They deliver video tutorials, testimonials, test curly products and report on trends. They’re curl authorities your curly clients look to for insight and ideas. Following and learning from some of their tactics could help in your quest to become the texture expert in your salon and market.
WE ALL ARE GUILTY of spending too much time on the internet, whether it’s scrolling through Pinterest, sharing work on Instagram or keeping our followers up-to-date with our everyday life on Facebook. But for the top texture influencers on social media, spending time on the computer is more than a pastime; it’s a way of life. But for the top texture influencers on social media, spending time on the computer is more than a pastime; it’s a way of life. These curlistas started creating YouTube videos and blogs as hobbies but have spun them into successful careers. With a loyal following in the hundreds of thousands, beauty vloggers and bloggers are winning big on the web. Just look at the numbers: Beauty content on YouTube accounts for more than 700 million videos each month and continues to grow rapidly year after year, reports Pixability’s “Beauty on YouTube” study. As a result, bloggers and vloggers are changing how many clients discover, use and purchase beauty products. But why?
Texture! went straight to the source to get the answer. These are the social mavens you’re going to want to get to know: Nora of Shalimarcat; Francheska of Hey Fran Hey; Jenell Stewart of Kinky Curly Coily Me; and Alison of Modern Mrs. Huxtable. Here they share their thoughts on how the blogosphere is transforming the texture industry and the importance of authentic, personal connections on the web.
Why do viewers respond so positively to you?
Jenell Stewart, KinkyCurlyCoilyMe: It’s the phenomenon of, “This girl has hair just like me.” I was able to appeal to an audience of women with a kinkier texture and shorter hair. Additionally, I’m very down-to-earth. I created a platform based not on pretending to be an expert but on promoting my learning experience and explaining myself in a way that people could relate to. I wasn’t authoritative or pompous. I was just me. One thing that keeps me successful is that I do everything because I’m passionate about it. I communicate with my audience. I call all of my fans my “loves,” and reply to them on social media. As challenging as that can be sometimes, I reply. I think people can really feel that connection with me, and I make myself available so I can meet the women who support me.
Alison, Modern Mrs. Huxtable: It probably sounds cliché, but I just try to genuinely be myself. I also view my subscribers as equally important in the YouTube process—this doesn’t mean that I am “number-crazy” about how many followers I have, but rather that I value my viewers’ comments and messages. I feel that the viewers are a part of every video I create—their input and feedback contribute to the creative process and finished product. I believe my new purpose in life is to inspire and uplift. I want people to feel elevated, to feel motivated after they have spent time watching my videos.This is as simple as starting every video with a huge smile and warm greeting. People need messages of empowerment, happiness, hope, sunshine and love, so that is the energy that I strive to embody and put out into the universe.
Nora, Shalimarcat: I think it’s because I am an eclectic vlogger: I like to play with styles a lot! I am not a curly-hair-obsessed person, so I occasionally use heat or silicones, and I have nothing against coloring your curls. My motto is do what makes you happy!
Francheska, HeyFranHey: My readers know I’m not in this for any kind of financial gain or any personal fame. I think they understand that everything I put on YouTube is to solve a problem and be helpful. Word-ofmouth has been the most influential tool for me to become so big. I’ve actually never done a sponsored video. I think the key to the growth of my brand is in the integrity. I’m going on three years of being on this social media wave, and that’s been my biggest thing: to keep the integrity of it all.
How do you believe YouTube is changing the beauty industry and the texture community?
Alison: When I went natural in 2009 there were only a handful of brands that I could find in stores. Now, there are whole aisles dedicated to natural haircare. People don’t really understand how huge that is! There are thousands more natural hair bloggers and vloggers. There are tons of natural hair companies sprouting up every day. Technology and social media are such a huge part of our generation, so it means a lot to see blogs and Instagram and YouTube accounts dedicated to studying, capturing and celebrating natural hair. Natural hair is not necessarily new, but I think the YouTube world allows people to identify and relate to vloggers in a way that makes natural hair seem fresh and trendy. It means a lot for girls to see people on the computer screen who look like them.
Francheska: In reality, we are the people who are closest to the consumers. We have an emotional thread with the clients. We aren’t celebrities or actors who are completely detached from reality. We go to meet-and-greets and connect with our subscribers. We email with them and respond back and forth on Twitter. We have relationships with our viewers, and we’re all on the same playing field.
How are beauty brands embracing the beauty explosion in shaping the blogosphere?
Francheska: They’re definitely responding. Many of the trends in hair are based on what’s popular on YouTube. Now every brand has a natural hair category. They’re paying attention and seeing our influence and rebuilding their brands based on what’s working for us. Remember when models got mad at celebrities for taking over the cover of magazines and ad campaigns? I almost feel like YouTubers are going to be the new celebrities and start pushing out traditional celebrities. Jenell: Beauty brands are realizing that women with multi-ethnic hair are paying attention to ingredients and what products promise and deliver. Consumers take very seriously what a product label says, and if the product’s performance doesn’t match that, then we are vocal. We’ve made our mark by saying we want products that are more moisturizing and conditioning. So you are seeing an influx of co-washes and moisturizing conditioners in the category.
Alison: I think beauty brands know there is now a greater level of power and exposure in the hands of vloggers when it comes to product reviews. A good review plug from a popular YouTuber can mean a huge boom in business, while poor reviews can stifle business or prevent people from trying a product. Viewers can also start to change the level of trust or credibility that they give a vlogger based on the vlogger’s decision to be sponsored or partner with a beauty brand. There are a lot of politics and layers that go into the relationship between blogging and beauty brands.
How are YouTubers helping to bridge the gap between beauty brands and clients?
Jenell: By watching a YouTube video, you see the step-by-steps and experience live. On my YouTube channel, I have so many videos showing me applying the product from start to finish. Consumers get to see what it looks like, get to hear what it smells like and learn how it works. So even if content is branded, bloggers and vloggers can still offer that same value to a video. Vloggers offer incredible opportunities for companies. It’s phenomenal how many people they will be able to reach and grasp by the engagement vloggers offer in their videos. To the watchers and readers, if the vlogger is genuine and authentic all the time, then there’s definitely a way for the person to do branded content and make it work. There’s also a way to do branded content without talking up something that you don’t really believe in.
Alison: YouTube vloggers bring a more personal and relatable angle to products than national marketing campaigns do. Consumers feel like they are getting advice from a friend or coworker—someone they trust and know—and that type of positive coverage is huge for a beauty brand. It is also really amazing to see YouTube vloggers branch out and become entrepreneurs making their own products—essentially the client becoming the beauty brand. It creates a connection or closeness to the brand when it is a YouTuber the consumer has been watching and supporting for years.
What does the future look like for you and your brand?
Jenell: I’m growing my website. I’m looking to do more speaking engagements and talk with women about healthy hair growth, natural hair and wellness. I look forward to those opportunities.
Nora: YouTube is becoming more and more important, so I hope to keep my viewers interested in what I do and in what I have to say.
Alison: I hope I can continue to grow my fan base and reach more people globally. I would love to have more meet-and-greets in the states as well as overseas. YouTube is a great platform to reach people outside of your immediate geographic location. I hope that I can continue to build an entrepreneurial base for myself built on my YouTube success. Most importantly I hope that young women and men leave my channel feeling inspired and motivated. If each video I post leaves a viewer with a pocketful of hope, then I have fulfilled my purpose.
Francheska: I’m such a little hippie. I’m very in the moment. For me, it’s all about the momentum. I try not to limit myself by saying what I’m going to do in the next five years. I don’t know; I could be doing things that I never would have imagined. I never really thought I’d be on YouTube. That was never in my plans, and it turned out. I’m just riding the wave. Every opportunity that comes and feels good, that’s where I’ll be.