As the definition of beauty evolves, social media platforms are becoming a space for consumers and brands to connect, learn from each other and grow within a myriad of different beauty communities. They are offering a safe place for people to value creativity and embrace the empowerment that platforms can provide; and as people’s interactions are becoming more digital, there is a real need for human connection within the content. Mobile is enabling real-time self-expression (400 million people use Instagram Stories every day) and consumers are at the heart of each conversation.

Building Beauty on Mobile

With people “thumbing” through 92 metres of content every day on various social media platforms, this relatively new way of consuming data is driving the platforms to create new formats. 75% of all mobile data will be video by 2020, with two thirds being shorter immediate videos (Stories, Boomerang) and a third being immersive longer-form video (IGTV). Creativity captures consumer attention; the first two seconds of video are the most important on socials in order to attract immediate focus and to stop an instant scroll through. 

Instagram is the most popular platform for beauty related purposes, but when brands are looking to better communicate with their audience, understanding why consumers engage with their content is key. There are seven key behavioural motivations that drive engagement: 

1. Discovery: People use platforms to discover new content, often not through active planned research but by curating their own feeds for personal inspiration. 

2. Learning: People use platforms to keep up to date with their wide variety of interests. 

3. Entertainment: There is a reason that memes are some of the most shared pieces of content, people explore platforms for pleasure and fun. 

4. Sharing: The huge social dimension of platforms allows people to share the above three behavioural motivations through DMs, tags, Stories and posts. 

5. Expression: Due the highly visual nature of platforms, people are allowed to express their emotions in better creative ways than through verbal communication alone. 

6. Validation: People are finding support for their own viewpoints, which help them to understand, develop and express their identity.   

7. Belonging: Feeling like you’re not alone and part of a community is incredibly important, especially as we enter an ever-increasing digitalised world. Platforms enable people to find likeminded individuals and engage to satisfy this innate social need. 

Based on these key behavioural motivations, nine trends have been determined to be shaping tomorrow’s beauty consumer:


Beautifully Imperfect – People are celebrating new ideals of beauty 

Ideals are shifting. Look at Barbie, she was once seen as the “ideal” body shape, fast forward to now and the new Lottie dolls are empowering young girls by showcasing different body shapes. Getty images have banned content that feature altered body shapes and ASOS are opting against airbrushing models’ stretch marks. 

 Motivations:  Sharing, Validation, Belonging 

Deep Beauty – People are embracing beauty as more than appearance 

This is driven by the notion that beauty is increasingly an intrinsic part of wellness. Both a healthy diet, meditation and a good skincare routine is known to be improving peoples mental and physical wellbeing. People want to learn more about the products they’re using and they want to be educated about the brands they’re buying in to. 

Motivations: Discovery, Learning, Sharing 

JOMO Indulgence – People are revelling in their me-time 

The term is Joy Of Missing Out is growing in appeal. The idea that you can enjoy your current activities without worrying about what others are up to. By taking time to revel in their own beauty regime, people are putting themselves first. 

 Motivations:  Discovery, Entertainment, Belonging 


Knowing Me – People want their beauty choices to evolve in line with their personal lives 

As consumers grow on their beauty journey (say from adolescence to adulthood), they are looking to social media for their personalised needs. There’s a desire for people to take advice from influencers and brands, who should try to present themselves as peers to connect better. 

 Motivations:  Discovery, Learning, Sharing 

Curated Connections – People want beauty content to be more relatable 

Building a social media channel that is relatable is key for consumers. This means that brands are showcasing a more diverse definition of beauty, with the aim to champion the voices of different communities. Opening up these conversations will create better engagement with consumers and will provide deeper connections. 

 Motivations:  Discovery, Sharing, Validation 

Ambitious Learners – People are seeking advice on products, ingredients and techniques 

For a lot of consumers, platforms are educational. ‘How-to’ content is hugely popular, as people can explore, consume and replicate looks on their own terms. For brands it’s about creating inspirational yet educational content. 

 Motivations : Discovery, Learning, Entertainment 


Shades of Me – People are experimenting with different dimensions of their personality 

Consumers are using platforms to explore different parts of their persona, whether that is venturing out of their comfort zone for a special occasion, or experimenting with playful forms of self-expression. People are looking to others who share their passions for support. 

 Motivations:  Expression, Belonging, Validation 

Layered Storytelling – People are embellishing their online posts to enhance self-expression 

The addition of gifs, tags, emojis stickers, hashtags and captions are a way to be creative and original to the next level and helps people express parts of their identity in way that photos or words may not be able to do on their own. 

Motivations:  Sharing, Expression, Entertainment 

Empowered Expression – People are finding beauty confidence from communities’ validation 

Validation received through responses on platforms helps builds people’s confidence and self-esteem, as well as pushing them to further express the different shades of their identity. For brands, it’s about engaging with communities in a human way, tapping into these interactions can help build strong connections and loyalty. 

Motivations: Expression, Validation, Belonging 

Turning Trends into Action

Branded Content 

With 80% of Instagrammers following a business account, the successful brands are not only encouraging but endorsing individuality and creative expression by using influencers to stay ahead of the curve. This is an area where influencers have gone from admiration to aspiration; from role models to life coaches. Whether it is a mainstream brand that wants to be innovating but relevant, or a nice beauty brand that wants to find a community and solidify their voice in that space, it’s the use of influencers that is allowing this expression to be showcased. Visible brands (those that sell make-up and have a visual impact) need to have an immediate effect in their content, whereas the Invisible brand (those that sell fragrance or skincare) needs to be about emotional empowerment and connecting with the consumer on a personal level. Choosing the right influencers for the brand and those that embody what the brand stands for (or is striving to stand for), will determine the success of the campaign. 

 Some pointers when considering branded content on a business feed: 

  1. Consider branded content as part of your organic presence. 

  2. Remember the principles, genuine partnerships resonate well with Instagrammers. 

  3. To guarantee reach to your target audience, and measure performance, try running ads from your brand’s handle that incorporate an influencers creative assets (with their permission). 

  Social Media platforms want to find the balance between influencers producing authentic content whilst maximising their ability to grow their own business. The platforms have four major principles when discussing branded content: transparency, integrity, authenticity and measurement. 86% of social media professionals have or plan to have influencer management programmes in 2019 so that they can bring fresh creativity to their marketing strategy (in particular video marketing) and gain cachet with young people. Therefore, it's essential that the platforms have the best formats for them to achieve their goals.  

The Surfaces of Instagram 

  As Instagram hits 1 billion users on the platform, with 4/5 of these users logging in each day, it’s never been more essential to understand the many surfaces of the platform. 


“Long form vertical video” – This is a new way to engage with an audience, bringing them even closer to the brand and showing them a new angle from which to view. 50% of all video will be viewed on a mobile phone by 2020, so this vertical format encourages mobile-first because it’s simple and intuitive. Where Stories starts the conversation, consumers can then look at longer-form vertical video (IGTV), which enables them to get an even deeper look into a brand’s personality. Think Real, not Reel. 

We’ve spoken to Instagram and they’ve suggested these ideas for how to bring your brand’s IGTV surface to life: 

  • Super close crops – this lends itself perfectly to the beauty industry by being able to show a lot of detail in a runway look for example. 

  • Street style – a more natural way of showing personalities, particularly useful around fashion month. 

  • Selfies – influencers, brand ambassadors etc using IGTV for live selfies and conversation. 

  • Low effort – IGTV doesn’t have to be a professionally made video, and sometimes this engages the audience better at how “real” it is. 

  • Episodic – creating episodes that audiences can tune in to, will have them coming back each time to watch the next one. 

  • Around the brand – giving them an insight into the brand’s offices, studio etc. will let audiences into the brand more than ever. 

  • Involve the team – getting to know members of the brand’s team lets audiences get to know the brand’s personality. 

  • Involve the audience – audiences love giving their opinion, so ask them questions, and then use IGTV to answer these questions. 

Some tips for IGTV: 

  1. Remember the light, the higher the frame rate, the light you’ll need. 

  2. Getting a call will stop a video (please enable Do Not Disturb!) 

  3. Sounds play a big part, if shooting for a further distance, consider a remote microphone. 

  4. You can add links to an IGTV description (unlike Feed). 


People follow brands and influencers for one (or more) of the following reasons: entertainment, information, education or inspiration. What keeps people continuing to follow and engage with these accounts is when there authentic and engaging content, which hasn’t been repurposed from another surface or channel, as well as when the brand or influencer is building a sense of community. By being responsive, engaging and answering comments, people will feel connected with the account. 

 The main feed is essentially the store-front for any account. When people are first come to the profile it’s a way of seeing the personality in a moodboard format. However, the importance of the general theme of a feed, how it looks when viewing all images in a grid-format is questionable. Only 1.6% of Stories are seen through profile views, meaning that 98% of the journey isn’t starting there. Therefore, curating your feed to be a certain colour theme etc. should not be the main focus. 

 When the feed was chronological, it meant that 70% of content was missed when scrolling, hence the algorithm was introduced, or the Goal of Feed Ranking, as Instagram prefers to call it. There are over 500 signals in the algorithm, that determines the output, but the important 3 are Interest, Timeliness and Relationship. By changing it to feed ranking, it ensured that content wasn’t being missed by those that wanted to see it, regardless of when it was posted. 50% more followers see posts than when it was chronological. It’s improved visibility, reach and engagement for all accounts. The platform rewards accounts for being engaged. If a follower likes and comments regularly on an account, they will never miss a feed post. 

 Some myths to de-bunk: 

  1. It does not hide posts 

  2. It does not favour video over photos (unless you engage with videos more then you’ll see more!) 

  3. Does not down rank people for “over posting” 

  4. Business accounts do not have reduced visibility. 

  Tips to break through the feed ranking noise: 

  • Post feed exclusives 

  • Create video versions of images 

  • Utilise every surface within the feeds for maximum impact: Feed, Explore tab, Hashtag page, Location page, Profile page. 

  Account safety 

It’s never been more important to have the 2-factor authentication turned on, so hackers can’t ruin all the hard work that has gone into the platform. To stop trolls, there is an comment moderation and keyword filter in settings that tells Instagram to automatically remove all comments with these words in without them ever being live. Finally, regulators are stamping down (particularly photo agencies) on images that accounts do not own. If there are images on the feed, even from 5 years ago that aren’t owned by the account, remove them, or face a hefty fine. 


49% of online orders occurred on a mobile in 2017. Sales from smartphones are expected to triple in the next 4 years and on a monthly basis, around 90 million accounts tap on shopping posts to learn more. They are some impressive numbers! With shopping tabs now on both Feed and Stories, it allows a consumer to view a product without having to come out of the app initially, to learn more, before clicking through to purchase if desired. Brands can enable the Shopping feature by creating a Facebook Shop and linking it back to Instagram.


Influencers and brands are switching to using Stories as a main part of their strategy as full-screen vertical format becomes increasingly popular to consumers. It’s a great way of sharing key moments in a brand (launches, event, promotions etc.) as well as driving consumers to a particular web page. Authentic content, such as behind-the-scenes footage, builds trust and loyalty. Because they are just 15 seconds long, it’s a surface to be playful, using in-app tools and engaging in a fun way. Consider going Live, as this also bumps the Stories to the front of the queue. 

  Tips for Live Stories: 

  1. Authentic conversation 

  2. Check your connection (no-one wants a fuzzy video to watch) 

  3. Wait around 15-20 minutes to reach more people 

  4. Use comment filtering 

  5. If you’re unsure, go live with another brand/influencer. 

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Rhian Hart