Social Media

January 29, 2020 Jesse Stein Jesse has founded, operated and sold multiple Internet-related ventures over the last 20 years. Most recently, he started and ran DietSpotlight.com, a leading nutrition website with more than 120 million total visitors and 325,000 subscription-based customers. In 2018 Dietspotlight was an Inc 5000 fastest-growing company.

Your Guide to Building a Brand on Social Media

Social media is a powerful marketing tool. Most social media platforms let you make a free account and start speaking to a community that contains millions of audience members.

Every amazing social media brand started somewhere. Use these tips to establish your presence, gain a following, and create an instantly recognizable digital identity.

Start with Branding Basics

Whether you’re sticking to Facebook or creating a presence across the entire digital sphere, you’ll need to rely on the same branding essentials to succeed. By the time you’ve made your first post, you should already know what your project is about and what kind of identity you want to present to your audience.

Many new brands get their start on social media, but these essentials apply to every kind of company. Put plenty of effort into this stage; time spent building your brand identity almost always results in a stronger and more coherent presence.

If you’re introducing an existing company to social media, you probably have most of these branding elements. Take a moment to revisit the core aspects of your brand so that you represent them clearly with your online presence.

Write a Mission Statement

Companies tend to grow more substantial than the people who started them. That’s why it’s essential to clearly define what your company does and the goals that you want to achieve.

Your mission statement will become the foundation of your brand identity. Keep it clear and straightforward, and leave plenty of room for your company to grow with time.

Here are a few examples:

  • A graphic designer’s mission statement might be to create interactive and engaging designs that focus on the needs of the client.
  • An animal shelter might have the mission of providing housing and care to as many misplaced pets as possible.
  • A game development company’s mission could be to make fun and entertaining games that stand the test of time.

Whenever you decide for your company, think about how well it reflects your mission statement. This will help you maintain a cohesive vision even as your brand changes across the years.

Identify Your Target Audience

Now that you know what your brand does, it’s time to decide whom you’ll do it for. Think about who will read your content, buy your products, and appreciate the message that you want to send.

Most demographic breakdowns are based on age and region. Other identifying features include profession, education, hobbies, and interests. An example demographic might be people between the ages of 30 and 50 who live on the East Coast and have graduated from a four-year university. Or, you might simply be interested in reaching anyone who loves reading fiction novels.

Don’t get too restrictive with your audience. You might be surprised at who is interested in the content that you provide. After your brand has been around for a while, check your demographics to see if you’re speaking to the same people who want to listen.

People from all demographics are present on social media. However, your chosen audience might dictate the platform where you have the most success. Take a look at the demographic breakdown for your chosen platform. They don’t need to be the majority of users, but your intended audience needs to be present to read your posts.

Create a Visual Identity

Your visual identity is the most prominent element of your brand. Develop a personality that appeals to your audience, promotes your mission statement, and involves reliable elements that you can use in all of your marketing materials.

It doesn’t matter how you choose to represent your visual identity, just as long as you stay consistent. People need to be able to recognize the content that you create. Many companies even go so far as to trademark fonts or colors to solidify the consistency of their marketing presence.

You don’t need to lay claim to a specific shade of blue, but you should pick a few colors and fonts that you’ll use to make branded materials. You can also create consistency with stock photography, illustrations, and other visual elements.

Hire a graphic designer if you don’t already have one. Work to create a design brief that represents your visual identity; it should include color swatches, font choices, visual assets, and design rules.

Create the Perfect Page

If you’re serious about social media, you should treat each of your profiles like a miniature website. This is particularly true for Facebook pages and other platforms that allow you to create a community hub. Put in the effort when you first create your profile and update it regularly to reflect the current status of your brand.

Add Your Info

As a general rule, always fill out every part of your social media profiles. Leaving a space blank sends an incomplete kind of message, so think about the identity that your profile communicates.

If your brand exists on multiple platforms, always link back to your main page or website. Provide contact information where appropriate. Go through all of the available settings, and see if you want to make any changes to the way your page functions before you go live.

It’s worth emphasizing that you should thoroughly proofread every part of your profile. Once you’ve filled out this information, you might not revisit it for a long time, so have someone look it over before you hit “publish.”

Describe Your Page

The “About” section of your profile is more important than any other information field. Spend time wordsmithing this section and consider hiring a copywriter to make it perfect.

Your description should quickly and concisely explain your brand to your audience. Facebook gives you as much space as you’d like, while Twitter expects you to describe yourself in 160 characters or less. It’s up to you how much information to include, but if you find yourself getting long-winded, consider linking to your website.

Try using new descriptions for each of your social media profiles. Every platform contains a different audience, and your profiles should reflect this fact.

Upload a Profile Picture

When it comes to choosing a profile picture, every brand has a different approach. Logos and brand symbols are always great choices. If your brand is centered around your identity, using a photo of yourself can help you develop a better connection with your audience.

Whatever you choose for your profile picture, you should make sure that it’s recognizable at small sizes. Bright colors and distinct imagery will help people identify your brand while they’re scrolling through their media feed.

Always upload your profile picture at the highest possible resolution. While most profile photos are square, some platforms will display your image within a smaller circle; keep this in mind as you finish your design.

Choose a Cover Photo

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and several other platforms let you upload a cover photo to customize your page further. The dimensions are different for every platform, so always check the image requirements before uploading.

Cover photos are an excellent place to show off your creativity and make a visual statement about your brand. Many companies use attractive stock imagery that’s relevant to their business. Some brands like to include text and might even have arrows pointing to the “follow” button on their Facebook page.

You can generally change your cover photo more often than you change your profile picture. Try uploading a new photo for the holidays or to announce a product release. Always make sure that your photos look good and remain contingent with the rest of your brand identity.

Follow Other Pages

When you visit someone’s social media profile, you’re usually given access to the same set of tabs. You can see their content, their bio, the people they are following, and the people who are following them.

You can’t control who follows you back, but you can control which pages your brand is actively following. This list can say a lot about your company, so curate it carefully. Think about which brands your audience might be interested in and follow accounts with content that you want to share.

Filling out your “following” section is also a good way to make a new account seem a little more active. However, wait to start following until you’re ready to get attention – everyone you follow will get a notification and might visit your page.

Post Relevant Content

When applied to social media, the 80-20 rule suggests that only 20% of your content should be directly promotional. The other 80% should be informative, interesting, or otherwise valuable to your audience.

Get creative with the kind of content that you post. If your brand is local, talk about community events. Share articles relevant to your industry, and discuss media that your audience is likely to engage with. Try following other pages and accounts related to your own; resharing content is a great way to expand your sphere.

Don’t start posting content until you’ve created a primary strategy. Try planning a week’s worth of posts. This will let you sculpt a cohesive narrative and ensure that you’re not posting too much of any one kind of content.

Text Posts

The text post is the bread and butter of social media. From tweets to status updates, typing out a post is easy – but crafting a good post is harder than you might think.

Take a careful look at the way posts are formatted on your platform. Get comfortable with all of the options, and see how other accounts are using the same tools.

Depending on your audience, you might want to use emoticons, links, and other elements to make your text posts more visually appealing.

While you’re writing your posts, think about the voice that your brand should be using.

Remember that you’re speaking directly to your audience and expect them to respond if you do a good job.

Images

Most social media platforms encourage you to “upload a photo,” but you can share any kind of image. Try creating infographics, diagrams, and illustrations that represent your brand. Visual content is surprisingly effective on social media, so decide what type of content you want to share, and share it often.

Every picture that you upload should be of the highest possible resolution. If you don’t use the dimensions specified by the platform, expect your image to get cropped for display.

Some platforms, like Instagram, don’t let you upload text posts. This has increased the popularity of images with text on them. If you include text, make sure that it’s still easy to read at various resolutions. Your audience shouldn’t have to enlarge the image to read the text.

As a word of warning, don’t upload copyrighted images unless you’re resharing from the creator’s account. If you ever share someone else’s content, make sure that they have been appropriately credited and tagged.

Videos

Video content is incredibly effective, but it can also be challenging to make. Make sure to hone your video production talents before you start posting. You can always introduce videos after you’ve established a substantial presence.

There are three types of video content:

  • A-tier videos with high-level production
  • B-tier videos with modest recording equipment
  • C-tier videos that are made with a cell phone or webcam.

All of these types of content can be used effectively as long as they reflect positively on your brand.

Depending on the platform, your videos might play automatically as soon as they pass through someone’s feed. Don’t use any jarring noises in the first few seconds; you’ll get more success with light music and an approachable intro.

Articles

Social media has almost completely replaced the RSS feed of the 2000s. Blog posts are a normal part of the social media sphere, and people regularly leave their news feeds to read articles that catch their attention.

If you write your blog posts, spend a little time perfecting the title, featured image, and meta description. These will show up whenever you share the post on social media. Most blogging platforms let you edit your metadata when you first make the post. Depending on your platform, you may also be able to edit the way your link displays; shorter URLs take up fewer characters and look more visually appealing.

Whether you share your article or someone else’s, you’ll usually get the chance to add your text. Write something short that tells your audience why they should click on the article; the exact tone of voice is up to you.

How Often Should You Post?

It’s essential to keep your page updated, but what that means can differ for every audience. Some of the most successful Facebook accounts post once or twice a day. LinkedIn accounts can get away with posting three times a week, but the best results come from posting in the morning. Twitter accounts need to post significantly more often; the average lifespan of a tweet is only about 15 minutes.

Find a posting balance that suits both your company’s voice and your audience’s level of interest. Always prioritize quality over quantity – it’s better to go silent for a few days than to post meaningless content that might damage your brand.

Engage with Your Audience

Anyone can post content on social media, but you’ll only see success if you manage to engage with the community on your platform of choice.

Plan to spend a few hours a week on social media, especially when you’re first starting. If you start getting attention, become slightly more active; you want to encourage users to keep engaging with your brand.

Use Popular Tags

Tags are a fairly universal standard across most social media platforms. Tagging is used to categorize posts, and many people browse posts based on popular or trending tags.

Start by adding a few relevant tags to each of your posts. Check out which tags are trending or popular on your platform, and try to use those tags for appropriate content. Don’t just use a tag because it’s popular; try to add something to the conversation.

You can also use popular tags to find more content to share or engage with. If you follow a brand, see what tags they’re using, and consider using them in some of your posts.

Like, Share, and Comment

Interacting with other posts is one of the fastest ways to grow your audience. Everyone who follows those accounts will see your interactions, and they might end up following your page as well.

Liking a post will create a small link from that post to your account. Most users won’t see it, but your profile picture will show up if anyone wants to check where the likes came from. Your followers will also be able to see the posts that you like.

Sharing a post publishes it to your profile. You should treat shares like regular content. In some cases, you can even add your caption to make the content relevant to your brand.

Commenting is a great way to start a conversation, but make sure that you only post relevant or interesting thoughts. Be prepared to get responses to your comments from other people who have seen the same post.

Tag Other Accounts

When you tag an account, the user gets a notification. You can use this to draw additional attention to specific social media posts. Try tagging other brands that you have a good relationship with; with any luck, they’ll share your post and boost your presence.

Reply to Comments

If someone comments on your post, you should try to reply fairly quickly. This shows that your account is active and encourages audience members to keep engaging. Pay attention to what your fans are saying, and let their interactions help shape the way that you develop your brand on that platform.

Promote Your Posts

Most successful social media accounts share a secret: at some point, they’ve paid to promote their most successful posts.

Paid promotion is a reality that most marketers can’t avoid. It’s also an excellent tool that you can use to cultivate your audience and spread your message to users who would never have seen you otherwise.

Choosing Content to Promote

There are two ways to promote your page on social media. First, you can advertise your page directly with a sidebar ad. These promotions should include a compelling reason for viewers to visit your page; otherwise, they’ll be dismissed as just another ad.

Platforms like Facebook and Twitter also let you pay to promote specific posts. If you have a fantastic piece of content, promoting it can help it go viral. However, you should use this option carefully to get the most significant effect.

Try promoting posts that have seen a positive reaction but which aren’t getting enough attention. If your blog post has already been shared five times, a paid promotion could get that number even higher. You can also promote posts that are newsworthy or which are particularly representative of your account.

Staying Under Your Ad Budget

Promoting your social media account is essential, but no one likes spending money on advertising. These tips will help you get the most impact on a limited budget.

  • Clearly define your audience so that your posts are shown to the right people. That way, you won’t pay for views that don’t boost your brand.
  • Use geotargeting to pick regions where you know your content will be a success. Check your demographics tools to see if most of your audience lives in a specific part of the country.
  • Promote at the right times to catch your audience when they’re paying attention. Try posting on specific days of the week or at certain times of day to get more results.
  • Track the effectiveness of posts, and stop promoting posts that aren’t seeing results. You might even try running A/B tests to see which strategies work better for your brand.

Monitor Your Success

You’ve posted, you’ve engaged, and you’re starting to see the likes roll in. But how do you know if your social media strategy is effective? The answer is to check your engagement data for each platform that you’re active on.

Where to Find Engagement Data

Your engagement data is different on every platform, but it’s usually under a tab called “Analytics” or “Insights.” Analytics for promoted posts might be in a separate location. You’ll often be able to see engagement for specific posts or over a set timeframe.

Another way to gather engagement data is through a social media tool like Buffer or Hootsuite. These aggregates let you monitor multiple accounts, see how well your post has done on different platforms, and even post to multiple accounts at the same time.

Finally, if you share blog posts, you can check engagement by seeing how many people have visited that page on your site. How much data you can see depends on your blogging platform, but you’ll usually be able to see which sites your traffic came from.

Which Metrics Are Important?

Engagement metrics are used to describe the impact of your posts. It’s easy to gather the numbers, but interpreting the data isn’t always so straightforward. A post with many views might be more impactful than a post with many likes, and a lack of comments might not mean anything at all.

The best way to judge engagement metrics is in relation to each other. Pay attention to how your posts perform and think about why one post got shares but didn’t get liked at all. These metrics represent the community’s interaction with your brand, and you can learn a lot if you’re willing to pay attention to it.

  • Views – If your post gets views, it’s made an impact. This number represents how many people have seen your post go across their screen.
  • Likes – When people like or favorite your post, it’s a good sign that they appreciated the content. Try comparing your likes to your views to see how many people are engaged.
  • Shares – Getting more shares is almost always good for your brand. It means that more audiences will see your post and have a chance to engage with your content.
  • Comments – Comments are a direct form of interaction and can be either good or bad. Commenting isn’t always the standard for some communities, so don’t judge this metric too harshly.
  • Clicks – If your goal is lead generation or content marketing, your click-through rate is probably one of the most important metrics you’ll see.

Every click represents someone interested enough to leave the platform and go directly to your site.

Your brand-new social media profile isn’t going to get much attention in the first few weeks. Have patience and keep posting; building a vast audience takes time. As long as you stay active and maintain consistent brand identity, you will eventually have an established digital presence that makes it easy to achieve your marketing goal