10 Steps to Nail Your Social Media Branding (Part 1)
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 engaging 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, we’re 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 Center offers a wealth of insight on 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 name. 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 modeling 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 “humanly” as possible. Sure, you’re speaking on behalf of your brand, but it’s important for your followers feel that you’re hearing their concerns and answering questions as a fellow human and not a business simply seeking their hard-earned cash
Another way to humanize your brand is to use posts of people who work for your business. This provides a face to the brand, humanizing 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 colors 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 your 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.
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.