Branding is critical on social media – a highly-competitive platform where businesses try to attract and keep loyal audiences. Your content needs to stand out for your business to gain a foothold on social media. At the same time, your social media content must be consistent with your brand.
Having a solid brand will make your social media strategy more efficient and effective. Here’s a comprehensive guide to creating a social media brand and implementing it across different platforms.
Key elements of a winning social media branding plan
One key thing to understand is that audiences on social media adopt a different online behavior when on social media platforms than browsing the web or doing Google searches. While a blog post caters to SEO marketing, social media marketing favors more fast-paced instant-impression content.
Shown above is how Airbnb uses Instagram. Airbnb prefers featuring the great outdoors and activities over the properties advertised on the platform, emphasizing the traveler’s whole experience instead of just their stay in the property. It creates the impression that a stay in an Airbnb property is more than just a staycation – it’s an opportunity to create lasting memories.
1. Consider your target audience
First, you need to finalize your target audience before creating a brand identity. You can't market winter clothing to someone in Honolulu, and you probably won’t try to sell swimwear to someone in Minnesota, particularly in the middle of winter.
Here are some things you need to consider about your ideal customer:
- What's their age bracket?
- What's their gender?
- Where are they residing?
- What's their economic status?
- What are their interests?
You may formulate your ideal customer from these data as a 22-year-old male living in Miami who loves Marvel and Call of Duty. You may also decide that your ideal customer is a 35-year-old female living in Manhattan who loves Broadway musicals and fusion cuisine.
Analyzing customer data will help you determine if your prospective customers are social media users and where they spend most of their time online.
2. Define your brand identity
Building a brand identity will shape how you present your brand online, especially on social media. This identity is what your customer persona will connect with. Here are some branding rules to get you started:
- Establish your brand guidelines. Others will have different ideas about how many elements of a brand there are, but we'd like you to think of only three. These are your brand colors, brand voice, and brand values.
- Brand colors are the colors used to identify your brand. Amazon is blue, and Airbnb is pink. Your brand colors are the colors you should stick to when creating visual content. It's critical to have these colors solidified through a hex code. You can use a brand kit generator to do this quickly.
- Brand voice is how your brand communicates to audiences. Rolex is posh and refined, and Spotify is hip and radical. The brand voice is seen through your brand's copy, imagery, and graphics, among other things.
- Brand values are what your brand stands for. Apple values ingenuity and innovation, and Adobe values creativity and expression. Your mission statement will help define your brand values.
- Create a brand persona from these three elements. A brand persona is what your brand would be like when they're an actual person. Go as deep as to what they wear, what movies they watch, as if you're creating a dating or social media profile for these personas.
Many businesses use brand guidelines that are several pages long. These guidelines specify logo proportions and usage, colors and palettes, and typography. On the other hand, some brands prefer to use their guidelines as a set of suggestions and give their creative team some freedom in coming up with new designs. For example, Spotify Design’s guidelines are presented in graphic form:
A well-defined brand identity solidifies how your brand feels to your target audience. When people see content from your brand, they’ll instantly know it’s coming from you and respond accordingly.
3. Define the type of content you'll produce
Your target audience and brand guidelines will help you pinpoint the type of content you'll produce. Your content should resonate with your target audience and align with your brand guidelines.
Here are some practical social media post ideas for your social media strategy:
- Native photos and content. This content adapts to the social media channel it's posted on – meaning it has to be organic with the platform and has to adhere to its optimal size and format (i.e., Square 1:1 for Instagram, Horizontal 16:9 for YouTube). For example, if you're posting on Facebook, you may post square memes. As shown above, Dunkin’ posts native Instagram (and Facebook-compatible) content.
- Short-form videos. Videos are some of the most engaging types of content. Conceptualize videos and engaging content that will pull your audience's interest.
- User-generated content. Encourage customers to use your hashtag so that you may repurpose them as your posts. UGC has a testimonial aspect to them due to their genuineness.
- Optimize your blog posts since they can reach an audience outside your website visitors. You can repurpose blog posts into smaller and digestible social media posts.
While conceptualizing and creating content is large enough to be a separate discipline, your social media team should focus on content that will appear only on your social media accounts while still complying with branding guidelines.
4. Choose your social media channels
If you had to stay on top of Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Tiktok, you'd be exhausting yourself or your marketing staff.
Select one or a few social media networks to dedicate resources to. But how do you go about choosing which ones to use?
There's only one factor in deciding what social media platforms to dedicate your company's time to --Where does your audience typically hang out? Where do they have active social profiles? (i.e., Are they more active on LinkedIn, YouTube, or Instagram?)
Aside from the sheer number of users, you also need to consider the social networks that your audience can’t live without. For example, one study found that users have high overall dependence on Facebook and Instagram, with YouTube a close third.
How to implement your plan
Now that you have your target audience, your brand identity, your content strategy, and identified your social media channels, it's time to start implementing your social media marketing strategy.
1. Work branding into your everyday posts
The key to effective social media branding is consistency. To achieve this, your marketing staff needs to use your branding for everything related to your brand – from videos to tweets and Instagram posts. When you create a social media calendar, you need to ensure that you announce your new branding first, then reinforce it with successive posts every day.
For instance, the social media calendar above tells you what you're posting, when you're posting it, and where you're posting it. It reminds you that you need to add your branding to a tweet on Monday at 9 AM, an Instagram post at 1 PM, and so on. With consistent use across different platforms, your followers will soon become familiar with your brand.
2. Reassess your branding
However, you can’t force your social media branding on your followers. Your brand has to resonate with your audience for it to become effective. As you announce changes to your branding, you need to listen to your audience and assess whether they identify with it and if it represents your brand properly.
For example, the Korean music group GOT7 disbanded after their label chose not to renew their contracts in 2021. The members of the group have since embarked on solo careers. However, when they announced their reunion in May 2022, they chose not to use their old logo. Instead, they revealed a new logo that emphasized the “G” in their name, instead of the old heptagonal logo, and announced a new set of social media accounts.
So far, the social media rebranding campaign has been successful, with many fans hoping for a new release soon. As a result of the branding campaign, GOT7 has successfully established its own identity outside its old label and showed that they still have what it takes to be successful in a very competitive industry.
3. Identify and engage with key influencers
Look for influencers and key personalities that cater to the niche of your audience. Here are some factors to consider when selecting your influencers:
- Niche. If you're a business offering inventory management solutions, you'd want to be tapping a retail tech blogger. Engaging with a Twitch streamer might make your audience scratch their heads in disbelief.
- Budget. Could you afford a high-level personality with a couple of million subscribers, or should you stick with micro-influencers? Sometimes, bigger is not always better.
- Tone and voice of your influencer. This influencer's personality should complement your brand's identity. If you choose an influencer whose personality clashes with your brand’s identity, you could confuse or alienate your audience. Finding influencers for your brand is challenging if your brand isn’t active in the niche you want to occupy. You can conduct focus groups among your audience on who their favorite influencers are. This data will lead you to a rabbit hole of other macro and micro-influencers.
4. Engage prospects across multiple channels
Maximize your online presence by publishing visual content across multiple channels. Using more than one social channel increases your campaign’s effectiveness.
You cannot rely on Facebook alone. If you have a Facebook page, you also need to be active on Instagram. Creating a Meta Business Account will allow you to link your Instagram business account and your Facebook page. This feature allows you to manage both channels seamlessly.
If you have a Facebook page, also create an Instagram page. Create a Meta Business Account, and then link your Instagram business account to your Facebook page. As a social media marketer, this function is useful for seamlessly managing both channels, as if they're a single social channel.
Monitor your results and identify opportunities for improvement
To determine the success of your social media marketing campaign, there are some social media metrics you'd want to be looking at.
Monitoring your results will let you know if your marketing efforts have been worthwhile. Here are some KPIs to look at that aren't just vanity metrics.
- Look at reach and engagement. The higher the values of these metrics, the better the performance of any social media post. This will let you know the type of content that resonates more with your audience.
- Track brand mentions. This is a valuable social media metric for brand awareness. You can track brand mentions by looking for people who've used your hashtag.
Each of these metrics tell you a story. For example, if your posts have low reach or engagement, you might not be marketing to the right audience or your branding might not be effective with them. Brand mentions, especially branded hashtags, also play a key role in identifying customer sentiment. By searching for your branded hashtags, you can tell whether your customers are happy with you.
Social media branding efforts are key contributors to your overall digital marketing strategy. So monitor brand awareness well.
Your social media branding gives your company identity on a marketing channel where many other companies advertise.
Identify your target audience's demographics, interests, and online behavior. Then create a brand identity that resonates with this audience. Conceptualize and plan your brand's content, and choose the appropriate social network(s) that you'll use to engage with your prospective customers.
Create a social media calendar to post regularly. Tap key influencers cater to the niche of your audience to increase your brand's engagement. Engage your audience across different social media networks to improve your online presence.
Finally, monitor your results. Building a brand is not a walk in the park. You should know if those efforts have been efficient or not.
Note that customer service and user experience are also important aspects of a social media branding strategy. So look into those as well, apart from your social media content.