For the month of July, Tribe Dynamics uncovered several interesting things in the social media beauty landscape. For starters, it listed the Top 10 beauty brands it found to be the most socially influential and generating the most valuable earned media. It also pointed out key differences in how mass and prestige brands use content to engage consumers.

*July’s Beauty Brands With The Highest Earned Media Value:

1. MAC – $10,057,165 EMV
2. NARS – $7,474,433 EMV

3. MAYBELLINE – $6,136,805 EMV
4. L’ORÉAL –  $5,869,790 EMV

5. OPI – $5,458,602 EMV
6. NYX – $5,426,760 EMV
7. TOO FACED – $5,004,296 EMV
8. MILANI COSMETICS – $4,913,814 EMV

9. COVERGIRL – $4,036,800 EMV

10. URBAN DECAY – $3,950,408 EMV

EMV Analysis Uncovers Importance of Brand Ambassadors

Milani Cosmetics’ presence in Tribe’s July Top 10 was not an accident. The brand excelled in earned media per­formance for the month as a result of a collection of valuable posts created on Instagram and Facebook, after the brand had sent select beauty ambassadors a generous supply of Milani products. The mass-market brand targeted some of the more influential color makeup ambassadors, in addition to sending Nylon Magazine a “motherload” of free product according to the publication’s Instagram post.

These kinds of ambassador programs, or “product seeding,” are attractive to marketers looking to maximize earned media at minimal cost, said Tribe. Between just four of the beauty influencers Milani sent products to, the resulting Instagram posts thanking and tagging the brand generated over 43,000 likes. Aside from being cost-effective, ambassador programs inspire incredibly authentic endorsements.

“The gen­uine excitement present in these posts is relatable, and gives consumers a sense of comfort and reassurance attached to their perception of the brand. From authenticity comes trust, and finally loyalty and advocacy. This kind of emotional branding is prominently featured in marketing expert Ted Rubin’s concept of RonR (Return on Relationship), an argument stating that brands should be focused above all else on fostering meaningful, long term relationships with consumers,” Tribe said.

Mass and Prestige: The Great Social Divide

Interestingly, Tribe found that the single most used words commonly associated with the top three prestige brands all implied an active form of engagement beyond a product level, including “tutorial”, “Phyrra” (an eminent beauty influencer), and “nailart.” Earned media being created about MAC, NARS and OPI often includes more serious makeup tutorials or instructional content from professionals and beauty experts.

Meanwhile, a majority of the mass-market brands were linked to more general beauty and retail terms, including “free”, “lipstick” and “love.”

In regard to brand-related phrases, a majority of the prestige brands were most frequently associated with a seasonal branded collection and corresponding digital campaign, while a majority of the mass-market brands were most frequently associated with an individual product.

These earned media terms highlight noteworthy differences between prestige and mass market brands’ ap­proach to digital marketing and the earned media being created about them online.

Turning first to prestige brands, the constant running through these brand-related terms is the attention given to creating a socially relevant branded experience. Brands like MAC or NARS differentiate them­selves from competitors by providing unique experiences with each new collection or campaign that remain true to their brand’s larger story. As a result, customers are not driven by convenience, they choose a brand based on the emotional connection they feel to its story and whether they feel the brand’s personality aligns with their own. Prestige brands also continuously invest in marketing and advertising campaigns that are unique, innovative, even controversial in an effort to appeal to these consumers beyond a product level. The marketing executive at a prestige brand’s primary goal, it may be summized, is to retell the brand’s story in a unique, novel way through a series of brand experiences that will drive meaningful ongoing engagement. In a nutshell, the strength of a prestige brand can be measured by the strength of its brand experiences.

Comparatively, although mass-market brands are not short of attention-grabbing, flashy marketing campaigns, awareness for their brand is more directly tied to actual products. These brands rely on recognizable brand aes­thetics and imagery, easy for the loyal convenience shopper to pick out from the noise of a crowded makeup aisle. The strength of a mass-market brand is a reflection of overall brand awareness and product or collection recognition.

Taking a step back, this contrast may reflect a relatively new understanding amongst branding and marketing groups. Mass-market beauty brands, it seems, should be cautious of resting on the laurels of their long-established brand awareness. Prestige brands seem to initially have a better grasp on this new kind engagement, experience-driven necessary to stay socially relevant.

* This metric was based on the number of posts received (blog posts; YouTube videos; Tweets; Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest posts) and engagement rate (blog and video views; Instagram and Facebook likes; Twitter actions; shares; comments.)Tribe’s holistic approach assigns a specific dollar value to each respective form of content based on the perceived value of each to brands within the industry, as it pertains to establishing ongoing relationships with influencers.

To read the full Tribe Dynamics report for the month of July, click here.