As a way to educate indie brands on the best strategies to engaging and building a community, Michael McNeil, VP of Integrated Marketing, Huda Beauty, and Ali Weiss, SVP of Marketing, Glossier, participated in a virtual roundtable November 16 on Cultivating Digital Communities. The winners of the CEW Indie Makeup and CEW Indie Skincare Beauty Awards, respectively, talked about everything from developing meaningful connections to taking marketing beyond social media. Below, five key insights from the roundtable. To learn more about Glossier, be sure attend CEW’s Dec. 4 event featuring Glossier Founder and CEO, Emily Weiss, who will be discussing the future of beauty and why taking a digital-first approach to beauty will always be the key to the company’s success.

Gather information from your community to help build your brand.

For brands to resonate, they need to be listening to consumer’s needs. Early on, Glossier and Huda Beauty were both able to use their respective blogs as a tool for intel to develop valuable content and products. However, you can’t always follow the playbook of the brands before you. As technology modernizes, it’s important to continually adjust the platforms and tools used to listen to customers.

Interact with consumers.

Brands should have vehicles to have conversations with consumers. The early success of Huda Beauty was based on the interactions Huda had with her community, who were reaching out to her for advice. Before she became a mega-brand, the primary focus was on relationship-building, not selling products.

Develop meaningful connections.

Glossier is considerate about connections within the community, not just the brand/consumer relationship. There are aspects of communications that brands may not be able to see and are not measurable, such as individuals recommending a product via a text message or talking about the brand with friends. Therefore, Glossier aims to generate actions like these by producing content that would prompt those behaviors. Huda Beauty looks at metrics such as earned media value [EMV], but also focuses on repeated consumer interaction with the brand and each other on their platforms. The brand also has a team dedicated to speaking directly to individuals engaging on their platforms.

Extend beyond social media.

Glossier looks to their community to inform their product roadmap, ranging from shade ranges to visual marketing. Additionally, the brand launched beyond beauty with sweatshirts. For Huda Beauty, the focus is on building an integrated marketing campaign that has meaningful touchpoints such as bespoke experiences with packaging.

Work with influencers but have a well-rounded marketing strategy.

More than ever, the consumer is gravitating towards people they feel are authentically representing themselves, so it’s important to build relations with partners who embody the brand. However, keep in mind that influencers are not the only growth avenue; they are an important component, but not the only tool to drive success.