How beauty brands can save face on social media

Posted by Carly Bowker on

In an industry as visual as cosmetics, social media is the perfect platform to showcase products. Just a quick search on Instagram for #beauty brings back over 250 million posts, and each week 2 million unique users search for beauty related content on the platform. When you combine that with the fact that 74% of consumers now rely on social media to make a buying decision, it is more important than ever that cosmetics brands make sure their social media strategy is working as hard as possible to reach the right people with the right message.

While most blogs focus on the best ways to increase engagement online, here we focus on the (often forgotten) flip side of the coin – how to deal with the negative engagement you get on social media that can derail all your best efforts.

So what events could cause a negative impact for a cosmetics brand? Crisp Labs, the research arm of Crisp, found there are three main risks that beauty brands on social media need to manage carefully.


Animal testing is by far the most common type of activist activity to affect beauty brands on social media. In our research into the top brands, we found that of the negative engagement almost 7% was about animal testing.

Comments posted about animal testing get the most response too, placing them higher up the feed, making them more visible to your audience. The problem is exacerbated if a brand sells products in countries where animal testing is required, such as China. This can cause a lot of tension on social media as consumers speak out against their practices – which is exactly what happened last year when customers started boycotting a particular beauty brand when it changed its stance on animal testing to enter a new market.

Brands deal with this sort of content differently. For some it’s a case of removing all negative comments, especially if they are not factually correct. Others leave the commentary live but respond with a clear message on the brand’s view or decision. The important thing is to make sure that, whichever approach you take, you do choose one and do it consistently. Completely ignoring this sort of commentary can impact hugely on your brand reputation and other social media activity, in particular your social media ads.

Negative influencer relationships

A well-managed influencer relationship can be hugely positive to your brand – leading to higher reach, stronger engagement and increased sales. On the other hand, if an influencer goes ‘off-brand’ e.g. by saying or doing something that gets a negative response from your target market, then that self-same relationship can lead to negative engagement for your brand and even calls for a brand boycott.

So should you avoid influencers? If you do, then you miss out on some great opportunities.  By collaborating with a well-known influencer, one beauty brand for instance, sold out a new lipstick online in a day. The trick instead is to make sure you are monitoring 24/7 for all content posted online by your influencers (whether they are major celebs or niche micro-influencers) to look out for trends or issues as they arise. That also means checking their past history for any issues that could come back to haunt them (and you), as well as new content.  That way you can stay on top of issues before they get a chance to evolve into something much bigger.

Spam and third-party links

Counterfeit products are a major problem for beauty brands across the world. In 2015 counterfeit products were estimated to cost the beauty industry approximately $75 million with over 2000 seizures of counterfeit beauty products in the US alone. With packaging that can be almost identical to the real thing these counterfeits aren’t easy to spot. These products can easily reduce trust in a beauty brand as consumers struggle to tell the products apart until they begin using them.

This leads us to our final risk for brands to be aware of – spam and third-party links. Spam is a constant online, and simple to deal with, usually with a fast removal. But ‘spam’ can also land itself into the activist category, where a concerted effort is applied by a specific group to swamp a brand’s social media feed with spam comments. In these cases, thousands of spam posts can be sent every minute, making it impossible for in-house teams to manage the take down. At times like this it’s important to be able to scale up resource quickly to stay on top of the issue until it dies down. The other risk here is that real, genuine comments can be lost, leading to unhappy customers. So, you also need to make sure that these are being collected and dealt with too.

Third party links on the other hand can have a more sinister motive. Some of these are bots that are just trying to get a site out to as wide an audience as possible. Others are using the brand’s own channels to divert genuine customers to sites selling fake goods. By leaving these links live on your channels your brand is acting as a reassurance that these links are real. To protect your customers, and your reputation, they need to be removed asap.

How can cosmetics brands protect themselves from social media risks?

Brands are becoming more and more savvy with social media as it becomes ingrained into our daily lives but there’s still a long way to go (just google ‘social media fails’ to see what we mean). A brand’s reputation online continues to grow in importance as online revenues increase, making it increasingly important to address these risks quickly and accurately.

The key to doing that is to prepare effectively and have a plan of action that can be quickly initiated should a scandal emerge.

That means considering every possibility for what could do wrong when a new influencer is brought on board. To do that well you need multiple teams to work closely together, from legal to security to PR to marketing to ensure every angle is covered.

It also means, due diligence on their previous social media posts, constant vigilance on current posts, and wider discussions about them. It means being aware of an issue fast, before anyone else (in particular the media) and having a clear plan in place for what needs to happen next. For that you need to be able to cut through the noise (these are influencers after all, the online chatter about them will be prolific) and get to the points that matter, that could impact to your brand.

The good news is that, by being aware of an issue fast and having a good strategy in place, you can make sure that your social media activities look flawless.

If you want to learn more about how we can help you, get in touch or go to for more information on our services. 

Carly Bowker

Written by Carly Bowker