5 Tips For Boosting Your Brand With Social Media
Businesses of any size, and in just about any industry, can improve brand awareness and brand affinity with a social media marketing campaign. Social media platforms offer marketers the best of both worlds: an enormous audience of users and the ability to target messages and conversations to ideal prospects and influencers within that audience.
Social media attracts small and midsize businesses not only because of those factors but also because social platforms are free, unlike email, paid search, and SEO marketing, where the monthly cost easily runs into the thousands of dollars.
Nevertheless, free access to a large, well-defined target audience does not guarantee success in social media marketing. Companies must apply a great deal of effort and creativity to their work, or social media will be nothing more than an enormous time suck that drains a company’s marketing resources with little or nothing to show for it. Read on for some important principles and techniques to follow when setting up and executing a branding campaign on social media.
Don’t Underestimate the Time Commitment
Social platforms may be free to use, but working with them requires a substantial time investment. Since prompt delivery of topical messages and speedy response to comments are crucial, social media accounts must be monitored continually throughout the day. For established campaigns, a “day” might mean 24 hours.
Additionally, you must establish KPIs, track activity, measure and review progress, and make tactical and strategic changes to the campaign. Last but definitely not least, original content to be shared on social media — such as blog posts, research, and company news — must be created and edited. In short, be prepared to spend a lot of time on the campaign.
Choose Your Platforms Wisely
Because social media marketing is time-consuming, you can’t afford to spread yourself too thin. The best approach is to start with the one or two platforms that promise the best results and put everything you have into succeeding there. What are the best platforms? If the product or service lends itself to visual communication, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest are worth considering. For business news sharing and conversation, Twitter and LinkedIn continue to dominate. If your strategy is to focus on the social rather than the business aspects of the company, Facebook makes sense. Your choice of target platforms need not be completely theoretical. When in doubt, ask customers which platforms they like to use for business, and look at what competitors are doing on various platforms.
Don’t Jump In and Out
A common misstep on social media — one that can cause you to fall into a hole from which you will never get out — is to go silent after the campaign is launched. Sustained effort is crucial for success on social media. If users think you are not committed, your firm will lose rather than gain brand affinity. Many companies are quickly discouraged when they see no interaction or support in the early months of their campaigns. Don’t give up prematurely. Success takes time. What matters is not how many fans and shares you have, but how much these numbers are growing. Give the campaign six months to a year before passing judgment.
Don’t Be Self-Serving
Too many companies use social media marketing for marketing only, completely forgetting about the “social” part. One reason people browse social media is to escape one-way marketing campaigns. Keep that in mind. If all you ever do on social media is sing your company’s praises, users will perceive your brand as being aloof and obsessed with profitability. Effective social media content can be promotional, but it should also include a look at the personal side of your business, including causes or charitable work the company believes in, valuable insight about the industry, and conversations with the audience. The balance of how much of each type of content to post depends on the platform, but it all needs to be part of the mix.
Market Your Marketing
Fans and followers won’t gravitate to a new social media account by magic. Once you open shop on a social platform, make your presence known. Add links to the account(s) on every page of the company’s website, email signatures, brochures, signage, and anywhere else that comes to mind. Identify social media users who fit your target audience (it’s surprisingly easy to do), and follow them. If you follow 100 targeted prospects and have already posted some valuable and interesting content, you stand a good chance of earning follow-backs. Bit by bit, day by day, you will build an audience that enjoys the content and shares it with their followers — and this is where the true brand-amplification power of social media kicks into high gear!
There are many other steps that help boost branding on social media, but these five recommendations are key. Get them right, and your ability to succeed increases dramatically.
Rebecca Purrington is a Promotional Products Expert with Crestline Custom Promotional Products. She has more than five years of consultative sales experience in the industry and holds degrees in both Social/Behavioral Sciences and Business Management.