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How Anastasia Beverly Hills Won Over Instagram with a Bizarre Brow Campaign

Branding isn’t a cakewalk. What works for some brands, fails for others. What humors one customer perplexes another.

Three cosmetic brands pushed the boundaries with their Instagram campaigns last month. Some stayed true to their roots, while others veered from their usual course to make a splash.

Anastasia Beverly Hills (ABH) topped the month as one of the most influential brands on Instagram, thanks to a campaign featuring stranger-than-fiction eyebrow art. ABH also ended the month as the most-mentioned brand on Twitter across 16 top cosmetics companies tracked by Zoomph’s ZIndex.

Below is a recap of three distinct branding strategies that rolled out last month. Have a look and let us know whether you think this is great branding, or just plain weird.

Anastasia Beverly Hills: Weird. Brows.

There’s a shock factor to some of ABH’s recent posts. Between unsightly unibrows and brow wigs, the company straddles the line between fascinating and creepy.

But once clicking into a post and viewing the full video, it’s jarring how normal the content is. The videos are (mostly) down-to-earth makeup tutorials, camouflaged behind bizarre cover photos—the main goal being to market ABH’s famous line of eyebrow products.
 

🎥 😮 Brow "wig". It looks so real

A post shared by Anastasia Beverly Hills (@anastasiabeverlyhills) on

😂 😂 @whateveryousay1687

A post shared by Anastasia Beverly Hills (@anastasiabeverlyhills) on

🎥#anastasiabrows @robinsans Using #Dipbrow in Medium Brown

A post shared by Anastasia Beverly Hills (@anastasiabeverlyhills) on

🙌🏻#anastasiabrows 🎥 @makeupedka Using #DIPBROW and to rehydrate the pomade she used few drops of oil.

A post shared by Anastasia Beverly Hills (@anastasiabeverlyhills) on

Oh my brows 😅 💕 @silkeveltkamp Using Brow Powder in Ash Brown with brush # 7 #AnastasiaBrows

A post shared by Anastasia Beverly Hills (@anastasiabeverlyhills) on


Despite a turn towards stranger visuals, ABH continues to manicure its image as an innovative maverick in brow makeup.

In a way, ABH has also stuck closely to its identity as the “people’s makeup brand” with its loyalty to user-generated content (UGC) marketing.

ABH repurposes UGC from over 600 influencers who, in the second quarter of 2015, were responsible for 24 percent of Anastasia’s earned media value, a total of $11.2 million.

In May alone, ABH posted 219 Instagram posts, or roughly seven posts per day, many of which credited influencers for the content. Below is a breakdown of the top influencers mentioned in ABH’s May ‘grams.
 


top mentions Anastasia Beverly Hills Instagram

 
ABH has a short history of beating out cosmetic giants, such as M.A.C., on Instagram. The brow powerhouse was crowned the most-liked beauty brand on Instagram in 2015, solely based on its incredible follower count. At the time, ABH had 7.5 million followers, or five times more than the beauty industry average.

Today, ABH flaunts 14 million followers. That’s over double the amount of Tarte’s followers, but behind M.A.C. by 1.5 million fewer followers. Nevertheless, ABH beats out M.A.C. in engagement; the brand ended last month as the third-most influential brand–four places ahead of M.A.C.–according to our Zoomph feed tracking the Instagram activity of 16 leading cosmetic brands. (It lagged behind Benefit and Too Faced who mainly attracted engagement through posts promoting free giveaways.)

“I felt that the consumer shops the same way, through visuals rather than words…We don’t have the capacity to run large-scale global advertising campaigns, and Instagram seemed like a magazine for fashion, beauty and fitness,” said ABH President Claudia Soare in an interview WWD.

Brows and Instagram game on fleek, ABH.

Tarte: Fun. Flirty. IDGAF.

Tarte’s commitment to customers is summed up in CEO’s Marueen Kelly’s welcome letter: provide glamor that can be good for you via eco-friendly, cruelty-free, and high-performing cosmetics infused with “skinvigorating” ingredients.

Tarte’s top Instagram posts from last month suggest that customers are dually attracted to its youthful disposition.

Its most engaging posts, identified by Zoomph’s influence-scoring algorithm (ZPoints), portray a free-spirited, sassy brand with just as much personality as your top-of-the-line glamor company–plus humor that flirts with WTF?
 

tarte lindsay lohan instagram post

 

tarte instagram post about peeling skin

 

tarte instagram post of scuba diver and octapus

 

In fact, it’s worth noting that five of Tarte’s top 10 most influential posts from May were memes harping on hashtags like #browwoes and #LOL.

Across its 192 posts from May, Tarte generously used hashtags to increase the reach of its posts. Hashtags varied between brand-promoted tags and generic, widely-used tags.
 

Top Hashtags Instagram Tarte Zoomph

 

The company earned 1.3 billion social impressions on Instagram, according to Zoomph, compared to ABH’s 3 billion and M.A.C.’s 2.5 billion last month.

M.A.C.: Glamor-is-Us

The most senior of the abovementioned brands, M.A.C. maintains its reputation as a high-profile backstage makeup brand.

Self-proclaimed as “the world’s leading professional makeup authority because of our unrivalled expertise in makeup ARTISTRY,” the brand confidently publishes a portfolio of colorful, trendsetting makeup visuals to Instagram.
 


While the company is known for scoring high-profile celebrity collabs, M.A.C.’s Instagram offers up the floor to a troupe of other makeup artists and beauty gurus.

Its regrammed content announces the new in-style looks and occasionally comes packaged with behind-the-scenes how-to videos.

In May, M.A.C. leveraged hashtags to discover and inspire new UGC from its customers and artists. With tags like #MACArtistChallenge and #MyArtistCommunity (also, geo-specific spin-offs like, #MyArtistCommunity_uk, #MyArtistCommunity_Ireland, etc.), the company celebrated creativity and networking among artists.
 

Top hashtags Instagram MAC Zoomph

 

Keep Track of Your Competition on Instagram

Needless to say, a thoughtful Instagram editorial calendar ladders up to a larger branding strategy.

The Zoomph social analytics platform gives you the tools for analyzing the themes, tactics, and influencers your competitors are employing. Track activity in real time, benchmark performance, or compare KPIs of multiple social media campaigns at once.

Contact us for more information about our platform, or tweet us your thoughts on May’s top cosmetic campaigns @Zoomph.
 

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