How Huda Beauty Built a 24MM Instagram Follower Army in 6 Years


Who is Huda Kattan?

According to her Instagram profile, she’s ‘a MUA(makeup artist) and blogger, turned businesswoman.’

She’s also,

  • The Kim Kardashian of the beauty influencer economy.
  • No.1 on the Instagram Influencer Rich List earns up to $18,000 USD for a single sponsored post.
  • Estimated net worth is over 4.5 million.
  • Founder of the top indie beauty brand on Instagram.

Simply put, she’s a pretty big deal in the beauty world.

While she has a profile, and a ton of following, on all major social media channels, the one closest to her heart is Instagram.

“I fell in love with Instagram,” Huda said, even rattling off the exact month (October 2012) and phone model (iPhone 4) she had when she started her account.

And Instagram has fallen in love with her!

Case in point:

  • She has over 24 million followers on Instagram.
  • Each of her post averages 400k views, with several reaching over a million views.
  • They average 3000 comments.
  • She has over 80 branded #hudabeauty hashtags
  • Has one of the largest beauty communities on Instagram.

The one thing that sets her apart from other beauty brands is that Huda, herself, is the brand.

Not a nameless, faceless, voiceless company like other beauty brands. And she asserts that fact over and over and over again across all her social media channels. Her major IG account is also her personal account which is public for everyone. She has a business account @ShopHudaBeauty, but that’s an add-on to her account, not the main brand account.

So with every single product, she launches her fame as a beauty blogger skyrockets.  

However, like other successful beauty brands on Instagram, Huda Beauty follows a carefully crafted Instagram strategy that has helped her reach this level of success. Let’s dissect some of its elements.

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

  • [Instagram Tip #1] Huda’s Strict Content Strategy: Why An Instagram Without A Plan Is A Time-Suck
  • [Instagram Tip #2] Good Artists Copy; Great Artists Steal — The Low-Effort Reposting Strategy That Turns Followers Into Fanatics
  • [Instagram Tip #3] The Follower-Boosting Giveaway You Can Run To Build Insane Hype
  • [Instagram Tip #4] Identifying the Perfect Gap in Your Market For Crazy Audience Growth
  • [Instagram Tip #5] Hashtag Marketing Mastery – Discovering the Right Hashtags for Your Brand to Generate Maximum Exposure
  • [Instagram Tip #6] Getting Ahead of Your Competition – Carving Out a Niche By Staying True to Your Roots

 


 

[Instagram Tip #1] Huda’s Strict Content Strategy: Why An Instagram Without A Plan Is A Time-Suck

‘Hmm. I’ll just post a beauty tutorial today.’

‘I’m too tired today, I’ll post tomorrow.’

‘Ugh, I don’t feel like going live on IG stories. Maybe later.’

^ This attitude does not get you over 24 million followers – it won’t even get you 100, to be honest.

Huda has a carefully crafted plan that lays out everything – what type of posts to create, optimum posting schedule, to IG stories or not to IG stories, and so on. Let’s discuss them all in detail.

  • Follows a consistent social schedule

Where Buffer says, ‘major brands share on Instagram on average 1.5 times a day’, DowSocial’s research has shown that ‘3 or more posts a day’ works great for brands, too.

However, Neil Patel said on Forbes and I completely agree, ‘posting frequency is not all that important for your Instagram marketing.’ Instead, consistency is the key.

And Huda is nothing if not consistent.

She posts between 3 to 5 posts each day, with a gap of usually 2 to 3 hours. Instead of people losing interest in her posts, you’ll see likes and comments increasing with each post. So this strategy definitely works for her.

  • Invests in 70% video content

According to Instagram, ‘Time spent watching video on Instagram is up more than 80% year over year, while the number of videos produced per day has increased by four times from last year.’

Also according to Schedugr.am, while picture posts see more likes, video posts get a lot more comments and engagement is higher.

When you’re uploading around 3 to 5 posts each day, you need to make each of those posts stand out on its own. Successful brands don’t post just for the sake of posting; they have a carefully crafted strategy behind each of their post. And since Instagram’s algorithm makes sure  70% of Instagram posts aren’t seen, brands need to create highly engaging posts.

Huda experiments with a lot of different videos posts and all of them are pretty successful at engaging her audience (and going viral).

Just look at this post. Within 7 minutes, it had 12,908 likes and a plethora of comments.

Here are a few other video posts she creates to fulfill her daily quota of 5 posts.

  • Branded video content – i.e funny memes (starring herself)
  • Lots and lots of beauty tutorials
  • Product demonstration
  • Beauty Hacks
  • Beauty DIYs eg. homemade face masks and scrubs
  • Creates crazy new fads that take off instantly
  • Satire content – makes fun of latest beauty fads
  • A gigantic amount of beauty reposts by followers using her products
  • Latest trends – she has her finger on the latest beauty trends and always makes videos.

 

  • Creates Instagram Stories like a pro

Top influencers average 7.6 Instagram Stories per day compared to only 3.5 Snapchat Stories per day.

Huda is a big fan of Instagram stories. She posts a variety of posts there and treats it like a casual vlog. She posts,

  • her comings and goings, event participation, shopping trips and so much more. While this isn’t an out-of-the-box strategy, it is effective in showing her transparency and authenticity.

  • More beauty stuff. Tips and tricks, beauty DIY tutorials, favorite products, product demonstrations, first impressions of new products, and so on. Her Instagram stories are far more personal than her feed.

  • Also uses the shoppable posts to convert followers.

  • Doesn’t shy away from posting personal life details

Huda is a huge advocate of posting personal posts on Instagram. And, her personal posts get high engagement, too. She,

  • Doesn’t shy away from posting about her sisters, husband, and daughter.

  • Posts pictures of publications where she’s been interviewed or appeared on covers.

  • Lots and lots of (stunning!!!) selfies. Because, why not?

View this post on Instagram

Describe me in one word!

A post shared by Huda Kattan (@hudabeauty) on

  • Creates captions that prompt action

Her captions scream ‘real’. She’s made sure that her IG feed reflects who she is – a humble, beauty blogger like any other – instead of the CEO of a very successful beauty brand.

They’re also used effectively to promote engagement. She loves,

  • Asking followers to tag people who’d relate to her post.
  • Asking for honest opinions about her personal life or brand.
  • Asking questions. All and any kind of questions. From ‘who’s excited about a launch’ to ‘If you could describe me in one word, what would you say?’.  
  • Giving shoutouts to fellow beauty influencers and followers. According to HootSuite, this is a great way to drive engagement.
  • Using emojis in her captions, as well. Almost 50% of captions and comments on Instagram contain at least one emoji.

 

[Instagram Tip #2] Good Artists Copy; Great Artists Steal — The Low-Effort Reposting Strategy That Turns Followers Into Fanatics.

User-generated content is taking the social media world by storm. It’s free of cost, saves time and effort, and leaves a great, lasting impact on potential customers.

Skeptical? Don’t be. I’ve got numbers to prove this claim.

So, consumers in all shapes and sizes, love user-generated content. This is precisely why 80% of Huda Beauty’s feed is filled with UGC.

After going through a number of her UGC posts, I discovered the following things.

  • She religiously uses brand generated hashtags with most of her posts.
  • Reposts content of beauty bloggers usually with over 20k followers.
  • Reposts funny, LOL beauty videos.

  • Reposts content (makeup stash, tutorials, etc.) that promotes her latest products using its hashtags.

View this post on Instagram

I love her!!! ❤️❤️❤️ She’s so adorable! @ti.ffa.ny Guys go give her some love on her page! #Repost @ti.ffa.ny ・・・ This is my first cut crease that is on my page and I’m actually living for it. I used lotsssss of Huda Beauty 💜 ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• @shophudabeauty Desert Dusk palette for the entire eye look 💜 @hudabeauty 3D highlighter palette Gold Sand edition For the dotting on my eyes: @hudabeauty Liquid lipsticks in Famous and Muse with the Lip Strobe in Mystical in the center of my eyelids Lips: @hudabeauty lip liner in Famous, the liquid lip in Famous on the outer corners, Muse in the middle with the Lip Strobe in Mystical in the middle as well

A post shared by Huda Kattan (@hudabeauty) on

  • Reposts the weirdest (and viral) fads – to get more likes and comments.

Why does this strategy work so great?

  • It’s free content. Allows her to post every three hours without spending too much time creating new content.
  • She can track it through hashtags and it takes a second to click repost.
  • Because she’s so open to promoting other beauty bloggers, every beauty blogger (even new ones with hardly any followers) and jumping over each other to tag Huda Beauty in their posts and use Huda Beauty products.

75% of marketing professionals consider influencer engagement effective in lead generation. A plethora of free advertisement.

  • Makes her account feel authentic and non-spammy. 64% of customers will not only value online reviews but will actively seek them out before making a purchasing decision.

 

[Instagram Tip #3] The Follower-Boosting Giveaway You Can Run To Build Insane Hype

She’s created her gigantic beauty empire and upped her IG followers by running giveaways. Just take a look at this number,

Every time she has a new product launch, she creates a giveaway to create hype. Some key elements of her super-successful giveaways are,

  • Sometimes she creates super funny, viral-worthy, satire videos to promote her giveaways. This way when they go viral, her giveaway details go viral too and she reaches out to a massive audience base.

 

  • Some of her giveaways are conducted over the course of a week. With a new giveaway every single day.
  • The giveaways are gigantic. They’re every beauty lover’s dream. You can’t NOT enter them.

 

  • They’re also fun.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BR8qZ6sghwX/?taken-by=hudabeauty

http://hudabeauty.com/2013/02/11/its-here-huda-beauty-lash-contest/

  • Her popular fambam (Mona Kattan 1.6 m followers, Alya Kattan 2.3 m followers, Christopher Goncalo 120k followers) are all involved in promoting her giveaways.
  • Followers to enter as many times as they like to increase their chances of winning. These further increases reach.
  • Since her giveaways are so mouthwatering, she asks participants to enter as many times as they want to increase their chances of winning. But this way she’s also increasing her audience reach, so it’s a win-win.
  • She uses branded hashtags, mostly #hudabeautygiveaway, to track her giveaway reposts.

 

[Instagram Tip #4] Identifying the Perfect Gap in Your Market For Crazy Audience Growth

Fake eyelashes.

“When I began blogging, I noticed a huge interest in my false lashes. Having always customized, cut and glued several pairs together, it was hard to explain how anyone could achieve the same look at home.” –Hudabeauty says.

When she started off as a beauty blogger and makeup artist, there weren’t a lot of different fake eyelashes to choose from. So she’d cut and customize different pairs to make one that’d suit her eye shape. The demand for them was huge, but no brand was supplying it. When friends, family, and acquaintances started asking her about her custom eyelashes and word spread, she saw a market for them and started creating them to sell in 2013.

And this is how her Instagram stardom, her million dollar beauty brand and a whole lotta success came her way.

However, success didn’t come overnight. Her Instagram account didn’t have a lot of followers. Her posts weren’t getting the traction they get today. So, to promote her now-always-sold-out lashes and simultaneously increase her IG following she,

  • ran giveaways,

  • Used branded hashtags,
  • Collaborated with bigger beauty brands like Sephora UAE

  • Gave it away to popular beauty bloggers to further promote it.
  • The reposted content of makeup artists who used and tagged Huda lashes.

 

[Instagram Tip #5] Hashtag Marketing Mastery – Discovering the Right Hashtags for Your Brand to Generate Maximum Exposure

According to a TrackMaven study of Instagram accounts with 1,000 followers or fewer, posts containing four or five hashtags received an average of 22 interactions compared to 14 interactions on posts with zero hashtags.

Another study reveals, Instagram posts with at least one hashtag average 12.6 percent more engagement than those with no hashtags.

Hashtags are pretty important in the Instagram world.

And HudaBeauty owes most her Instagram success to strategically created, used, and promoted hashtags. She started using her core brand hashtag #hudabeauty since 7 June 2016. In just 1 and a half years, IG has over 1 million posts associated with this hashtag.

Here are all the Huda Beauty hashtags there are on IG, and most of them started by Huda herself.

What’s the strategy behind these hashtags?

  • No generic hashtags

She never uses generic hashtags like #makeup, etc. because the competition on them is too high.

  • Branded hashtags

Notice how all her hashtags start with Hudabeauty first and foremost. There are several pros to this tactic. She can track her followers’ activity through these hashtags, she can find interesting UGC posts, further reassert their brand image, figure out what kind of feedback she’s receiving, the number of reposts, and brainstorm new product ideas.

  • Product based hashtags

With every new product Huda launches, she creates a hashtag especially for it.

  • Doesn’t overpower her captions with lots of hashtags

She uses 2 to 4 hashtags in most of her comments. Doesn’t overdo it. Mostly, however, she uses the primary hashtag #hudabeauty.

 

[Instagram Tip #6] Getting Ahead of Your Competition – Carve Out a Niche By Staying True to Your Roots

“I used to look at Princess Jasmine [from Aladdin] for inspiration and relate to her. I loved her super-long hair and followed her makeup style, the Arab style—the big liner and lashes,” –Kattan said in an interview

Every brand needs to have a unique selling proposition to be successful in a competitive niche. The beauty world is nothing if not extremely competitive. So Huda Beauty managed to carve out her micro niche, Arab makeup, by using her Arab roots.

And with every post she uploads, she reinforces her USP. She,

  • Features middle eastern beauty bloggers frequently

  • Creates Arab inspired tutorials. Also, does tutorials in the Arabic language.

  • Talks about her background a lot and her life in Dubai
  • All her beauty products are reminiscent of the Arab world
  • Embraces her dusky skin tone and isn’t afraid to flaunt it

View this post on Instagram

✨✨✨ #hudabeauty3dhighlight

A post shared by Huda Kattan (@hudabeauty) on

 

What happens if Instagram disappears tomorrow?

‘It can totally happen. I don’t imagine that it would. I have a lot of faith in Facebook as a company. If Instagram did go away, we believe that no matter what happens, you can rebuild. Instagram is the biggest factor for our success and I would never underestimate the power of it for us. One thing we’ve been trying to do is look at the other platforms, which we have been neglecting.’ – Huda

Instagram is not going anywhere, for now, so you’ve still got time to hop on to it and build your empire. Unlike a couple of years ago, when gaining followers, boosting engagement, and driving sales through this platform was a huge task, it’s no longer that difficult anymore.

You can imitate effective strategies of successful brands and with a little trial and error, build a loyal community of potential customers.


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