Social media is great news for businesses and brands and the best part is, both big and small brands can benefit. When you know the figures, it’s easy to understand why business and consumer marketers almost unanimously believe that social media is crucial to building a brand. So, when it comes to your social media branding, it’s important to invest some thought and resources into it.
Brand awareness is cited as the top priority for marketers, and social media channels are a one-to-many solution for getting the word out about your products and services. By creating a strong brand presence on social media, you can reach a broader audience.
So where to begin? First, let’s talk about social media branding, then we’ll get into 10 easy ways you can build and enhance your brand.
Table of contents: Introduction to brand building through social media
- What is a brand?
- What do you want your brand to achieve?
- How to create a strong brand identity
- Rules of branding on social media
- Design a logo that displays the brand philosophy
- Use colors that make a statement
- Know your tone of voice and brand writing style
- Talk like a human being
- Quit plugging, start conversing
- Tell a compelling story
- Be transparent
- Post relevant content
- Make it visual
What is branding?
Branding is not just about the logo. Nor is it about being a multi-million dollar company. A brand is how people perceive your product, business, or even you as a person. The goal with branding is to make sure that perception is the one you want people to have. Even if you’re not actively marketing your brand, that perception will still exist, or worse, won’t exist at all, so it’s up to you to shape how you want people to feel.
What do you want your brand to achieve?
It’s human nature to want people to like you, but likeability doesn’t always convert to sales. Be clear on your branding goals, as this can help you assess the success of building your brand later on.
Examples of brand goals include:
- Driving awareness of your product or service
- Generating business through new leads
- Increasing sales
- Increasing customer loyalty
- Providing a higher standard of customer service
How to create a strong brand identity
Before you do anything else, you need to define your brand. Humans are exposed to so many brand stories, the ones that have cut through are the ones we instantly understand. We often talk about the elevator pitch to simplify complex thoughts. So imagine you’re in an elevator trying to persuade someone to engage with your brand by answering these three questions:
- What is your brand called?
- What is your brand about?
- What makes your brand different?
If that took longer than 15 seconds to answer, go back and repeat the exercise. Like a lift encounter, social media is no place for long-winded discussions. Get it straight and make it succinct.
- You don’t need to be on every channel. It’s better to choose one and do it right. If you can do three, great, but don’t water-down your reach because you’re spread too thin.
- You don’t need thousands of followers. 10 followers who buy your product is better than 1000 followers who don’t buy your product. Don’t get caught up in follower figures.
- Post frequently. If you’re not posting, you’re not visible, so focus on the frequency.
Now you know your brand, you know what you want to achieve, and you know the basic rules, here are 10 ways you can build your brand on social media.
Building a brand doesn’t happen overnight; it takes time and dedication. According to Brandchannel, Nike took 15 years by focusing on maintaining a ‘360-degree delivery’. This ensured the brand was consistent across all products, advertising, customer service, and packaging.
Your brand’s profile, across Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, your company blog, and anywhere else it appears, should be unified and in line with your brand identity. Be consistent with graphics, color, style and language, and even post frequency.
Takes some tips from these eight businesses, including Google, Target, and Amazon, that Desmond Wong identifies as nailing social media consistency.
2. Design a logo that demonstrates the brand philosophy
A successful logo is the anchor of a brand and its design should represent a brand’s philosophy. This makes it easy for those unfamiliar with your brand to instantly ‘get’ what you’re about. Consider what your brand represents, and what the brand doesn’t represent, and weave it into the design.
3. Use colors that make a statement
Color can be used to give a brand personality and meaning as the graphic above shows.
Using color with impact can help a brand appeal to its target audience. As mentioned previously, be consistent with color across all media platforms, both online and offline, to ensure a unified and professional look
4. Know your tone of voice and brand writing style
Your product or service, plus the demographics of the target audience, will determine the voice and style of a brand on social media. Imagine the brand as a person and consider what type of language it would use. Try and describe this person in terms of age, gender, interests, and personality as it will help you imagine how they would speak.
Social Media Explorer’s Stephanie Schwab’s helpful guide on Finding your brand’s voice lays out several additional factors:
- Tone. Be clear to followers about what and how the brand will communicate online. Is your brand cheeky and irreverent or serious and formal?
- Language. What type of language will your brand use online? A young and hip brand might get away with more slang, or a niche brand may use more acronyms and industry-specific language.
- Purpose. Identify the main reason the brand is on social media? Is your goal to educate or entertain?
Finally, put together a social media style guide that outlines your tone of voice. It will be a useful reference document for anyone in the company who speaks on behalf of a brand.
5. Talk like a human being
When it comes to social media, the method that has proved successful over time is to talk like a human being.
Ditch the corporate-speak and take a conversational approach. Respond to inquiries on a first-name basis, and don’t be afraid to use colloquial dialogue. Talking like a human being with personality will make a brand more relatable. And if it’s really clever, genuine, and entertaining it may even go viral.
Check out this LinkedIn blog that uses a great analogy to test against a brand: Would you grab a bite with your blog? If the answer is ‘yes,’ chances are the audience will be more inclined to engage with a brand as if it were a trusted neighbor or a friend over lunch.
6. Quit plugging, start conversing
Along those same lines, focus on building a two-sided relationship with customers by conversing, interacting, and caring. Don’t solely plug products or services.
Genuine, two-way communication is key because, at the end of the day, people need to inherently trust a brand and that values them.
7. Tell a compelling story
Who doesn’t love a good story? Storytelling is central to human existence. In fact, telling someone a story can have the powerful effect of getting them on board, as it causes the listener to turn the story into their own idea and experience.
In the same way, a brand—or the idea of a brand—can become more compelling by spinning a yarn about it. Involve customers in a brand story and they will engage.
8. Be transparent
Transparency is the bedrock of any long-lasting relationship, so in the same way, giving customers a glimpse behind the scenes can prove vital in establishing a healthy relationship.
Buffer is a terrific example of being transparent on social media and they rocked the business world when they published all their employee salaries (and more) online:
Of course, it doesn’t have to be as radical as Buffer’s post, but simply letting customers know future plans or admitting to mistakes is a great start. Use social media platforms to publish information that will help consumers better understand the mechanics of your brand.
9. Post relevant content
Don’t post for the sake of posting. Keep social media posts relevant, meaningful, and simple. ‘Boring’ content is one of the main reasons people will unfollow and unlike brands.
10. Make it visual
Users engage with posts that include images, more than with posts that don’t include.
Add infographics, photographs, and other visual images, taking advantage of Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr, which can be used to store and share visual content.
Now it’s your turn
Social media can be a great tool to increase your online presence, but as more brands jump on the bandwagon, marketing clutter can make it hard to compete. Be sure to not only use social media as a branding tool but to effectively stand out and keep customers engaged and interested.
You got this.