Social media strategies and lessons from a 3x successful brand founder

With three successful skincare businesses under his belt – Blaq, Flight Mode and Generation Clay – founder Ryan Channing has well and truly chiselled out a name for himself in the Australian beauty space. Adaptation, finding his niche, and working with the right people has seen Channing continue to expand on The Blaq Group’s offerings. And with social media playing a big part, you know we had to get his take on how to best navigate this ever burgeoning space.

As we wade our way through social media in 2020, Ryan talks us through some of the different strategies he’s instituted along the way – from initial launches to lessons learnt to what he’s doing differently as we step into this new decade…

Image credit: Ryan Channing

Congratulations on the success of all your businesses! Can you quickly give me a run down on some of your key milestone successes?
At the very early stages of the business, seeing the products in the hands of consumers all over social media was very rewarding. Within less than six months, to see the Blaq brand on the shelves in 350+ Priceline stores nationwide was such a milestone – turning that delivery around so quickly was a pure hustle. Overall, seeing my company grow and the brands successfully recognised within the industry is a milestone that we can reflect on and say, “We did it!”

With Blaq, you’ve previously stated that one of the key ingredients to your initial business success was establishing a cult following on social media. Can you tell me how you did this in the initial stages?
Blaq had such a strong identity. At the time, there wasn’t a brand purely dedicated to the core ingredient [charcoal] as the pure focus range. That’s what sets us apart from everyone else. Consumers have a sense of what’s original, and that’s what I believe created this charcoal narrative as Blaq the go-to charcoal brand.

Influencer seeding is only such a small portion of creating brand awareness, but I think the direct-to-consumers voice is much louder and genuine. We knew to provide a strong message in the digital space, we had to plug the products and brands to people who would promote the products in their terms. We received an overwhelming response, and the results have been rewarding.

Image credit: Blaq Mask

What were some of your initial social media wins?
There have been so many, but to narrow it down – seeing the products used by big beauty gurus in the game such as Huda Beauty and Desi Perkins, who I might add, genuinely shared was such a win in sales and brand recognition!

How has your approach to social media changed since that initial year?
To be more genuine and transparent with all our collaborators. It is costly sending out gifts weekly in the hope that they will share your products. Our approach is: if this is a brand and products you will use and love, then let’s talk! As a brand you have to keep in mind who you’re working with, and this goes out across all areas of your business. Ensure that it aligns with your brand aesthetic and your overall business strategy.

Have you adopted similar approaches for the launch of Generation Clay and Fly Flight Mode?
You always think back to past launches and think to yourself, “Oh, I could or should have done it this way,” however, looking back, we don’t regret any changes because it got us to where we are today. Understand what your main brand objective is for your brand or product launch. Whether you want a publicity statement or a sales transactional objective, there are ways to ensure you hit that mark.

Image credit: Generation Clay

What strategies have you used that are similar?
Social media takeovers with a top-tiered talent and a household name work well across both objectives, from publicity to sales. It is very rare for [a social media takeover at] The Blaq Group to actually take place, but when we do action this critical method, we make sure it aligns with who our brand is. Remember, consumers are more conscious of who they are watching these days and what that person is promoting.

What’s been different?
Going directly to the consumers and having them involved with your journey is another approach we’ve explored. Brands should be smarter about where they invest their time and money. Again, this all comes down to what your main objectives are for your brand. Each method is different than the other.

Do you think the social media landscape has changed dramatically since first launching Blaq?
In the first initial stages, social media was such a robust platform for us as a brand to be promoting our products and services. It’s tremendously evolved over the past two years, and viewers are more conscious of what they see on Instagram or Youtube. It’s still a big part of the business, but as a brand owner, you’ve got to be smart and explore other sustainable avenues to keep your brand afloat.

Image credit: Fly Flight Mode

What have been some of the biggest social media changes from a brand’s perspective?
Hiding like counts has been helpful from a brand’s perspective. It appears like it slowed down the race to get the biggest hit and made things seem more genuine. Consumers sharing unfiltered and edited images, the “NO FILTER, UNEDITED” moment is going to be big in the skincare category.

What would be your five top tips for a new brand looking to launch their social media strategy in 2020?

  1. Create a strong brand DNA and identity – stick with it!
  2. Understand your market and your consumer target
  3. Don’t just look at top-tiered influencers to be your sales transactional target.
  4. Collaboration is key, but do it right with someone or a company that aligns to your business goals and message
  5. Remain genuine!

And lastly, on a completely different note (and because we just can’t help ourselves)… Can you talk us through exactly what products we can find in your grooming case?
I can never leave the house without the Blaq Hyaluronic Eye Masks; they’re a crucial staple of mine. I’m always on the go, and it’s such an instant refresher to refine and brighten my eye area – ready for my next meeting or business lunch. Most importantly, the Flight Mode Nano Cloud Mister because hydration is vital and the Smooth Landing Lip and Cuticle Balm – no one likes chapped lips and nails, it’s a duo result-driven product packaged up in one! Win-win!

Image credit: Ryan Channing

Main image: Blaq Mask

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