Beauty lover @ericabmccleskey discusses all things content and Valentine’s Day!

Erica McCleskey is a Minnesota-based beauty creator who describes her accounts as: all things beauty with a hint of lifestyle. She manages an Instagram, a Tiktok, and a growing YouTube channel, all focused on make-up, jewelry and beauty products. With Valentine’s Day approaching, we asked her for tips on content creation and influencer campaigns. As a Super Creator with more than 10 completed Social Native campaigns (including NYX, Clinique, JOAH, and Virtue Labs), she gave us plenty of advice for brands and creators alike!

Q: Tell us how you began creating on social media. How did you specifically choose to be a beauty creator as your niche?

I started creating on social media in my mid-20’s (around 2016-2017), primarily on Instagram. When I would get home from work, I would often find myself watching beauty YouTubers as a way for me to relax. I would then try to re-create their looks and try their beauty tips. Makeup has always been a form of self-care for me. It is my creative outlet, and it is a time where I can sit down and focus on myself. After watching other beauty creators on YouTube and Instagram, I was inspired. I decided I would like to create my own social media channels to share my love for beauty with others. My goal was building a positive community of other beauty lovers.

Q: Do you have a preference for the type of content you produce? Which formats provide an advantage in reaching your audience with beauty content?

I enjoy interacting with others on my Instagram stories. This has been a way for me to really get to know my audience, and for them to get to know me. I love that it can be a bit more personal. I can share things about my life that I wouldn’t necessarily post to my Instagram feed. In my opinion, TikTok is kind of the same way in that it does not always need to be a “highlight reel” of my life, and it seems more new and fun.

Q: Over the years, what have you learned about your audience and how have those learnings impacted your content?

I have learned that my audience prefers content that is more “raw” and “real”. Content that is not as produced and is filmed on my phone rather than my camera seems to do the best. I believe they prefer this because it is more relatable and realistic. They can get to know me better this way. I’ve also learned to incorporate parts of my daily life (my routine, things I enjoy, my dog, etc.) and found that they enjoy seeing some of the “behind the scenes” mixed in with my makeup content to get to know me on a more personal level.  

“I have learned that my audience prefers content that is more ‘raw’ and ‘real’. Content that is not as produced and is filmed on my phone rather than my camera seems to do the best. I believe they prefer this because it is more relatable and realistic.”   @ericabmccleskey

Q: How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day on your channel? 

I enjoy creating more soft-glam looks. Pink is one of my favorite eyeshadow colors to use, so I love to create makeup looks geared towards Valentine’s Day! I always throw in at least a couple Valentine’s Day themed looks. I believe it does go beyond beauty though. It’s a time for us to remember to love ourselves and the important people in our lives, whether it is a significant other, a friend, or even our pets!

Q: What trends do you see in the beauty market around Valentine’s Day? 

The trends seem to lean towards more soft, romantic style makeup. Think glowing/dewy skin, pink and red lips, neutral eyes. However, it seems that some people are going back to more dramatic and bold makeup. So you could switch it up with a smokey eye, a statement lip, or a pop of bright blush. Either way, I think whatever you feel most comfortable in is best!   

Q: What feedback have you seen from your audience when you post sponsored content?

I try to choose sponsorships that are authentic to me and my channel. For instance, I would not post about something that I do not truly love or that does not align with my other content. My audience has always been supportive of my sponsored posts. I think that is because I am honest about what I am trying or recommending, and I have gained their trust over the years. 

Q: What makes a paid partnership “successful” in your own eyes?

I know I’ve had a successful paid partnership when the brand wants to work with me again in the future! That is the best compliment a beauty creator can receive in my eyes.

Q: What would you like brands to know about creator collaborations?

Brands can benefit by getting more authentic and engaging content from a creator who may be able to share new and exciting ways to use a product, or how they like to use a product in their daily routines. I know I am more inclined to purchase a product when one of my favorite influencers/creators that I trust talks about a product they have been loving. I think a lot of consumers feel the same way! Also, I think it is amazing when brands give the creator more control over the content being produced, rather than giving the creator a script to stick to, or certain photography guidelines etc. Then the creator feels they can express their honest thoughts and opinions about a product or service.

Q: What was your favorite campaign that you have worked on with Social Native? 

My favorite campaign was with NYX Cosmetics 1-2 years ago for Halloween. It encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone from the typical “soft-glam” and neutral makeup that I’m used to and create something more dramatic and fun. It allowed me to be creative and put my skills to the test. I love how much it challenged me.

Q: Do you have any tips for creators in the beauty space looking to get paid partnerships?

Something that has helped me is showing my true personality and being authentic. I used to be nervous to show my sense of humor, etc. because I was worried about being judged. However, since I started to open-up about a year ago, I’ve received more paid partnerships and opportunities than I have since I started my creator journey. I feel like I can connect with brands and my audience on a more personal level now. I also think it helps to build a relationship with the brands you are hoping to work with, and show that you truly love their brand and their products. 

Q: Has there been a moment in your content creation when you felt you made an impact?

Over the past couple of years throughout the pandemic, I’ve struggled with my mental health off and on. For my “9-5” job, I’m a Social Worker, so I know how important it is to talk about mental health. I realized I wanted to be more open with my community about my struggles and what has been helpful for me, in hopes that I could help someone else to not feel alone. I knew I made an impact when I received messages from multiple followers thanking me for being open and honest. They have had their own struggles, but have not felt comfortable sharing. It made me feel like I was doing something right when they felt comfortable enough to share their own vulnerabilities with me. I am so grateful for that.

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