Branding is incredibly important for any business. It’s not just the uniform you wear to portray you
Branding is incredibly important for any business. It’s not just the uniform you wear to portray your company, it’s a form of being. Crafted correctly, it’ll help you attract your target audience just by doing you, as well as enticing new customers along the way.
When it comes to social media branding for your business, you have even more aspects to tend to. From building and scheduling social content to engage with and catering to your audience, developing and maintaining your social brand can become a job of its own.
Don’t worry, though. With the right guidance, positioning your business on major social outlets such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, can be a semi-painless (read: not effortless) task.
Below, Susie Wilson, Etiquette Expert is going to show you the 10 steps you need to take, in order to get started with your social media branding:
01. Define your audience
When you first started your own business, you had to a ton on your plate. From designing your logo to learning the basics of small business accounting (and more), you’ve accomplished a lot to get you where you are today. Now it’s time to apply the practical aspects of what you’ve already done to your social media strategy.
You've already laid the groundwork for identifying your target audience. It's a good start for the audience you want to reach through your social media branding, as the two should not differ in dramatic ways. Knowing the audience you’re trying to cater to will help you develop a brand identity that will resonate with them.
Need help? The Pew Research Centre offers a wealth of insight into the usage of social media across several demographics. After getting a grip on what social networks your primary target audience uses most, you could even consider widening your audience for increased reach. Proceed with caution, though. Casting too wide of a net doesn’t ensure you’ll “net” the new customers you’re aiming for.
02. Choose the right networks for your audience
After you’ve brushed up on your audience demographics in the previous section, it’s time to make sure you’re on the right social networks to reach them.
It’s not imperative to be on every single social network. Choose accounts you plan on posting to regularly that your audience is also on. It’s better to not have an account for a particular social network if you don’t plan on maintaining it.
There’s one exception to this, and that’s Facebook. The world’s largest social network is unavoidable and your business should have some sort of presence with it - no matter what your industry or audience is.
Besides Mark Zuckerberg’s platform, here are some of the main channels you should consider for your online presence:
Twitter: Great for building awareness. Using hashtags allows you to reach people with similar interests that may not be in your direct target audience.
LinkedIn: The “professional” network can be a good choice if you work in the business to business (B2B) industry or are targeting a specific business segment. Posts tend to be more informational than relaxed and fun.
Instagram: The photo-sharing app is helpful for both brand awareness and building relationships. Initially, users tended to be younger, creative types - but today Instagram is on virtually everybody’s phone, including your grandma.
Of course, every social channel comes with its own metrics, demographics, tools and habits. To learn more or for a quick brush-up, consult our complete guides:
Social media marketing part I: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Social media marketing part II: Pinterest, Medium, and YouTube.
03. Open business social media accounts
Surprise: “Business” accounts on the major social channels (such as Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn) offer more business features. So, if you haven’t, you’ll need to either create business social media accounts or convert your existing ones.
These types of accounts not only allow you to promote your posts with money, but they provide helpful analytics tools to show you how your posts are doing and give you further insights about your audience on the platform. For example, here’s a great guide that will show you how to create a Facebook Business Page that your followers will love.
To look as legitimate as possible, you’ll want to verify or “claim” your business on your social media accounts. This shows users that you’re the ‘official’ business account for your brand. The process for each social network will have specific guidelines to follow, but trust us, it’s worth the time and effort it takes to accomplish.
Even if you don’t have content to share yet, you should at the very least fill out your profile for each social network you sign up for. This includes a photo or logo of your business, a link to your professional website, and a brief bio of what your business is all about.
04. Create a persona
Your next step is to create a persona for your social media presence. Call it whatever you’d like: a social media identity, a digital personality, a 2.0 alter ego - what’s important is that this persona is 100% imbued with your brand’s message and exudes everything your business stands for. In turn, this will affect how you respond to messages on social networks and the content you produce for them.
Find your own voice
First, identify the image your brand portrays to your target audience at face value. Now embody it. Whether your business image is serious and professional, heartfelt, or playful and funny, your persona must be aligned with it as well. Consistency plays a large role in the success of social media, but it’s not limited just to posting often. You want to ensure that if someone was to ask a question on both Facebook and Twitter, both responses the user receives are just as respectful and maintain the same tone - character limit notwithstanding.
If you’re having trouble identifying a persona for your brand, there’s nothing wrong with modelling after a real person, like a celebrity, as long as the personality is aligned with your business.
Be humane no matter what
No matter how you approach your persona, one thing that you must do is speak to your followers as “humanely” as possible. Sure, you’re speaking on behalf of your brand, but it’s important for your followers to feel that you’re hearing their concerns and answering questions as a fellow human and not a business simply seeking their hard-earned cash. Whether you even intended it or not, there’s a good chance you’ll be providing customer support on social networks as well.
Another way to humanise your brand is to use posts of people who work for your business. This provides a face to the brand, humanising it. You could even go as far as having a dedicated spokesperson to be the face of your brand for your content, but it’s unnecessary. If you want to go that route, by all means. That said, showing different people working for your business in your posts can give a “behind the scenes” look into your business, which can resonate with your followers.
Don’t neglect visual branding
I’ve spoken a lot about aligning your business and social branding on the personality front, but that’s not where it should end. It also extends to your visual branding, meaning the colours used and images you post on social networks. Of course, this will also depend on the type of content you plan on posting, which we will cover below, but this is an aspect that will grow stronger as you go.
A fantastic example of visual branding done right is by Innocent drinks. Jumping from its Facebook pages to its Twitter and Instagram accounts, all yield a very consistent visual style. From the cover images on each account to the use of Venn diagrams when introducing a new beverage, down to the font type used in the images, everything here shows that a strong brand personality can also be translated into the visuals.
05. Start developing (amazing) content
You’re now at the point where it’s time to sit down and draft up the content you’ll be posting regularly. Since this is a primary part of social media, this isn’t something you can glaze over and expect success.
It’s also important to understand a couple of things about the content you send out:
One is that all of your posts don’t necessarily have to be about your business. A part of content marketing is to provide content that may not be directly related to the product or service that your business offers but still provides value to your audience. Value is key! Your posts can come in the form of links to blogs such as this one or other types of engaging posts, like infographics, testimonials, and more. No matter what the content is, it should still match the tone and persona of your business you previously defined.
Another route that could be helpful is to ask users to provide content for you. Of course, it’s not as easy as it sounds. This is called User-Generated Content, or UGC. This may be most successful when you have developed more of a following, but the gist is that you encourage your customers to take photos or video with your product to provide a review or how they uniquely use it. Another UGC method is having your customers or fans record what they do for a living, hobby, etc., and how your business helps them in one way or another.
In turn, you not only receive potentially game-changing and valuable feedback, but you can also post your user’s content on your social channel. It’s a win-win!
For UGC content, you should establish a solid set of rules between the content you’re using and how it may be used for your marketing purposes. This can avoid headaches for both you and the user.
Need an example of great UGC (and an awesome user in general)?
Worried that you won’t have enough content in the long-term? Don’t worry, it will eventually get easier, especially when you’ve done it for a while. Once you get an eye for your audience and brand identity, finding or developing content for your social channels won’t be the arduous task may have seemed to be in the beginning.
Remember that some of your content can be reused or repurposed into different posts after a while, where some content is time-sensitive and can only be used once.
Still stuck in a creative rut? Look to your competitors and other social accounts that you admire to see the type of content that’s posted on a daily basis. If you can successfully align one of these posts to your brand, go for it! Need more inspiration? Check out some social media ideas you can apply to your brand.
06. Create a social calendar
Once you’ve created enough content for a few weeks (yes, weeks, but more would be better), you’ll want to organize it into an easy to read social media calendar format. This will allow you to easily know what posts are going out at what time and to what social network.
If you want to be super-efficient, you can use tools like Buffer or Hootsuite to create your social calendar and schedule your content to post automatically to your networks. Not only will these platforms provide a place for you to easily craft your calendar, but they also come with helpful analytics of their own that you can take advantage of.
When creating your calendar, it’s important to stay consistent with the number of times you plan to post on a social network.
Ideally, in order to get the best engagement, you should be posting:
Facebook: 1 post per day
Instagram: 1-2 post per day
Twitter: 15 Tweets per day
LinkedIn: 1 post per day
Pinterest: 11 pins per day
Co Schedule used the findings from 14 research studies for the above numbers, though some studies wildly varied.
If you can’t meet the minimum or suggested number of posts per day, it’s not the end of the world. Focus on post quality and consistency and increase when you can.
07. Increase awareness with social advertising
Promoting your ads on social networks is a great way to get your audience’s attention. There’s absolutely no shame in it that’s what it’s there for.
While promoting a post is a quick way to get people’s eyes on your ad, and in turn your social profile, you may want to hold off in the beginning. Imagine seeing a very well-targeted ad on Instagram and you decide to visit the advertiser’s profile, only to find two posts on the account in total. While there’s technically nothing wrong with this, this sends a message that the account is very new and doesn’t instil the trust a more established account with a following brings to the table.
Once you have been posting regularly for a few weeks, with ample content to offer followers, consider promoting your first post. This way, a new potential customer can go to your profile and have a substantial number of posts to engage with. The more content you have for someone to get lost in and consume can increase the chances of them heading over to your website or other social channels.
08. Work with social media influencers
Much like social advertising, working with social media influencers is another way to get the attention of prospective clients. It’s an indirect way that feels more natural to the viewer since it’s a person talking about your product or service and not a straight-up sales pitch from you.
Finding the right influencer to work with can take time. Going this route will require you to do extensive research on a particular influencer and see if their audience is either similar to yours or one that you’re trying to appeal to. Don’t fangirl out and try to connect with an influencer that has an audience that’s laughably different from yours just because you’re a personal fan. Well sure, do that if you want, but just don’t expect a ton of conversions from the process.
It’s also not important to make sure that you’re working with the biggest, most popular name you can. Micro-influencers are another popular route, which has smaller followings but can have huge impacts on their followers. They cater to a specific niche, which can be helpful to you if you find you’re aligned in the right ways. No matter what, whoever you choose to work with should feel like a natural partnership.
09. Engage back with your followers
Creating your social media brand isn’t all about posting content. Your followers need to be treated like the community they are and that includes engaging with them on a regular basis. Just like any relationship, it’s a two-way street. You need to engage back! Not only do posts with higher engagement tend to get shown to others if relevant to them, which is good for you, but this is something you should be doing anyway.
Really looking to punch up engagement rates? Live video is where it’s at. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, a live stream opens up that two-way street for communication in real-time. Take the time to show off new products, host a Q&A for your followers, or just chat. Being available to your audience via live stream shows them that you find them valuable and worthy of your time, which is something they’ll appreciate. This also humanises your brand on another level, in a very real and direct way.
Most social media brands will fail due to haphazard execution. Either their content is weak, the posting is inconsistent, or there’s little engagement with the audience. If you’re constantly posting irrelevant or uninteresting content, your audience (or lack of one) probably won’t care if you engage, as you’re not providing value to them. If you’re posting quality content consistently and you’re not replying to comments, asking the audience questions, being active on forums, then you’re doing it wrong.
Yes, you have a business to run and it may seem silly to invest this much time on social media, but social media can be a valuable tool for a business. Treat it like one. Always try to make the best of a situation, no matter the circumstance. If you can, have some fun with it. A funny example can be taken from Skyscanner’s Facebook page when it responded to a user who experienced a very odd glitch when he tried to book a flight with them: one of his layovers for his connecting flight was over 400,000 hours long. With such an opportunity, a Skyscanner community manager responded beautifully.
10. Pay attention to metrics with analytics
A big part of strengthening your social brand is knowing what does and doesn’t work for it. From a content perspective, some should be obvious: posts with visual content will nearly always perform better than a post with plain text. Still, it’s not always so black and white as that. To dive deep and see your successes and pitfalls in a clear and calculated way, turn to black magic analytics.
Every social network of worth offers some sort of analytics you can take advantage of. These tools offer insights about how well your posts have done, which can allow you to try to replicate successes and avoid failures in the future. You can also get insight as to what time to post on social media and adjust your calendar accordingly, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.