Skin care flatlay

How top skincare brands use Instagram to engage their audience and drive sales

Photo of Brittanie DreghornBrittanie Dreghorn Posted

Whether you fork out a week’s salary on a morning moisturiser or prefer an all-in-one solution that just happens to be on sale in the supermarket, the odds are your skincare purchases are the product of some highly strategic marketing happening from product conception all the way to the shelf it sits on.  

For skincare marketers tasked with getting their brand out there and staying top of mind when the time for purchase comes, Instagram has become a valuable tool used by legacy brands and newcomers alike. And that’s no surprise considering that research conducted by Facebook has found that 70% of shopping enthusiasts turn to Instagram for product discovery. 

Having a highly visual and, put simply, stunning profile goes without saying. Using influencers to gain exposure and add to brand integrity is also commonplace. But what about using Instagram to drive in-platform purchases? Or adding value to the audience through how-to content? Or just using the channel to showcase brand values? 

We looked at some top skincare brands to unpack how they use Instagram to engage their audiences and deliver a better outcome for their brands. 

The brands featured in this article:

Neutrogena

Always the adult brand, Neutrogena’s Instagram is no exception when it comes to the visual look and feel, and the tone of voice carried across the brand’s marketing. “The #1 dermatologist recommended skincare brand bringing you the latest in beauty innovation for your best skin ever” is the profile’s primary copy, reinforcing the brand’s authority and the seriousness it applies to skin care.

Neutrogena Instagram grid
Source: Neutrogena Instagram

The brand’s approach to its Instagram feed is clean and consistent, opting for almost 100% product shots in a way that is as minimalist as possible considering the colours it has to work with. Neutrogena is hardly reinventing the wheel with its Instagram marketing, keeping a curation of influencer posts and product shots in and out of packaging. Considering the size of the brand’s audience on Instagram, Neutrogena does an awesome job of community management on posts, with most posts attracting questions about its products. The brand also tags in its product to make on-the-spot conversation super simple. 

The verdict: Despite the prominence of product shots, it’s clear that Neutrogena’s Instagram page is more of a community management and engagement tool than a straight up sell.  

Olay

For international skincare behemoth Olay, Instagram is a place to showcase brand values and create a conversation around the things that matter to its audience. At the time of publishing, the brand was pledging $1 for every tweet that includes #MakeSpaceforWomen to Girls Who Code – a national non-profit that’s dedicated to closing the gender gap in technology – on its Instagram page. 

Olay Instagram grid
Source: Olay Instagram

When it’s business as usual for the brand, Olay uses a mixture of simple but styled product shots, product specials and cross-promoted content from other channels such as Twitter. The brand surprisingly does not tag products into  posts, reinforcing the channel as being a value add and community minded channel rather than a direct sales play. 

The verdict: Olay’s made it clear that the brand need not explain what it has to offer. Instead, the brand’s turned to adding value to its audience and reinforcing its values on a global scale. 

Soko Glam 

The opening line in the profile “Only good (skin) days ahead” sets the scene for a playful and light brand experience, appropriately reflected in the visual tone of Soko Glam’s Instagram. As an aggregator of Korean skincare and beauty products, Soko Glam doesn’t have a simple job when it comes to keeping its profile slick. The products the brand promotes range from fluorescent pink bottles to minimalist black and white tubes.

Soko Glam Instagram grid
Source: Soko Glam Instagram

Despite the visual challenge of making all of this work next to each other, the brand does a surprisingly good job of keeping a cohesive visual theme, tying it together with colourful how-to cards and the odd cat pic for good measure, because, obviously. Importantly, Soko Glam makes shopping the products easy-peasy by including all the product tags in the images and keeping its Instagram shop looking super suave. 

The verdict: With more than 330,000 followers, Soko Glam is clearly doing something right. With a healthy mix of product shots, common interest content (I’m talking about the cats again) and helpful Q&As, the brand is the all-around source for skincare questions and products, all via an Instagram page. 

Sukin Skincare 

Sukin Skincare is all about simplicity when it comes to its products. “It’s what we leave out that makes us special,” is what its Instagram profile reads, so you won’t be surprised that the feed is a mix of minimalist product shots, clean copy cards and carefully curated UGC. As a brand that values natural ingredients, Sukin uses its Instagram to communicate the properties of some of its core ingredients, demystifying the components of its products. 

Sukin Skincare Instagram grid
Source: Sukin Skincare Instagram

Sukin also uses its Instagram page as a community engagement tool, curating its UGC in a story highlight named Our Tribe. The brand refers to its fans as that throughout the feed, often addressing the “Tribe” in short videos on the page about new products and specials. Sukin tags some products into posts but not all of them, suggesting this is more about after customer loyalty than selling.

The verdict: Sukin Skincare is using its Instagram account as a community engagement tool that engages its audience. It invests in keeping a pretty feed, but also has a utility element to explaining the products. 

Aesop Skincare

How can words even start to describe the beauty of Aesop’s Instagram feed? I do not know. You’ll just need to go and see it here for yourself, or trust that it’s some sort of sea of muted pastels with both hard and curved lines seamlessly integrated to create something closer to artwork than social media. 

Aesop Skincare Instagram grid
Source: Aesop Skincare Instagram

Aesop’s not playing around when it comes to its unwavering commitment to design. The brand’s Instagram feed is an extension of the in-store experience, bringing a mixture of its in-store architecture, product shots and illustrated images together. Aesop also uses its Instagram feed to cross promote other pieces of content marketing, like its monthly publication “The Ledger.” 

With all this noted and seen, it may not come as a surprise to read that the brand does not tag products into its images on Instagram. It clearly values an in-store experience or at least does not see its Instagram as a place for its customers to check out, but rather to be inspired by design. And we think that deserves a round of applause. 

The verdict: Instagram presents a perfect medium for Aesop to convey its commitment to design and the brand does not disappoint. For fans of the brand it’s a touch point that adds value to their day and quality to their feed. 

Go To Skincare

Sporting a selection of product shots, how-to content and curated influencer images, Go To Skincare’s Instagram feed is like fairy floss for the eyeballs. The brand’s carefree values are represented visually and in the profile copy that reads: “Uncomplicated, effective, worry-free skin care.” 

Go To Skincare Instagram grid
Source: Go To Skincare Instagram

It’s clear from the Go To Skincare profile that the brand takes a serious approach to curating stunning content that reflects the brand visually. Its UGC images are a collection of real life before and after shots, as well as the expected product spreads and flat lays. Go To Skincare’s tone of voice is on point with its younger audience, delivering useful information and skincare tips in a casual tone with a bit of humour for good measure. The brand does tag in products on occasion but it’s clear it’s not the main drawcard for this account. 

The verdict: Go To Skincare’s Instagram account is more about creating community than it is a sales tool. The combination of before and after photos, beautiful imagery, cute how-tos and pop culture memes create a cohesive brand voice that its fans can get behind. 

Photo of Brittanie DreghornBrittanie Dreghorn

Brittanie Dreghorn

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