Every brand has superfans; better known as your best Brand Advocates. They come in all sizes of influence – macro, micro, and nano – and often in the shape of your everyday customers. 

If you’re not yet tapping into them to drive Social Commerce, especially in beauty, you risk falling behind the industry curve. 

Join Paul & Verity LIVE from the Social Commerce Summit: New York 2024, at this dynamic intersection of influencer marketing, commerce, and community. They’re joined by marketing experts, Haley Schluter (Head of Consumer Engagement @ LVMH Perfumes & Cosmetics), Hannah Sheahan (Head of Social Content @ ELEMIS), and Bri Kennedy (Director of Integrated Marketing @ Maesa). 

Together, they dive into the insider strategies and obstacles of maintaining an engaged community; and how to compliment this work with creator & Advocate partnerships that increase reach, revenue, and the depth of meaningful relationships. 

Tune in to learn the tactics behind…

  1. Navigating Brand Community & Advocacy Aesthetics: Influencer-founded brands can significantly enhance brand community building; however, it's not essential for every brand to have an influencer founder. Growth can be catapulted, with or without a popular face behind a brand. The real challenge lies in balancing luxury brand aesthetics with embracing Brand Advocacy, particularly when catering to wider markets and demographics than beauty’s heritage brands typically have.
  2. Always-On Influencer & Organic Strategies: Organic and paid efforts should work hand-in-hand to build a credible, trustworthy, and – the word of the last years – authentic brand presence. With metrics like EMV (Earned Media Value) helping to measure overall success and win over reluctant CFOs, the earned freedom here allows the necessary resource to experiment with a wider variety of influencers and content styles; uncovering surprising and successful partnerships.
  3. Test & Learning with Emerging Trends: Continuing this experimentation is crucial to uncover points of community connection. The social platforms have almost unlimited Social Commerce potential, but TikTok is emerging the most powerful; particularly with TikTok Shop’s keen impact on brand sales. Dig into more of the platform’s emerging trends across the US and UK, including lower funnel campaign placements and leveraging Live content to reach more consumers.

Listen. Learn. Nourish your brand’s superfans to supercharge your Social Commerce.

Rate & review Building Brand Advocacy:

Connect with Haley, Hannah & Bri:


Building Brand Advocacy 064: 


LVMH, ELEMIS & Maesa: How Beauty Superfans Supercharge Social Commerce 

Paul: Right, we're going to go; like, the next two panels, we're going to go deep, we're going to go nerdy, we're going to go tactical and technical, I think, in every way. Right, so that's what we've got coming up here. So for this, we have ‘Empowring Superfans: Cultivating Community for Social Commerce Impact’. Thank you very much, guys.

Would you like to kick us off – tell us who you are, who you work for, and what you do there. Hannah, do you want to go first? 

Hannah: Of course. Hi everyone, I'm Hannah. I'm Head of Social Content at Elemis, which is a British skincare and spa brand. So I look after our owned social channels and our influencer marketing.

Haley: Hey, I'm Haley. I'm Head of Consumer Engagement at LVMH. I oversee paid media, paid search, influencer, and PR. 

Bri: And I'm Bri Kennedy, Director of Integrated Marketing at Maesa, which I oversee all owned, earned, and paid social, as well as earned and paid influencer. 

Verity: I suppose what we really wanted to get into with you guys is just how you kind of successfully transform everyday customers into devoted superfans, and some of the strategies that you've used – especially like with Social Commerce initiatives. And Bri, I'm going to kick off with you, just because obviously, like, influencer founded brands – like the tastemakers, like – it's, you know, big conversations are happening everywhere.

First of all, should any brand starting today do it without an influencer as the founder? And how have you found that, you know, sort of like looking after these influencer founded brands, how have they affected the brand community and how it should be built? 

Bri: Yeah, so while Maesa does have a vast majority of our brands which are influencer or celebrity founded, we also have some that are not. Ultimately, we are looking to fulfill, you know, evolving consumer needs and trying to fill a white space in the market. If there is an influencer or celebrity founder that makes sense and that we're in talks with and it sort of aligns with their personal brand, great. If there's not, that doesn't necessarily stop us from launching the brand. 

Of course, having an influencer or a celebrity attached when you're first launching the brand is helpful. Of course, you sort of already have that built -in audience. There's no denying that. But it doesn't mean that they always want to buy or want to stick with the brand, especially if it doesn't feel authentic. And we've seen that happen.

So really, regardless, even after that initial launch stage, ensuring that you're really cultivating that community and engaging with them, again, with a founder or with not is still important. And it still takes work even after you get over that initial sort of launch hump. 

Verity: What are some of those? What are the tactics that you do to engage the customers with their influences, some of those things that you were just talking about?

Bri: Yeah. So, I mean, we are always, we look at our brand social channels as kind of like your resourceful BFF. We want to just be chatting with our consumers. Again, regardless, we don't – even if we have a founder, the brand does not rest on the founder. We still have, you know, full-fledged marketing plans, influencer engagement, gifting new influencers, working with smaller creators which again would happen whether we had that influencer or not as the founder. Sometimes it helps, of course.

Sometimes we reach out to different members of the community and they're so excited because they maybe grew up watching a certain influencer who founded the brand. Sometimes though, they have no idea who that influencer even was and they're just interested in getting to know the brand and engaging with us. So again, has its pluses, has its minuses, but I don't think it's 100% a need by any means. 

Paul: Okay, so like, Haley, if we're looking at it right… so I'm, although it might surprise you, I'm not a typical luxury buyer from the way that we do this. So I always find -

Haley: You have the height.

Paul: I have the height! This is it. I can change this. You can show me how this works. But it always feels to me that luxury, the rules of marketing and supply and demand, everything's on its head, right? So there are no real ways of doing it. 

Is that the case for when you're building out your community Advocacy – you're trying to empower people to tell your brand story on your behalf – yet also you need to maintain a luxury aesthetic, your brand, everything like that? That's a very, very delicate tightrope. How do you balance that? 

Haley: Yeah, this is a balancing act that I hadn't seen in my career until joining LVMH. The heritage story, like being on Givenchy, having this really strong heritage that we have to adhere to and flowing everything through Paris. So every influencer partnership, every asset in media, copy, captions, it does create friction for the North American market because we are a market where our consumer is very literal. 

TikTok is very hyperbolic. Media on TikTok should fall in line with that sort of like playful place. So the best way for us to kind of straddle that line and produce something effective for our market that is aligned to our brand heritage story is through synergy with our HQ team.

So, you know, kind of doing the Advocacy internally, but also just using data to reinforce the need for the market. Competitive benchmarking is something that we do a lot of in my role and showcasing why, you know, if we went rogue or to Paris's eyes, we went rogue and we have a much higher click through rate. That's the kind of thing where it's really hard to tell somebody who's trying to drive their market and trying to drive tangible growth in their market when there's benches and something that can reinforce that necessity for being a little bit more avant-garde even in the luxury space. 

Paul: And when you're sort of trying to select people to work with, does that just mean the bar is higher or is it just different? Like when you're looking at creators, for example, are you finding those that clearly look like they could afford it, not necessarily those that hit a brand aesthetic? Is it about income as well? Is the way that they look?

Because mostly people are curating creators, hard two words to say together, based on their aesthetics alone. But are there multiple dimensions that you've got to look at? 

Haley: Yeah, it's different for my brand. We have a powder. Well, I was going to say product, but there. it's a spoiler alert. We have a loose powder that went viral last year, and it's a $60 loose powder. So for everybody in the room who's a beauty junkie, that's a very high price point for a loose powder. 

But the dichotomy is we're seeing, we always household income target, or for the moment… my agency's back there, they're like, no, you don't. They're like half the time. No, we do a lot of targeting because we are LVMH and we do have a prestige price point. But what we saw with the virality of this powder on TikTok last year is that women and men that couldn't even maybe on the nose afford something like this, or they haven't shopped this kind of product before, are purchasing and converting because it has a really big point of difference that we've also reinforced. 

So my brand personally is in a context where, yeah, we are seeing atypical things, that are an anomaly. So your media has to be really responsive and just kind of remain nimble.

But at LVMH in general, the partnerships, like again, we want to speak to a North American consumer. And something I like about LVMH right now that I've noticed across the different large conversations that we've been having is it's an organization that really wants to produce longevity of consumer. So, like, Tiffany is advertising on Snapchat. Do you think these kids are like, I'm going to go home and play video games and then buy a diamond? Like it's not what's happening, but they are playing a long game for a sustained growth of acquiring a new consumer and producing desirability for a new consumer.

So that's why the advertising in North America across these many different platforms, the LVMH brands are doing a really good job straddling that line and remaining true to a North American perspective and a totally new consumer. Because the future is a very big generational gap that we're seeing with Gen Z having very different responses, different types of content, different motivators. They're a more conscientious consumer.

So yeah, I guess, short answer is the landscape is definitely dichotomous in this luxury space. But there is a really interesting path forward for some of the heritage brands.

Paul: Hannah, when it comes to influencer activities, how are you balancing between the paid and the organic activities between them? 

Hannah: Yeah, so I think we really take the stance that it's super important that both organic and paid influencer relationships and activities work really hand in hand. So for us, that looks like working in complete collaboration with our PR side of the team. It's always the basis for all of our paid activations. So we're never going to partner with an influencer who hasn't responded to organic activity, who hasn't already talked about the brand, who has that organic Advocacy. So it's always that foundation.

So we use organic, all of those activations, like mailers, events, that kind of thing, as a little bit of a testing space for any future potential partners that we are looking to. So we might have seen someone who has great potential but they haven't ever talked about us before. So we really make sure that they get into that gifting and organic engagement programme.

Because I think that otherwise, bad influencer marketing feels incredibly transactional. So if you really put that PR philosophy and foundation to all of the activity that you're doing, you're just really bringing that oxytocin inducing trust that we know is so important.

So I think that they have to work hand in hand, whatever that looks like for you, for your business, whether it's it being integrated into one team or just two teams working collaboratively. 

Paul: How are you testing to find out that they are genuine fans? Like, are you looking for them in certain places? Are you giving them a litmus test? Like, how do you, what's the bar that they have to cross? 

Hannah: That they are producing the kind of content that we think our product and our brand messaging could kind of fit seamlessly into. So when we, it is a lot of manual, lots of different team members kind of having their opinions and pulling them into a like potential list. And then we obviously look at their existing, like, you know, existing content, have they actually ever mentioned us before? If not, then they do kind of fall into that organic engagement bucket before they can kind of go into the paid space.

Verity: And have you got any examples of where those two activities, the paid and the organic, have really complemented each other to grow the brand presence? 

Hannah: Yeah, I would say that pretty much all of our activity is that because we do take that stance. So it's everything from, on a product level, we've really pivoted recently into focusing in on our hero products. So we know that that works incredibly well from a paid perspective. We have one particular product, our Pro Collagen Cleansing Balm, which is really efficacious and it removes makeup in a really kind of compelling visual way and it smells incredible.

Verity: It's like the best product. You should try it.

Hannah: It is the best product.

Verity: The best! 

Hannah: And so we've seen how strongly that content resonates on social, in our paid influencer partnerships. The return from a conversation, so an earned media perspective, and then also conversion to actual revenue was always so much higher than when we were talking about any other product. So we have ensured now that we have really regular gifting of that product. So making sure that organic gifting is going to seep into our play. 

Paul: Just a quick one on that. You mentioned the EMV. Is that something which you use internally within your team to report on it or actually is accepted wider in the organization? 

Because that's often a problem that a lot of people get. It's like, EMV, great, we're measuring it. But people are like, yeah, not going to measure that, not going to pay attention. So when you talk to the CFO, for example, how are you finding that's been adopted? And if it is working, why do you think it is working? 

Hannah: Yeah, EMV is a team-wide accepted metric. Now it's something that we've worked towards for quite a few years. We have worked with Tribe Dynamics, Creator IQ in order to have, you know, their ranking has been really fundamental in the importance that Elemis places on influencer marketing. I think that if you put a dollar metric on something, then your CFO is going to be much more interested.

So if we can say we've generated $4 .2 million worth of EMV in a month, that is when they're interested. And we have also done lots of background work as to how that EMV correlates to other harder metrics, traffic, revenue, growth, that kind of thing. 

Paul: Is there a lag? So like high EMV, then how long? One month, two months? 

Hannah: It's a little bit longer, longer term, probably like six months to a year we’re, kind of, seeing a good correlation. 

Paul: Really? That's quite good. Year on year growth is pretty – it's quite consistent in that. Are you guys similar on EMV, a bit earlier, a bit more advanced? 

Bri: I would say a bit earlier from a Maesa perspective. We really, I would say in the last year, have been focusing in on EMV as a key metric and really trying to rise in those ranks. And so I do agree with the timing that Hannah was saying of like, we're not necessarily seeing as we're growing in the EMV ranks right now that that's affecting sales. But obviously the ultimate goal is that long term, that yes, we start to build that buzz. And as we grow there, we grow in sales as well. 

Paul: Nice. Same for you guys at LVMH? 

Haley: Yeah. I've been using Tribe since 2016. So last year, last month, I'm like, no, I've been using it. Yeah. EMV at L'Oreal, I started my career at L'Oreal and it was the bench. I mean, I think it's very industry. I think EMV is very beauty and fashion brand specific. I've been in part of; I've consulted for organizations that could care less about a metric like that. But I think as long as you have something tangible to tie influencer market, influencer needs to be anchored in some metric. 

So with Connor and that program and now Tracker as well, we found a way to anchor what we're doing in something. This was before the massive suite of other metrics. So I think it's just nice to have something to put on a slide. 

Verity: Bri, in your experience, I think I probably know the answer, but who drives the most impactful results for your brands? Is it the kind of like the larger influencers who entirely fit your brand aesthetic or the smaller creators who are more inclined to get creative with the brand guidelines? 

Bri: Yeah, I mean, typically we like to make sure that we're working with different tiers amongst the pyramid through any campaign. So we wouldn't necessarily only do a campaign with larger influencers or only do a campaign with smaller influencers. We really like to see how we can all sort of work together Harmony. I think with the larger influencers, we see they really help with EMV, they really help with the awareness, sort of getting the eyeballs. For me too, I love to see when those larger influencers are able to influence more micro-influencers. So I'm less concerned about them influencing the end consumer, but more concerned with them just creating that brand heat, that brand buzz. 

And then of course, you know, working with smaller creators is where we're able to get the scale, be able to work with a wide variety. And obviously just at the stage that they're in, in their influencer journey, they are more connected to their audiences.

So I really think, you know, for our most successful campaigns, it's been working with influencers across multiple tiers. Yeah. 

Verity: In terms of some of the, we talked earlier about, testing and, you know, obviously experimenting. What are some of the, have you done any experiments and what have you tested, especially with sort of like content that has helped you learn all of that stuff? 

Bri: Yeah, so I think, you know, when we really started putting a focus on influencer marketing, you know, and there's multiple different players and departments involved, you know, everyone sort of wants an in on like what the briefing is, making sure it's perfect, making sure all the product info is correct. 

At this stage though and because you know, we've been able to test with that and then get a little bit more loose honestly, my preference is to tell the creator look I'm trying to you know, drive engagement or I'm trying to drive sales. Here's the product. Here's a line or two on it. Please go create something. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. 

I actually find that some creators aren't there yet with being able to like produce back, they're like, no, no, no, tell me what to do, but I don't want to tell you what to do because I don't want it to sound robotic and like it came from me. 

But we've been having a lot of fun of playing with, you know, not only beauty influencers, but also just like some trending creators. We did a video recently with like ReesaTeesa who obviously got big with her like, ‘who did I marry’ series. And so just being able to work, you know, with someone like her and play around with like, you know, I don't expect you to go up there and teach someone something brand new about hair, but like, start to figure out, you know, how the brand can integrate with your everyday life. 

Paul: So, and like when you – I guess it's to everyone – like when something works, when you found like a partnership with a creator that works or a particular type of content or like a seam of Advocacy that works, like how do you then start to scale it? 

If you have any sort of stories of just finding something that surprised everyone, but then you're like, yep, that's 10X that. Yeah, I think, you know,

Bri: This year, Hairitage has been playing around with, like I was saying, the ReesaTeesas of the world and, of course, always still sticking with our tried and true beauty creators, understanding that that's what their audience is looking for. But really marrying together us taking part in trending content, but then also taking part with trending influencers. And it's been working in terms of driving that brand awareness, driving the EMV. So I think we'll continue to scale in that way also. But of course, we'll never forget our tried and true beauty creators as well. 

Paul: How about for you guys, Haley? 

Haley: Well, something interesting happened last year. We had such efficacious media through influencer content on TikTok that Sephora, our primary retailer, ended up incubating our media for the first time in the brand's life. So that is a great example of our retailer actually saw that what we were doing was working so hard that they said, here's investment from our pocket for you guys to do more. So that was a really nice feather in our caps. And that content was, I mean, in line with what we see work on TikTok anyway, which is UGC, it was influencer content. 

But for Givenchy, that has typically run or historically has run the institutional assets, I think that's why we saw such a brand lift last year. And we doubled our cosmetics business last year. So it's 51% growth at Sephora's year over year. So it was no joke. It was a context of a lot of different things that happened, you know, right. But we tried new placements on TikTok, like pulse placement, and kind of doubled down there when we saw that working. So more contextual media that we were buying. And with the right content, we saw sort of like a sweet spot. And then we incubated on Sephora's incubation. So we really just fueled investment into that tactic last year. 

Paul: And how has community played into that? Like, for a brand like that, is it a big part? Do people identify as being a part of the community or is it a more distributed effect? 

Haley: I think with this loose powder, beauty gurus have sort of like; I saw a lot of placements on TikTok and we ended up boosting one that was like, the girls love it. So it is interesting to your point earlier, like, hey, we're a luxury brand. It's kind of like the house of Givenchy. I can't touch it. It's untouchable. All of their assets represent a woman or a consumer that I don't look like, that I don't identify with. But when you have a product and you're putting out an influencer and media messaging that aligns, that everybody can kind of identify with, which is an efficacious product, like we all kind of have a hero product, probably every brand does, we did see this really cool groundswell. 

It was really through TikTok, a little bit on Reels and YouTube too, but like this groundswell of Advocacy and community because we were planting influencers that were all saying one thing and then micros and general consumers were kind of joining in.

So we don't have an organic buzz measurement tool. Like I don't have like a net base or anything like this in this role. But what we just saw from our TikTok reps and you know what was indicated by our brand health was that the community mobilized around something that we orchestrated and kind of were able to just at a certain point watch it all happen and watch money roll in. 

Verity: Hannah, let's hear a little bit more about your Elemis community and how do you use them to drive Social Commerce?

Hannah: Yeah, so we have a very passionate community. We are a British brand who've been around for over 30 years and I would say when I started at Elemis about 10 years ago, one of the things everyone would say to me was like, my mum uses that. Now we're very much more like, I use that, which is fantastic. We love mums, obviously, and still want them as a key part of our community, but we've experienced like massive community growth. 

And I think one of our big kind of, you know, challenges has really been around how do we really effectively talk to this very large community whilst maintaining that core like relationship between brand and creator? Particularly as we are like, we are, we were born in the spa, so we've always had that very one-on-one connection between the expert and the customer. 

So something that we have done that's proven really effective is kind of had a nano micro-influencer community called our Skinsiders, which has just allowed us to really scale all of those great relationship building tactics that we do in a very easy way that's manageable for one of my team members rather than one team member trying to individually talk to 3,000, 5,000 plus individuals. And we can really use that community to tap into, we can encourage them to create really trend driven content that maybe doesn't fit for us as a brand to put on our own channels. But for them, it can really create some fantastic, engaging, compelling content. 

And then that's also really the area where we're massively seeing that kind of impact on our conversion metrics. It's really that much more micro influencer community that is driving. We were experiencing a lot of just testing and learning with powerhouse influencers. Some would convert incredibly well and some would just fall flat completely. But this, as this kind of always-on piece for our community, has really ensured that we're kind of consistently having that success for our website, which is fantastic. 

Verity: How's like the difference between, and in terms of practically as well, the difference between having an always on approach to this – because conventional influence marketing is campaign-led and it has been, and it still is in most cases. If you would look at the majority of budget that's going towards it, what you're running is more campaign which is more community and always on. What's the difference? What is the difference in tactics that you employ? 

Hannah: Yeah, it means that we, I think it works particularly well for beauty and skincare, which is a part of someone's everyday life. And you can have that repeated, like on a product level, people are using our product multiple times a week. So being much more kind of always on and really having that as a focus, as kind of in the that product level as well as like brand really just means that we are having that kind of increased frequency and that increased frequency of posting from these individual creators means that we are, you know, appearing in their communities, mindsets more and more often, which we know leads to compounded, you know, benefits from all levels, engagement and conversion. 

Paul: Is it in the PR team, community team? In the social team?

Hannah: Social team, yeah. And then we also say one of our biggest things with our always-on approach is literally having a budget line for reactive social content. So being able to, so it's not campaign focused, it's not tied to any particular NPD, not really focused on any of our hero products or anything seasonally relevant. 

So for instance, we saw this trending creator who is an Elemis fan. She had been going viral for her running routines. And so we worked with her to create some content on her post-running routine, which again, blew up. And it was featuring products that we don't talk about particularly often, our Aching Muscle Super Soak, which is great for a, it's like a kind of sports massage in a bottle, like in a bath kind of thing. But we don't talk about it very often; that this was a really relevant moment to incorporate into conversation. 

Paul: Nice. And how about for you guys? Always-on; how are you approaching that versus campaign? 

Haley: I would say, so I love and I agree with what Hannah said, if we have, we call it our slush fund, just in our marketing budget that just kind of exists and floats. And it's just sort of there. And our leadership team has been very supportive of it too, of just like, if you see something trendy, you have this money already set aside. We're not taking away from other big marketing moment and plans. But it allows us to react quickly without worrying about like where are we going to take this from? So I think implementing that has been really great and I think having that on hand is useful. 

Otherwise, I would say from an affiliate perspective and from a gifting perspective, we're always-on both proactive and reactive. And then of course we have, you know, our main sort of tent pole moments throughout the year that we'll sort of put some more dollars into, we'll contract some more influencers for that. But I think kind of just making sure that the brand is always a part of the conversation and always-on is super important. 

We don't have a lot of newness at Givenchy, so we're not a very launch heavy brand. I came from a brand that had like between 10 and 12 launches a year. It was like crazy. So for us, we're kind of, we all by virtue, we're always-on because we're not launching newness. So we have influencer moments. We have to have them pulsed because I, it's actually candidly not a significant budget compared to maybe how some might think about the luxury brands. It's not always equitable. Your price point versus your operating budget. So yeah, we have like very organic levers that are always-on like seedings. 

We do a lot of touch points. Like I've been encouraging my team to do coffees, lunches, and actually talk about our heritage and talk about our products in a way that feels natural to support our YouTube presence and our always-on presence. And that's something that we've scaled and that's been really effective for us. And then with media and influencer, we do have these pulsed moments and we plan them around like KCPs basically when there's not newness.

So yeah, I guess when you oversee the full program, you're going to have some that are campaign based and levers and some that are always-on. And for us, always-on has to be a more low spend lever. So it has to live more in the organic and Advocacy space than paid. 

Verity: I'd love to hear from each of you really just on this question around, what are some of the emerging trends that you see in Social Commerce that could influence a few future strategies for engaging with influencers to create superfans in the community? 

Hannah: I think for me, TikTok Shop has to be the biggest, do we call it a trend? Particularly obviously on a UK base. So it's definitely not going anywhere and it has made, it's really, it's a much more mature space in the UK and it's really made its mark hugely. 

I think we've seen L'Oreal have launched their Glotion product, which I believe has been available in the US for a while. They launched it in the UK, I think maybe a month ago and have already sold over 90,000 units of this product on TikTok Shop. So huge impact, huge scale and potentially a big game changer for UK.

Haley: Yeah, I mean, I think for our brand, too, we just tested some forays into lower funnel placements on TikTok, like VSA. And so for us, where we are seeing virality, which is still TikTok, that's where we're going to invest in and see if we can kind of stabilize the ROAS of a placement like that so that we can use that not just for scale of buzz, but for scale and true sustained brand growth on some of our heroes.

Bri: And then I think on the TikTok shop piece, we're really trying to figure out as a brand and with the creators that we work with, how to lean more into the lives. And again, not always with the goal to sell something, but just with the goal to reach more consumers, kind of have more people seeing us in the for you feed. I think that there are certain creators who are super comfortable with lives. There's some who are not. 

And so also, just trying to figure out who we can partner with that feels natural. They want to grow in that space. How can we grow in that space together?

Paul: So Bri, Haley, Hannah, thank you so much for joining us. That was awesome.