Is Beauty Headed for a Social Media Shakeup in 2020?

New year, new…social media strategy?
The blogger boom, rise and fall (and rise again) of Snapchat, Facebook's political woes, the YouTube chronicles, Instagram's reign as king: these were the defining social media moments of the past decade. But as Instagram's user growth slows, #SponCon fatigue sets in and brands become mesmerized by TikTok, there may be a turning of the tides brewing in the zeitgeist.
Here, WWD takes a look at the current social media landscape — and some key takeaways for beauty brands.
Between Checkout, Shopping from Creators and its Brand Collabs Manager tool, Instagram has been making moves to stay on top of the multibillion-dollar influencer marketing realm. But a recent report from eMarketer shows that users may be growing tired of the platform, which has become undeniably overrun with sponsored content, follower loops and influencer drama.
Instagram's U.S. user growth rate fell from 10.1 percent in 2018 to 6.7 percent in 2019, the first time that rate reached a single digit pace, according to eMarketer. The market research company predicts that Instagram's growth rate will drop to 4.5 percent in 2020 and continue to decline throughout the next few years.
Despite those numbers, brands remain optimistic about influencer marketing, according to a May report from Influencer Marketing Hub. The report, a collaboration with Viral Nation and NeoReach, surveyed 800 marketing agencies, brands and "other relevant professionals." It found that 86 percent of participants intended to dedicate a portion of their budget to influencer marketing in 2019, up from 47 percent in 2017. Furthermore, 63 percent planned to increase their influencer marketing budget over the next year.
Brands will need to get smart about their strategies, as Instagram continues to hide likes and engagement rates remain a nebulous metric. Microinfluencers emerged as the new favorite child in 2019, though a stratified approach seems to be the word of advice from marketing agencies.
Prior to VidCon's 2019 installment, Facebook announced new monetization features for its creators. The social media giant seems to be incentivizing creators in order to steal some of YouTube's thunder, though how effective it will be in doing so remains to be seen.
Facebook's most-prized beauty creator is Huda Kattan, founder of the billion-dollar Huda Beauty company. The influencer has a Facebook Watch Original series with the platform, the second season of which debuted last year. The show's page is followed by more than 700,000 people, and the episodes have cumulatively racked up tens of millions of views.
YouTube and beauty: a winning combination — so long as it's drama-free.
YouTubers Jeffree Star and Shane Dawson closed out 2019 with the biggest influencer launch of the year. The vloggers first unveiled their joint Conspiracy Collection on YouTube, generating a total Media Impact Value of $54 million, according to Launchmetrics. Nearly half of that MIV came from YouTube, where Star and Dawson count 17 million subscribers and 23 million subscribers, respectively.
Dawson's YouTube series documenting the making of the collection — the first widely viewed YouTube series on the ins and outs of the beauty industry — translated to millions of views per episode and the selling out of the collaboration, which is slated to restock this year.
The success of the line, which was sold at Morphe in addition to Star's web site, is testament to the persisting power of YouTubers. This year, both James Charles and Bretman Rock will release new YouTube series. When it comes to beauty YouTube, drama may be out, but content is forever in.
Don't count Snapchat out of the social media race just yet. In fact, things are looking up for the platform, according to a recent report from eMarketer.
By the end of 2019, Snapchat had 293 million users worldwide, a 14.2 percent growth from the year prior, according to the report, which cites new features as a driver of that growth. Emarketer estimates that Snapchat will add more than 63 million users by the end of 2023.
TikTok is already the most-anticipated social media platform of the year.
E.l.f. Cosmetics was one of the first beauty brands to test out the ByteDance-owned video-sharing app last year. E.l.f.'s campaign featured a number of influencers mouthing the words to a song inspired by Kash Doll's "Ice Me Out." The campaign trended on TikTok when it debuted — due, in so small part, to the musical element, as TikTok has been known to viralize songs such as "Old Town Road" by Lil Nas X and "Fantasy" by Mariah Carey.
The platform has piqued the interest of beauty brands, as there's no shortage of beauty and beauty-adjacent content on it. Still, brands have yet to master it. And if Instagram is any indication, it's only a matter of time before #SponCon saturation sets in.
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