Last year it was reported that social media influencers are now officially more frequently used by brands than 'traditional celebrities' – stars from the worlds of pop, film and sports, for example. This is a significant shift in how brands market their products and services; The Drum reported that 8 out of every 10 PR and marketing industry professionals has worked with influencers from Instagram, YouTube, or blogs. As social media influencing has taken off, it has also lost some of the ability it had to connect with audiences, to stand with them and offer genuine viewpoints instead of being biased towards brands. This unique relationship between influencer and audience was something that made beauty blogging and vlogging a massive industry in itself – people flocked to 'real' reviews because all they'd get from brand advertising and magazine placement was fakery. Yeah, of course that spot cream will make my skin clear by morning, I can eat and drink and talk from morning 'til midnight and this red lipstick is going nowhere… okay, mate.
This is one of the reasons that micro-influencers (people with small to medium audiences) are having their moment. Brands are revisiting the power of the grassroots, humble first-person opinion, as opposed to the scripted nonsense going on with big influencers that some audiences are getting tired of. This could be a good opportunity for you to step into the spotlight and really pick up the pace with growing your blog. But why isn't it happening? You take beautiful flatlay pictures, you have the latest beauty products that you know people will be doing Google searches for, and you're promoting your posts like a boss on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
One possible reason is that you're not showing the products in action. What initially set beauty bloggers apart from anyone else in the beauty industry was that they showed how skincare, haircare, and cosmetics really worked, and made judgements on if they were worth the price or not. This study from Pixability shows what kind of content people want to see from beauty influencers like you – hauls, how-to's and tutorials. They want to see the product being used, even if it's just a swatch, they want to know what it's like in real life before making that investment with their cash. It makes sense. People can go to magazines for a nice picture and a PR-written description, if that's all you're offering maybe that's why people aren't engaging. Personally, I look a lot of blogs and YouTube videos before making a big beauty purchase, and I don't go back to ones who are just saying "look what I bought/got gifted from a brand – isn't it nice? I can't wait to use it!" before serving up some close-ups of the product at different angles, no matter how pretty the photographs are. I just think, what's the point? When I mentioned this on Twitter, a few fellow bloggers replied saying either they didn't have time to do swatches, or that they feel people will go to big swatch blogs like Temptalia, so what's the point in them doing their own? Valid points, but I only go to Temptalia, for example, if there's a particular product I want to see. It's not a blog where I read every single post, and that's where beauty blogs that offer good writing as well as opportunities to get to know the blogger alongside useful reviews can provide a USP.
Maybe there's a whole market for appreciating makeup photography, or for just knowing what someone bought without actually knowing much about the product – I also get that some beauty bloggers who don't show the product in action have big audiences because they write other content people want to read, or their readers want to support them no matter what sort of review they do as they are invested in that blogger and enjoy their content. I'm not saying there's a right or wrong way to do beauty blogging, that's crazy – content is what it is, and there's a multitude of reasons why it works for some people and not for others. Your blog is your very own part of the internet, and it's completely up to you what you do with it. All I'm saying is, if you're frustrated because your beauty blog isn't growing as fast as you'd like despite all your hard work, and you don't currently show the product in action, maybe that's something to try? Knowing that most people seek out online beauty reviews for this very reason, it makes sense to give the people what they want. You don't have to do elaborate tutorials – simple swatches may help, and it's definitely helpful to know how a product smells, what the useful/harmful ingredients are, how long a type of cosmetic lasted after applying, if you had any results from a skincare product or not, and if you'd re-purchase. Of course you can do both first impression posts as well as follow-ups, you just have to bear in mind the quality of the first post and the value you add for readers is what will bring them back, or make them stay a while and look round your blog. At the end of the day, your blog should bring you joy, so don't do things that become a chore, but it's helpful to know the reasons why beauty influencing took off and what consumers look for, and to use a bit of savvy from this knowledge to grow your blog (if you want it to).