “Thursday Chats – Beauty Brands & Social Media

  1. I’ve come to the pick & choose phase myself. I actually can’t stand most of the big youtubers/influencers anymore. They’ve gotten big heads and it shows. And I want nothing to do with that. Kat Von D recently got a ton of backlash due to her anit-vax stance & said she’s not going to have her baby vaccinated. I’ll admit I lost respect for her and I won’t buy her products anymore. I was never a huge fan of hers anyway because of her prior reputation as a “home wrecker” and breaking up Sandra Bullock’s marriage.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s hard not to pick and choose! Everyone is acting like dopes on social media lately – if you cut off every brand, you have no more makeup to use, haha.

      Ohhhh, is that the drama going on with Kat Von D lately? I’ve heard things here and there but I didn’t know it was an anti-vaccination thing. I definitely think children should be vaccinated, but in general I think that it’s okay for celebrities to express their opinions – they just have to encourage their followers to do their own research before making decisions, otherwise her impressionable young audience may just follow her advice blindly. I also forgot that she was with Jesse James (or that Sandra Bullock was with Jesse James) – didn’t know she broke them up!

      Like

  2. Really great post! Whether or not I stop buying from a particular brand or business owner really depends I guess on the severity or circumstances of the PR/social media scandal. For instance, I still buy products from Too Faced, knowing they’ve had their share of issues in the past, as you listed in your post. But I’ve stopped supporting some creators, like Jackie Aina for instance, who throw around their influence recklessly (IMO) and then act like they didn’t know what they were doing.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Good point about the severity of the scandal! The definition of severity also differs from person to person too, which will make a difference in the “breaking point”. Interesting, I don’t know too much about Jackie Aina! From what I do know of her, a lot of people seem to trust her opinion.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ooohh that’s a terrible move on UD’s part for that razor eyeliner! This is my first time hearing about it and it makes me cringe…
    I don’t think that most of these publicity issues would make me boycott a brand, I only have one exception and that is Kat Von D. I don’t support her brand/products because of her IG post where she said that she would raise her child vaccine free. She is free to do what she wants in that regard but I can’t support her knowing her stance on vaccines. That’s an issue that I feel strongly about so I can’t support her line when she puts that out there on her IG account that influences millions of people around the world.
    I guess it just hits closer to home for me and feels relevant, little things like Tarte’s fake palette don’t phase me. I kind of just laugh about everyone getting all upset over an eyeshadow palette and move on.
    Great post, I love this thought provoking series!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know UD is all about being provocative, but I honestly can’t tell if they did it on purpose or not. I suppose that’s too much of a coincidence…

      Man, anti-vaccination is a tough one – I’d be so mad if kids got sick because their classmates were not vaccinated, but I also believe that parents should be able to do with their kids as they see fit as long as they’re not endangering the child (then again, not vaccinating them could possibly be endangering them? I don’t know). I am also against anti-vaccination for a slew of reasons, but to be honest, I’m all for public figures expressing their opinions on social media (free speech and everything, ya know). I do think that they need to be accountable and tell their followers “hey, this is what I think vaccinations are wrong, but you need to make sure you do your own research so that you’re making the best choice for your children”. Some people just don’t know better and follow whatever celebrities do.

      It’s true, people take makeup too seriously sometimes! The world isn’t going to end because Tarte didn’t actually release an all-blue palette.

      I’m so glad you’re enjoying this series!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m sure it could have been a mistake, arm swatches are very common for brands to provide so that could have just been an oversight. But someone should have realized before publishing that!

        I think I would feel better if she provided her reasons for not vaccinating as opposed to just saying she wasn’t going to do it. But you’re right, she does have free speech so she can say and decide whatever she wants on her social media and for her family. It’s such a complicated issue!

        It was an interesting looking palette though, I wonder if they will ever really release it!

        Like

  4. Love this post and discussion!
    The Ordinary is a really sad case of social media now…I agree, I think it’s Brandon’s cry for help and I hope he gets it. I’m not one to boycott brands or tell everyone not to purchase something just because I don’t like it, but ever since seeing those interactions by Brandon on Instagram, I just couldn’t see myself supporting the brand any longer. He’s so intense and sassy and there’s a time and place for that…just NOT on IG in that manner. Please.

    I had no idea about Tarte’s fake palette…that sounds like quite a fail indeed lol but certainly they’ve had quite the backlash and I think it doesn’t help when content creators come together to do the backlash videos…it spreads like wildfire. You raise a good point though about Too Faced…I forgot Tati and Jarrod fell out too! Maybe it is TF?! But now now, that “The Amazon doesn’t have unicorns” phrase is just bitchy and unprofessional.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s fair that you don’t support Deciem anymore! One thing I do have to say that irks me about Brandon is that he is pretty rude to customers who have even something slightly negative to say to him. Just take the high road, dude.

      Hahaha I totally laughed at the whole “The Amazon doesn’t have unicorns” comment – he makes it seem like he invented the idea of having unicorn themed makeup. But that’s exactly it, I feel like with social media, we more often see the unprofessional sides of these people who are leading these makeup empires, and it’s not very flattering.

      Like

  5. This post was so well thought out and written. You definitely touched on all the facets that I think of when it comes to brands interacting with the customer base via social media. It’s such a great tool to advertise new products, and I love being able to know about new products in advance to their launch. I basically live on Trendmood1’s page because she amalgamates them all together. However, I don’t think enough screening goes on with some brands. I think a lot of them just assign one or two people to take care of the instagram account, and pretty much let them do whatever they want (with some guidelines). But clearly more strict measures need to be put into place to ensure every post adheres to that brand’s philosophy. What a brand posts on social media ultimately represents them. Therefore, I think potential posts need to go through some sort of panel before actually being put out into the world. This may seem like a lot of work, but it’s worth it when one image can ultimately change your fan base for good. Unfortunately, this isn’t that realistic for responding to comments, but it seems like some brands are employing people who do not have common sense. I wonder if the people who are in charge of the social media accounts have a HR background, because I think that could potentially help.

    Liked by 1 person

    • hahah I’m glad you thought it was well written and thought out! When I write these Thursday Chats posts, I feel like I’m just word-vomitting…

      I only discovered Trendmood’s page this year and I LOVE it! Besides her, I actually follow very few brand’s Instagrams because like you said, she amalgamates all of the releases, and sometimes gets new info up even before brands do.

      You bring up a very good point about who is managing these social media accounts – I would hope someone with an HR background, or communications/PR experience, and then approved by a manager in Marketing or something before being posted. I know with that Tarte meme thing, they initially blamed it on an intern – would a company with $8M+ followers really leave their social media to an intern?? Unlikely.

      Liked by 1 person

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