In a digital age, we are exposed to social media every day. Whether for personal or business use, social media provides us with an opportunity to communicate and share content in real-time. This is what makes it so unique from a marketing perspective.
Facebook alone has 1.79 billion daily active users worldwide. Instagram boasts 1 billion monthly active users, LinkedIn sits at 675 million monthly active users, and Twitter reports 186 million daily active users. There are also over 2 billion logged-in monthly users reported worldwide on YouTube.
Having a presence on social media shows the world that your business is current and approachable. It also provides your customers with a unique way to learn more about your brand and forge a personal connection with you. This is precisely why social media branding needs to be a vital part of your marketing strategy.
Author and speaker Dave Willis says it well: "Don't use social media to impress people; use it to impact people."
Defining your brand
Social media marketing is about meeting your target audience and finding ways to encourage social interaction with others and your brand. In order to do this successfully, you need to first identify your brand voice, story, and image. This is what will define your “brand essence,” and in short, what makes you truly unique. Pro Tip: Consistency is the foundation of a strong brand.
- Brand voice: This is how your company speaks or sounds. Think of your brand’s voice as a personality. The more consistent and distinct your voice is, the stronger and more recognizable your brand will be. For example, consider creating a branded hashtag that is unique to your company across all social media platforms so that your audience can easily search and find you. NorthFace does a great job with this using their branded hashtag #NeverStopExploring.
- Brand story: Your brand’s story should explain the mission and values of your company. This is your opportunity to “walk the walk” and “talk the talk” with your audience. When you share content and experiences that embody your core values, your audience will relate. Airbnb has figured out a really cool way to do this by putting its customers at the forefront of its branding. They let their customers tell their stories which is essential to their company philosophy. In this video, Airbnb shares the adventures of the Rammel family on their trip to Spain.
- Brand image: When creating your brand identity, it’s important to determine what color scheme, font, logo, and even logo size will best represent your brand’s personality. The design elements that you choose will determine how your audience thinks of you. It’s crucial that your image is consistent across all of your social properties. That's what will make you recognizable. Mattress company Casper puts a nice twist on this. Their original and slick look incorporates beige and blue brand colors which brings a sense of “comfort” to their audience.
Social media engagement is some form of interaction between the customer and the brand, which takes place within social media networks.
Once you’ve clearly defined the essence of your brand, the next step is to focus on how you want to engage with your audience. Engagement should be an important part of your branding strategy. It allows you to measure whether the content you’re creating is resonating with your audience.
You know your brand’s personality best. So, when thinking about your target audience, consider what type of voice and content will resonate. When building your branding strategy as it relates to engagement, you may want to ask yourself the following questions:
- Is your brand voice formal or familiar? This may depend on what type of company, products, and/or services you provide. Content Marketing Institute provides some great tips on how to find your brand voice.
- How frequently do you plan to post and engage with your followers? This could vary based on the size of your team and bandwidth. A general rule of thumb is to post at least once per day on each social media platform, but 1-3 posts daily are ideal. There are many online resources that provide great research on the best times to post based on individual social networks. And it goes without saying that an UNUM account can assist in planning, prepping, and publishing your content across multiple platforms.
- Will you respond as yourself or as the voice of the company? Will there be just one person posting on behalf of the brand or more? If you will be responding as a company, you will want to ensure that you have written social media guidelines and protocols in place.
The size of your team will most certainly play a part in how robust your engagement strategy is. (Learn more about the roles of a social media team.)
There are many benefits to creating a social media branding strategy. Taking the time to do this will only enhance your overall marketing efforts. Remember that your content should be driven by your target audience. Don’t be afraid to communicate with your customers to find out what’s working and what’s not. The more you understand their needs, the better your engagement rates will be.
The payoff? As you increase brand awareness, you will gain more followers. This will garnish more leads, conversion, sales, growth, and ultimately customer loyalty. Your success will be determined when your marketing strategy delivers against your business goals. So, make no mistake that social media branding is a crucial piece of the puzzle.
“It's important to be where your audience of potential customers is today, and where they might be tomorrow. It's better to be ahead of the curve than behind.” — Andrew Delaney, Social Media Marketing Manager at HubSpot