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Smile! You're #Instafamous

by Anna Ngo
In less than five years, Cin7 customer HiSmile has become a social media juggernaut, with 1.2 million followers on Instagram and 1.7 million page likes on Facebook. We chat with operations specialist Brigitte Graham about how HiSmile’s at-home teeth-whitening kits became an international Internet sensation.

Everyone wants whiter teeth, and no one knows this better than HiSmile founders Nik Mirkovic and Alex Tomic, two twenty-something entrepreneurs from Australia’s Gold Coast. Starting out with a modest $20,000, the pair have propelled their brand to sales of over $40 million since launching in December 2014. Social media has paid an integral part in growing HiSmile’s brand awareness. How did they do it? And, more importantly, how can you do it too?

First off, Mirkovic and Tomic were savvy enough to send half of their first batch of product to social media influencers and bloggers: HiSmile devotees include the Kardashians, the Jenners, and LA Galaxy soccer player Zlatan Ibrahimovic. And the rest, as they say, is history. 

Cin7: How long did it take to get over 1 million Instagram followers, and what was your overarching social media strategy? 

HiSmile: We wanted to become a fashion-forward oral cosmetics brand that was more than a product, so we developed relationships and built a brand that influencers wanted to be a part of. There wasn’t a strong emotional branding presence in the oral cosmetics space at that time, so we were able to break into the market and change how oral care cosmetics are perceived. We picked Instagram because that was where the attention was. 

It took us 4.5 years to reach this milestone, and we did it through constant thought on social media strategy and iteration on that strategy. That means being on top of social media trends, aware of what works for our audience, and never being complacent about the types of content we’re using. Something that worked a month ago may not work now. The ability to relate worldwide trends to our brand is huge for discoverability. Being universally relatable is what has helped grow our audience to this point.

Cin7: What do you think people are responding to? Why do you think HiSmile has captured so much interest?

HiSmile: We understand the emotional connection consumers can have with a brand, and we understand how to make sure we’re always relevant and up-to-date with trends. We iterate on our content every day by checking our analytics: We assess the success of individual content pieces and what it is that our audience attaches itself to, then take those learnings and apply them immediately to our content. 

Social media trends are huge. For us, some examples include the aging app trend that went around on Instagram. We looked at how we could relate that back to ourselves and used the app on a photo of UFC champion Conor McGregor, one of our HiSmile ambassadors. ASMR videos are huge on YouTube and Instagram, and we’ve been able to apply this using the satisfying nature of our products and their sounds to make multiple videos around this topic.

Cin7: How do you stay relevant? Which sources do you look to? 

HiSmile: It takes research and checking media and large social pages every single day across multiple social media platforms like Twitter, TikTok, and Facebook to see what we can pull from them. We stay culturally relevant, which enables us to have broader depth and makes it more natural for us to integrate across beauty, fashion, and lifestyle.

Cin7: What advice would you give to startup brands looking to stand out on social media?

HiSmile: Be yourself, stand out, and don’t try to copy others. As well as trying to get visibility wherever is relevant to your brand, see what’s trending in your area and what’s showing on Instagram Explore  and Popular Pages while always staying true to your brand. We always reflect on our brand image and tone of voice when looking at content and trends; not every trend will work for us and we don’t try and force it.

Cin7: Though you’re an Aussie-based brand, you’re doing big business overseas. How has Cin7 helped with that?

HiSmile: The majority of our customers are now based overseas (85%), with the US  and UK making up our largest markets. We have since launched a UK warehouse to service UK and EU customers and a US warehouse to service the US, Canada, and Central and South America. Over the course of the next few years, we plan to further expand our distribution hubs to achieve the best-possible customer experience from top to bottom. 

Cin7 has allowed us to accurately see stock levels with ease at any point in time across these warehouses. We’ve been able to manage stock numbers with more accuracy and speed and eliminate the majority of manual data entry and pulling multiple reports from our 12 Shopify stores, which is a huge time saver. Cin7 has also given us the tools to formalise our stock-purchase process and easily track costings and shipments across multiple warehouses in one place. 

This content was brought to you by Cin7 Inventory Management.