A Social Marketing Expert: Meet Mario Moreno
At Spredfast, we know it's imperative for brands to build authentic connections to the people they care about most. We are passionate about helping our customers do this and we embrace any opportunity for our customers to challenge us, thereby elevating the ways we can help them. Mario Moreno is one of those customers who consistently pushes us to be better, stay innovative, and help him bring social and digital initiatives to the next level.
We had the privilege of partnering with Mario while he led Forever 21's Social and Digital Strategy. From growing Forever 21's Instagram followers from 4.6M to 11.5M in just two years to teaching social media classes at FIDM, Mario has established credibility as a social marketing expert. Now, Mario is ready for his next challenge — he'll be making his way across the country to join L'Oreal USA as their Director of Social Strategy. His passion and creativity has paved the way for him to dominate in a space that millions are still trying to tackle.
We asked Mario to share some of his social successes, his thoughts on the divide between a personal and professional social brand, and his predictions for what's next for the beauty industry in social. Game on.
Since launching your career in social media, what has changed—and what has remained constant?
A lot has changed. Video content is really taking over and it’s exciting to watch. Facebook and Instagram introduced algorithms (yes, I’ve been around for a while), and the influencer market has become more global than ever. However, the one thing that I think has remained constant is the customer's excitement for social. Leading with millennials and Generation Z-ers, the customer practically lives and gathers information on social daily. Brands are just now catching up. Content creation and new formats that brands have adopted were actually ideated and demanded from the customer. This is why I think it’s important to let the data and analytics behind your fans and customers lead your strategy—and not the other way around.
You were very successful in leading Forever 21 to its spot as a top fashion retailer on social media. Are there new challenges that you see brands facing in social?
I don’t think any brand has social media completely figured out. It is still very new and changes (what seems like) daily. I attribute a lot of my success at Forever 21 to really understanding how to scale and when to do it. Content creation, influencer marketing, paid campaigns, trend-spotting, and an optimized posting cadence is truly what fueled our strategy. The hard part about social is that you have so many strategies to manage -- from content creation, influencer marketing, data and analytics, organic vs. paid social campaigns, community management, international channels, etc... You have to accept that unless you have a massive team, you need to pick which strategies are a priority for your brand. This is the biggest challenge I think for any social media team.
As you shift industries, what learnings will you take from fashion to beauty? What do the two industries share, and what differences are you already preparing for?
I believe there are a lot of parallels between fashion and beauty, which excites me. A few of the things I’ve learned from working in fast-fashion are:
1) The consumer loves variety. Not just with different styles and trends, but also in content format. Followers prefer to be exposed to styles through experiences, such as a model wearing a top she’s about to shoot in with a behind-the-scenes video on SnapChat, a blogger wearing a particular top on Instagram or a campaign shot of that exact same top featured on Facebook. It’s all about multiple presentations to the customer.
2) The audiences are similar. I believe those who are interested in the art of fashion are similarly interested in the art of beauty (hair, skin, makeup, etc). These two arts actually compliment each other and can enhance one another. It's really fascinating.
3) Speed — I think it goes without saying that we live in an extremely fast-paced environment. Your content creation strategy must tie to the demand from the customer. To truly be an innovator in the social space, you have to be quick to recognize the next trends while studying the competition, and understanding how best to move quickly and effectively, to pull your brand forward.
To innovate in social, you have to study the next trends while studying the competition.
One of the biggest differences I plan to face will most likely be in the way that we market or speak to the customer. Beauty isn’t as easy as just putting on a dress; you have to educate, inform and retain.
Why is building a personal brand on social just as important as building a social strategy for a business?
I believe you have to know how to actually use (and be good at) social media personally in order to be a great leader in the social media space. If Instagram releases a new zoom feature, I don’t want to wait to read an article about it, I want to experience it for myself. When we talk about influencer marketing negotiations, I understand the influencer expectations and the brand expectations better because I am also an influencer. I also know what images or content types are trending from the people I personally follow. Building a personal brand on social is only going to help you out in developing strategies that actually work.
Does your work have any effect on your personal brand, or are they completely separate?
I try to keep them as separate as possible. My Instagram profile @followmario is purely for fun and is my personal take on creativity with my friends, travels, and experiences. I don’t like to mix the two — but that is just me. However, I will say that I do take a lot of what I’ve learned personally on social and apply it to strategies for work - but for me it’s always about putting the brand before yourself.
What are you most excited for as you start your new venture?
I have always been an omni-channel marketer, I just happen to specialize in social media because I like to see how all channels connect and tell a story. My passion and curiosity about how the business works is what drives me. Therefore, I think what is most exciting about starting at a new brand in a new industry is learning about how and why the business functions and who the customer is, and building a strategy around that.
Advice: Take what you learn personally on social and apply it to strategies for work.
How will you prepare yourself for L'Oreal's renowned global social presence and strategy?
One week prior to me starting a new job, I try to learn as much as I can about the brand from a consumer standpoint. I will visit a store or purchase products, download mobile apps, visit all of their globally owned sites, review all of their social channels to formulate a SWOT analysis. This research helps me on my first day to have a better understanding of what has been done and where the opportunities lie. Then when it comes time to learning internal processes and strategies, I’m prepared with references and questions. I like to ask a lot of questions. :)
What opportunities does the beauty industry present on social that have you most inspired?
Beauty has always been an interesting industry to me. It is so glamorous yet attainable. Certain products can really boost your confidence and enhance your look. I am extremely excited to shift my focus from fashion to beauty as it is a bit more personal to the customer. I also think that beauty brands, big and small, are really starting to build a lane in social. People are much more experimental because they are now being exposed to using these products in a variety of different ways. The challenging part will be evolving strategies to introduce new customers to the brand but also continuing to keep the brand authentic and desirable to the customer while maintaining positioning in the market.