Instagram is heavily courting beauty brands and beauty influencers through the recent launches of IGTV and custom Instagram Stories filters.
The two new features borrow from competitors: IGTV from YouTube and custom filters from Snapchat. For beauty specifically, they allow both brands and influencers closer to the platform. This is relevant as more cosmetic products are announced on social media. like Pat McGrath Labs, and Instagram recently expanded its partnership team with Kristie Dash, who will is solely dedicated to beauty.
Parent company Facebook has done the same with its Facebook Watch platform that debuted last August, introducing exclusive beauty series like “Huda Boss” with influencer Huda Kattan and its upcoming beauty AR experience with ModiFace/L’Oréal. Right now, there are no sponsored ads or monetization opportunities on IGTV or the custom Instagram Stories filters, like the platform has with its in-feed posts.
At the launch event of IGTV on June 20, the social media platform announced the longer-form streaming channel with several beauty influencers, including Manny Gutierrez, who has 5 million Instagram followers, and Susie Shu, who has 161,000. The Instagram partnerships team also secured an army of creators and brands pre-launch, like Kattan, Kim Kardashian West, Laura Lee and YSL Beauty to post content day of, turning IGTV into a spectacle. (The company wouldn’t release the number of people approached for IGTV’s launch initiative.)
Results varied: Kattan’s first piece of IGTV content, which chronicled her being locked in Sephora, saw 537,000 views — the beauty mogul has 26.8 million followers. YSL Beauty has 4.5 million followers, and its first “Dare or Dare” video with global beauty director Tom Pecheux had 18,000 views. Beauty influencer Laura Lee, with 2.3 million followers, reached 279,000 views for a video that went through her favorite summer makeup products.
IGTV, which looks to take a piece of YouTube’s pie, was created to bring fans closer to their Instagram favorite stars, said Eva Chen, Director of fashion partnerships. Year over year, the company saw an 80 percent increase in overall video and wanted to use the vertical landscape to its advantage.
“If you look at the way people are holding their phones to do Stories or take photos, it’s vertically, so we knew there was an opportunity to do something different and native to Instagram,” Chen said.
Instagram product manager Ashley Yuki, who worked on IGTV, agreed: “Filling the whole screen or space of the phone makes you feel closer to the creator or brand, especially for beauty, so the vertical positioning let us make video a real destination.”
The fashion and beauty communities on Instagram are the top producers of video across feed, Stories and IGTV, according to the company. More specifically, there are 200 million beauty fans globally on Instagram (those that follow a beauty or makeup account), which accounts for 25 percent of Instagram’s global community.
Though the company didn’t share IGTV growth statistics since launch, Chen pointed to Benefit Cosmetics as a best-in-class example for its mix of educational content interspersed with aspirational footage. One of Benefit’s most-viewed IGTV pieces of content was an eyebrow shade matcher that promoted its Brow collection of products — that video received nearly 41,000 views.
Lower-touch educational content is also working for celebrity influencers who are crossing over into beauty territory, like model Taylor Hill, who posted an IGTV makeup video that walked followers through her daily routine. It was viewed 495,000 times.
“Handheld, selfie-style videos are the best performing, so far,” said Chen. This is in contrast to the more produced, horizontal beauty tutorials and videos on YouTube. “On Instagram, fans expect video to be in real time and for it to feel more real,” she added. That nearly half of Instagram’s beauty fans are under the age of 24 is in line with the transparency and authenticity that demographic is looking for.
Instagram’s custom filters are also creating interest among beauty brands and influencers. The first batch of filters launched on June 26 with Ariana Grande, Liza Koshy, Ariel Martin (known as Baby Ariel), BuzzFeed and the NBA. On July 31, Kylie Jenner launched her own custom face filter on Instagram. These filters are being compared to Snapchat’s Lenses, which launched in 2015. Users can virtually wear seven of the most famous Kylie Cosmetics lipstick colors, and post a video, Boomerang or selfie to their Instagram Stories. The company reported that 400 million people use Stories daily, and that after four weeks, Jenner’s custom face filter had crossed 1 billion impressions.
Jenner’s brand became the first beauty company to debut custom filters, though Chen suggested there was an opportunity for Instagram to do more. Facebook’s ModiFace/L’Oréal partnership will roll out at the end of this month with NYX Cosmetics. Similar try-on experiences will roll out on Facebook in the fall with other L’Oréal brands like Maybelline, Lancôme and Shu Uemura.
Like IGTV, there is no link to buy Kylie Cosmetics within the custom filter as of yet — in fact, users are only able to view Jenner’s custom filters on their Stories once via third party before they have to follow her directly. Meanwhile, Snapchat debuted a native commerce feature to let influencers earn money from products sold through their posts in late June. Jenner was one such partner and promoted her Kyshadow Sorta Sweet Palette at time of the launch.
Currently, the only Instagram feature to actually track sales or conversation is Stories, which suggests that, for both beauty brands and beauty influencers, IGTV and custom filters as they stand are more of a brand-awareness play.