Social branding has become the hallmark of digital marketing. From the smallest local businesses to major internationally recognized brands, social branding is being used to build brand awareness, entertain and engage, provide a real-time channel for customer service and of course sell.
Although most marketers find it difficult to mark proven ROI when it comes to social media, most brands see the value of these channels. According to Adweek, in 2018, 91% of retail brands used at least two social media channels. Mashable reported that 81% of small businesses were using social.
These stats are the reason smart marketers are upping their social media presence. Here are seven steps to help improve your social branding.
1. Choose Your Channels Wisely
It can be tempting to open an account with every social channel out there. However, this is not a very strategic approach.
First, it is not realistic to manage all these platforms, and second, not all social platforms are created equal. Despite the popularity of so many channels, who they are popular with is very important. No two apps are exactly the same, and therefore no two audiences are either.
You have to use the platforms that align with your brand. For example, if an app has a target demographic that is 18-24, it wouldn’t be a match for your brand if your target demographic is 35-50. Do your homework and look for specifics important to your target audience using social media demographics.
When researching channels, ask yourself some questions:
- Will the people using this channel help us meet our business objectives?
- Are they using this channel in a manner that makes sense for our needs?
- Will the content we intend to share fit in with this channel and how people use it?
Another good tell is watching your metrics for existing social media pages to see how your brand is faring across channels.
2. Use Your Channels Wisely
Once you have chosen your platform(s), make sure you are using each channel wisely. Just because you post something on one channel, doesn't mean it should be posted on all of them. And there's a good reason for that. Actually, there's a few.
As previously discussed, each channel has its own audience. Each audience uses social for different reasons. In fact, according to Global Web Index, the average person has 5.54 different social media accounts.
With these different audiences and uses, you have to make sure you are providing content that will be engaging in the context it is presented. According to Buffer, the best content for the top social channels are:
- Facebook: Videos and curated content
- Instagram: High-resolution photos, quotes, Stories
- Twitter: News, blog posts, and GIFs
- LinkedIn: Jobs, company news, and professional content
- Pinterest: Infographics and step-by-step photo guides
By ensuring you are choosing the right content for each platform, you will be better inclined to engage the platform users in a more meaningful way.
3. Set the Right Tone with Visuals
When taking Buffer’s advice to heart, one thing that comes up most often is the use of visuals. Although the type of visual varies from channel to channel, there is no doubt that images still speak louder than words.
Visuals likewise play a major role in setting the tone and image of your brand. They offer a first glance of your brand identity and help build brand equity.
The important lesson here is that although you are using different types of images across each channel, the tone and manner should be consistent including:
- Color palette: Use your logo colors to create a consistent color palette. Make sure your main logo colors are used in some way for all images. You can add colors outside of your logo but use them consistently and also make sure they work well together.
- Logo as your avatar: When using an avatar on social media use your logo or a symbol from your logo across all social media channels. Create a logo using the specs for each platform, so it is never skewed awkwardly to fit in the space allotted. Symbols work well to build brand awareness, such as the golden arches of McDonald's or the Nike swoosh.
- Templates: Save time and face by using templates for graphics used on social media. You will then have consistency across all aspects of your designs for colors, fonts and the way you use your logo and symbols.
All of these aspects work together to create your brand imagery.
4. Find Your Voice
Create a voice that fits in with your brand. The words you use and the tone and manner of your posts will make a strong impression even when it is just a few words for a hashtag. Take the Disney example above as a perfect example of how the company uses humor and a recognizable asset in its social media activity.
Your communication style should create a personality that fits with your brand. Consider the following to find your voice:
- Company culture: What does your company stand for? What is important to you? What separates you from the competition? Whether you are fighting for the planet, love dogs, or support strong women, your voice should reflect that.
- Your audience: How does your audience speak? What lingo do they use? What is common in pop culture, or inside jokes they might understand? Whatever will resonate with them, use, but make sure you remain authentic. Nothing is worse than someone trying to be something they are not. It can be sniffed out on social faster than you might think and turn people off when they feel you can’t be trusted.
- Unique value proposition: Your UVP can be a great help in finding your voice. Focusing on what you have that others don’t will add to your culture while helping define who you are as a brand.
5. Choose Your Topics Wisely
Streamline your efforts to keep the topics you post about consistent. You have to avoid having a random collection of posts that will confuse your message.
Don’t be too worried that you will have to create your own content. An excellent way to remain authoritative in your industry is to curate content. You can build authority by sharing posts that are relevant, meaningful and useful for followers. This encourages likes and shares while showing people you are not focused strictly on promoting yourself. Instead, it creates trust.
Don’t be afraid to use humor when your brand calls for it; 3 in 4 people appreciate humor. You can also use a mix of curated content based on the platform such as videos, gifs, memes, and links for blogs posts and articles.
To stay on point, choose a few topics that make sense for your brand and industry whether it is celebrity fashion, designer trends on the runway and shoe fetishes for a fashion boutique or recipes, food trends and seasonal produce for a grocery store. The goal is to stick with your area of expertise, so people depend on you for the info they need.
Last but not least, be kind. 88% of consumers find it annoying when a brand bad mouths the competition. Instead, consumers buy from brands with these top three qualities:
- Honest (86%)
- Helpful (78%)
- Friendly (83%)
6. Cross Promote Your Profiles
Don’t forget that all of your marketing has to work together. If you are on social, share that information across all your profiles and marketing material. This means:
- Links on your website to your social pages
- Providing URLs or at least the logos for the social channels you use on all of your print materials, brochures and signage
- Sharing links to content on your social pages such as to your blogs or from channel to channel when it works
All of these steps will help build social traction. You should also encourage staff to like your social to encourage followers in their groups: He told two friends, she told two friends, and so on.
7. Engage and Leverage Comments
Social media is just that: social. Many organizations forget this is one of the most important aspects of social media. You can’t just keep posting stuff. Instead, you have to look for comments and join conversations to engage followers. Make sure you have someone on board who is reading comments and replying. In fact, try posting content with a question: We love these shoes, what do you think?
If you take on the burden of responses, you have to be consistent. This becomes crucial if you find negative comments or customer complaints. 32% of consumers complaining on social expect a response within 30 minutes, and 42% expect to hear from you in an hour. They found that 57% expect the same response 24/7, so manning social becomes important. If you can’t manage the demands, you might want to avoid using Twitter as 80% of social customer service requests occur on Twitter.
Leverage comments to generate more content. Often you will see common questions or get some really good insight from comments and replies to comments from other followers. Following threads and finding out what people are chatting about can provide ideas for blogs, further content, and opportunities to generate awesome conversations that show off your expertise, not to mention the fact you care about what people are saying.
These seven steps can provide your business with better control over your social strategy and fine-tune the tactics you use to improve your social branding.