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Marketing and branding | Apr 25

How to effectively leverage TikTok and Instagram to propel sales  

Marketing and branding | Apr 25

Following a TikTok video that went viral at the beginning of March, Perl Cosmetics tripled its February revenue in the first six days of March

Reading Time 5 minutes

In 2020, Perl lost her job in London at KPMG during the initial Covid-19 surge and subsequently moved back home with her parents. Thinking what to do next, Perl remembered an article that she had read in the Daily Mail about two Australian men who started a company and made a small fortune selling pink clay masks.   

‘I saw these two guys start a skin care business in Australia and thought, if they can do it, so can I.’ Perl goes on to say, ‘Once I moved back home I had all this time on my hands, so I set about starting a business and developing my product in-house, and I knew that social media was going to be the only way that I could be successful.’ 

Perl knew that social media was crucial for the success of her company as it was the only legitimate marketing avenue she had with a shoe-string budget and no word-of-mouth or email marketing list. If she could beat the algorithms by having her target audience in mind and give them what they want to see, Perl could get eyes on her product. 

‘At the beginning I worked hard on my social presence because I knew no one was going to trust a brand that popped out of nowhere with four followers. I began organically posting and getting my friends and family to like and reshare. I was also posting in loads of Facebook groups, and then getting kicked out of them too! 

‘But it was when I moved to Instagram and TikTok that I was able to start taking advantage of the new trends, features and changes and have the most success. When Instagram brought out reels, I repurposed my TikTok videos to reels and the growth was explosive. I then started to collaborate with other brands and host giveaways, it began to snowball.’ 

The Perl Cosmetics TikTok and Instagram channels follow the 80/20 rule: 20 per cent of the content is product related and focused on sales and 80 per cent is topical, trending content, that for Perl, is focused on lifestyle and authenticity. 

Perl describes TikTok as the top of the funnel for her customers and Instagram as the middle of the funnel. Or in other words, TikTok is the shop window that tries to grab the consumers attention as they walk past, whereas Instagram is the inside of the shop. On Instagram, people browse through your highlights and stories as well as legacy content. This is where you get to find out a bit more about the shop and the shop owner, which Perl argues is now a crucial part of the consumer journey. 


How to tell a story

Perl’s persona on social media thrives off its authenticity. The platforms’ most successful videos (equating directly to sales) to date have been the ones in which Perl tells her story, not advertises a product. Her brand is her story. But Perl explains there are multiple ways to tell a story: 

‘My advice to SMEs is to get in front of the camera and show who you are. People buy from people, not faceless logos. It’s one of the few things we have over big businesses too. You really get to know who is behind the brand. Ben Francis for example, the founder of Gym Shark, would be no where near as big as he is if you didn’t know who Ben Francis was. That’s what set him apart from his competitors. 

‘The person telling the story doesn’t have to own the story though. Look at Ryanair or Duolingo for example who do social media really well: Duolingo have their owl and Ryanair have the planes. That’s their personality. The Owl doesn’t own Duolingo. So, it doesn’t always have to be the owner or the founder, but whoever tells the story does have to have a personality and persona so they can build a relationship with their customer.’ 

“Some of the videos I have posted on TikTok and Instagram have led directly to me doubling and even tripling my sales.”

Isobel Perl
Founder, Perl Cosmetics

How often to post

Instagram and TikTok have different requirements when posting to stay relevant and beat the algorithms. TikTok for example demands that you post everyday to keep you showing up in the ‘For you’ section. Instagram on the other is a bit more lenient, allowing you to focus more on curating the content so that it represents your brand. Bringing it back to Perl’s analogy, it is important that someone is always calling you into the shop, but the shop itself must be more thoughtfully curated so that it is an experience once you’re inside. 

Perl explains that she sets 20/30 minutes aside each day in the morning and the afternoon to engage with other content, post her own content and browse for ideas, sounds and trends. She also spends half a day each week creating and editing content. 

Conscious consumers

Now more than ever, consumers are conscious of who they are buying from. And with a social media presence being an expected part every companies’ offerings, how you present yourself and engage with your customer base is important. 

But Perl sees this as an opportunity, an opportunity to ‘harness the power of you as an individual’ so that you can speak to your consumers daily, tell them who you are and provide avenues to engage with the product. 

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