For startups and growing businesses, building a branded identity is key to success — period.
Your brand is the thing that makes your team unique.
It’s what sets your company apart from your competition, and what keeps your customers onboard. Your brand on social media is a digital footprint and extension of your identity as a brand.
In fact, the modern consumer now sees the branded experience as the factor that differentiates one company from another. In most cases, a better experience is more important to the consumer than product quality or price.
(This is especially true when product quality is universal, or the differences from brand to brand are negligible. It also comes into play for retailers, who often sell similar or identical products.)
The thing is:
Even if you do offer higher-quality products and/or services to your audience, it won’t matter all that much without a strong brand identity.
For one thing, your target audience might simply overlook your company in favor of a more noticeable brand. And, even those who do notice your brand will have a tough time remembering anything about your company.
These brands didn’t become household names overnight.
This just makes sense:
If you aren’t doing much to get your brand noticed and remembered, growing your business isn’t going to come easy.
This is why it’s crucial to focus on developing your brand from the moment you found your business.
In this article, we’ll discuss how to use social media to develop and maintain your brand’s image in the eyes of your customer. We are going to show you how to effectively develop your brand on social media in just 6 essential strategies.
Let’s dive in.
6 Key Strategies to Help Develop Your Brand on Social Media
“Using social media to build our brand was a key foundation towards kickstarting our company, and without it, we would not have gained our loyal customers. By being active on social media platforms that our target audiences most utilizes, we’ve been able to create personal relationships with our consumers as well as face any criticism head-on.”– Jing Gao, Founder and CEO, Fly by Jing
By today’s standards, having a social media presence is all but essential for growing businesses.
In fact, 87% of brands say use of social media is important for staying competitive. So, if you’re not using social media at all — or aren’t using it strategically — you’re almost certainly losing out to your competition.
That said, let’s now take a look at six things you need to do when using social media to grow your brand’s image.
Develop and Cater to Your Target Personas
Developing your brand’s image isn’t just about defining “who your company is”.
Rather, it’s about defining who you are for your customers.
Specifically, your brand’s image should define:
- What you do for your customers
- Where and how you fit into their lives
- The value you bring to their lives
Of course, you can’t create your brand’s image around these factors if you don’t know who your customers actually are.
To this end, you need to develop a comprehensive persona profile for each of your audience segments.
Again, it’s highly likely that your successful competitors are already doing so:
- 90% of brands that use personas have a more clear idea of who they’re serving
- 82% have improved their unique selling proposition by improving their personas
- 65% of brands using personas exceed their goals for lead-generation and revenue
The main components of a persona profile are as follows:
- Demographic and Geographic Data, such as their age, gender, location, family status, education level, and occupation
- Psychographic Data: Your target’s attitudes, interests, and opinions regarding certain topics (related to your brand, and to the world around them)
- Behavioral Data, which details their thoughts, feelings, and actions as consumers
For our current purposes, your persona profiles should also include information regarding their use of social media.
For example, you’ll want to define:
- The social media channels they use, and how often they use them
- How they use these social channels for personal, professional, and consumer-related purposes
- How they engage with brands — both within your industry and otherwise — on each channel
In nailing down this info, you’ll be able to use your social media presence to deliver specific, valuable experiences to your customers. This, in turn, is the key to developing your brand’s image — both on social media and overall.
Be Where Your Customers Are — and Where You Can Deliver Value
“For your brand’s social media presence to have an impact on your target audience, you need to use the platforms they use — and the ones they expect to see your brand on.
Looking at this another way, you don’t want to use every single channel available simply because it’s there, or because it’s new and trendy.” – Darren Clay, Owned, LiftedEdibles
This approach can lead to a number of problems:
- Spreading yourself too thin — resulting in a poor branded experience for your customers on every channel you operate on
- Appearing inauthentic by forcing your brand onto a channel that doesn’t make sense, and doesn’t enable you to provide value to your audience (this will hurt your brand on social media)
- Investing in a channel that your customers won’t use, no matter how much value you deliver on it
First things first, you need to know where your customers “hang out” online. Some effective ways to uncover the information include:
- Social listening tools to determine which channels your customers use most often
- Brand Monitoring and Sentiment Analysis software to understand what they’re saying about your brand on these channels
- Competitive Analysis tools to understand which channels others in your industry have used successfully
“Being present” on these channels isn’t enough to build your brand’s image. Rather, you need to use these channels to deliver value to your audience.
So, once you’ve identified the specific channels your customers expect to see your brand, you need to narrow your focus a bit more. For the time being, think about which channels will be most impactful in terms of engaging your customers and strengthening your brand.
- Thinking of the features offered on each channel, such as the type of content common to the platform and the type of communication allowed on it
- Having a clear idea of what your team is capable of, in terms of creating content on the channel and maintaining your presence on it over time
- Knowing how your brand can fit into the channel in a way that makes sense, both to your audience and for your business goals
From there, you can focus on developing a presence on specific social media channels — and being much more strategic in your approach.
Speaking of that…
Deliver Valuable Experiences as Expected (and Then Some)
“To develop your brand’s image on certain social media channels, your focus needs to be on what’s in it for your customers.”
This can’t be a guessing game, either. Taking a “let’s see what works” approach to your social media presence will likely cause you to miss the mark — and to also lose sight of what your customers actually want from your brand.”– Rachel Esco, Marketing Manager, CustomerICare
That said, it’s crucial that you:
- Have a clearly-defined, customer-facing purpose for using a specific channel
- Maximize the use of each channel to provide an optimal experience for your customers
- Create a cohesive strategy to achieve your customer-facing and business goals
In defining your purpose, it will help to keep your overall customer experience in mind. Think about what, specifically, you’ll be able to do better (or do more of) through the channel in question. More importantly, consider how doing so will lead to a better experience for your customers.
- Developing more content to keep your audience engaged and informed
- Delivering more personable and proactive customer service
- Providing more convenient purchasing options
The idea is to get your customers to the point that they know they can rely on your brand to provide a certain service or experience on a given channel. This will be especially handy if your competitors don’t provide similar value on the channel in question.
Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean you need to do everything on every channel you operate on.
(Though, to be sure, you want to be as thorough as possible here.)
Still, it’s important that your customers know exactly what to expect when engaging with your brand on a certain channel. Conversely, you need to make clear which channels they should use for a specific purpose.
For example, Drip Cafe provides a “Contact” option on their Instagram page for those in need of customer support.
If a customer uses the comments section of a post to request assistance, you can move the conversation to DMs, email, or other channel as appropriate.
Of course, you’ll eventually want to be able to take full advantage of each channel you operate on. Over time, you can solicit feedback from your audience to learn what’s missing from your channel-specific experience — and can begin making the necessary improvements right away.
Be Consistent in Your Messaging and Channel-Specific Experiences
Providing consistent value to your customers — on social media and overall — is vital for growing your brand’s reputation.
For one thing, consistency breeds trust. If your customers can trust that you’ll always be able to provide for their needs, they’ll have every reason to continue doing business with you into the future.
Being consistent also showcases your brand’s authenticity. By being consistent, you show your customers that you’re not just in business to make money; you’re truly dedicated to helping them grow over the long-term.
Providing such consistency will also have a major impact on your business’ bottom line: A 2019 report from Lucidpress found that branded consistency leads to a 33% increase in overall revenues.
All this being said, there are a number of factors involved in being consistent on social media.
First, you need to be consistent within the specific channel in focus. This means:
- Publishing informative, valuable content on a regular basis
- Connecting your separate pieces of content in some way to create continuity
- Using a consistent voice, tone, and overall style when presenting content on a given channel
Adidas’ Instagram page, for example, has a clear theme that the brand follows at all times:
Cross-channel consistency is crucial, too. While your approach will vary depending on the platform, your audience should be able to instantly recognize your branded content as they scroll through their social media feeds.
Finally, your social media presence should reflect your brand’s overall presence, as well. From surface level aesthetics (e.g., color theme, font, etc.) to message match — and more — creating a flow from channel to channel is an important step in developing your brand’s digital image.
Which brings us to the topic of omnichannel immersion.
Facilitate Engagement and Omnichannel Immersion
When developing your brand’s social media presence, keep the social aspect at the front of your mind.
In other words, don’t just think about “building your brand’s social media presence”.
Instead, focus on engaging with your customers as a way to build your brand’s reputation. Remember: The goal isn’t to post content for the sake of doing so, but to provide value to and facilitate engagement from your audience.
“At Tidio, the single best brand development strategy revolved around building an engaged community of customers and creating a Facebook group called Tidio Community.– Kas Szatylowicz, Partnerships Manager, Tidio
The group is a place for our customers to ask questions, exchange their insights, and network with each other. This allowed us to connect better with our clients and, over time—turn them into our brand’s advocates recommending our product to their network.”
So, as you begin to create content for your social media channels, make sure that it opens the door for your customers to take further action of some kind.
In general, your social media content should spur your customers to:
- Provide feedback via comments (i.e., questions, concerns, or insights)
- Refer others to your brand via recommendation or user-generated content
- Seek out more information on the topic at hand
Overall, you don’t want your audience to consume your social media content and simply keep scrolling. Rather, this content should act as a springboard to further immersion with your brand.
This can work the other way, as well — with your other branded experiences leading your customers to your various social media channels for an enhanced experience.
For example, Vivadogs publishes posts from their Instagram feed directly on their website. From there, site visitors can easily navigate over to their Instagram page to continue their journey with the brand.
It’s all about building a cohesive and immersive experience for your customers — no matter how they decide to engage with your brand. More than just building a presence on social media, you’re strengthening your brand’s overall reputation within your industry.
Streamline and Automate Your Social Media Experiences
Developing your brand on social media shouldn’t be a hassle — for your team or your customers.
On the contrary, your social media initiatives should seamlessly integrate into your team’s workflows and your brand’s customer experience.
(If it detracts from your team’s overall productivity, or interrupts your customer’s overall experience with your brand, you may be doing more harm than good.)
At any rate, the first area to focus on is your content creation process.
As we mentioned, consistency is crucial for developing a strong presence on social media. Consistently publishing high-quality branded content requires that you create content templates and calendars to be followed at all times.
The goal here is to take most of the guesswork out of your publishing routine. While each piece of content will be unique in some way, and you may need to amend your publishing schedule on certain occasions, there’s no reason to reinvent the wheel week after week.
By setting clear expectations as to what your social media content will look like, and when and how you’ll publish it, you’ll make the process of building your brand’s image much easier on your creative and marketing teams.
Automation can further streamline your social media efforts in a number of ways.
On a most basic level, scheduling out your social media posts will allow you to automate the publishing process on each channel you use. In turn, your team will have fewer tasks to manage manually — leaving them more time to focus on creating engaging content for your audience.
In some cases, you’ll also be able to automate the process of engaging with your customers on certain platforms. Chatbots and autoresponders, for example, allow you to deliver support to your audience as needed — or, at the very least, provide resources that will help them move forward in their journey.
For example, HelloFresh uses a Facebook Messenger bot to point customers toward additional resources regarding their services. Offering such automated self-service options enables customers to solve minor issues on their own — while also enabling your support staff to stay focused on more pressing issues.
Depending on the platform, you’ll be able to streamline and automate the actual buying process for your customers. Whether enabling on-platform purchases (e.g., Shoppable posts on Instagram), or linking to product pages within your social media posts, the goal is to minimize the number of steps and amount of time it takes for the customer to make a purchase.
Providing the option for users to link their social media accounts to their on-site account is another effective way to minimize downtime leading up to a sale.
The less time and energy your customers have to spend getting what they want through your social media channels, the better their experience with your brand will be. If your entire audience can say the same, you’ll easily begin to build a name for your brand within your industry.
Using Social Media to Build and Maintain Your Brand’s Reputation
Whether you’re a small startup or a long-lived enterprise company, you need to have a plan for using social media to build and maintain your brand’s overall image.
It won’t happen overnight — and it’s not a “one-and-done” effort.
Rather, social media management is an ongoing, ever-growing initiative that your team must focus on from here on out.
Luckily, you don’t have to go it alone; eclincher is here to help.
Our platform helps you streamline and automate your social media efforts, and gives your team an overview of your brand’s presence on every social media channel that represents your business.
Whether you are a marketing agency, a franchise, or a SMB, it’s important to leverage social media to grow your brand presence and alleviate the social media overwhelm for your team. We can help.