dove social media strategy
Brand Analysis

[Brand Analysis] From Viral Campaigns to Meaningful Conversations: Examining Dove's Social Media Strategy

Andreea Udescu
Andreea Udescu
Table of Contents

The beauty industry has seen its fair share of changes over the years, perhaps much more than any other industry. Brands have come and gone, but some endured and have already built an impressive legacy.

Such is the case with Dove, which despite being 60+ years old, is a brand that keeps up with the times and thrives on social media. Dove is now one of the world’s most beloved personal care brands.

And it’s not just the products that makes this brand stand out, its marketing strategy also plays a major role in this process.

Carry on reading to understand what is Dove’s social media strategy and what makes their approach to marketing so unique and powerful.

Dove's social media strategy in a nutshell

  1. What defines Dove's strategy on social media?
  2. Dove’s social media strategy on Instagram
  3. Dove’s social media strategy on TikTok
  4. How to perform a competitive brand analysis with Socialinsider

1. What defines Dove's strategy on social media?

One does not simply analyze Dove’s social media strategy, at least not before taking a good look at their overall marketing strategy and figuring out what makes it stand out.

Given their longevity in the beauty industry, this brand could have very well failed to keep up with the times and trends, but instead they became pioneers in cause-based marketing.

When Dove first started challenging the status quo and taking on body empowerment related topics on social media back in 2004, it was an industry first.

Since then, they’ve been busy breaking stereotypes and redefining beauty standards, which has brought them massive amounts of free marketing coverage and helped build their reputation.

Their compelling marketing strategy transcends product promotion, elevates the brand's position across generations of women and succeeds in creating a community of individuals who share their values.

Given all this, it makes sense that Dove’s social media strategy should reflect the same values and promote the same causes.

Their tone of voice across all social media platforms is emotion-driven, thoughtful and empathetic, although it does vary slightly based on their target audience (i.e. more informal on TikTok).

Looking at their Instagram and TikTok presence specifically, I noticed that a lot of their content is built around several pillars:

1. Consumer empowerment over product push. This approach enables them to connect more deeply with their audience and creates a lasting impact.
2. Challenging the norm. This is how they capture the attention of consumers who are tired of unrealistic beauty standards.
3. Creating conversations, even when they are complicated or uncomfortable. Their campaigns encourage open discussions about sensitive yet important topics, self-esteem, body image, and mental health.
4. Storytelling through video. Dove is aware of the power of video in online marketing, which is why they prioritize it as a format when it comes to emotional storytelling.
5. Keeping up with the times and trends. Their brand messaging has evolved alongside the needs of their community and way important issues are being discussed by younger generations.

No matter what platform we’re talking about, one thing is certain, no Dove social media post is random. Each one of them is well thought out, intentionally shared and most likely part of a global campaign with significant social impact.

2. Dove’s social media strategy on Instagram

Instagram is Dove’s second biggest channel (judging by the number of followers) and the most active (judging by total engagement and numbers of posts).

dove social profiles socialinsider

Their content on this platform is a well-thought mix of promotional posts (announcing or highlighting new or popular products) and body empowerment posts, although it does tend to lean more towards the latter.

Much of Dove’s strategy on Instagram revolves around their many hashtag campaigns.

One of their biggest brand initiatives, the Dove Self Esteem Project, is an ongoing global campaign created back in 2006 that aims to build self-esteem and body confidence in young people. Over the past year, this hashtag was present in around 10% of total posts on the official Dove Instagram account.

dove campaign posts socialinsider

Another popular campaign hashtag - #letschangebeauty (which intentionally describes the brand’s core objective) - is so heavily used that it can be found among the top Instagram hashtags (both by usage and engagement).

dove top hashtags instagram socialinsider

Instagram is the place where we can find Dove’s most powerful stories - often told in video format. Their posts often highlight deeply personal and vulnerable stories of women facing body issues, cultural pressures, discrimination, misrepresentation and so on.

With that in mind, it’s easy to understand why this post is by far the best performing post on their Instagram in the last year.

screenshot from dove's instagram reel about dove's project you are so beautiful by self esteem

As part of their #DetoxYourFeed campaign, Dove tapped into the power of influencer marketing and reached out to influencers such as Victoria Garrick (Browne) to spread their message and promote a healthier way of using and looking at social media:

screenshot from dove's instagram reel with a blonde girl wearing a purple top talking about how social media is not bad

Is it working?

Their Instagram strategy seems to be working smoothly, as their stats continue to grow across the board.

Their follower count has gone up by 20% over the last 12 months.

dove followers on instagram socialinsider

The number of impressions generated by their Instagram posts has also climbed significantly.

dove instagram impressions socialinsider

In terms of best-performing post types, Reels seem to be leading the way when it comes to engagement:

dove instagram best performing post types socialinsider

3. Dove's social media strategy on TikTok

Over the years, Dove’s content has earned a reputation of being quite heavy and emotion-driven. While that’s in no way a bad thing, it does mean that the tone of voice needs to be slightly altered when it comes to certain social media platforms, such as TikTok.

Therefore, on TikTok, Dove stays true to its value and continues to promote self-acceptance and body positivity, but in a lighter way than on Instagram.

Here’s an example:

screenshot from dove's tiktok video with a woman of colour applying a dove product and saying some affirmations in front of the mirror

Of course, their account is also home to a lot of comedic posts, memes and pop culture references, which are all a great way of attracting younger viewers and keeping them interested.

screenshot from dove's tiktok video about washing products and someone washing their body

It also features some behind-the-scenes content, in the good ol’ authenticity TikTok fashion.

Their top performing post (by engagement) from the last 12 months is a short (5 seconds) product promotion post.

screenshot from dove's tiktok video with their brown sugar and coconut butter deep exfoliating body polish

Is it working?

Similarly to Instagram, their strategy seems to be hitting the right spots, since their numbers are looking very good.

For example, their follower count has skyrocketed in the past 12 months:

dove tiktok followers socialinsider

Their TikTok engagement has also gone up, and spiked several times throughout the last year, which usually indicates virality.

dove tiktok engagement socialinsider

“Making it” on TikTok as a pioneer brand in the beauty industry, dealing with heavy content, meaningful conversations and great social responsibility is something well worth celebrating.

Dove has found a way to preserve the essence of their content strategy on TikTok, but alter it just enough to make it more accessible to younger generations.

4. How to perform a competitive brand analysis with Socialinsider

Brands don’t exist on an island. Each one belongs to a specific niche or industry, and as a result, it competes with other brands. Such is the case, of course, with Dove as well.

Using Socialinsider, I ran a quick competitive analysis on one of Dove’s top competitors - Nivea - to see how Dove stacks up against this brand's performance.

My competitive brand analysis started in the Benchmarks section, where I looked at the two brands from a cross-channel point of view. Turns out that, despite having a similar number of fans, Dove has a far greater reach but lower engagement and video views.

dove nivea benchmarks socialinsider

For a more specific, side-by-side comparison of the two brands, I used the Compare feature. On Instagram, Dove is a clear winner, with more engagement, more frequent posts and a larger follower count.

dove nivea compare instagram socialinsider

On TikTok, the situation is reversed, which makes sense given Dove’s tone of voice and unique brand identity. Nivea’s content is much better suited for TikTok because it’s not as heavy or emotionally-charged.

dove nivea compare tiktok socialinsider

Final thoughts

It’s quite a challenge to sum up Dove’s social media strategy in a few words, given the complexity of their marketing techniques and the brand’s longevity in the beauty industry.  

Brands usually align themselves with global movements and causes but Dove is a pioneer in its industry and has remained firmly committed to empowering women through their numerous marketing campaigns and powerful messaging.

Andreea Udescu

Andreea Udescu

Content writer @ Socialinsider with 8 years of experience in digital marketing. When I’m not writing, I like to go on coffee dates with friends, dabble in poetry and fill my house with flowers.

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