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Virtue understands that the world doesn't need another haircare brand. Their solution? Create a biotech company that instead focuses on hair repair. That mission comes through in everything they do - especially their social media. Behind the coveted haircare collection's Instagram and Pinterest is Alexandra Doloughty, who believes social media brings humility to brands and creates community.As the head of social marketing and partnerships, Doloughty is not only inspired by Virtue's transformative protein-based ingredient, Alpha Keratin 60ku™—which is infused in the entire collection to reveal shinier, stronger, and healthier hair— the CEO/Founder, Melisse Shaban, and Creative Director/celebrity hairstylist, Adir Abergel, but also by Virtue's community of real users and virtuous women.Here, Doloughty shares why it's necessary to keep it real, what she tells influencers to steer clear of, and why PLANOLY's Pin Planner is a must-have asset for Virtue.
When it comes to Pinterest, what is most important to Virtue?
Keeping. It. Real. From our social posts to our replies, there are real humans behind it all. At previous companies, I had to argue the importance of community and how it can impact a brand; you can't just post a pretty image on Instagram and walk away. It doesn't get more real than that.
How has PLANOLY been an asset to Virtue?
Virtue has three large channels: direct to consumer, retail, and salons/stylists. I work with all of our departments to ensure we are sharing and supporting each channel across our social - specifically Instagram. PLANOLY has been crucial for my content organization for all these channels. It ensures our grid is balanced and engaging.
What is the most significant learning from PLANOLY? How has that impacted Virtue's Instagram?
We've learned that having a collaborative planning tool is crucial to posting brand content. So much of social is still run on our phones, which means we have images saved, screenshots of user-generated content (UGC), quotes from customers, and endless more tidbits of content floating around. PLANOLY has kept us organized and updated, even with last-minute changes.
What are your best social photography or editing tips for beauty bloggers using their phones?
Try not to stress over the most perfect, overly staged, posed shots. Flat lays and shelfies are a great way to capture many products in the same frame but think beyond the familiar. Many beauty influencers only share product shots. It's tough for the audience to learn or trust the opinions if they cannot put a face (or head of hair) to the content.When I work with influencers for Virtue, I ask that they steer clear of the "smiling and holding a bottle of shampoo while sitting on the edge of a hotel bathtub" photos. Like I mentioned before, keep it real!
What are the biggest challenges for Virtue's Instagram? And Pinterest?
Currently, the Virtue customer tends to be above the 18 to 24 demographic, and as we all know, that age range is a significant chunk of active Instagram users. So, we're always trying to keep our content relevant and exciting to a younger audience while still appealing to our core audience.Haircare is very different than makeup and skincare on social media. More so, with makeup content, you see the results instantly, and the imagery almost speaks for itself. With hair care and often skincare, it's a bit harder to show the results of using the products. We're working on ways we can better 'show' how incredible Virtue is for the health of hair. Currently, I only bring on influencers that use Virtue already, as you can see the healthy change in their hair. We also pair all product and brand testimonials with a photo of the user's hair. It helps with authenticity and engagement.
What is your Pinterest strategy, and how do you utilize the PLANOLY Pin Planner?
We're working towards sharing more of our hair tutorials, healthy hair tips, and hairstyles created with Virtue products on Pinterest, as that audience loves to learn and find inspiration. The planner is extremely helpful when we're mapping out all of the content we create as well as sharing content created by our community. Without the Pin Planner, we end up dumping a ton of new Pins all at once, which hurts our engagement and reach.
What is your average engagement, and how did you initially grow on both Instagram and Pinterest?
Our Instagram engagement rate is typically 4 to 6 percent. Since the launch of Virtue, our press has been incredible and helped our social following. Starting at zero is a major challenge, especially when it seems as though every brand, even ones with much less awareness, reach, and engagement, have tens and hundreds of thousand followers. But, we grew organically through press, partnerships, stylists, and Virtue customers.