The Purpose

Created by entrepreneur Essie Weingarten in 1981, essie nail polish debuted on a trip to Las Vegas with a 12 color line. Her products would soon dominate the market and in the summer of 2010, the indie brand was acquired by L’Oréal.

essie markets itself as a drugstore luxury; meaning it is accessible enough to be picked up at your local Walgreens, but its formula performs like that of specialty lacquer at a high-end salon. This simple, elegant – but relatable aspect – transcends how essie brands itself as a company and speaks to the type of customer they wish to attract.

For this project, I conducted a social media audit of essie’s channels and made recommendations for content strategy and brand enhancement.

The Process

When it comes to social media, essie is not afraid of jumping in feet-first. With an active presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, and Tumblr, they know a thing or two about how to grow their following, but need a little work on how to connect with their fans.

The first step was to understand who they were talking to. Using data from Numerator, I discovered that essie’s biggest fans were women of color (Asian/Hispanic or Latina) under the age of 35. These women often bought nail polish when grocery shopping or running larger errands. While not a top of mind necessity, consumers consider essie to be a “treat yourself” item.

Now that I had a feel for who the target audience was, I began to investigate their social media channels to understand their content pillars. Content pillars are sub-sects of themes that create the foundation for content strategy. These themes should ultimately cater to your target audience and be used to build brand reputation. Here’s what I found.

What’s Hot
Encompasses new product launches, looks from the runway, popular nail art designs, and other bits of company news

From the Fans
Curating nail art creations from their talented fans on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter, creating community

‘Tis the Season
Advertises essie’s new seasonal collections product launches, often ties into broader campaigns like #essielove

Nailing Education
Teaching followers and industry professionals how to best use their products with easy tips, tricks & inspiration

Competitive Analysis

Beauty is a huge topic on social media, and the competition is steep. To better inform how essie should be adjusting their social media strategy, I analyzed competitors OPI and Sally Hansen.

While essie does a better job with their content than Sally Hansen, they could learn a lot from competitor OPI. Meticulous with their aesthetic and strategy, OPI is less concerned with celebrity endorsement and seasonal holidays. By minimizing the use of branded hashtags, they’re able to curate and create a more intentional, trendy experience.

The Conclusions

Coming from humble beginnings, essie is a brand that truly caters to American women. They are approachable, honest, and their products perform at a high standard while still being affordable to many.

After concluding my social media audit, here are areas essie can explore to enhance their brand:

  • Reassess their approach to hashtags and tagging
  • Producing and repurposing video content to increase engagement
  • Showcasing more diversity (ethnicity, age) and sharing swatches on a variety of skin tones
  • Implement carousel posts to display multiple products
  • Utilize the Instagram shopping feature
  • Increase customer engagement through community management

View the full essie social media audit below