Social Media Branding: How To Get It Right
Remember the days when social media was a “maybe” or a nice-to-have for businesses? When the brands most active on social media were early adopters and trailblazers?
Well, those days are over.
Today, social media is a necessary requirement for any business.
Your social profiles are often the first touchpoint customers have with your organization – and as such, social media is a potent branding tool that affects brand perception, sentiment, authority, and trust.
But social media branding doesn’t just happen by accident; it takes careful consideration, consistency, and long-term commitment.
In this comprehensive guide, we will examine what social media branding is, why it matters, and how it’s done before sharing useful tips for improving your social media branding.
What Is Social Media Branding?
As always, let’s start with the foundational question: What exactly is social media branding?
The term is somewhat self-explanatory. It is the practice of using social media to convey your brand’s identity, mission, and messaging to existing and potential customers.
Just as you have an overarching branding strategy for your organization, you should also have one for your social media brand.
It should function as a component of your company’s larger brand strategy – and an extension of it – but will inevitably differ in some areas based on factors exclusive to social media.
Some of the most important elements of your social media branding strategy include:
Brand Identity: How your brand shows up across social media platforms. Visual elements include logos, color palettes, fonts, and an overarching visual approach. Brand Voice: Your tone of voice should align with your brand values and messaging, and speak to your target audience. You should tailor it based on the social platform, but the heart of your brand voice should feel consistent and recognizable. Content Strategy: The content you share on social media plays an important role in your branding. Developing a content strategy will help you define what content types, formats, and topics make the most sense for your voice, tone, and message. Audience Engagement: Good social branding is multi-faceted and includes engaging with your audience. You should be interacting with them to nurture an emotional connection – and making sure to do so in your brand tone and voice.
Above all, consistency is key when it comes to social media branding.
From your visual identity, voice, and tone to how you interact with your followers and the stories you tell, it’s vital that you build a cohesive brand presence that your audience can recognize and trust.
Why Does Your Social Media Branding Matter?
As we mentioned earlier, social media marketing is a fundamental part of an effective marketing strategy – and branding is the cornerstone for how you show up on social.
Think of how often you have come across a brand for the first time on social media and “done some digging” on its profiles before deciding whether to follow or visit its website.
Your social media presence can have a major impact on shaping perceptions and sentiment toward your brand, attracting and converting new customers, building brand loyalty, recruiting new employees, and ultimately boosting your bottom line.
But it’s also a super competitive landscape, and standing out requires getting your branding right.
Your customers (and prospects) should be able to understand who your brand is, what your values are, what your message is, and why they should trust you – and this can be achieved through social media branding.
Good, consistent social media branding is among the most powerful tools for fostering brand recognition and awareness – which can be the difference between somebody choosing to buy with your brand or your competitors.
It’s key to an effective social strategy and also supports your larger marketing efforts.
How To Build Your Brand On Social Media
Building your brand on social media is a multi-layered effort that requires you to take many things into account.
Here are some of the basic steps to building a brand on social:
Know Your Audience
It may seem obvious, but knowing the ins and outs of who you’re speaking to is foundational to building a brand on social media.
You should strive to understand their demographics, interests, desires, and problems, as this will help inform how you connect with them and the type of content you should create.
Outline Your Brand Identity
As we have discussed, you should have a clear and consistent visual identity on social media. Look to your existing brand materials to help build this, but feel free to make changes where necessary.
Your social branding should be tailored to the platforms themselves and the behaviors and preferences of social media users. It will also inform what content you make and how it comes to life.
Find The Right Tone Of Voice
How does your brand communicate with those around it? Is it friendly and casual? Is its tone more professional or formal?
Does your brand use snark? Does it crack jokes? Is it focused more on entertaining customers, or keeping them informed and educated?
These are all questions you should ask yourself when defining your brand’s tone of voice on social media.
Once you’ve landed on your ideal brand tone of voice, make sure you’re infusing it in everything you do on social media – from your content to your comments.
Choose Your Platforms Wisely
It’s unlikely your audience will be active on every single social media platform, especially considering how many are out there in this day and age.
Be thoughtful about which platforms you want to leverage for your social media presence.
Once you know where your audience is most active, ask yourself whether the platform itself aligns with your brand values, story, identity, and tone of voice.
Craft A Content Strategy
Working from what you know about your audience’s interests and pain points, along with your brand identity and voice, develop a plan for the types of content you will make.
Ensure that each piece of content you create reflects the branding decisions and parameters you have set out for yourself.
I recommend experimenting with a variety of content types and formats to keep things fresh and see what resonates with your audience.
Monitor And Adjust
Speaking of resonating with your audience, building a brand on social media is a continuous process, so make sure you monitor your performance and how people react to your social media presence.
Continually analyze metrics like engagement rate, along with more qualitative indicators such as audience comments, and adjust your approach accordingly.
Perhaps you’ve noticed that a particular type of storytelling is engaging your audience best, or that one of your brand fonts isn’t legible enough on social.
Be sure to optimize your branding based on what’s working best.
8 Tips To Improve Your Social Media Branding
Now that we’ve covered the essentials, let’s dive into some tips for improving your social media branding.
1. Stay On Top Of Trends
Keeping up-to-date with the latest trends, formats, and features is key to effective social media branding.
Make sure you’re aware of the latest algorithm changes and what social audiences are focused on at any given time.
By tapping into what’s trending on social media, you can show audiences that your brand is trustworthy, authoritative, and in the know.
And by understanding how the algorithm works, you’ll ensure that people actually see your content – and engage with your brand.
2. Be Human
Here’s another suggestion that might sound obvious but is all too often overlooked: Lean into humanizing your brand.
Social is a noisy place with plenty of competition, and users aren’t interested in having their experience disrupted by unrelatable brands trying to sell them things.
By showing the human side of your brand, you’ll make it easier for your customers to build an authentic connection with you.
Some ways you can do this include commenting on trending topics, celebrating employee stories, showing behind-the-scenes content on social media, or even adjusting your tone of voice to be more conversational and natural.
3. Create A Style Guide
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: When it comes to social media branding, consistency is key – and that goes for everything from your visuals to your copy to your tone.
One incredibly helpful method for ensuring consistency across your team is by creating a social media style guide.
In your style guide, you can outline all the important need-to-knows about what you do and don’t do on social. Examples of items you might include are preferred brand fonts, brand color palette and how you should use it, words or terms you do and do not use, etc.
Once you have the first version, share it with the relevant team members so everyone is up to speed. Make sure to continue viewing it as a living document that is updated based on learnings and pivots in your branding strategy.
4. Actively Engage Your Network
The most charismatic people are those who engage those around them, ask questions, and nurture relationships – and the same is true for brands.
If you’re looking to improve your social media branding, focus on improving how you engage and expanding your social network. There are many ways to do this.
Start with your audience, customers, and prospects. Respond to their comments and questions, and proactively engage with their content where relevant.
Similarly, identify influencers in your industry or niche that are well-aligned with your brand’s values, and start engaging with them.
You can also do this with other brands for some fun social interaction – though I don’t typically encourage engaging too much with your competitors.
5. Focus On Unique Storytelling
Great social media content, like all great marketing content, is all about storytelling. So, to enhance your social media branding, focus on telling unique stories that only your brand can tell.
Try sharing content highlighting the backstory of your company, its mission and values, or the real people behind the brand.
Make sure the stories are authentic, as that’s what will resonate most with social audiences.
6. Optimize By Platform
As we discussed earlier, you likely won’t be on every single social platform – and each platform has its own audience demographics and expectations, content types, and nuances.
By honing in on what works on each platform and optimizing your strategy accordingly, you’ll naturally upgrade your social media branding.
Perhaps you lean into telling more employee or company stories on LinkedIn, sharing educational carousels or eye-catching images on Instagram, and focusing your video storytelling efforts on TikTok.
Whatever you decide to do, make sure you’re putting the platform and its audience first, and success will follow.
7. Leverage UGC
Sometimes, the most powerful branding moments don’t come from your brand.
User-generated content (UGC) has become extremely popular with brands on social media for a very good reason: It’s often more influential than your own branding. At the very least, it’s a forceful companion.
While telling your own stories is essential, testimonials from real-life customers are an incredible way to show your brand walks the walk.
If your customers are creating content about your company and its products or services, you should consider amplifying it – especially if what they’re saying is strongly aligned with your values and messaging.
8. Revisit The Data
It always comes back to the data.
If you want to improve your social media branding, you must absolutely take time to gauge where you are at now, what’s working, and what isn’t.
You should be monitoring your performance on a regular basis, but perhaps you need to take a little more time to pause and do a deeper dive.
Consider A/B testing different visual or messaging approaches to see what really works, and then ask yourself whether you need to reassess your branding and tone of voice.
It’s crucial you get this right, so don’t be afraid to take the time to ask the right questions.
Social media branding is a vital component of any marketing strategy – and it’s not just about the content you post, but so much more than that.
Just like your brand, your social media branding strategy should be constantly evolving to match your audience, and the current landscape of your industry.
By leveraging some of the tips we have talked about – remaining focused on your audience, maintaining a well-defined brand identity and voice, and prioritizing consistency – you can supercharge your social media branding and drive long-term success for your business.
Featured Image: Master1305/Shutterstock