Profit-Driven Marketing’s Embrace of “Real” Beauty

We’re living in a period of social backlash following the Age of Photoshop. Like many, my tweenage and teenage years were spent devouring images of airbrushed models and feeling impossibly out of touch with what I was “supposed” to be. Marketing tactics at the time fed on these insecurities successfully funneled our babysitting cash directly into the Health and Beauty aisle at CVS.

This multi-billion-dollar industry pushed thinness, whiteness, clear skin, sleek hair and purposely promoted these images to make women question whether they were enough. Is that a no? You should probably buy this Dolce & Gabbana perfume then, it evokes scents of “perfect calves” and “I guess I just have good skin genes!”. You’ll feel so beautiful wearing it.

The past few years however, I’ve been watching this tactic shift. Instead of showing us something unattainable that we know we’ll never look like, companies are showing us a more realistic portrayal of their products. Cult-favorite Glossier populates their social media feeds with close-ups of their makeup on people’s faces with visible pores, shine, uneven skin etc. They make an effort to represent a wide range of skin tones and body types so that people can look at these photos and think “Ah, that is how that would actually look on someone like me”. Glossier’s disruptive entry into the beauty industry and exponential growth  is widely contributed to their warm, inclusive, “real” social media presence and content-first marketing approach.

Image Reference

The same goes for Aerie, the lingerie and swimsuit brand owned by American Eagle that refuses to Photoshop its images. Aerie has been wildly successful in its #AerieREAL campaign which encourages all women to send in photos wearing their swimsuits to be featured on social media to break down the singular idea of a bikini body. There’s a reason Victoria’s Secret dominated lingerie and swimwear in the early 2000’s and 2010’s and there’s a reason Aerie has been stealing the show in recent years. The reason is pretty simple: We’re sick of marketing that makes us feel like s***.

Image reference

This is a new movement, and for some it is legitimate. But it’s also a trend. And like all trends, it can and will be exploited by executives looking hungrily at their bottom line. Once again, this brings into question the idea of ethical consumption under capitalism. So Aerie is normalizing body positivity through their marketing, and that’s wonderful and you want to support that, right? But are those values reflected and truly felt throughout their corporate culture? If you walked in to an Aerie store, could you really find sizes bigger than large? Are those feel-good Instagram posts actually being crafted by a bunch of dudes in suits trying to tap into the latest way to get you to part with your money?

As usual, the burden falls on the consumer to decide whether we’re moving in the right direction. Exhausting, isn’t it?

The Lion in your Living Room: A Product Experiment on 4 Unsuspecting Housecats

The Premise

When it comes to cat costumes, between owner and feline, it’s clear which party derives value from the act of stuffing the other into ridiculous garb. We like seeing our cats look all dumb and cute in stuff… It rocks (this message was not approved by cats.)

To better understand the full experience of Lightly Harassing Your Cat for Personal Enjoyment™, Team MANA has reviewed this smashing product:

which you, too, can own for a measely $14.95! (From Amazon, of course.)

Basically, it’s a lion mane meant to be worn by a domestic house cat purely for the amusement of humans. We tried it out on four different kitties and rated each experience according to three criteria:

  1. Cuteness
  2. Comfort
  3. Wearability

The Contestants

Napoleon

Clocking in at 12 pounds of cuddle, Napoleon is one healthy chocolate-caramel dreamboat. She (yes, she is a she) is generally mild-mannered but feisty when provoked. Let’s check out the sequence of events.

Kitty does not like.

No one involved in the making of this photo was having a nice time. No one.

Okay fine, one of us is having a fairly nice time.

Vicious retaliation.

Napoleon ratings

Cuteness: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Comfort: ⭐

Wearabilty: ⭐⭐

Overall: ⭐⭐

I was doubled over laughing the whole time, but also felt some sizable guilt. If the mane had been left on any longer, claws would have come out and all parties would have suffered.

Jasper

Jasper is a two-month-old, 3.5 pound baby who may in fact be an angel encapsulated in an earth-bound body. His front paws have seven toes… is this a sign of his divine power? Perhaps.

Wondering why this blob of fur won’t get away from his face…

Clearly not having fun… but still lookin’ pretty cute!

Jasper ratings

Cuteness: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Comfort: ⭐

Wearabilty: ⭐

Overall: ⭐⭐

…We tried… but in this case, one size does not fit all.

Zola

Known in her castle as the “guard cat,” Zola is a whopping 18 pound chunk of sass with zero time for your BS. Think of Zola as a very, very hard shelled candy with a soft center reserved for one human and one human only: Lexie DeMartini. We knew from the outset, this one would be a rough ride.

And yes, just like all of your favorite singing competition shows, we saved the best review for last…

That poor mane didn’t stand a fighting chance.

zola ratings

Cuteness: ⭐

Comfort: ⭐

Wearabilty: 0

Overall: ⭐

I think we can all agree, it would have been cute… but this princess does not do lioness. If your pet starts hissing when the costume gets in its bubble, I think it’s safe to say you should not put this thing on your pet.

Sasha

Sasha is a  10 year old, 17 lb sweetheart. She will talk your ear off if given the chance and absolutely loves bubbles. Katie has the pleasure of sharing her home with Sasha. From past experiences of finding Sasha’s collar removed and lying around the house, we knew that she wasn’t going to be a big fan.

Sasha ratings

Cuteness: ⭐⭐

Comfort: ⭐

Wearabilty: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Overall: ⭐⭐⭐

So, what did we learn about reviewing products? First of all, be honest about your product! Let your consumers know not only what it can do, but also what limitations it may have. This way, you’ll have a better chance of having happy customers, not ones who hate your product because it didn’t turn out to be what they expected.

Use real user-experiences! No one wants to read a product review that is fabricated by someone sitting at their desk in an office… unless you have undeniable photoshop skills, go find someone who owns your product and ask them what they think about it. This is so easy to do nowadays with all the social networking sites out there. Create a hashtag and tell your followers to use it! This way, not only will you have real product reviews to showcase, you’ll also gain awareness due to all the people using your tag and their followers who will see it.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to have fun with it!

If you want to learn more about the MANA team, check out The Power behind MANA.

 

Interested in seeing what else we’re up to?

Are you a Social Media “dad”?

5 Ways to become the G.O.A.T. on social media

Do you want to be the Greatest of All Time on social media? Well, luccky for you, you’re in the right place… These are our top 5 tips and tricks on how you can amp up your social media skills and take the world by storm.

  1. Be transparent and genuine.

Me Too Friends GIF by Bounce

Your audience wants to find ways to connect to you, your experiences, and your product. We all know the cliche posts, done to check off the boxes, with the ultimate goal of using a few seconds of your life without providing anything useful or meaningful. Your audience will know when you are being disingenuous and are trying to manipulate them. Using personal experiences and referencing  useful data can create the connection and draw a larger audience.

  1. It’s not all about business, make your audience laugh.

Anne Bancroft GIF

Take yourself a little less seriously. Being able to crack a joke, even at your own expense, can make your digital media atmosphere more inviting and your product more memorable. We see this in companies like OldSpice© and Snickers©. A well timed and well presented joke can boost your digital presence, so make sure to read your audience!

  1. Engaging your audience gives them a sense of ownership and loyalty.

Engagement can come from many angles, including questions relating to personal experiences, requests for feedback on the product or media itself, or providing/allowing for tutorials. When your audience sees their participation in growing your product or media presence, a sense of loyalty is created. We see this in the use of hashtags and in participation of online “events”.  Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback. When engaging your audience, however, make sure to remain genuine. Don’t exploit the algorithm.

  1. Measure and track your content!

Always measure your content and use the data you collect! Measuring your content begins when you set goals for your social media marketing endeavors. When identifying your goals, using a SMART goal setting strategy can help you create Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely goals for your organization. This makes it a whole lot easier later on when you want to analyze how your marketing efforts compare to the goals you initially set. You are able to see which strategies are working in your favor, and also the ones that you might be better off saying “boy, bye” to.

Some good things to track as performance measures on social media include: followers, likes/shares/comments, clicks, downloads and leads. A lead is a potential customer who has shown interest in your product or company and has entered contact information into your website that you can use to gain more information later. Lead metrics are a fundamental measurement in proving the value of your social media marketing efforts to your upper management.

  1. Aim for a content-first not product-first marketing strategy.

Image result for stanley rolling his eyes gif

We’ve all seen those ads that just look like a company is trying to sell their product to anyone and everyone… There are a lot of companies out there that have a product-first approach and just try and sell you their product.

As social media continues to evolve, some of the most successful social media marketers are strategically using their products as their content. Some of these companies have created astounding levels of engagement from consumers. Glossier encourages customers to create their own marketing for the organization by sending free stickers in all orders to urge consumers to take their own photographs and post them on their social media. Social media is not only a way to gain brand awareness anymore, it has become an environment for engagement and interaction.

If you want to learn more about the MANA team, check out The Power behind MANA.

Are you a Social Media “Dad”?

5 Pitfalls to Avoid in Social Media Marketing

No one mans the grill for a summer BBQ rocking sensible Reeboks quite like a dad.  No one cracks a cringey knock-knock joke like a dad. And most of all, no one drops comments on social media like a dad.

“Hi, Hayley– looks awesome… Beautiful pic! :^)

Love, Dad”

As lovably dorky as real-life dads’ social media presence is, it’s not a model to emulate in the business world. Social media marketing teeters a thin line between “not-trying-at-all” and “trying-too-much”. You want your dad kinda hip, but not trying to be too hip right? You love him and want him to understand your world, but you don’t want him to ask if you “YOLO-ed on flique” today. For reference: See this man:

  1.     Don’t Obviously Exploit the Algorithm

By now, we all understand the basics of social media platforms’ engagement-driven algorithms: Gather likes, gather comments, gather seconds spent looking at your content, and magically watch your post float to the top of a feed. With this knowledge, many companies and social media influencers use tricks such as posing questions in their captions to generate enough comments to drive up their post’s popularity.

All too often we see companies fostering a fake sense of intimacy, saying “Relax this Fourth of July with our BerryBlast Freezer! How are you celebrating today?” purely to inspire comments. Do you imagine anyone on their marketing team, or quite frankly any of the rest of us, could care less that Cheryl from Indiana is “Staying home with the dogs! Too hot!”? We know they don’t care. We know why they’re doing it. It’s fake and clearly intended to promote their brand under the ruse of caring for their followers. If your business is going to play the algorithm game, for god’s sake, be sneaky about it.

  1.     Don’t Be Overly Formal

Make your content enjoyable to your audience. Your content should captivate your audience creating return visitors, not bore them to death and return them to Intro to Economics class. Because social media is such a vast platform, it is quite possible to engage a variety of viewers. According to an online article by Jessie Borsellino, BuzzFeed is like the Target of social media (2017, www.medium.com). You may logon to watch a video about puppies then later watch a video on parenting advice. BuzzFeed’s creative articles and catchy headlines keeps users engaged. BuzzFeed writes to entertain. So, if you’re next post consists of too many “bad dad” jokes, it can exasperate your followers. Likewise, if your post make readers yawn, you’re not doing a great job either. Keep it in the middle.

Bored Samson & Gert GIF by vrt

  1.     Don’t Half-Ass It. Full Ass It.

If you don’t care, why should they? Low-quality posts can also make your product or service undesirable. Pixelated or uncropped images can deter users from visiting your site. You don’t have to be a photoshop professional but taking the time to ensure your posts are clear is worth the extra time. Unknowingly, many people are stimulated visually. Using delightful pictures can help your social media be more effective giving us a visual image of what you are trying to convey (Basilico, 2018 — https://www.business2community.com). Likewise, there are many free and easy tools for creating polishes and engaging info-graphics and other visuals. At team MANA, we love Canva (canva.com) So, don’t half-ass the job, go whole-ass!

Ron Swanson Never Half Ass Two Things GIF

  1.     Don’t Spam Post Like a Dad Who Just Discovered the Internet

Once you gain a follower for your business, you better make darn sure they don’t regret their decision. This person did not follow you to have their feed flooded with eight sloppily written posts a day. Once you generate quality, worthwhile content (See above: Don’t Half Ass It) limit yourself to posting once or twice a day. We at team MANA have unfortunately had to unfollow several rather kickass companies (Check out DECIEM’s founder’s social media meltdown: https://quartzy.qz.com/1214781/)  because sadly we couldn’t take it any more even though we love learning about effective & affordable skincare.

  1.     Remember: A Social Media Plan is not a Social Media Strategy

If you don’t execute your plan with a strategy, you may end up failing in being the next Kim Kardashian. Know what you are going to share, how you’re going to share, and where you’re going to share. Do you want to have a following of future make-up artists (MUA)? Do you want to share your content by posting how-to videos? Are you going to create a YouTube channel, Facebook, or Instagram? Think of it like planning your next family camping trip. Most plan it to be perfect, memorable, and fun! You plan out your itinerary, but you must strategically create activities to make it enjoyable. When you know how you’re going to execute your strategy, you can make your social media plan successful.

Now, we love dads. We don’t mean to rag on dads. But in pop culture we tend to poke fun at dads in their well-intentioned quest of Being Ultimate Cool Dad. Next time you’re about to post something, think to yourself: Is this a nuanced understanding of what my customers want? Or is this kinda like when your friend’s dad tries to fist bump you and call you “playa”?

If you want to learn more about the MANA team, check out The Power behind MANA.

The Power Behind MANA

 

MANA is a group of four powerful young female grad students. We’re here to make your life easier, your social media marketing life, that is!

An IT Project Manager currently working for the State of Oregon. She is attending Willamette University and plans to complete her MBA in 2019. She is a lifestyle hiker, enjoys bouldering, and spends her downtime with her husband of 10 years and her cat.

Owner of a princess cat who loves to pull books from the bookshelf one-by-one when she is hungry and  race to the stairs to hiss at mailmen when they ring the doorbell, Lexie is a graduate student who has a passion for travel, culture, meeting new people and bringing ideas together.

Loves: possums and other conventionally “unlovable” and “weird” animals, summertime berries, and rambling about pseudosciences to anyone willing to listen. She is focusing on Public and Not-for-Profit Management at Willamette MBA.

 

A mother of four teenagers, one grade schooler, an HR Professional, and MBA candidate at Willamette University who enjoys painting when wine (or beer) is involved.

 

Interested in seeing what else we’re up to?

5 Ways to become the G.O.A.T. on social media

Are you a Social Media “dad”?

The Lion in your Living Room: A Product Experiment on 3 Unsuspecting Housecats