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Best Instagram Content For Cosmetics Brands - 2018 Report

John Lahr
February 28, 2019

When it comes to marketing lifestyle brands on Instagram beauty brands are the gold standard. Not only are they some of the most followed and active brands on the platform, but they have also successfully leveraged visual storytelling into a powerful growth loop that builds both their brand and customer base.

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As a result, brands such as Glossier, Kylie Cosmetics, and ColourPop, have been able to grow to hundreds of millions in revenue quickly by meeting consumers in their Insta feeds.

Cosmetics brands need a more data-driven strategy to compete

Of course, success like this has inspired hundreds of new direct to consumer beauty brands and forced major traditional brands such as MAC, Urban Decay, and Sephora to invest heavily in Instagram content. This has raised the stakes for everyone as each brand fights to stand out in a crowded market and maintain tight control over its visual story.

Why we created this report

Given how important understanding the impact of different visual elements is to our cosmetics customers, we decided to take a look at what’s having the greatest performance impact on cosmetics content on Instagram. Specifically, we looked at:

  1. Memes
  2. Images featuring models
  3. Product only images

To find these trends, we analyzed 20 of the top cosmetics brands on Instagram including MAC, Kylie Cosmetics, ColourPop, MILK, Urban Decay, Morphe, L’Oreal, KKW, Fenty Beauty, and more. Our data set comprised all 11,915 posts these brands posted in 2018 and used engagement metrics from over 114,497,000 consumers as our performance benchmarks.

NOTE: In every case, the magnitude of trends reported is the mathematical median of the trend (as opposed to the average). Each trend is compared to the total median performance of all content analyzed.

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Here are some of my favorite takeaways from the report.

What makes a meme? (Hint: its the background)

If you’re a cosmetics brand using memes as part of your content mix, you might want to think about what color you make the background. While the majority of memes we saw used a purple (Thistle to be specific) background, it was actually one of the lowest performing colors to use. Instead, consider sticking with white. It will give your purple memes a 12.5X boost in performance. 

Isolated Facial Features Outperform Full Faces

Want to have models in your photos? Make sure you get a close-up, your photos will perform 17% - 33% better.


Arrange your lip product images

If you’re going to post images consisting of just products, make sure there’s multiple containers and they are staged in some way. They don’t need to be organized, but no one likes a lonely product. Also, if you need to post about brushes make sure to put them with some other kind of product.



Embrace a data-driven strategy, and be intentional about what you create in 2019

These are just a few of my favorite findings from our research. You can find the whole 23 page report here.

Have comments about the report, or something you think we should look into next? Email me! I’d love to hear what you think.

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