Influencers Account For Up To 90% Of Instagram Engagement For Cosmetics Brands

May 31, 2016

Written by NewsWhip

With beauty and fashion brands spending more and more on influencer marketing, how does that translate into social engagement?
According to a recent report, fashion and beauty companies in both the US and UK expect to spend between 30 and 75% of their 2016 marketing budgets on “partnerships with key tastemakers”. They also project a 59% increase in spending on influencer marketing in the course of this year.
While it’s difficult to determine to what, if any, extent those engagements translate into sales, the fact the industry is devoting significant resources to influencer marketing illustrates its growing importance.
Earlier this month, we took a look at Instagram engagement for a number of leading cosmetics brands. One finding became clear straight away: influencer posts chalked up huge amounts of engagement. For one company in particular, TooFaced, nearly all its biggest posts for that period featured influencers – and the company was the biggest cosmetics brand on Instagram by average engagements.
To get an idea of exactly how much engagement influencers generate for cosmetics brands, we identified the five biggest cosmetics brands on Instagram over the last 30 days, using NewsWhip Spike. These were MAC, TooFaced, Sephora, Urban Decay, and Maybelline. As in our previous ranking, MAC and TooFaced generated the most average engagements. Both of these brands make deft use of influencers on Instagram – in very different ways.
Before delving into each of these brands’ strategies on Instagram, here are some some overall figures for the period from May 16th – 30th:
Data table showing engagement generated by five cosmetics companies on Instagram in May 2016Looking more closely at the 50 biggest posts for this period:
Data showing engagements around the top 50 cosmetics posts on Instagram, May 2016As these figures indicate, the 50 most successful posts account for almost a quarter (24.5%) of total overall engagements for this period. Further, 46 of the top 50 posts – 92% – featured influencers, and those 46 posts account for 90% of total engagements generated by the top 50 posts.
Of the 50 most successful posts, the vast majority (35) were published to MAC’s feed. Ten were published on TooFaced’s page. The remaining five posts were added by Urban Decay (2) and Sephora (3).
All ten of TooFaced’s posts in the top 50 featured influencers. Of MAC’s 35 posts, 32 featured influencers or an element of influencer marketing. Let’s explore how these two brands’ approach influencer marketing.


MAC’s approach is particularly distinctive. By contrast with other cosmetics brands, which tend to work with beauty bloggers and vloggers, MAC actually draw influencers from among its own make-up artists. The company has such an established global presence that it is in a position to source images from artists all across the globe, highlighting creativity as well as the products’ value on its feed.
These posts form part of a hashtag campaign entitled #MACArtistChallenge. Artists can upload pictures of looks created with MAC products to their own feeds and tag them using this term. The company then re-shares the images – “regrams” – on its own feed. The vast majority of MAC’s feed comprises these artist looks, all of which feature incredibly rich, vivid colours and striking visuals. Images generally include a list of the products and shades used, allowing followers to see what they need to recreate the look.

This form of influencer marketing is distinctive and sets MAC apart from many of its competitors. By highlighting the work of artists, the process enables both the artist and brand to reach a wider audience. The proliferation of such imagery on the MAC feed gives it a lush, eye-catching feel and lets it stand out on Instagram timelines often filled with muted shades and filters.
Screenshot of MAC's Instagram
Further, the artists MAC features are based all over the world. Of the images published in these two weeks alone, locations included the Philippines, the USA, Mexico, New Zealand, the UAE and Russia. This highlights the wide availability of the products but, crucially, also helps to foster a global community – contributing to large engagement.

The MAC Artist Challenge accounts for astonishing levels of engagement. Of the 35 MAC posts in the top 50 for this period, 30 are regrams from the challenge. These account for a total of 2,244,142 engagements. This equates to 45% of MAC’s total engagements overall, and 66% of influencer marketing engagement in the top 50.

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As we noted in our previous look at cosmetics companies on Instagram, TooFaced have benefitted hugely from deft use of influencer marketing. They were the most successful cosmetics brand on Instagram by average engagements in our last piece, and true to form, the three biggest posts for this period are all from their feed. In the overall top 10, TooFaced has a total of five posts – each of which features an influencer. Combined, these posts account for 483,509 engagements. The most successful post alone notched up 104,756 engagements.

Do you see any of your favorite products in @_girly_stuff__’s massive #toofaced collection? #regram ?
A photo posted by Too Faced Cosmetics (@toofaced) on

While MAC has a more prolific presence overall, it’s clear that TooFaced has cultivated a loyal and enthusiastic following. The visuals are strong and follow a distinctive theme, while captions are cheerful and light-hearted. The above image, TooFaced’s most successful for this period, features a blogger’s collection of products and asks followers to point out which products form part of their own collection. This bright, jovial approach encourages engagement, with the feed coming across almost like snapshots from a friend’s collection as opposed to a brand.
This effect is also evident in images shared by TooFaced of looks created using its products. Rather than featuring looks created by professional artists, the images tend to feature beauty bloggers, creating an air of ease and accessibility which isn’t as prevalent on competitors’ feeds.

@itssteephh is looking ✨ flawless ✨ in our Born This Way Foundation! #regram #tfbornthisway #toofaced
A photo posted by Too Faced Cosmetics (@toofaced) on

In total, TooFaced’s ten posts in the top 50 – all of which are influencer posts – generated 826,432 engagements. This represents 49% of TooFaced’s total Instagram engagements for all posts during this period, and 24% of engagements for influencer marketing posts in the top 50. Between this and MAC’s staggering numbers, it’s a sobering indication of quite how integral influencers have become to cosmetics brands on social media.
As our data suggests, influencer marketing is increasingly becoming the norm for many brands. For cosmetics companies, it offers access to wide audiences and rich opportunities for engagement, as well as a lucrative platform for showcasing products. With the biggest cosmetics companies using it to such notable effect, it’s very probable that we’ll see engagement continue to rise over the coming months.

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