Insights: How beauty brands can create great content for Facebook and Instagram

In the past 12 months, there has been a 20% increase in conversations about make up and a 21% increase in mentions of skincare on Facebook and Instagram. Beauty shoppers are increasingly looking to the social media platforms to discover new products, trends and techniques and to research items before making a purchase.

How beauty shoppers are using Facebook and Instagram

Beauty shoppers are most likely to turn to Instagram for inspiration and discovery and Facebook for research and understanding – but consumers use both platforms to discover new trends and products.

  • Beauty buyers surveyed in the UK, UAE, France and Germany said the top reason they use Instagram is to look for inspiration while their top reason for visiting Facebook was to read customer reviews
  • In a study carried out by Facebook IQ, 65% of people who engage with beauty content on Instagram said they use the platform to find inspiration
  • Over half of women who use Instagram use the platform to look for beauty ideas when they have a special occasion coming up
  • European beauty buyers check Instagram 21 times a day on average
  • Different age groups behave differently on Facebook and Instagram. A survey of UK, UAE, French and German beauty buyers aged 18 and over found that buyers aged 35 to 64 are 50% more likely to use Instagram for research and comparing prices than millennials. Millennials are 20% more likely to watch online videos about beauty products than those aged 35 to 64 and beauty buyers aged 35 to 64 are 20% more likely to watch ‘before and after’ beauty transformation videos than millennials
  • A study of Instagram users aged 13 and over found that 33% follow individuals that post beauty content, 24% follow beauty brands and 13% follow beauty media accounts such as magazines. A third of users aged 13 and over discover beauty trends through Instagram’s ‘Explore’ section

Online vs in-store: how people shop

Results from Beauty Path to Purchase by GfK (Facebook commissioned study of 1001 women ages 18-64 who have shopped for a beauty product within the last 3 months in the UK), Jan 2017

In a survey of female beauty shoppers aged 18 and over, 74% of women said they shopped online for at least some of their beauty purchases. The in-store experience is still important – few women shop only online for cosmetics and the majority said the top reason for shopping in store was to see and feel products – but online shopping offers more convenience and often, better deals. Almost half (45%) of beauty buyers buy more online than they did a few years ago and 39% are using social media for shopping and research more than they did one year ago – highlighting the importance of having a strong presence on both Facebook and Instagram.

Results from Beauty Path to Purchase by GfK (Facebook commissioned study of 1001 women ages 18-64 who have shopped for a beauty product within the last 3 months in the UK), Jan 2017

Top trending topics and hashtags

Nails are the most talked about beauty topic on Instagram (via @wahnails)
  • The top beauty hashtags are #beauty, #beautyblogger, #pretty, #beautiful, #makeup, #fashion, #style, #eyes, #hair and #model
  • Nails are the most talked about beauty topic on Instagram, making up 26% of hashtags, followed by eyes (21%) and lips (also 21%).
  • The top nail hashtags are #nailporn, #nailstoinspire and #nailswag
  • Winged eyeliner is the most-shared look on Instagram, followed by smoky eyes, false eyelashes, cut crease (an eye make-up technique), and glitter eyes
  • The top beauty hashtags are #beauty, #beautyblogger, #pretty, #beautiful, #makeup, #fashion, #style, #eyes, #hair, #model

Male grooming

More than half of women (53%) now shop online for beauty products and 34% of men make personal care purchases online. In Europe, men and women spend equal amounts of money. This suggests there is a real opportunity to use Instagram’s advertising products to communicate with men who are less likely to follow beauty accounts but still like to discover and shop for products online.

The natural look

The trend for natural beauty shows no signs of slowing down. There was a 30% rise in mentions of natural beauty terms on Facebook between November 2015 and November 2016 and an increase in conversations around mentions of ditching shampoo. #nomakeup remains a popular hashtag and is often used along with #nofilter, #natural, #tired and #bedtime. Compared with other Instagram users, those who use the #nomakeup hashtag are more likely to post and comment, view more videos and have 2.7 x more followers.

The brands making great use of Facebook and Instagram


Birchbox (@birchbox) has over half a million followers on Instagram and uses the platform not just to showcase products but to build a relationship with its customers. Its feed features beauty tips and tricks as well as carefully composed product shots, seasonal content and posts promoting special offers and new products.

The brand regularly runs competitions on Instagram and often posts questions to spark conversations among its followers (such as ‘What’s your favourite book this year?’) It also publishes content to mark key events in the calendar, sharing images of eco-friendly products on World Earth Day and lip care facts to mark Valentine’s Day.

Birchbox has used Instagram’s video ad tool to promote its monthly beauty subscription service (each month, the brand posts a box of beauty samples to customers based on their preferences). A 15-second video in the style of popular posts from vloggers showed someone opening the brand’s monthly beauty box and taking a picture of the products inside. Other videos in the series showed Birchbox staff members unboxing products and applying lip gloss, highlighter and eyeliner – see the case study here.

Benefit Cosmetics

Benefit Cosmetics used sequenced video and carousel ads promote its range of brow products and encourage online purchases (see a case study here). The brand worked with Creative Shop to develop bespoke video ads of brow transformations that match its fun and retro aesthetic and tone of voice.

It also used reach and frequency buying to control the number of times ads were served to the target audience and used Custom Audiences and the Facebook pixel tool to retarget people who viewed the video ads. Different age groups were shown different content, with creative tailored to suit their potential brow dilemmas. The campaign led to a 23-point increase in ad recall among 35–44 age group and 10-point lift in purchase intent.


YSL Beauty used Canvas and carousel ads to launch its Mon Paris fragrance on Facebook, using precise targeting to reach new shoppers without cannibalising the audience of its Black Opium line. The Canvas experience was based on its Mon Paris TV spot and combined footage of the film’s stars with videos of the product. The Facebook campaign reached 5.7 million people and helped drive awareness by 9pt.


Sephora’s Visual Artist bot on Facebook Messenger helps shoppers discover new products. Customers can upload a selfie or a photograph of anything from a piece of clothing to furniture and the bot will find a lipstick matching that colour. Shoppers can also select a ‘surprise me’ option to be presented with a random selection of products, or type in a colour or brand to see a list of products matching their preference. They can then refine results or click through to the Sephora website.


The @asos_beauty feed is a great example of how to make traditional product shots more engaging through animation. The brand often uses short stop motion videos to showcase new products and uses Instagram’s galleries feature to showcase different looks.

Creative tools and how to use them

There are several ad formats available to advertisers on Facebook and Instagram.

Stills can be used to convey a complex story through simple yet engaging images, while video ads show a product in action.

Videos can be up to 60 seconds long and will automatically play when appearing in the centre of a user’s feed.

Messenger bots can be used to deliver a personalised shopping experience – see Sephora’s Visual Artist tool and Tommy Hilfiger’s TMY.GRL chat bot – while Instagram Stories can be used to capture content live.

Tommy Hilfiger’s TMY.GRL chat bot

Maybelline posts daily Stories from its Instagram account and runs regular features such as ‘Tip Tuesdays’, where beauty experts share their secrets. Beauty brand Tarte uses the feature to notify followers when products are back in stock. Other brands use it to showcase collections or content from events and product launches.

Facebook Live allows you to live stream videos to your audience – Refinery29 uses the feature to post beauty tutorials, video interviews and product reviews. Recent videos include an eyeliner stencil demo, an interview with the founder of a luxury skincare brand for women of colour and a morning makeup tutorial.

Eyeliner Stencils

Alicia Quarles puts these eyeliner stencils to the ultimate test. 〰Eyeliners that won’t smear no matter WHAT:

Posted by Refinery29 on Mittwoch, 21. Juni 2017

360-degree videos and Canvas allow you to create more immersive content – see L’Occitane’s campaign promoting holiday gift sets. Jean Paul Gaultier used a 360-degree video to promote its perfume on Facebook, with a film shot from the perspective of a bottle of the famous scent, and Nars has experimented with a 360-degree makeup tutorial.

An ad created using Facebook Canvas for skin care brand L’Occitane uses video, images and 360 view to promote the brand’s gift sets and explain the origins of its products

7 tips for creating great beauty content

Celebrate diversity

Amy Cole, Head of Product Marketing, Emerging Platforms, says that brands should celebrate individuality to make meaningful connections with shoppers. “How people express their beauty is no longer one-size-fits-all. Celebrate personalised notions of beauty and showcase how cosmetics and skincare make [a consumer] feel versus how they look,” she says.

Be accessible, but inspirational

Brands should provide content that is accessible yet inspirational enough to capture their attention, and should experiment with real time content, says Cole. “Instagram and Facebook Stories allows you to illustrate beauty moments such as behind-the-scenes action in a less polished and more instantaneous format.”

Optimise reach and frequency

Don’t target too narrowly. In general, use broad targets that drive sale while staying relevant. Aim to reach at least 50% – 70% of your core audience and make sure you reach people at least once perweek. You can use Facebook’s Reach and Frequency tool to guarantee the number of people reached at a specified frequency.

Think business objectives, not likes 

Identify your primary business objective and don’t focus too much on likes, comments and other engagement metrics – they don’t always correlate with business outcomes. And remember, reach is key.

Design for feed

Capture attention quickly: with mobile, it’s important to capture your audience’s attention quickly. Putting key messages, questions and hooks upfront gives the audience something to grasp within the all-important first three seconds.

Be flexible: make sure your ideas are easy for people to view on the go. Consider how text,graphics and captions can bolster a visual story and help facilitate the audience’s connectionwith the message.

Frame your visual story: think about how you can use the mobile screen to your advantage – to create visual surprises, explore new approaches or highlight different elements. The best brands right now are delighting their audience by showing them things they’ve never seen before.

Play more

The opportunity for innovation in mobile marketing is enormous. We need to experiment, test and even fail. Because that’s how we’re going to learn. Push the boundaries and find out what’s possible. One place to do this is the Creative Hub, an online space where you can access ad specs and case studies, as well as actually creating and testing mock mobile ads to share with clients or colleagues.

Get emotional

Whether it’s making consumers laugh, cry or say wow, create a feeling and you’re one click away from making them buy.

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Insights is part of Inspire, a year-long partnership between Creative Review, Facebook and Instagram showcasing outstanding creative work and emerging talent on both platforms.
More advice and inspiration is also available at Facebook’s Creative Hub.

Creative Hub was launched in 2016 to help the creative communities understand mobile marketing. The online tool allows creatives to experiment with content formats – from Instagram video to Facebook Canvas – and produce mock-ups to share with clients and stakeholders. It also showcases successful campaigns created for mobile. 

Try out the mock up tool at and see the inspiration gallery here

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