Fenty Beauty’s Social Media Capital Was Driven by Black Voices

Rihanna attends the Fenty Beauty by Rihanna presentation at Callao Cinemas on Sept. 23, 2017, in Madrid. (Fotonoticias/FilmMagic/Getty Images)
Rihanna attends the Fenty Beauty by Rihanna presentation at Callao Cinemas on Sept. 23, 2017, in Madrid. (Fotonoticias/FilmMagic/Getty Images)

Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty line had $72 million in earned media value during its debut month of September, placing it squarely in the top three performing beauty brands for the month—and beating out many brands that have been around for much longer, analysts say.


Tribe Dynamics released the numbers last week in its monthly report. While many outlets mistakenly reported the numbers as earnings, earned media value is actually the estimated value of publicity a brand gains through digital or social media.

Brands pay for advertising every single day. That advertising can cost a lot of money. EMV shows us how much a company gets and what it would have cost had the company actually paid for the advertising. When a brand’s products get talked about, shared, tweeted and written about in magazines, on social media, that is basically free advertising for them.

EMV measures how much that advertising would have cost if the brand had paid for it. It is not an indication of the brand’s actual earnings. However, earned media value can and does turn into real revenue for a company. It is a measurement of social capital.

Think of it the way you think of tweet impressions. Press the Twitter Analytics button on any one of your tweets. The impressions number is how many eyeballs saw your tweet. That plays into EMV.

Now think of tweet engagement as sales. Someone seeing your tweet is an impression. That’s eyeballs on a product. Someone engaging with your tweet? That’s a sale. This is how EMV works.

In other words, if eyeballs on the tweet, post, etc., lead to people clicking and going through to buy a product, that is EMV.


In the case of Fenty Beauty, when the company launched on Sept. 8, the internet went wild. Women tweeted, took Instagram pictures and made Facebook posts showing their hauls and their face-beats using the highly coveted products. That is advertising gold. Fenty didn’t have to do anything but be great; social media fans did all the rest.

The only companies to do better than Fenty Beauty during the month of September were Anastasia Beverly Hills and legacy cosmetics brand MAC. Rihanna’s company even beat out brands like Urban Decay and Kylie Cosmetics.


This is a very specific example of the power that black people, and specifically black women, have on social media. Our voices and our dollars matter and make a huge difference.

These other companies would do well to pay attention. Black Twitter holds a lot of social capital. Black people have a lot of dollars, and we are willing to spend them on the right products and companies. We will also uplift the products and companies we like.


The success of Fenty Beauty in its first month was largely driven by social media. We won’t know what the company actually earned in dollars until January, but if the earned media value is any indication, the company is already on the right track to make a mint.

News Editor for The Root. I said what I said. Period.


K. Araújo

We surely did!! I was excited to give Riri my coins!! and will do it again! Hey highlighters and foundation ARE LEGIT- EVERAAAAAAAAYTHAAAAAANG!