How Topicals Won the Gen-Z Fanbase with Influencer Marketing

A forensic breakdown of Topicals' Influencer Marketing Strategy

Priya Nain

Priya Nain

February 4, 2023

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Skincare and influencer marketing go hand in hand, like cleanser and moisturizer.

The visual aspect of Instagram and TikTok are the perfect stages for flaunting skincare results, demonstrating product use, and showcasing those oh-so-Instagrammable bottles and jars. This combo has become the secret sauce for skincare success in the digital age.

Brands like Glossier and Sephora, with their ambassador programs and influencer communities, have long capitalized on this. But influencer marketing isn't just for the big names. Newer brands can also make a splash, and Topicals is a prime example.

Founded in 2020 by Olamide Olowe and Claudia Teng, Topicals has quickly made a name for itself with science-backed products for various skin conditions. From the beginning, they've focused on influencer partnerships to build a community and authenticate their brand.

This post is a masterclass in learning how Topicals run their influencer marketing so you can walk away with tried-and-tested strategies for your own DTC brand — not just a skincare brand — and grow your sales.

📃 Influencer landing page

Topicals has a dedicated landing page to showcase its influencer marketing program.

The tagline "Connect. Build. Earn." emphasizes the community aspect of the program. This indicates that being an influencer for Topicals is about more than just promoting products; it's about building connections and being rewarded for those efforts.

It then leads to an important note that acknowledges the double-edged nature of the internet—how it provides connectivity and content but also perpetuates unrealistic beauty standards.

This message empowers influencers to challenge mainstream beauty narratives, especially those who feel marginalized by them. It highlights Topicals' commitment to making a positive impact, not just sales. This is significant as it sets Topicals apart from other brands with influencer programs, like Glossier and Sephora, by focusing on meaningful change.

This message can also be seen as an invitation for influencers to bring their true selves to the table, promoting authenticity over perfection.

It's also worth mentioning that Topicals' influencer landing page highlights 'Exclusive community building IRL & virtual events.' This shows they value real-life connections and ongoing engagement, both crucial for fostering a strong brand community.

👉 Takeaways for you:

  • Don't put the information about your ambassador program in an obscure document or on a page that's hard to discover. Create a dedicated page for it and list it on your website.
  • Create a program that focuses on building a community, not just pushing for product promotion. Use language and messaging that emphasize connection, collaboration, and mutual growth.
  • Plan and highlight events (both virtual and in-person) that bring influencers and the community together.

You can create an ambassador landing page easily and quickly, using SARAL. Customize it with your copy, images, and brand color palette. Publish in a few minutes and share it.

🤳 Diverse levels of involvement

In Topicals' influencer marketing program, there are different tiers of involvement — "Spottie Hottie", "Insider", and "Expert". This allows a range of influencers, from fans to licensed professionals, to participate at levels that match their commitment and expertise.

As you move up the tiers, exclusive benefits such as "Access to product giveaways," "Product discounts for completing challenges," and "Paid content creation opportunities" become available. This exclusivity adds value to being a higher-tier influencer and provides motivation for lower-tier influencers to increase their involvement.

👉 Takeaways for you:

  • Adopt a tiered structure for your ambassador program. Different tiers can be based on level of expertise or volume of sales brought in. Brands like Pura Vida also have a similar approach.
  • Providing exclusive benefits and incentives tailored to each tier encourages influencers at all levels to increase their involvement

Instead of waiting for the right & diverse influencers to land on your page, you can also reach out to them with tools like SARAL.

In SARAL, you input what you're looking for, like "natural skincare" or "makeup artist," and with a few clicks, the tool sifts through loads of influencer profiles. It pulls up a list of influencers who match your criteria, and you can save them all in one easy-to-handle list without any copy-pasting!

This way, you can ditch the messy spreadsheets and adopt a tidy, easy-to-use system.

To vet the influencers — whether they have enough engagement and 'die-hard fans' who listen to them, try SARAL's free Chrome extension. It allows you to see influencer's stats, and even predict a fair fee to pay.

🤝 Using a community-building platform

Topicals has partnered with the Web3 community-building platform "Try Your Best" (TYB), This platform enables Topicals to track engagement and provide rewards to its ambassadors.

Ambassadors are assigned tasks or "challenges" through the TYB platform, which they complete in exchange for blockchain-based tokens ("coins"). These coins can be redeemed on the Topicals website. Challenges include activities like writing reviews, social media posting, or attending events.

👉 Takeaways for you:

  • Be open to adopting new technologies like blockchain and Web3, as they can offer unique advantages in marketing and community building.
  • Introducing a system of rewards and challenges can make the ambassador program more engaging and fun, leading to increased participation and enthusiasm.

🌍 Promoting the Ambassador program

Many brands develop ambassador programs yet surprisingly, they often underpromote these initiatives. It's puzzling why they hold back! The result is a missed opportunity to connect with brand advocates.

Topicals breaks away from this hesitant approach. They're proactive and vocal about their ambassador program, using social platforms to actively promote them

In one of their Instagram Stories, Topicals announced "Spottie Hottie Appreciation Month," a whole month to celebrate their ambassadors. This not only shows appreciation for their current ambassadors but also serves to attract new ones by illustrating the brand's commitment to its community.

Another Instagram post showed a lineup of product gift boxes and branded cowboy hats, signaling the exclusive merchandise and gifts that ambassadors can receive.

Across all examples, Topicals uses clear, engaging calls-to-action like “Join Today” or “Click Here,” making it easy for interested followers to learn more and sign up. This removes barriers to entry and maximizes the number of applications the brand receives from potential ambassadors.

Topicals effectively utilizes its existing members to advocate for the program

They did a series of personal testimonials from real members of the ambassador program, which can be more convincing to potential ambassadors.

👉 The takeaway here is to be bold in promoting your ambassador program. It should be as visible and vibrant as any other aspect of your brand. After all, these ambassadors are your frontline storytellers and community builders.

🏖️ Doing influencer-brands trip the right way

In August 2023, Topicals hosted its first influencer trip to Bermuda.

Recognizing the need to differentiate from typical influencer trips and align with its brand ethos, they carefully planned the trip to emphasize diversity, inclusivity, and community-building.

They chose influencers who reflected their customer base and shared similar cultural backgrounds, ensuring the trip resonated with its target audience — the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) community.

The trip resulted in 3 million impressions and an increase of 5,000 followers across Instagram and TikTok, indicating significant online engagement.

In Dec 2023, they took 12 BIPOC influencers with whom they had cultivated a long-term relationship on a celebratory week-long trip to Accra, Ghana.

The videos that influencers created around the trips generated 5.6M views on TikTok alone.

Not all brands, especially small and medium-sized ones, have the resources to host such grand international excursions. The takeaway for these brands isn't that they should stretch beyond their means to replicate these trips but rather that they should focus on the underlying principles that made Topicals' trips successful: inclusivity, community-building, and authentic engagement.

For instance, the focus on BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) influencers helped empower a segment often underrepresented in the beauty industry, aligning with current consumer expectations for diversity and inclusivity.

Topicals made a strong statement. It said, "We see you, and we value what you bring to the table." This kind of approach goes a long way in building genuine relationships with influencers who can then share their authentic experiences and enthusiasm for the brand.

👉 Brands can apply the principles taught by Topicals in more budget-friendly ways, such as:

  • Organize workshops or small gatherings that focus on topics relevant to the influencers and your brand, such as skincare routines, makeup tutorials, or wellness practices.
  • Create exclusive in-store experiences that influencers can attend to and share with their audience. This could include first looks at new products, behind-the-scenes tours, or Q&A sessions with the founders.

Like Topicals, ensure that your influencer partnerships reflect the diversity of their customer base, promoting inclusivity at every level.

💅 Leveraging Influencer-generated content

When you look at Topicals' feed, every face is new, every story is different. This variety of authentic voices fosters trust, as potential customers often see themselves reflected in at least one of these experiences.

The authenticity of these posts, which feature real-world experiences and diverse individuals, is something that can't be manufactured. It resonates more deeply with potential customers than traditional, polished advertising because it is genuine and relatable.

This strategy can lead to substantial cost savings as the brand leverages the creative talents of its community rather than investing heavily in content production.

Every repost adds to the sense of community around Topicals. They’re not just selling a product but also cultivating a group of brand advocates who share a common interest in skincare.

👉 Takeaways for you:

  • Always credit & appreciate the influencer for content.
  • Create a unique hashtag for your brand and encourage influencers to use it. This will help categorize content for easy discovery.
  • Actively repost and engage with the content your influencers create.

How can you grow sales with influencer marketing?

Success in influencer marketing is not just about creativity, connections, and sharing influencer content. It also needs tools that can help you execute your ideas efficiently.

If you're still hustling with Google Sheets and scribbled notes to keep your influencer marketing afloat, you're basically paddling a canoe with a spaghetti noodle. You're likely holding back your potential for exponential growth.

This approach can lead to significant time wastage and a constant scramble for new influencers while failing to fully leverage and maximize the relationships with your current ones. Transitioning to a more streamlined, efficient system is key to amplifying your influencer marketing efforts.

💫 One tool that can help you do that is — SARAL. It's an all-in-one influencer marketing tool designed specifically for DTC brands.

With SARAL you can find the right influencers, track your campaign’s success, and do everything we've outlined above – all without breaking a sweat or your bank — so you can focus on building relationships with influencers and making strategic decisions.

👉 You don't have to jump to buying a subscription today. Dip your toes in with a free trial of SARAL here. Try all the features, and our support, and even run a campaign. Cancel it anytime if the results aren't making you do a happy dance.

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