20 Mar Executive Spotlight: Tracee Ellis Ross
Tracee Ellis Ross is a busy woman. Between acting, being a showrunner, and running her own company, Ross has a lot on her plate—yet, she does not miss a beat when it comes to staying connected and marketing her various projects on social media.
The actress is the daughter of singer Diana Ross and music executive Robert Ellis Silberstein. Currently, she is best known for her lead role in the ABC series Black-Ish. She has also created a spin-off of the show called Mixed-Ish and is simultaneously taking part in many other creative projects. In 2018, Ross became the founder and CEO of Pattern Beauty, a producer of beauty haircare products focused on empowering people of color, women, and other marginalized groups.
Ross interweaves her personal brand into her professional brand, as she often uses her platform as a space to promote social activism and commentary. Her brand, Pattern Beauty, is stemmed from an inherently personal place, as she openly discusses her own experiences with her hair being the inspiration behind starting her brand. She is very candid about this on her social media platforms, and her large following indicates that executives do not have to shy away from inserting their own personalities into their brand image.
In this article, we will be analyzing Ross’ Twitter and Instagram accounts. We will be looking at how she utilizes these respective platforms for her company Pattern Beauty’s messaging, and how executives can draw inspiration from Ross’ authenticity and adherence to best practices.
Instagram: a 50/50 Split of Professional and Personal
Tracee Ellis Ross uses her social media platforms to share her creative projects, personal life, and brand-related content. Her Instagram, which has a total of 7.8 million followers, surpasses the number of followers she has on Twitter by around 6 million. It is clear that the visual nature of Instagram, as opposed to the more text-based nature of Twitter, allows Ross to put more emphasis on the visual branding side of Pattern Beauty.
Though Ross uses her social media platforms to discuss different topics, humor, self-love, and social awareness are at the forefront of all her content. The social activism component is very much a part of Pattern Beauty, as Ross consistently highlights that the brand is dedicated to people of color, specifically those with hair types that have historically been shunned by society as not being “beautiful” or “desirable” enough. Ross’ brand is stemmed from a movement to embrace and enhance natural beauty, and this comes across in her social media messaging.
On Instagram, Ross’ Pattern Beauty-related posts often coincide with holidays or awareness months, showing that she is staying relevant and aware of ways she can customize her brand’s marketing. For example, her Valentine’s Day post shows the back of her own head with heart-shaped messaging outlining her hair, reading, “Love your curls they are you.” Ross’ branding is all about self-love, incorporating the internationally recognized holiday into the marketing.
Another example is her post for Black History Month. The post highlights a series of pictures of African men and women donning various traditional hairstyles. The very essence of this post, which is explored in the post’s captions, outlines black history, offering an introspective into black heritage. The post was originally posted to her company’s Instagram, which she then reposted to her personal Instagram account. This serves to strengthen the connection between Ross, her company, and the social significance behind the images. While we recommend executives use their social media account to share original content that is different than what their brand is sharing, occasionally reposting or retweeting content is an effective way to pull in brand-related content.
View this post on Instagram
#Repost @patternbeauty ・・・ IF OUR HAIR COULD TALK, IT WOULD TELL YOU OF OUR LEGACY. The richness and artistry of our culture is mirrored in the intricate beauty of traditional African hairstyles, with their serpentine patterns & gravity-defining dimensions. In early African civilizations, hair not only signified identity, background, & status, but held spirituality & power. Hence the saying, “the higher the hair, the closer to God.” Braiding, & grooming in general, forged bonds between elders & children which allowed techniques & traditions to pass down through generations. In colonial America, slaves often hid seeds & rice in their braids, & some braided hairstyles doubled as secret maps to freedom. Now, braids serve as an expression of our #hairitage as well as holding our curls, coils, & tight-textures in protection from the elements. Throughout time, our hair has carried the messages of our ancestry and culture. Listen closely: what does your hair say to you? #RockYourPattern #BlackHistoryMonth
Ross is also not afraid to use her fair share of humor in her videos, which gives her brand posts an air of authenticity. Since Ross is the face of Pattern, it is important for consumers to see the personal connection between her and the brand. Ross utilizes the caption section to outline her own experiences with hair care products during her youth, which ultimately led her to make a brand that can be used by all. She is also sure to utilize all that the platform offers, wherein she posts both videos and photos, ensuring that she is making full use of Instagram for her marketing purposes.
View this post on Instagram
When I was a teen I used body lotion on my hair. In my twenties I would mix conditioner and water. The leave-in is my key to locking in moisture and sealing that cuticle for a popping wash-n-go! The @patternbeauty Leave-In Conditioner is my holy grail and my brain-child 😂😂. I’m so glad you all are loving it too. Well, it’s finally back in stock at @ultabeauty and at the link in my bio. Get juicy and joyful, y’all. I luv the luv!!!!
Ross also uses relevant hashtags in her branding, such as #RockYourPattern and #CurlFamily, the former of which is the official hashtag for Pattern Beauty.
Another example of effective marketing is that Ross posts videos of using Pattern products on others. In the video below, Ross is doing her brother Ross Naess’ hair after she has put Pattern Beauty products in it, showcasing the results of the products. This acts as a testimonial of the product, while also showcasing to users how they too can use the product. She also makes sure to tag Pattern Beauty’s Instagram account in the video, which is recommended if executives are using their personal accounts to promote their professional brand.
View this post on Instagram
There is nothing like family, and I love my mountain man brother @rossnaess and his head of hair. He is a wash & go guy who just uses whatever is in the shower and he just puts his hair in a ponytail, but I left him a curl package of @patternbeauty goodies and then I gave him some extra love with some diffusing. Every curl has a story, and every curl has a family. Embrace and uplift the #curlfamily that helps you embrace and uplift your curls.
Another Instagram feature Ross makes use of is Story Highlights, with a Highlight dedicated solely to Pattern. The Highlight includes users’ testimonial posts and videos, which is an effective and authentic way brands can market their products. Other topics include Pattern Beauty ad campaigns and marketing content, and Ross’ interviews about her journey as a CEO. Utilizing Highlights is a good way to quite literally highlight what the brand is all about in a short yet effective tool for users. By having a Pattern-related Highlight on her personal account, it makes users more aware of the brand.
As mentioned before, her messaging around Pattern is very intertwined with her personal voice, one that advocates for self-care, breaking social barriers, and embracing one’s beauty. As the face of the brand, Ross is sure to place brand-related posts amongst her more personal posts, and is also sure to tag the brand’s account when doing so.
View this post on Instagram
“To me, your beauty is who you are. It’s not a thing that over there. It’s a thing that is yours that you already have. So seek out a community of people and imagery that actually supports you. Go where the love is.” I chatted with @dazedbeauty about the journey to loving my curls as part of their week-long celebration of the power of black hair. Link in story. #dbrooted #rockyourpattern
Twitter: Articles & Celebrity Endorsements
Though Ross posts very consistently on this platform, she tends not to use her Twitter account for as many Pattern Beauty-related content as her Instagram. Content on this platform is predominantly focused on her film and television project work. However, when she does post about Pattern, Ross tends to retweet celebrity endorsement videos as well as retweeting and posting interviews related to Pattern Beauty.
Chatted about my journey to becoming the founder/CEO of @PatternBeauty for @Entrepreneur. Thx @EmilyShur for this great cover pic, @LizOBrody for a lovely article & @RealEvanRoss for letting me borrow your chic suit so I could look like a boss! Out next week! #rockyourpattern pic.twitter.com/CpDJvwPFGZ
— Tracee Ellis Ross (@TraceeEllisRoss) February 26, 2020
In the pictured Tweet, Ross is sure to make use of the appropriate tags—her own company, the magazine, the interviewer, and the photographer—and also utilizes the #RockYourPattern hashtag. Tagging the people who took part in releasing the article acts as a way to recognize each person’s hard work, and also helps to broaden the post’s reach. It was also strategic of Ross to post this as an original Tweet rather than a retweet, as it gives the post a more personal and authentic touch. The post also links to the magazine interview, which is effective as it allows users to refer to the post to read more about Ross’ journey to becoming the CEO of her own company.
Celebrity endorsements are also highlighted, such as this video that Oprah posted when trying Pattern Beauty products:
— Tracee Ellis Ross (@TraceeEllisRoss) February 15, 2020
And another one from Kelly Rowland:
— Tracee Ellis Ross (@TraceeEllisRoss) January 25, 2020
If your brand is endorsed by others, such as influencers, reposting that particular content to your own social media platform will help to further legitimize your company, as users tend to look to testimonials and reviews to scope out brands. It is also an authentic way of highlighting your products in a positive light.
Ross also retweeted an article she wrote on Marie Claire about her personal journey with her own hair throughout childhood, and how this led to her vision for Pattern Beauty:
Tracee Ellis Ross Chronicles Her Complicated Curl Journey https://t.co/huvI41filZ
— Marie Claire (@marieclaire) February 6, 2020
Since the text portion of Twitter posts are meant to be short, which is enforced by a fairly limited character count, Ross adheres to the platform’s best practices by sharing posts that link to articles and videos, allowing users to read or hear more about her brand via the sources she shares.
Areas for Improvement
One note is that Ross is not very consistent about her hashtag use on Instagram. We recommend businesses use six to eight hashtags per post to boost engagement and audience reach. While Ross typically sticks to one or two when she does use hashtags, she makes sure to use relevant hashtags that are directly related to the brand (such as #RockYourPattern).
It is also clear that Ross uses her Instagram for more Pattern-related promotional material. Even still, sometimes it is few and far between. It may be beneficial for Ross to add more Pattern-related material on her personal page, because though Pattern has its own account, users likely know the name Tracee Ellis Ross more than they know the name Pattern Beauty. Having her specifically advocate for the brand, which can be as simple as a caption or image tag, will help broaden the brand’s audience reach.
While it may be beneficial to see more organic Pattern-related content on her Twitter page, Ross’ Twitter and Instagram both promote the brand in different ways, which gives users more incentive to follow her on both accounts. As well, the primary way Ross discusses her brand on Twitter is through retweeting consumer testimonials, which is an authentic form of marketing that is immediately relatable for users to see. For many executives, sharing what their customers post on social media is an easy yet effective way to add brand-related content. User-generated content like this feels more reliable and truthful when compared to a generic advertisement on a brand page.
Ross’ Twitter headline also reads “CEO of Pattern Beauty,” which is an effective way to market the brand, since that is the first thing users will see when they go to her page.
Overall, Ross is consistent with her brand voice and tone. Her ability to mix her personal opinions and thoughts into relevant content for her Pattern Beauty content, in addition to adhering to each platform’s best practices (hashtags, tags, and utilizing all forms of media on Twitter and Instagram respectively) makes her brand messaging successful. Ross is an example of an executive on social media who utilizes a more authentic approach to product marketing through the use of testimonials and incorporating her own personal experiences.
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