Simple Methods for an Effective Social Media Brand Strategy
We’ve all been there, stuck at our desk or scrolling through our phone while looking at brands on social media that reach an audience of thousands or more.
For those prospective entrepreneurs looking to establish their brand’s web presence or small businesses looking for more leverage to boost their brand’s user engagement and retention rate, it’s hard for those trying to dip their toes into social media marketing for the first time.
How do they do it? How do publications such as Buzzfeed, Vice, the New York Times; fast fashion brands such as H&M, Aritzia; or notable, trending fashion brands such as Matt & Nat or the transparency-minded Everlane (mentioned in a previous article) engage their audience so effectively?
It’s all about a business’ social media branding strategy, its consistency, and how well brands can keep themselves relevant in an age where numerous competing brands are fighting for the audience’s attention through innovative, compelling, and authentic content.
Is it really that necessary? In a 2015 report, teens spend an average of nine hours of their day online. And, according to audience insights company GlobalWebIndex, 30 percent of that time is spent on social media with 60 percent of that time is done through a mobile device or app.
According to Statista, budgets for social media ad spending have doubled within the span of two years (2014-2016), globally. Roughly $31 billion U.S. was spent last year from the $16 billion in 2014. In the United States, more than $9.4 billion was used for social media ad-spend in 2015 alone. By 2019, that’s forecasted to increase by nearly double, with a projected expenditure of $17.34 billion.
Like it or not, businesses, both old and new, are a part of the digital world. People are connected in ways that seemed impossible twenty years ago. Likeminded individuals have formed communities based on shared interests over topics or ideas that Douglas Holt, founder and president of the Cultural Strategy Group, aptly calls “Crowdcultures”.
So, to connect with your audience, here are a few things you can do to have an effective brand strategy.
Focus on Specific Networks
In a report released in November last year by the Pew Research Center, of the 1,520 adults surveyed in the United States, 56 percent of online adults use more than one social media platform, 4 percent more than those surveyed in 2014.
Given the data, it might seem smart to cast your net as far and as wide as you can in hopes to catch the most fish (metaphorically speaking).
Chances are you’ll be too spread out and too thin to effectively garner and retain an online audience for your brand. Is it necessary to have a YouTube channel, a Twitter handle, a Pinterest Board, a Snapchat account, and a Facebook page? And, if you have a small team, can you dedicate a reasonable amount of time on each platform without feeling overloaded?
Consider your audience. If you’re a printing house catering to businesses, Pinterest might not be the best choice to advertise and highlight your product or service while LinkedIn, a B2B network, might be a better fit for your brand.
To better know what platforms are right for your brand, take a look at this cheat sheet provided by Likeable Media.
Have a Consistent Brand Persona
If your brand’s presence is visible on multiple platforms, make sure the information shown is the same all the way through.
Having a varied description, image, voice, and even color scheme through multiple social media channels may confuse a prospective consumer or even downright deter them from ever engaging with your brand. Think about it.
Would you want to interact with someone that looks different, speaks differently, and acts differently throughout the day or week? Probably not. In an SDL Study released in 2014, 60 percent of millennials agree that a consistent experience is to be expected when engaging with a brand in store, online, or through the phone.
It’s the same with your audience. Having a consistent header image, profile picture, description, as well as interacting with your audience in a consistent manner that reflects your brand is a great, if not obvious approach for an effective social media presence.
(For more information to further improve your brand’s persona, see this article by the Social Media Explorer)
Have a Content Calendar and Publish Regularly
Plan your posts and set it to action with a social media calendar.
Being consistent with the rate at which you post your content through Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram is key to retaining your audience’s attention and to keep yourself relevant. By posting regularly—as well as keeping your content relevant to your brand—you’re further establishing your rapport with your audience.
For example: setting a publishing schedule for your team to have content published every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday as well as having a calendar dictating what sort of content is going to be published not only helps with improving internal productivity but it also makes it easier since things are planned ahead of time.
For automated posting, there are numerous social media management tools available (free and paid) that can help with the planning and scheduling of your brand’s content. Hootsuite, Buffer, Sprout Social and Instagram-specific planners such as Planoly and Unnum are some of many tools available for you to use.
Don’t be Afraid to Engage with Your Audience
The biggest convenience that social media has given consumers is how they can interact directly with brands.
Roughly 76 percent of Americans have a social media profile so don’t be surprised when you’re faced with the task of replying to a myriad of comments on a particular post of yours that has gone viral or, to a lesser degree, any inquiries about a particular product or service that your brand may provide.
Engaging with users is a big step in promoting your brand, which is key for businesses that are unknown to much of the public eye. A simple conversation goes a long way when it comes to establishing a relationship with the consumer, especially for those looking for authenticity and transparency.
You’d be shocked at how much of an effect it has, especially once your brand starts growing organically through word of mouth (Facebook Mentions, Post Sharing or Retweets, Facebook Likes).
Step in the Right Direction
Hopefully, with these tips, marketers and brands new to social media marketing can create and implement their own strategies that work for them. Note that the general advice given is primarily to get you started and to provide you with four easy ways to improve your social media strategy.