The Ugly Side That Beauty Brands Risk Facing Online

Brands work hard to build up their reputations via social media. Roles for content strategists, social media managers, community managers, digital marketing managers have become full time positions and revolve completely around the platforms that have changed the way companies do Marketing in 2018: social media.

Now more than ever, social media is a vital part of the marketing makeup that can lead to a brand's success.

Today we're analyzing what it means to be involved a community, beauty in particular, in todays world and with consumers being increasingly vocal about the beauty companies they choose to buy from, social media can also be the hill that brands die on.

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and more have become resources that boost sales, cultivate customer relationships; even a space to gain advantages over competitors. Today, statistics show that there are 2.23 billion Facebook users, 335 million active Twitter users and Instagram is leading the way with one billion monthly users.

With the rise of social media and more of a companies inner workings being available (or leaked) online, companies have had to contend with more and more public scrutiny from consumers. Although it is primarily a new way of developing a positive conversation with customers, social media is also where brands can be called out for wrong decisions or bad behaviour.

Cosmetic brands are no different. They are under attack from grassroots movements and social media influencers who are trying to change the industry for the better. As progressive issues take a larger role in our society, many brands have found themselves as a target for being too slow to adapt.

From MACs animal testing controversy in 2017, to ColourPop being called out after a questionably dark arm made an appearance in the same year; it seems no company is immune to the pressures that come with being front and centre in the public eye. Unfortunately, brand responses to critics on social media have often only done more damage to their reputation.

Public Criticism of Brands on Social Media

Sometimes, in the cosmetic world, products and product lines are not well received. In the era of social media, these situations can balloon before a brand is able to retain control.

One example is how IT Cosmetics was attacked earlier this year for not producing darker shades of foundations. Critics raised questions about the company’s inclusivity efforts on social media and it was noted that many cosmetic companies have been able to find the right mix to create a variety of colours for darker complexions. To put it simply, a modern-day makeup brand that is unable – or unwilling – to put in the effort, will get criticized. “No longer a mistake, the choice to overlook darker shades has become just that – a choice,” Chelsea Ritschel wrote for the UK’s Independent publication.

Another foundation-shade controversy developed for ColourPop. The company had to contend with outraged customers after it named two of its darkest shades in the Sculpting Stix ‘Typo' and 'Yikes’

The company responded by apologizing and renaming the products.

MAC had a publicity mess when they gave inappropriate names to some of their collections including the ‘Vibe Tribe’, offensive to Native Americans, and responded by refusing to admit the collection had any connection to Native American cultures; the lack of responsibility only pushed more consumers to take to social media to express their disappointment.

How To Respond to Social Media Attacks

Social media attacks can seemingly come out of nowhere to brands, but there is a way to redeem your reputation. Here are some tips for gracefully getting out of a potential public relations mess:

  • Have a guideline on how to respond to negative comments on social media so your staff is trained to respond appropriately
  • Don’t try and pass the blame
  • Give a clear and simple apology, acknowledging the mistake
  • Don’t attack any of those making rude or defamatory posts

No matter what industry you work in, social media criticism has become par for the course.

However, brands can continue to come out on top if they have a plan and respond appropriately.

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