A 4-step guide to creating an effective social media branding strategy
How’s your social media branding strategy? Having an effective social media strategy is becoming the number one marketing tool for companies big and small. In North America, more than 92% of B2B companies utilize social media, and 58% of Americans interact with social media brands one to three times per day. If your brand is not on social media platforms, you may be experiencing more than just FOMO. Your brand could be missing out on profitable engagement with customers, setting up a virtual communication barrier. Furthermore, studies show that 71% of customers who have a positive experience with a brand on social media are more likely to recommend that brand to others.
Being on social media is one thing. Establishing a good social media branding strategy is another. Anyone can mindlessly post on different platforms, but your brand may still suffer from an overall negative image. Search on Google for “social media brand fails” and you’ll get a list of social media disasters that make big companies wish they could go back in time, while the rest of us cringe from second-hand embarrassment. Yes, it’s important to be “on-trend” and stay up to date with current events, but if it doesn’t fit with your brand image (i.e. a beverage corporation and a highly political movement are likely not a good match) or if it’s communicated poorly, it can rub audiences the wrong way. Even if your company doesn’t have a failure on this scale, customers will still share their negative experiences with others. In fact, 50% of customers who receive a poor response on social media from brands will boycott the company.
Having a social media presence can be a delicate balance of good and bad consequences. However, if your company creates an effective, consistent social media branding strategy from the get-go, you may be able to avoid a few social media pitfalls.
How to Create a Successful Social Media Branding Strategy
Know your social audience
Establish branding goals
Develop a consistent editorial calendar
Test early and often
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to a social media branding strategy because there’s no one-size-fits-all audience. Chances are your branding strategy will look entirely different from that of another brand, especially if your products and services differ entirely. An amusement park’s strategy won’t look like a plumber’s strategy.
Before clicking publish on that social media post, you should ask yourself, “Who am I talking to?” This may seem like a simple question, but it comes with various, complicated answers. In addition to knowing who you’re talking to, you should know their gender, age, lifestyle, shopping habits, and other characteristics relevant to your business. It’s a lot of work, but it all factors into how your audience behaves on social media and which platform they will likely engage on.
The illustration above shows that not every social media platform is created equal. In fact, your social media brand strategy could even decide that your ideal audience doesn’t exist on certain platforms. For example, Snapchat’s user base tends to skew young, between ages 18-24. If your audience is generally older, you may want to consider allocating your resources to other social media platforms.
Once you’ve determined who you’re talking to, you need to establish what your goals are. Goals can be as simple as maintaining an online presence as a way for customers to reach you, or to generate leads, or to allow your audience to get to know your brand voice. When establishing these goals, decide which KPIs (key performance indicators) to measure and which ones are the most important to your social media strategy. Is it engagement (likes and comments) or the number of followers? Is it how many people click through certain links and follow CTAs (calls to action)?
Again, your goals may not align with another brand’s goals, and this to be expected. You decide what’s best for your company in the short- and long-term. The more concrete your goals are for your brand, the clearer your social media strategy will be.
When it comes to social media, having a consistent posting schedule is key for your branding strategy. Because of the saturated feeds and the influx of non-stop content, this becomes one of the only ways to compete with other brand voices online. Thankfully, there are many social media tools, like Buffer and Hootsuite, where you can schedule your posts ahead of time. These tools also have analytics to let you know when the best time to post is, as well as how to optimize engagement with your audience.
Before creating a schedule, though, you need to develop a consistent voice, style, and tone for your brand. For example, fast-food chains such as Denny’s and Taco Bell have become social media darlings because they’ve nailed their social media brand voice. Both restaurant chains are sassy, irreverent, and witty – the perfect combination for their millennial customers. Over the years, the two brands have succeeded on social media for consistent posting, voice, and style.
Once you’ve established who your audience is and what your goals are, the content you post on social media must also align with these factors. Otherwise, the social media strategy work you’ve done for is all for naught.
Let’s say you’ve done your due diligence, but you’re still unsure of what to post. This is where testing and analytics come in. Facebook’s powerful Ads Manager tool allows you to A/B test copy, imagery, CTA, and more. While there isn’t an exact science on what could produce the best results for your business, Facebook does lay out how and what to test. This can be a cost-efficient way to see if your audience will respond to any new content you want to try out. The more you test, the more you’ll be able to hone the voice of your social media brand.
Final thoughts on strategy
There are many components to developing an effective social media branding strategy, but these four fundamental steps should lead you in the right direction. While social media can be a particularly volatile and reactive place these days, establishing a clear brand strategy will help your company stay off any kind of “corporate social media fails” list.
On the brighter side, social media gives your audience the chance to learn more about you and gives them more opportunities to communicate directly with the brand. Furthermore, you can creatively reach a wider network of people who you may not have had the opportunity to do so in traditional marketing strategies.
Whether we like it or would rather swipe left, social media has become one of the most effective tools for marketing, allowing us to further amplify our voice and presence. Without it, you risk isolating yourself from today’s content-hungry audiences.
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