Julep: A Polished Approach to Social Media

Have you heard of the beauty brand Julep?

0121_julep_650x455Julep began as a chain of nail salons in Seattle, Washington. In 2011, Julep’s CEO Jane Park wanted to take her business online and introduced the monthly Julep Maven subscription service. Customers receive a box of Julep nail polishes, each named after women because “Julep has been powered by girlfriends.” Now the brand has expanded to more than 300 makeup and skincare products– with the help of its customers. Park says,

“We’re not telling customers what they want… we’re responding to what they want.”

Wow. Julep is a beauty brand that is listening to consumers, and it is certainly paying off. Last year Julep made roughly $20 million (double the income of 2012). Investors are impressed: Julep has received $29.2 million from investors over the past two years. One of Julep’s investors is Maveron and partner Jason Stoffer has this to say:

“Beauty is a business where women talk to each other about what products they’re trying. It’s one of the most social businesses there is.”

Jane Park would agree! Julep’s success comes from its ability to use loyal customer feedback to quickly create, test, and sell new products. Julep reads the comments on its Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest pages and listens to customers in its salons for new product ideas. When negative comments are posted Julep does not delete them because they are valuable in assessing the products.

Julep has six social media profiles:

1. Facebook: 240,000 likes

Julep uses its Facebook page to introduce new products, start conversations about products, answer customer concerns, and link to its other social media profiles. Check out this amazing customer service example that I found on Julep’s page:

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That is the kind of customer service that consumers LOVE. Julep earns a positive reputation with its customers when it responds to their questions and concerns.

2. Twitter: 40,500 followers

Julep creates conversations with its tweets, introduces offers and sales, and links to its other social media profiles. It even gives mini makeup tutorials:

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3. Pinterest: 23,345 followers

Julep has 31 boards. They are all bright and festive! Here are a few pins:

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4. YouTube: 3,356 subscribers

Julep uses its YouTube to show customers how to use its products, to introduce new products like the nail polish brush Julep invented for its customers, and to give customers a look behind the scenes. In this video CEO Jane Park talks to consumers about her new product:

5. Instagram: 32,345 followers

Julep shares most of the same photos that it shares on other platforms. This one involves a current event that customers know about! Some customers who commented took it as a challenge to create this manicure!Screen Shot 2014-02-21 at 3.45.37 PM

6. Blog:

The blog is fun! Its sections include: NOTD (Nail of the Day), The Latest, Beauty Tips, All Things Nails, Fashion & Style, How-To, and Jane’s Blog.

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The beauty sector is worth $160 billion so companies should be listening and catering to consumer demands. Julep goes farther than listening on social media platforms. It has the Julep Idea Lab that sends an email survey out to 5,000 members to find out what customers want in a product. Currently the Idea Lab is asking customers to crowdfund Julep’s new innovative Plié Wand.

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Julep’s ability to reach out to its customers online and to engage them is what makes it so successful. I look forward to seeing Julep grow!

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Is Lancome Still a Granny Brand?

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In the past it seems that Lancome was viewed as a brand for older women. One likely reason for this opinion is that Lancome sells a lot of anti-aging products. Or maybe it was because of the higher cost of the products or the sophisticated image of the brand. One could even say that it was caused by a lack of presence on social media. When I was a young teenager I don’t remember seeing Lancome on Facebook, but maybe I wasn’t paying attention…

Today Lancome has increased its social media engagement with consumers. I’d like to share three ways that Lancome offers an opportunity for consumers to share and engage.

1. #LancomeLoves 

Lancome asks makeup lovers to post pictures of their lips and nails wearing Lancome products. The hashtags are #LancomeLovesLips and #LancomeLovesNails. I remember entering a Lancome contest to win all their new lipsticks by posting a photo with #LancomeLovesLips. If you go to the Lancome website there is a page that shows only a fraction of the posts under these two hashtags.

2. La Galerie

On the Lancome website you can view products that people are buying in real time. Here’s what it looks like at at one moment in time:

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All users have to do to comment is authorize an application on Facebook. How easy is that?! This allows online shoppers to see what other people are buying and ask questions or comment on the purchases. I really like this. It can be hard going through a website and trying to decide what to buy without having any insight on what other shoppers like and purchase.

3. #DualFinishConfessions Facebook Contest

Lancome has a Facebook contest running right now through April 26th. It’s the #DualFinishConfessions contest. You post your confession with the hashtag to enter to win a year’s supply of Dual Finish! Contests are great because people usually share their submission on their walls and invite their friends to enter.

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Lancome seems to be doing well. In 2012,  it places third among the top five brands with the highest engagement rates on Facebook. In 2010 Lancome hired Michelle Phan as its first video makeup artist. If you’ve never heard of Michelle Phan, she is a YouTube beauty guru with 5 million daily followers! And her followers aren’t grannies!

Keep your eye out for Lancome!

See Lancome’s spring collection here!

Urban Decay Contest Hypes Up New Collection on Pinterest

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Urban Decay is debuting a new collection called “Electric” on Pinterest, along with a contest that will send two people to Coachella this year. UD’s Pinterest board “Get Electric. Festival Style.” is a board of pictures of music festival style, the new Electric collection, and brightly-colored people and objects. The Electric collection seems to go hand-in-hand with music festivals because it’s just the sort of product that festival goers want to wear!

Not only is Urban Decay sharing pictures of its new collection (out March 18th), but it is also offering a contest to followers:

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Urban Decay is an edgy beauty brand with a wildly youthful personality. Creating a connection between a huge musical event (that many UD customers attend) and a new product line that caters to their style is genius. Urban Decay is inspiring pinners. By inspiring pinners with pins of beautiful girls with flowers in their hair and pins of the festival, UD is adding to its brand image and increasing engagement with consumers. 

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Purchases through pins. But can it turn re-pins into sales? According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, 1 in 5 Pinterest users has bought something in a store after pinning or liking it on Pinterest. That’s good news. Urban Decay is doing the right thing by sending Pinners to its store to buy the Electric collection!

The more re-pins, the better. By pinning about the new collection and music festivals, Urban Decay’s pins are being re-pinned. Re-pinning is the best way to reach more people on Pinterest because 19% of purchases were found through a friend on Pinterest and 24% were found through a stranger. A measly 7% of purchases were found on the actual retailer’s Pinterest board.

With almost 40 million unique visitors each month, Pinterest is a hot platform for reaching consumers. I look forward to reading more about Pinterest’s growth and pins-to-purchases capabilities.

The Benefit of Birchbox

Birchbox is an e-commerce company that delivers personalized boxes of beauty product samples to subscribers each month at $10/box. Full-sizes of the sample products are available to purchase on the website and there’s beauty content to boot!

This Birchbox video explains it all:

I do not subscribe to Birchbox (even though I’d love to!) but I do interact with the company on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Birchbox partners with beauty brands to host giveaways to its followers on social media websites. According to PBM Marketing Solutions’ president Gregory J. Pollack,“For a true strategic partnership brand marketing program to work, both brands must complement each other and deliver similar customer profiles.” Birchbox is a business that focuses on delivering beauty products to consumers. The company partners with the beauty brands it promotes in the Birchboxes so the customer profiles are one in the same – beauty product lovers!

Recently Birchbox and Benefit Cosmetics partnered up to host the #BenefitXBirchbox grand prize giveaway. I saw an advertisement for the promotion on Facebook and decided to enter a photo on Instagram with #BenefitXBirchbox.

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SO many people entered the contest, so I was surprised when I found out that I won $500 of Benefit products!

I suddenly knew I had the perfect blog topic: how Benefit Cosmetics benefits from a brand partnership (focusing on this contest) with Birchbox.

First I’d like to gush about Benefit Cosmetics. Founded by Jean and Jane Ford, Benefit Cosmetics is a ultra fab, beauty counter brand that exudes a fun and glamorous personality. Each product has a playful name like “They’re Real!” mascara, “Big Easy” complexion perfector (I get to try this one!), and “Rockateur” provocative cheek powder. Benefit is also known for its Brow Bars that offer eyebrow waxing, makeup application, airbrush services, and more.

To enter the contest I was instructed to “browse and shop” Benefit’s pictures on Instagram and to upload my own with the hashtag. I already knew about Benefit’s products because I love Benefit Cosmetics! I discovered the brand as a high school student when shopping for makeup at the beauty counters with my momma. I ended up looking at their new products anyway.

The picture I entered is a consumer-created advertisement for Benefit. I snapped a photo of my two favorite Benefit products and wrote a cute caption: “Just a couple of my skin’s best friends!” Like me, the Instagram users who entered this contest created buzz about Benefit that their followers (and anyone who viewed the hashtag) can see.

Screen Shot 2014-03-02 at 1.00.22 PMI promoted Benefit on Instagram and Facebook. I’m sure some of my 873 Instagram follwers and 1,269 Facebook friends saw this post and were interested in the products I showcased. My close friends or core ties know that I love beauty products and may see me as an influencer. My peers trust my Instagram picture of my “skin’s best friends” more than they trust an advertisement products by Benefit Cosmetics because they know me and trust my opinion. This is the greatest benefit that comes from a contest like this! Benefit Cosmetics gets tons of unpaid advertising and user-generated content from its customers.

Screen Shot 2014-03-01 at 7.19.47 PMIt may be true that most of the people who entered the contest already own Benefit beauty products but that cannot be said of their followers and anyone else who sees their photo. Benefit Cosmetics gained hundreds of mentions and we can guess that the reach is significant if you consider all the followers of each of the participants.

I haven’t even mentioned the audience that Birchbox has! On Facebook: 899,279 fans. On Instagram: 97,360. On Twitter: 119K. These followers are receiving the message about Benefit Cosmetics too– whether they enter the contest or not!

Partnering with Birchbox is a good move. Birchbox did $80 to $100 million in revenue in 2013 and is close to closing a $50 million Series B round of funding which shows that it is a growing company. In 2013 the company doubled its subscribers to 400,000!

I sure am happy Benefit Cosmetics chose to host this amazing contest with Birchbox. I cannot wait to get my new Benefit products!! And by the way, you can enter this contest too!

Click here to see the February entries and check out the rules!