L'Oreal recently announced its plans to acquire NYX Cosmetics, a $100 million company that has found a way to become the fan-favorite on YouTube, far surpassing L'Oreal on the platform. How did NYX (rhymes with "fix") build this enormous footprint on YouTube while other brands are working so hard to catch up? It all started with the Jumbo pencil.
Tonie Shin, the former vice president of communications and marketing for NYX, had been early to engage with YouTube vloggers and provide them with sample products. And that plan had started to pay dividends, especially with one product in particular: The NYX Jumbo Eye Pencil.
In 2007, the milk-colored (aka white) NYX Jumbo Eye Pencil, was starting to be used in creative ways by some YouTubers. In addition to using it as an eyeliner, they were using it as an eyeshadow base and highlighter. Other beauty vloggers picked up on the idea, including one video called "5 different ways to use a NYX Jumbo pencil in Milk" by creator Gabby Elizabeth.
This trend of multiple uses for the pencil, wholly launched by YouTube fans of the product, was the primary driver for sales of 9,000 units in six months. Shin looked at the trend and realized that these young creators were quite talented and had found a great new way of communicating their expertise.
"As women we all have our own little tricks for makeup products and application," Shin said. "But these techniques were put out there for the public to see. [Users] were able to get a step-by-step process and see how it was done, and it helped other makeup wearers."
Increased Sales and Brand Visibility for NYX
And, as a result, it helped sales at NYX. So Shin and her team set about to create a platform that focused on supporting the community of content creators rather than the brand itself. They started the annual NYX Face Awards (Face is short for "Fine Artistry of Cosmetic Elites") in 2012. "I wanted to provide some type of platform for these rising stars." Shin, who recently started a consulting business, said. "I created the Face Awards to give back to the community in a way to support them."
From early in growth of YouTube, NYX had sought to engage with their social media audience as friends rather than customers, with organic, consistent discussions. And once the first Face competition began, this community enthusiasm continued to grow.
"We saw a lot of people in the community come and support one another the first year," she said. One creator, Charisma Star - the eventual winner, began the competition with 3,000 subscribers and had 93,000 by the end. Here's a video from one of this year's contestants, Denean Dale:
Dramatic Spike in User-generated Videos around NYX Brand
The competition is currently in its third year, and results have not been released yet. But at Octoly we've found a dramatic spike in earned media, or user-generated videos, in the period between July 1 and July 3, during the most recent voting phase of this year's contest. On July 1, NYX had an all-time footprint of 624 million views on YouTube. By the end of July 3, it had 656 million. That means that the brand received 32 million impressions on YouTube in just two days. Yes, that's right, 32 million views in two days, not including any traffic to its own YouTube channel or website.
NYX Face Contest
The NYX Face contest begins with a call for entries (the first year the contest had 300 submissions, and more than a thousand in the second year). The winners of this phase sign an agreement to become part of a pool of 30 contestants who will go through a series of three challenges, creating new videos based on several themes. These videos make use of the company's products. The pool of 30 is narrowed to 20, then 12, then six. At each phase, the creators encourage their fans to go the NYX Face Awards page and vote. Fans can vote up to three times per day, so the engagement rate is high, and NYX is able to create a vast database of emails of people who may be interested in its products.
The six finalists, and a guest or guardian, are then flown to Los Angeles for a three-day-event, which includes a live-on-YouTube final competition as well as several seminars. During the first year these sessions focused on helping the finalists learn about becoming celebrity makeup artists, and by year two NYX realized that these women (and some men) were also interested in building their own YouTube channels. So the sessions included helping the vloggers build their channels and audiences in addition to makeup artistry.
And the event has changed lives. The 2012 winner, Charisma Star was able to relocate from Alaska to California and continue building her YouTube following.
User-generated Content and NYX Brand Awareness
The first year the contest received 40 million earned media views, while during the second year it grew to 140 million views. These young women and men don't only post videos on the NYX channel, they also post the videos on their own YouTube channels, building brand awareness for NYX while at the same time building their own subscriber base, all within the YouTube network. To date, the brand has more than two billion all-time views of YouTube videos made by content creators.
Shin said that while the goal was to help give YouTubers a platform to show their talents and build their audience, their work in turn helps build brand awareness (and lots of organic backlinks) for the NYX brand and website. Understanding the numbers behind YouTube and social media are key, Shin said. Marketers who want to build sustainable brands must understand the metrics behind the media. "A lot of people focus on pushing posts out there - creating images, etc." Shin said. "But it's your backend analytics that you really need to pay attention to, and target that right market and know your sweet spot."