How to Win at Social Media for Beauty and Cosmetic Brands in 2021

Sep 15, 2023

Forget printed magazines and TV ads.

Social media is the place to be for beauty and cosmetic brands in 2021.

Even today’s emerging cosmetic brands are born from YouTube influencers. Meanwhile, others opt for 100% digital product launches.

Beauty brands really can’t survive without a comprehensive social media strategy in 2021. It’s where your audience hangs out and shares their thoughts on your products.

Plus, most social media platforms focus heavily on multimedia like images and videos which is perfect for makeup and beauty products.

Make no mistake though. Competition is tight.

Lots of brands launching today already have an established fanbase or even cult following. You need a clear-cut strategy that outlines your audience, goals, and brand’s purpose on each platform.

Here’s how.

18 Strategies, Tips, and Ideas for Social Media for Beauty and Cosmetic Brands in 2021

Developing a social media strategy for beauty and cosmetic brands is tricky. You want to stand out against the competition, but you also don’t want to spark the wrong kind of controversy.

Research is everything here. Research what your competitors have already done. Research what they did wrong. Research the current drama and backlash. Research what people love.

Finally, plan accordingly and use all the tools at your disposal.

1. Lots of User-Generated Content

Social media platforms are literally built for sharing user-generated content. That’s why personal pages tend to get more – and better – engagement than branded pages.

Scan branded hashtags and run searches for your brand across different platforms to find people using your products. Reach out to the best representatives of your brand’s products and values to ask if you can share their content on your brand’s page with credit.

Offer to send a freebie bag in exchange for using their content. People know you want to share their content to boost sales and branding, so it’s respectful to offer something in exchange.

Glossier loves user-generated content. This photo shows off a natural look from a customer – which Glossier is all about. Find the user-generated content that best fits with your messaging and brand.


2. Focus on Clean Ingredients

People are more aware than ever of what they’re putting onto and into their body. It’s also the general attitude that if you wouldn’t eat something, you shouldn’t put it onto your face either.

Unsurprisingly, a search for the hashtag #cleanbeauty on Instagram delivers almost 3.5 million results.

That’s why beauty and cosmetic brands should use their social media presence to show customers what kind of clean ingredients they use in products.

Create infographics explaining how different natural ingredients work like hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, and vitamin A. Help people take charge of their routine by explaining which ingredients shouldn’t be mixed or worn in sunlight, for example.

This small brand, Sweet and Kind, created a post to educate followers on acmella flower which they call “nature’s Botox.” I’d never heard of it, have you? Exactly.


3. Share Simple Video Tutorials

Social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok are the perfect places to share useful tutorials with your customers and followers.

Scan places like Reddit and Instagram hashtags to discover unusual or interesting ways people are using your product. Every makeup influencer knows Halloween is the best time to let their creativity shine, for example, with awesome tutorials and time-lapse videos.

Consider other tricky application techniques like facial contouring, cut creases, and pigment-based makeups that customers might be reluctant to try.

Include relevant tutorials for different audiences too like people with monolids, hooded lids, and dark skin tones.

This Instagram account, glambaddiies, only shares user-generated tutorials and mainly by women of colour:

4. Everyone Loves Contests and Giveaways

Giveaways and contests are truly the gifts that keep on giving for beauty and cosmetic brands on social media.

First of all, the contest itself lets you boost engagement to your page by encouraging people to comment, tag, and share content with their friends. Through other contests, you might require followers to register for your email list, giving you another chance to collect info on your audience.

Encourage your contest winners to share photos and videos of themselves unboxing and using your products when they receive them. Depending on the product, you might ask them to create a tutorial video or series of photos. Boom. Instant user-generated content to share on your page!

Depending on the following of your contest winner and the content they typically post, you could have a new influencer on your hands as well. Regardless, it at least lets you learn more about your existing audience.

One thing about contests. Always update your post and create a new post to announce the winner like CLOVE + HALLOW did here – this is vital for boosting credibility.


Want even more knowledge about Beauty Brands and Social Media? Watch this video…

5. Use a Conversational and Relatable Voice

I saw a skincare ad on Hulu last week where the brand appeared to have hired an actress with a heavy French accent to play a doctor explaining how the ingredients work. This type of ad worked in the 90s but it’s pretty out of touch today.

Some older demographics might respond well to authority figures like doctors, but younger generations want more conversational and relatable messaging.

It’s smart to hire someone within your target audience’s demographic to write your copy and develop your social media brand voice. They’ll understand what type of messaging works and what to avoid.

Benefit Cosmetics uses super relatable jokes in their Instagram posts:


6. Memes are Always Good (When You Know How to Use Them)

Is there anything more cringe than when a brand shares an overused or outdated meme? Yes, when the brand doesn’t even use the format correctly.

Make sure the format is current. Meme formats can go stale overnight in some cases. By the time your social media team sees a trending format, has an idea, gets the go-ahead to create, and publishes, the meme could be old news.

Memes for social media for beauty and cosmetic brands in 2021 also must be 100% relevant. In other words, don’t shove yourself into memes just because they’re trending.

Urban Decay knows the Naked 3 is one of their best-selling neutral pallets so this meme was super fitting:


7. Inclusivity for a Global Audience

Social media for beauty and cosmetic brands in 2021 reaches a global audience. Most brands have acknowledged this and promote content that reflects their audiences. Specifically, non-white customers.

That’s why you see so many brands sharing images of Muslim women these days. Women in MENA countries like Lebanon, the UAE, and Tunisia consume tons of high-end beauty products, so it only makes sense to share photos of them on social media.

Check your analytics and customer base so you can share content that reflects them.

Fenty took the makeup world by storm by simply offering enough shades of foundation and concealer:

8. Visually Stimulating Images

Most consumers consider makeup an art and tool for expressing themselves. Make sure your social media graphics and images reflect the art and personality behind your brand.

High-quality photos and videos are well worth the investment for beauty and cosmetic brands.

You need content that instantly grabs attention with colourful pallets, varying textures, and stunning compositions.

MAC Cosmetics knows a thing or two about attention-grabbing looks and photos:


9. Highlight Personalised Products and Packages

It’s all about personalisation these days. Beauty and cosmetic brands have a unique opportunity to offer completely personalised products rather than just unique digital experiences.

Plenty of cosmetic and skincare companies have jumped on the trend by allowing customers to create their own unique formulas and colour blends.

Curology, for example, lets customers design their own product formula and routine based on their skin’s unique issues and goals.


ColourPop stands out from other cosmetic brands in that it allows customers to design their own eyeshadow pallets. Although, they could do a bit more to encourage folks to share their custom products on social media.

10. Understand Your Demographics

Beauty and cosmetic brands killing it on social media have one thing in common: They understand their audience. Specifically, they understand their demographics, interests, and values.

Having a solid grasp on your audience will help you decide whether you should use humour (and what kind) or promote social issues. It will also help you figure out what type of voice to use on social media.

Benefit Cosmetics has a modern sense of humour on social media with a down-to-earth tone and absolutely does not shy away from relevant current events and causes. Benefit’s latest post in fact is a funny video about the time NASA gave a woman 100 tampons for her six-day expedition.


11. Promote Authentic Reviews

Why wait for customers to seek out your product reviews on their own?

Social media for beauty and cosmetic brands is the perfect platform to repurpose your reviews into memes and graphics for sharing.

While raving reviews are great, it’s the funny and unique ones that really grab attention and resonate with your customers.

Can you find a review of a customer saying that no one at work could tell they were hungover after using your product? Or maybe one about how your product made them feel like a runway model for their Zoom meeting?

Those are the things people want to hear: Relatable, funny, sarcastic, you get it.

12. Connect with Influencers

Influencers come in all shapes and sizes. It’s really not necessary to only partner with folks on the Kardashian’s level. In fact, partnerships with macro or mega influencers aren’t always the most effective because their audience isn’t super targeted. Plus, people already view mega influencers as brands, so you miss out on the human connection angle.

Instead, scour hashtags for people with smaller yet engaged audiences. Reddit also has bustling no-nonsense makeup and skincare communities.

Hang out in places like r/SkincareAddiction and r/MakeupAddicts to find people already using and raving about your products. See if they have Instagram or YouTube pages for promotional material.


This Reddit user made a complete infographic of all the skincare products they use. Showing once again what a goldmine Reddit is for brands who want to understand their audience:


13. Partner with Other Brands

Here’s yet another reason why it’s so critical to understand your audience. A marketing partnership between a skincare brand and makeup brand can be a match made in heaven.

Again, Reddit is a great place to see which products your audience uses aside from your own. Most subreddits require users to post complete product lists whenever they share a makeup photo, for example.

Beauty and makeup influencers always tag every brand in their photos. Check your tags and see what brands you could partner with for things like primers, setting sprays, eyeshadows, lip glosses, nail polish, and anything else.


The possibilities are truly endless here.

If you only carry eyeshadow, see what foundations your customers prefer and consider partnering with one brand for social media campaigns. You could also ask one of your influencers to use a partner’s products along with your own so you can tag the brand in your post.

Partnerships are all about relevancy. Look for brands that share your voice, audience demographics, and values to drive the most value from the relationship.

14. Use Niche Hashtags

We all know branded hashtags are important on social media for beauty and cosmetic brands in 2021 (well, we should).

Niche hashtags though, now that’s where you can really spread your message and share your personality a bit.

Think about your audience and the topic for each post as you choose your hashtags. CLOVE + HALLOW uses hashtags around topics like green beauty, vegan, and clean ingredients along with the relevant holiday:


It all depends on your audience. Scroll through your comments and check posts from your followers.

BH Cosmetics uses relevant hashtags like #WeekendVibes to add a little personality and reach to their posts:


15. Keep It Consistent

Consistency takes on many forms as far as social media is concerned for beauty and cosmetic companies.

For starters, you need a consistent voice. People will only trust your brand if they can recognise a familiar voice. Decide whether that’s trendy, modern, hyper-conversational, warm, light, or professional for your brand and stick with it.

Develop a set of guidelines so your posts sound the same no matter who writes the copy.

Consistency should also apply to your content. If you share tutorials, people will expect more tutorials, for example. Stick with the same filters and colour palettes in your photos as well.

Benefit Cosmetics clearly prefers photos and videos with their signature pink:

16. Add Value with Your Content

No one wants to open their Instagram feed to see a bunch of advertisements. The most effective social media for beauty and cosmetic brands in 2021 should offer value in every single post.

This is why we keep driving home the importance of tutorials and even humour for that matter.

If you can’t stop yourself from a promotional post, at least be funny.

Scour Instagram and Reddit for fresh ways to use your products. Keep your followers updated on new products and discounts. Offer tips and advice.

CLOVE + HALLOW has a whole set of Instagram Stories dedicated to tips and tricks – and they’re actually useful. The first set of tips explains how to avoid the dreaded undereye concealer crease:

Reddit and other forums have no shortage of people struggling with common problems or offering up complaints. Use these to your advantage when you create content.

17. Get Creative with Stories

Stories are so valuable to brands because they tell you who’s viewing your content. Plus, publishing regular Stories propels your brand’s content to the top of the newsfeed, effectively bypassing the annoying algorithm.

CLOVE + HALLOW is smart about their Stories. They have a set of saved Stories dedicated to just colour swatches.

Not only is this valuable to the customer but viewing these also signals that someone is farther along in the buying process. If someone wants to see your swatches, they’re probably considering a purchase.

Benefit Cosmetics also has a shrewd Stories strategy. They have a set of Stories that explains how to use their virtual try-on tool which frankly sounds kind of strange or confusing without the explainer:

18. Create Content for Different Audiences on Different Platforms

Think about who follows your brand on each platform. Facebook, for example, tends to include older demographics. Your followers here might appreciate anti-aging tips and tutorials.

Compare that to TikTok which appeals to teens and young adults. Your TikTok followers might want to see more edgy and colour-heavy looks.

It’s also efficient to repurpose content across different platforms. You can seamlessly save an Instagram Reel or Story and upload it to Facebook instantly. Test content with your most engaged audience and reshare the best stuff elsewhere.

Keep It Real with Social Media for Beauty and Cosmetic Brands in 2021

Here’s the thing. People who use beauty products and cosmetics are sick of being stereotyped and shoved into boxes. They want social media content they can relate to and drive value from. They want people who “get” them creating the content – not disconnected executives.

Your social team should reflect the demographic you’re targeting so your content is always relevant and useful.

Arianna Gismondi
Creative Strategist

I've got experience with brands, both in agency and in-house. I specialize in researching brands, audiences, industries, cultural trends, competitors' positioning, and finding insights.

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