Brand awareness and recognition are critically important if you want to grow your business.
Today, the best strategy for most businesses to create brand awareness and recognition is to build an online presence and leverage social media.
Social media is a direct line to interact with your customers on their turf.
And, there’s no doubt that your customers and prospective customers are using social media. In fact, according to Statista, there will be 3.02 billion social media users worldwide by 2021.
When handled well, social media for business can build genuine, lasting relationships. That’s why it’s so vital to put your best brand forward on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or any other social media platforms you happen to use.
Here are 3 strategies to increase brand awareness using social media:
Let’s look at each strategy in detail.
1. Engage authentically
Your best brand is one that is authentic to your business – not carefully contrived corporate BS.
What you say about your business doesn’t matter.
That’s because public perception is a reality for your customers and prospects.
If your statements match or reflect public perception, then you’re already ahead of 99% of most businesses.
Creating a carefully-cultivated brand that isn’t grounded in reality is doomed to fail. People have grown too savvy, and the internet too powerful, to allow inauthentic brands to survive for long.
People are tired of being taken in, manipulated, and lied to by businesses all in the name of a sale.
Today’s customers value and give their loyalty to companies that show transparency and authenticity.
We all know that businesses exist to make money. That’s not the issue. But, how you make that money matters to customers more and more.
People want to know that your business has values.
They want those values to align with theirs.
And, they want you to actually conduct business according to those values.
They also want to engage with the people behind your business. A flawless corporate facade undermines trust.
People want to do business with real people. And they expect that even more on social media than they do anywhere else.
So, interact with authenticity. Here’s how…
Know your brand
Before you can do any “branding” – on social media or elsewhere – you have to actually know your brand.
This starts with some introspection.
You may have already done this when you wrote your business plan.
And, if you haven’t yet done this because you’re just starting your business, take the time to do it now.
Every business has a brand identity. This is true even if you haven’t made any conscious decisions about that identity. You just need to unearth it. So…
- Why are you starting (or why did you start) a business?
- What is your mission?
- How do you want to get there?
- What values guide your business?
- And which of those values are most important to you?
- What personality traits describe your business?
- What problem do you solve for your customers?
- And, how is your solution different, or even better, than the competition?
The answers to questions like these form the core identity of your brand. They should guide all of your decision-making, your visual brand identity, and the voice your brand uses to communicate. So ask them – and take the time to really answer them honestly.
Then document your answers in a brand guide for future reference.
Identify and use your brand voice
Your brand voice is the way that your brand uses words to communicate. It may be formal or casual, youthful or mature, comedic or serious. It can be any combination of those and so many more.
But, whatever your unique brand voice is, it should evolve naturally from your brand’s values and personality traits.
And, you should take advantage of marketing psychology to create a brand voice that best matches your customers and prospects. After all, it’s important to communicate in a voice that resonates with your audience.
Your brand voice should appear in your best marketing copy and on your social media posts and stories.
When you talk to a close friend, you can recognize your friend not just by their actual voice; but also by the words they choose, how they see the world, and the tone of their voice. The same is true for any brand with a consistent voice.
For example, Dollar Shave Club is casual, comedic, and irreverent. Their voice comes across like your best dude friend who makes you laugh, but also always has your back. If you were to get a formal email from them using up-tight, formal language, you’d know something was off.
They have successfully used their brand voice across all customer touch-points – and so should you.
Write your social media posts in a consistent brand voice.
That’s not to say that your tone can’t adapt to the subject matter you’re discussing – it should. But, ask yourself how your brand would discuss each topic and vary the tone accordingly.
Your followers will get to know and like your brand voice. And, if you do it right, your brand will start to feel like a friend, too.
For more info on how to find your brand voice, check out this great article from SEMrush.
It should go without saying, but you should always respond when people reach out to you on social media.
So, keep an eye on your accounts and respond to people.
Active conversations grow into authentic relationships.
2. Develop your brand identity
Your brand identity (everything visual about your brand) is one of your company’s most important assets.
Let’s take a look at how you can adapt your visual brand identity to increase brand recognition on social media.
Avatar and company logo
Every social media account has an avatar. It’s that little picture that represents the user.
Your social media avatar is a key branding element of your social media account. It’s what other users (your customers and potential customers) will use to identify you.
Most businesses use that space to feature their logo.
And that’s smart.
Your company logo is the visual representation of your business. People know Nike by their Swoosh. And they know your business by your logo.
Ideally, your logo visually embodies the traits and values you’ve identified as key to your brand. That way, people who are unfamiliar with your business will get a sense of who your brand is as soon as they see it.
A logo that sends the wrong message – or no message at all – will get lost in the shuffle or turn your target audience members away.
So, be sure your logo is right before you plaster it all over your social media accounts and invest time in social media marketing. This might be the perfect time to consider a rebrand.
Color is a powerful communication tool. And, assigning specific colors to your brand makes it easy for people to recognize your business.
Your brand colors should derive from the colors in your logo. This will create visual cohesion across your branding materials and serve as a visual cue for identifying your business.
Be sure to use your brand colors throughout your social media profile and in the posts you share (when appropriate).
Optimize your bio
Social media platforms include space for a bio so you can tell the world a little bit about you.
How much space you get depends on the platform. Instagram gives you 150 characters. Twitter gives you 160 characters. And Facebook offers a whopping 101 characters. As you can see, there’s not a lot of space to tell people what you’re all about.
So, use the limited copy available in your bio to show people what your brand stands for.
There’s not enough space to write a dissertation explaining your core mission, your brand values, and your product’s unique selling proposition. Instead, show people as much as you tell by using your brand voice when writing your bio.
If your brand is casual and witty, then your bio copy should be casual and witty.
Demonstrate your brand traits through your copy while sharing info your readers will care about, and your bio will make an impact.
Some social media platforms offer more visual real estate than just an avatar to communicate who you are.
For instance, Facebook and Pinterest allow you to upload images to a profile cover or banner. Use this space to say more about your brand with a well-designed banner image.
Some businesses feature pictures of their signature products in their banner. Others reveal the members of their team to humanize the people behind the brand. Still, others just want a polished, professional banner featuring their brand colors and logo to reinforce their visual brand.
Whichever path you choose, it’s worth engaging a graphic designer to get a design that really showcases your brand.
Style your posts
Your social media posts should always look like your posts.
Consistent visuals allow followers to recognize your content instantly once they’ve learned your signature look. It’s like picking out a friend’s face in a picture of a crowd.
So, give your followers a signature look to identify.
Here are a few options to consider as you plan your signature look…
- Will you use a consistent layout (or a handful of layouts) for your posts?
- Which of your brand colors will you feature in posts? And, what color combinations should be used?
- Will you use the same photo filters every time your post to Instagram? Or, the same backgrounds for your Facebook status updates?
- Will your logo appear on posts? If so, when? And, are there specific rules for using your logo on various backgrounds?
Following the same visual guidelines will make it easier for people to identify you and easier for you to create posts. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel with every fresh post when you know the guidelines you need to follow.
3. Post the right content at the right time
What to post?
Knowing what to post can feel like a hurdle when you’re getting started.
So, let’s eliminate that concern right now.
While it’s true that there is no one-size-fits-all answer for exactly what to post, there are content marketing strategies that will give you a clear path to follow. So, let’s take a look.
Consider your audience
Who are your customers?
The people you want to buy your product or service should drive what you post on social media. So, you have to start by understanding who your customers are.
What are they interested in? Where do their interests intersect with your brand’s interests and your brand’s values?
What kind of content does your audience prefer? Are they a memes sort of crowd? Or do they prefer thoughtful long-form articles?
Answering these questions will help you determine exactly what kind of content you should post and on what topics. For help figuring this out, check our next tip…
Check out your competition
While you should never steal from your competition, you should learn from your competition.
What topics are they writing about?
What format are their posts? (Text-only, article shares, photos, infographics, etc.)
And, most importantly, which posts are actually garnering comments and likes?
You can learn a lot from your competitors about what type of content resonates with your audience.
Balance promotion with value
Of course, it’s no secret that businesses want to use social media to promote their product or service.
But, that can’t be all you do. Like any relationship, there’s give and take by each party.
You have to put in the time to authentically build relationships by providing content your followers find valuable.
And, the value can come in many forms. The key is to take the time to learn what your audience will find valuable.
Your audience may value humor. Or, they may prefer informative content that teaches them something new – or a unique perspective on a topic they care about. But then, they may just want to see cute pictures of cats.
Or all of the above.
Once you figure out what sort of content delivers value to your audience, give them plenty of that. Sure, you can share promotional content, too. But, be mindful to provide more value than promotion to keep your audience engaged.
Once you find a mix of content that your audience responds well to, share that type of content consistently. Your audience will start to pay attention to – and even seek out – your content if they find that they usually like what you’re sharing.
When to post?
Take the time to learn what days of the week and times your audience is on social media. Your brand won’t gain exposure posting at a time when no one can see it.
There may be existing research about the best times to post for your industry. But, you’ll most likely just have to run some tests. Here’s how to do it…
- Create a trial posting schedule.
- Then create a spreadsheet that tracks engagement metrics like comments and likes/reactions by day and time.
- Post on that schedule for two weeks and then review what times performed best.
- Then change up your weakest time slot to test a new time.
Repeat this process until you’ve got a handle on what times work best for your unique audience.
Next, test how often to post!
Create a content calendar
Once you’ve nailed down when and how often to post, create a content calendar. It can feel completely overwhelming to know that you need to post something in 30 minutes and have no idea what you’re going to post.
So, spare yourself that heartache. Create a content calendar outlining what you plan to post and when.
You can handle this in a few different ways. Here are a few:
- You can assign weekly or monthly themes that guide your content for that period of time.
- Opt for a weekly schedule with a different topic for each day. (Throw-back Thursday, Feel-good Friday, etc.)
- Or, look at your business goals and reverse-engineer content that links to and supports those goals (all the while remembering to provide more value than promotion).
Whatever format you choose, be sure to plan at least a few months ahead and create your content well ahead of time.
Some experts claim that the day and time that you post is less important than posting consistently.
I say, go for both the right time and consistency. But, if you have to choose one – maintain a consistent schedule. Your audience can only build a relationship with you through repeated exposure.
So, make your brand easy to find and engage with by posting regularly.
Prepare for a slow burn
Social media branding success won’t happen overnight.
Your social media strategy should leave plenty of space for trial and error, learning, and realigning.
But, social media and branding go hand in hand. If you want people to get to know your brand, you’ve got to show up to the party. And, the party is on social media.
Relationships take time to grow. So, be willing to put in the time to find your authentic brand identity and voice – and to share them on social media.
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