The development of your business’ “brand” can be challenging, but with the importance of social media to a business’ success, it’s necessary. Creating a brand requires deciding on the voice and values you would like your business to represent, then expressing these ideas through your content and interactions.
To help you figure out how to build your brand, we’ve reached out to some industry experts for advice. Here’s what they had to say.
“First, seek out your audience. Too many brands spread themselves thin by trying to be everywhere. Figure out where the folks you want to sell to are, and focus on meeting them on their turf. Then, focus on contributing to organic discussion.
Answer questions, ask questions, and offer original content that’s not cramming whatever you’re selling down their throats. Pay attention to current topics and trends! Consistently offering insight and information that’s relevant in real-time will pay dividends.”
– Rob Boston, President, Risr Marketing & Growth Solutions
Share Valuable Content
“The most important aspect of building a social brand is providing value. Typically that means thoughtful content that helps your target audience succeed, things like blog posts, video, visuals and more. It can also mean curation of important ideas from other leaders in your space.
If you provide value, you will get shares and more and more followers. Most importantly, those followers will be predisposed to your point of view because they like your ideas, so they will be more valuable to you in the long run and their shares will get you even more followers.”
– Matthew Turner, President, Boston Turner Group
“Visuals play an important part in building an effective brand on social media. Posts that include images receive a much higher engagement rates than text-only posts. You also want your branding to be consistent across all channels through the use of visuals to help people instantly recognize your brand.
This goes far beyond just using your brand’s logo. In fact, brands should be using a consistent color scheme across all social media channels to reach a point where people associate those colors with your brand without your logo even being present.”
– Jake Messier, COO, Mungo Creative Group
Pay Attention to Your Audience
“My biggest tip is not to make it all about you. There is a great temptation to use social media to market your brand, products, or services, but social media is more about connecting to your audience.
The best way to do that is to make the vast majority of your posts — at least 80% but ideally up to 90% — third-party content of interest to your target audience. This will help you grow audience and build a higher level of engagement; and it’s the continuing engagement that increases your brand equity.
The best way to find engaging content to fill your feed is either to set up Google news alerts for topics of interest to your prospects and potential customers, or to leverage a social media publishing platform that sources relevant third-party content for you.”
– Bryan B. Bridges, Director of Digital Strategy, Lumentus
“When building a brand on social media for a small business, owners and marketers should concentrate on a single network or short list of social platforms where their customers are most active.
Often times I see small businesses spreading themselves too thin by snatching a profile on every new social network and then struggling to create enough interesting content to attract more customers. This practice can damage the brand of a small business rather than bolster it.
When starting out, ask your customers the social networks they prefer—and if your business had an account there, what type of content or special offers would they be interested in seeing.
This approach can help even the busiest of small business owners concentrate on the needs of their customers and help them determine what type of content to produce to market and grow their brand on social media.”
– Jacob Warwick, Founder, ThinkWarwick
“The best way for an SMB to build a brand on social media is to put it in the hands of their customers. Create such a great customer experience, whether through product, service, or both, that customers are compelled to post about it on their social profiles.
Whether it’s taking a selfie in front of a creative mural inside of a bar or posting a pic of that beautiful double-decker burger, there are countless ways a business can inspire customer creativity and posting (broadcasting).
By leveraging the customer’s social networks, a new audience is hit with each message, rather than a small business account only hitting the same few followers with every post.”
– Matt Gibbs, Co-founder & CMO, UPshow
“1. You can’t be a brand if you don’t have an identity. Know your brand’s values and personality inside and out. Put some energy into crafting some creative verbal guidelines. And make sure every post, tweet, comment, gram, and snap feels like the real ‘you’ of your brand.
2. It’s SOCIAL media, so be social. Respond. Strike up conversations. Answers questions. Participate in groups, forums, Twitter chats, or any other group setting.
3. A brand is never the hero of the story. The customer is. Your brand is the expert guide to help them solve the problems you are uniquely qualified for (you know – the ones your products and services are designed to help with).
Make your customers the heroes of your social posts. Feature them in photos. Repost photos of them experiencing your brand. Help them out. Point them in the right direction. Give them a discount. Highlight those who are making a difference. Make them the hero every time.”
– Mike Jones, Marketing Partner & Chief Brand Strategist, Resound
Understand Your Platforms
“Focus on channels that make sense for your brand, your target personas, and company profiles. For instance, many B2B companies could be popular on Facebook, but the efforts there may not lead to brand awareness with target personas or conversions.
And if your brand is B2C, unless you’re professionally-focused, LinkedIn efforts won’t get much traction. Also, don’t worry about posting too often on Twitter. If someone isn’t on when you’re posting, they probably will miss your tweet. Post multiple times daily, and post about the same thing (but worded differently) across multiple days. And always use at least one hashtag.
Just remember to not only post about your brand on any platform. Share other articles and content that appeals to the same personas you market to.
Finally, you should try to leverage key personnel who work for your brand to post and interact on social through their “personal” accounts. People are much more likely to engage and connect with other people than a brand.”
– Julie Ewald, CEO & Creative Director, Impressa Solutions LLC
“Building your brand on social media takes work. You need to first sit down and determine what platforms make the most sense for you to be on.
As a small business, you may not have the time or resources to be on every platform so choose wisely. Take a look at where your competitors are and what they’re doing. Second, make sure your handles are as recognizable and easy to find as possible: use similar colouring, wording and make sure your brand statement is clear and visible.
Research how often you should be posting on each platform and try to stick with it. Curating content from other blogs / companies in your niche is a great way to fill your feed and gain recognition. Remember social media shouldn’t be a ‘set it and forget it’ plan”
– Madisyn McKee, Social Media Manager, Workopolis
“Pick your platforms in accordance with your brand. For example, if your brand is corporate, Snapchat probably isn’t the place for you. If your brand is super creative, LinkedIn might not be a good option.
A huge mistake I often see is that brands try to have a presence on every platform, and they end up not being successful on any. Set up your platforms with consistent colours, logos and messaging. Your content should also be aligned with your brand and your website.
Only post quality content, and don’t post the same thing across all platforms. Each post should be tailored for the platform it is on. For example, LinkedIn posts should have more of a corporate feel, whereas Instagram Stories should show behind-the-scenes content.
Post regularly and on a consistent schedule. Every week, schedule posts for the upcoming week to save time. I recommend Buffer, Recurpost and Hootsuite for scheduling.
Work with influencers to boost your brand presence and grow your following, but make sure they’re aligned with your brand too.”
– Steph Taylor, Co-founder & Director, Wildbloom
“Branding on social media needs to be carefully and elaborately planned – too many small business owners venture into social media expecting instantaneous results from a couple of Facebook posts. It doesn’t work that way. It’s incredibly important to identify your target audience; a digital persona takes a bit of time but it helps you understand your target audience in excruciating detail.
From your digital persona, you’ll be able to identify the right tone and type of jargon you should be using. For instance, if you’re building a brand around Golf products, you should be creating content that includes your target audience by using terms like bogeys and birdies.
Then, you’ll have to come up with an editorial schedule. Building a strong brand requires consistency — even if you aren’t seeing the numbers that you expected.
You’ll need to constantly create fresh content around your intended tone, curate existing content from other similar brands, and do it consistently for a long period of time. In short, branding takes planning, time, creativity, and consistency.”
– Aaron Lin, Managing Director, Ignitive
“The first thing any small business needs to know about building an online presence is the need for consistency. There’s no point in mapping out a social media marketing campaign if there is low commitment to maintaining the content output.
Most small businesses don’t have a designated social media coordinator or allocated time in their schedule to monitor and execute social media marketing efforts. Once there is someone accountable for building the brand online, you can expect to see results from social media strategies. This might mean having to readjust some roles, but make it very clear the expectations of the social media for the small business.
Regarding the social media content, do not waste time perfecting it. Understand that it wont align and impress everyone that sees it, that’s not the goal of branding.
To have a successful brand means to be able to remain in the front of a prospective customer’s mind. Even if someone doesn’t need your services, they might mention your small business passively or even suggest your business location to their own circle.
Social media allows us to “share” the content directly to our networks, so by being consistently on the timelines or news feed of different platforms, it allows people to remember and think of your brand.”
– David Mitroff, CEO, Piedmont Avenue Consulting
“The best way to build a brand on social media has three steps. Step 1: Be creative and stand out. Don’t copy your competitors, put a spin on it! People will not remember “another XYZ.”
Step 2: Post regularly and consistently. You don’t have to post something 3 times a day, but if do, make sure you do it every day so people can come to expect it. Do note to balance this with step 1, quality before quantity.
Step 3: Be genuine and humble. People see right through phony marketing these days, and it can make brands seem distant. One of the allures of connecting with brands on social media is the personal connection that can be obtained, so be personable! Stick with these steps and you be on your way to build a great brand on social media.”
– Dustin Montgomery, Director of Digital Marketing, Shippers Supplies
“I think one of the biggest things people forget in branding is, it’s not just a color scheme. Branding is everything about your business from the way you interact with customers to the way you sign your employees’ checks.
Social media is a fantastic source to start building your brand because you can develop the standard branding features; colors, words, logos, and fonts, but you can also begin to develop the other things.
As small or new business you have the freedom to experiment. You have the freedom to fail without the world knowing or watching. Don’t be afraid to put up a post or try a campaign. If it doesn’t work, take it down.
Finally, remember, it’s better to do one thing really well than 5 things poorly. Don’t feel like you have to be on all of the networks on day one.”
– Mitchell Brudy, Head of Marketing and Communications, Friewald Law
“Many small business owners will be quick to tell you that time is their most scarce and valuable resource. It stands to reason then, that committing to a 24/7 social presence will often not be an option.
Similarly, it may not be in their best interest to hire someone full time to manage social media when, as a channel, it can have a limited ROI depending on the nature and scope of the business being discussed.
Instead, I recommend that my clients strive to be memorable, unique, and genuine on social. By focusing on developing a unique voice, style and purpose on social, smaller brands are able to more easily stand out from the crowd and earn a dedicated following.
With so many impressions from various brands throughout the day, social media users have limited bandwidth. Catch their attention and then capitalize on it by being genuine and helpful!”
– Sam Warren, Manager of Marketing and Partnerships, RankPay
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