This month Glossy hosted Glossy Beauty Pop, a conference where beauty influencers, brands, and experts come together to network and discuss some of the most pressing issues in the influencer marketing industry.
There were some incredible panel speakers, including Vanessa Hudgens (founder and CEO of Know Beauty), Patrick O’Keefe (VP of integrated marketing communications at e.l.f. Beauty), Somer Tejwani (SVP of global marketing at Too Faced Cosmetics), Patrick Ta, Glamzilla, and many more.
Below I share some of the best influencer marketing insights and snippets that I heard throughout the day.
Shanina Shaik (Founder, Sala), Somer Tejwani (SVP, Too Faced), Jun Young Lim (Founder & CEO, Beaubble)
Main takeaways: Good brand-influencer deals require strong foundations that can date all the way back to the initial planning phase (i.e. it’s best if you’re an expert goal setter). Plus, a plea for more brand independence in pursuit of better innovation and creativity.
Somer Tejwani stressed the importance of figuring out beforehand what you hope to achieve through the influencer campaign. Is it to drive sales? To create content and creative assets to repurpose across brand properties? To educate consumers on a new ingredient or product? Having clarity here will then guide you on what type of influencer to partner with.
Pro tip: Knowing your goals ahead of time won’t just help you figure out what type of influencer you’re looking for, but how to look for them. Your influencer discovery tactics might change, depending on what your aims are. Check out this article that illustrates real-life examples of how three brands found creators for their influencer marketing campaigns.
Another interesting point made by Jun Young Lim — the beauty industry is still highly concentrated, with most brands owned by a small handful of big brands. Lim felt that this limits the amount of creativity and uniqueness we see in the space. The anecdote? Lim feels that there is an opportunity to “unbundle” the space. New brands should try to remain and grow independently while smaller incubators and portfolio brands rise to compete with large players.
Lo Bosworth (Founder, Love Wellness), Iskra Lawrence (Founder, Saltair), Desi Perkins (Founder, Dezi Skin)
Main takeaway: Community and close relationships can help a brand overcome impossible odds.
Desi Perkins shared an interesting anecdote — she launched an eyewear brand in the middle of the pandemic while everyone was holed up in their homes. Perkins figured it could be a huge flop because, “who needs sunglasses if you’re not going anywhere?” But, hours after launching the brand’s social page, it gained tens of thousands of followers and nearly sold out of the initial batch of products. She attributed this entirely to the close relationship she had built with her community of followers in the years prior to starting her own brands.
Vanessa Hudgens (Founder & CEO, KNOW Beauty), Chriselle Lim (Founder, Phlur)
Main takeaway: Celebs are great, but they don’t count as a whole influencer marketing strategy.
Vanessa Hudgens is a well known actress and Chriselle Lim, a lifestyle blogger with a large following that places her in the “mega” influencer category. Both now own their own beauty brands — one skincare and one fragrance — and are part of a bigger trend of celebrities and influencers opening up their own brands.
The influencer marketing industry has been a bit divided on this topic. Some folks feel that celebrity/influencer-led and owned brands are just a fact of the future. They hold big influence, so they probably will be able to drive good business, right? Other folks feel that brand ownership is better left to experts from the specific beauty field.
Interestingly, both Hudgens and Lim both talked about how important it is for a brand to be able to stand on its own and not rely on the popularity of its owner/founder. For their own brands, they feel it’s critical to not bank on the fact that the high-profile celebrity owner will drive awareness and sales. In fact, Chriselle intentionally isn’t featured in Phlur’s recent campaign content for this reason.
Based on what I’ve seen in the industry, I think this is incredibly astute. Rare Beauty (owned by Selena Gomez), is a great example of a brand that has an incredibly sophisticated influencer marketing strategy that doesn’t hinge on its celebrity owner/founder.
Patrick O’Keefe (VP, e.l.f. beauty), Kensington Tillo (Content Creator), Sheena Zadeh-Daly (Founder, Kosas)
Main takeaway: Collaborations thrive on creative freedom.
Honestly, there was so many good things discussed by this panel that it was hard to jot it all down. Essentially, O’Keefe, Tillo, and Zadeh-Daly discussed the ways in which brands and creators find one another (sometimes it’s through rigorous research, sometimes it’s just happy serendipity) and best practices for approaching and briefing (shameless plug for an article on how to do that).
That being said, the biggest takeaway and underlying theme was the imperative for creative freedom. Influencers = creators, so it makes a lot of sense that creative freedom is essential to building strong and long lasting influencer relationships. This was especially well received by the creators in attendance that day, and I had the pleasure of speaking with a few folks about it during our intimate roundtable discussion.
While I can’t share details from that specific discussion, I can share a quote from VIP influencer Kat Stickler from when she attended one of Traackr’s virtual influencer marketing events last year. The setting might have been different, but the sentiment was the same:
“When I sense that there is restricted creative freedom, I immediately pull back because I don’t want to do just an ad. I want to do something that is funny, relatable, and promotes the company in my own voice.” - Kat Stickler, Influencer & Comedian
Patrick Ta (Founder, Patrick Ta Beauty), Ashley Tisdale (Founder, Being Frenshe), Stephanie “Glamzilla” Valentine (Content Creator), Susan Yara (Founder, Naturium)
Main takeaway: People follow people, not platforms. Also, anyone gatekeeping is a party foul.
This panel ended up being about more than just TikTok! The star studded creator panel talked about platforms of choice, how they present themselves on different platforms, capacity issues, and the trickiness of trends (to follow or not follow). I especially loved some of the points that Glamzilla made about social media being social, and how we need to lean into community. This doesn’t just pertain to one influencer’s individual network! She made the point that what benefits one often benefits all, and both people and brands should avoid gatekeeping for the greater good. This got a rousing response from the attendees.
One other interesting insight from the panel — a reporter asked about the panelists’ experience with TikTok Shopping. None of the brands have experimented with it yet, because the founders feel like it currently is more targeted towards small mom and pop type of brands.