The secrets to brand building
You would have to be living under a rock to not know that you can use social media to promote your business. Those annoying never-ending feeds like Facebook and Instagram are not just all drinking parent memes and pictures of food; they can be used for good too.
Like any advertising strategy, if you want to promote your brand through social media platforms, it pays to have planned a little bit what you are doing. Sure, you could just wing it, and throw filtered photos and random hashtags around all over the place. But you are much more likely to see some benefit if you follow some guidelines and some sort of plan.
Here are some tips if you are considering wading into the murky waters of business on social media:
Social media strategy
It will help if you have a social media strategy. Think, what is the main goal you are trying to achieve from social media? Are you trying to reach more customers? Or grow awareness of your business or brand? Or advertise a specific product or service? Are you looking for customers in a specific location, or increasing your reach worldwide?
Your specific goal will help you frame your strategy, and will help you decide things like platform, audience, budget, when to post, which posts to boost/sponsor, tone of voice, and much more. Write down what your goal is, and then describe your perfect customer as well. This will help you to target them.
Brand essence and style guide
Like any advertising campaign, it helps if you work out the exact message or impression you want your brand to give. This will help you decide things like language, tone of voice, fonts, images and colour palette. What words do you want to come to mind when someone thinks about your brand? Do you have a motto or slogan that you want to become synonymous with your business?
Consistency is the key when building a brand; you want to make decisions about font, colour palette etc. early on. Then use the same ones constantly so that your brand becomes recognisable just with a glance at a post. Think of the colours that have become connected with Tiffany’s, or with Twitter – you can spot those colours anywhere!
As well as colours, create a logo, and make it a good one. And then use it. Make sure that it pops off the screen, comes up clearly and can be read no matter what size it is.
Make your website and posts mobile friendly
If you are targeting customers through social media, then the majority of people reading your posts will be doing so through their mobile phones. Ensure that your logo, images and website all look fantastic on mobile screens. Ensure that your website loads quickly, because people will only give it a couple of seconds before they give up and move onto something else.
Consistency of posting
I’ve mentioned this in previous blogs before, but it pays to say it again: you need to post often on social media to start showing up on people’s feeds and on search engines. You need to post at least once a day, and if you can, up to three or four times a day. But as well as posting often, and not posting complete rubbish, you should be posting consistently across platforms.
Post in line with your brands’ message and style guide as I discussed above. As well don’t be boring or unnecessary; post relevant content that offers your customers something. Aim to persuade, engage, attract or inform. And make sure that your posts are visual, these will get the best response.
Establish a routine in terms of time of day, and every week put up the same posts on the same days (e.g. Motivation Monday, etc). The best social media accounts have weekly, monthly and even annual guides planned out to show what they will be posting. This makes the most of every holiday or special day on the calendar, ensures consistency, and prevents you repeating yourself too much.
Which platform should you choose?
Facebook, Twitter or Instagram? LinkedIn, Pinterest or Snapchat? Or something new that’s waiting around the corner ready to be the next big thing in social media?
The best answer is, why stop at just one?
Your choice of platform will depend on a couple of personal factors, and also will depend on where your target audience hangs out. Ideally you should be building your brand across more than one platform to reach as many people and be as friendly as possible.
If this sounds a bit overwhelming, talk to a digital or social media marketer; these wonderful people are experts at the game and can design your strategy and posts, and then post, comment and respond for you.
These are the flags of your business that people on social media will use to search for you, or for somebody like you. Not all platforms use them, but if you are wanting to harness the power of Instagram or Twitter then you will need to not let them scare you. Doing a bit of grunt work and working out what hashtags you should be using will bring in far more people than if you don’t use them, or use the wrong ones. Again, don’t be scared about this prospect, a digital marketer can help you get to the bottom of this strangeness.
Show some personality
Try to write on all of your platforms as though you are having a conversation with a friend. Not a really close friend, that you would drink and swear with perhaps, but a good friend. Social media is a casual setting and if you make it too stiff and formal then people will scroll on past. Ideally you want people looking forward to reading your posts, and wanting to keep up with what fun or interesting things you are doing.
Be quirky and try to stand out from the crowd a little bit. For instance, if you have call to action buttons such as Contact Us, then call it something completely different and grab people’s attention. I know of one marketer who had a box to click called ‘Crunch, crunch.’ This box generated his highest number of clicks!
Tell your own personal and business story, don’t be afraid to share. As this is social media, you need to get a little social. Show the person behind the business. Introduce your followers to someone they want to get to know. And along those lines, don’t just post products and sales pitches all the time (some experts will say don’t plug them at all). Use social media to get to know your customers and let them get to know you.
Check out the competition
If you’re still very confused, get on social media and start following your competitors. See what they do, and what you think works. What would get you following? Don’t copy them of course, but this will start to give you some inspiration for your own business.
It’s actually relatively easy and kind of fun. Just wade into the murky waters and start splashing around; you might really like it!