By now, most people have either heard of blogging, know someone who blogs or blog themselves. Businesses all over the country use blogging to network and market themselves, often hiring professionals to write regular commentary on their business or product. It has become an essential part of the beauty industry as well, with brands, salon/spas and stores promoting their businesses through this social medium. While blogging has become well-known and even commonplace, many businesses have taken it a step further, ramping up into another social network that has become hugely popular for consumers and business owners: vlogging.
Vlogging, or video blogging, is the latest way for businesses to promote their products and services. Sites such as YouTube have exploded with vloggers, both individuals and those associated with companies and products. Independent vloggers rate products, give tutorials on makeup and hair and provide tons of publicity for brands, salon/spas and stores. Businesses are finding that vlogging pays big in exposure and, as a result, are creating their own videos for their customers and to promote their products and services.
[Image: thinkstock.com/iStockphoto collection]
Folica, an online beauty retailer with an emphasis on hair care, jumped on the vlogging train when it noticed that its customers were using vlogging to promote products. The company, founded in 1999, has developed a strong customer base over the years, with an original mission to “provide customers an outstanding selection of hair products at highly competitive prices, along with an opportunity to learn new haircare possibilities through other, similar shoppers.”
“Our customers began video blogging about the products they purchased from us,” says Jessica Bohm, Folica’s director of marketing. “We gave them the option to post their vlog and reviews on our product pages. Over the past few years, we decided to join in the fun ourselves. We started generating our own content with the same authentic approach our customers took, while partnering with key players in the vlogging community to increase brand awareness.”
Folica promotes its vlogs on its website, through marketing emails, on Facebook and on YouTube. Its target audience is females ages 18 to 45 years old. Bohm says there has been an extremely receptive response to their vlogging. “We have seen a big rise in email clicks in addition to an overall increased engagement. Vlogging has opened up a new dialogue with our customers, as each video receives a collection of conversations that we participate in.”
Folica keeps its vlogging topics open, with subject matter brought up in customer reviews, popular hair trends, showcasing products that lend themselves to visual presentation and customer feedback.
Already a strong presence on the Internet, its entry into vlogging has helped broaden its reach even more. “Not only does our vlogging create an active connection with beauty influencers, we have opened up a channel that produces unlimited contact,” says Bohm. “The content never expires. We consistently find that our consumer-to-consumer approach with vlogging lifts sales for highlighted products. Vlogging has also worked well for topics or products that consumers may find intimidating or confusing.”
For businesses that want to get into the vlogging scene, Bohm recommends looking online and reaching out to vloggers who are advocating their products. Learn from them and get involved in the conversation. “Don’t be intimidated by the production process either,” she says. “Vloggers usually find success with a unique, genuine message. Vlogs don’t require a video crew or team of editors.”
[Image: Courtesy of Folica]
Mirabella, another social-media savvy beauty company, has also found success with vlogging. Mirabella has been a part of the beauty world since the late 1980s, starting with a small distribution company and eventually evolving into the company it is today.
The company started vlogging on YouTube in 2010, says president John Maly. “At first, we did an eight-minute video so our salons could understand the Fall Trends release. It was a little too long, but still popular. We pared it down for the next trend in the spring, and since then, we have [shot] video [at] every event, including our press event in New York and our 2012 photo shoot.”
Mirabella’s vlogs are posted on YouTube and promoted through Facebook and Twitter. The company will also be posting on the front page of its website to provide more initial interest. It’s vlogs include product descriptions and press events. “Consumers LOVED our New York Fashion Week videos,” says Maly. “We got 50,000 views in just a couple of weeks. People enjoy video. If we can tell them, they are more apt to listen than read something. Some of our salons also eblast customers with our videos to create a buzz for the brand.”
While Mirabella has yet to make the connection of increased sales and vlogging—”We’re still figuring that out!” says Maly—the company definitely sees vlogging as an important part of its future. “It’s easy to get started, and it’s cheap!” he says. “You have the ability with a cell phone to make a video, post it on YouTube and post a link to Facebook and on your website. The video can be as simple as a client talking about how [she] loves your salon or store, or a vendor talking about how amazing your business is. It can even be you telling your story. Our story video has been very popular. People all over the world have watched it as they research makeup brands to distribute.”
[Image: Courtesy of Mirabella]
Known as the “Queen of Curl” in the industry, Ouidad is an internationally recognized stylist and hair educator. She opened her first salon in 1984, catering exclusively to curly hair. Since then, her business has grown into trademarked cutting and styling techniques and a line of award-winning products. Always progressive, getting involved in vlogging simply made sense for Ouidad. Patrick Campbell, director of marketing for Ouidad, says the company started vlogging in 2009. “We wanted to demonstrate how to use our products, and we knew there was a growing community of curly haired customers who were seeking product information and how-to tips. YouTube is a powerful part of the social network and has helped consumers make decisions on which products are right for them. Most people like hearing what their peers have to say about products, saving them time and money in purchasing something that may not work for their hair.”
Targeting anyone who has wavy, curly or textured hair, Ouidad has a specialized market that has responded well to videos. “We have our main YouTube channel called ‘Ouidad—The Curl Experts’ and a behind-the-scenes channel called ‘Ouidad Snippets,’ says Campbell. “We post our content to our website, our blog, Facebook and Twitter.” Vlogs include how-tos, behind-the-scenes videos of Fashion Week, photo shoots, makeovers, stories from Ouidad stylists and personal stories from Ouidad herself. “Response has been extremely positive,” says Campbell. “Customers have questions about how to style their hair and what products work best for their hair type. It’s great that they have access to Ouidad’s knowledge simply by logging onto our website or any of our social-media channels. On YouTube they can watch, ask questions and discuss content with their peers. We’ve found that to be very important to our customers.”
Although unsure about increased sales due to vlogging, Ouidad has deliberately increased its presence in the online community via vlogging. “Vlogs are very important to curly haired consumers, and many seek out information online prior to purchasing,” says Campbell. “Vlogging has allowed us to share the personality of Ouidad and the passion for our brand in an entertaining and educational way.”
Campbell cites finding out what customers want as the primary step any business owner should take when considering vlogging as a way to connect with the public. “We would often talk to our customer-service team and salon clientele to find out what their questions were and what people wanted,” he says. “I think the key is to just start. It doesn’t have to be perfect or the highest quality edit, just start small, and let it progress and improve over time.”
The pace of social media continues to increase and keeping up can seem impossible. While you might think that your website and possibly a blog is sufficient to entice customers to your store, vlogging can be an easy and inexpensive addition to your arsenal of marketing tools. YouTube accounts are free to set up, and with the simple touch of an iPhone, a video can be created and downloaded in mere minutes.
Both young and mature customers are becoming entrenched in the social-media outlets Facebook and Twitter; so adding a weekly or daily vlog to your page can generate more talk about your store and bring in more customers. And when it’s really as easy as getting out your phone and pushing ‘record,’ how can you not check out this latest addition to the cyber-marketing game?
Jody Ellis-Knapp is a freelance writer based in Alaska. She recently co-authored an Alaskan cookbook titled What’s Cooking, Alaska?
[Image: Courtesy of Ouidad]