The Data Strategy Behind Birchbox’s Social Success

[Originally published on the Dash Hudson blog.]

The beauty industry is booming on Instagram, and for good reason: it’s all about visuals, whether they’re motion or static. Birchbox’s data strategy is helping the brand tactically crush its social content, and we chatted about it onstage at the Beauty & Money conference in New York City last week.

Beauty brands possess literally every single ingredient necessary to make things amazing for them on social media. Pretty packaging, gorgeous pigmented products, video appeal, engaged community members, the list goes on. Unfortunately, not everyone gets it right and businesses miss the mark more often than they should.

There are a few key factors to keep in mind to achieve success. Having great people on your team is a must, along with an actionable roadmap to your short and long term goals. And above all, you need a content game plan powered by a data strategy — which is something that modern beauty giant Birchbox has perfected.

Last week at the Beauty & Money conference in New York City, Dash Hudson’s director of customer success, Jenny Pratt, took the stage with Birchbox’s director of social content, Kima Cooper, to break down the anatomy of the brand’s social blueprint, which is strongly informed by Dash Hudson insights. Keep reading to learn all about how they do it.

Forever Useful, Always Delightful

Birchbox is super clutch for women and men everywhere. For those unfamiliar, the brand sends customers a custom box of product samples every month and they can go buy the full size version on the site if they love what they got. So, yeah, super useful try-before-you-buy philosophy. There’s also a fun surprise and delight quality to the company’s modus operandi — who doesn’t love receiving a package of goodies every month?

In order to translate that ethos into its social media activity and best communicate with its consumer, the Birchbox team has identified four core content pillars on which the values rest:

1. Beauty Education: Tutorials, Reviews, Discovery

2. Women in Business: Spotlights, Women’s Issues, Advice

3. Moments: World Events, Box Shipments, Customer Appreciation

4. Passions: Book Club, Travel, Food

In order for the social team to make sure they nail it every time they publish a piece of creative, they tap into their data strategy to understand what’s resonating the most. That’s where Dash Hudson comes in, serving up all of the hot stats about the most successful pieces of previously posted content.

Birchbox relies on Boards, a content segmentation tool, to dig deeper into media resonance and performance. Understanding what followers are responding to, what micro and macro trends are surfacing in content, and then continuing to build out a successful strategy based on those insights.

It’s the perfect tool to asses performance at both high and granular levels. Thanks to Boards, Kima and her team have learned that certain colors perform better than others, which themes resonate the most, and what type of image composition people are likelier to douple-tap. They also use the functionality to measure the results of specific campaigns, both native and influencer activations.

A Place to Play

Instagram Stories are a huge draw with beauty fans and rightfully play a large role in Birchbox’s social strategy. It’s where follower connections can get more personal and playful, all while retaining that spirit of usefulness and delight.

Their segment franchises include:

1. Sunday News

2. The Week at Birchbox HQ

3. The B Team Tries…

Measuring the performance of those segments is key for Birchbox’s team to understand what their audience is loving and indifferent to. Enter another moment of data strategy: Dash Hudson’s Stories insights deliver all of the important metrics to measure, such as reach, impressions, and exit rate, which indicates interest, engagement, and determines optimal story length.

Kima and her team are able to see firsthand what people are more fixated with, what retains attention, and then apply that to future story creative that will lower their exit rate. As a matter of fact, theirs is significantly lower than the beauty industry’s average. Another data strategy coup for the Birchbox Instagram.

UGC Appreciation

Featuring user-generated content is key for Birchbox. Engaging with the community and showing followers that they are being seen and appreciated is a huge value-add for the brand’s Instagram account. Reposting those fan photos is also a way to encourage more fan posts in the hopes of being featured, which makes for a great full circle of consumer love.

Being tagged in user posts is hugely beneficial for organic reach and consequently, account growth, adding to the benefits of highlighting UGC. Dash Hudson makes it super easy for Birchbox to source the highest quality user images directly in the platform. Kima’s team can find the best posts, see all of their stats, and add them directly to the scheduler to be reposted. From there they can also determine if it will fit nicely with the rest of the creative on deck. Once it’s published, they can easily measure and assess how it performed and adjust their next regram decision from there.

Birchbox decided to take things even further to spread fan love with a dedicated customer appreciation campaign, where an entire month was devoted to user content. It was a way for the brand to reciprocate the support they’ve been shown from their tribe, and have been able to measure and understand exactly how the activation resonated, which will drive and shape what Birchbox does in 2019.

Building a successful Instagram account takes a village (one with very, very smart people) and a data strategy — Birchbox is the proof of that. For any questions about the capabilities of Dash Hudson and to see how we can help your brand, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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