Social media isn't just an extension of other marketing practices. Due to the inherent social qualities and technological requirements of this tool, leveraging social media for successful marketing goes beyond traditional advertising techniques. There are several methods businesses can utilize to build a strong brand identity across various social media networks.
Create Format-Specific Content
Image via Flickr by Sean MacEntee
Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Pinterest, Instagram, Vine and YouTube all have specific formats and audiences. It's integral to structure messages to fit each individual medium. A lengthy post might engage and enlighten Facebook users, but it isn’t suitable for Twitter. Craft messages to make the most out of each social media outlet. Engaging, short headlines for Twitter posts and snappy video snippets on Vine are the best uses of these platforms. Save longer presentations for Facebook or YouTube.
Engage Followers’ Passions
Each business has a unique fan base to build interesting messages. Cater messages so they elicit positive responses from followers. Content must be relevant to what a business is selling, and a company should have a solid understanding of the level of engagement it wants from followers through social media. To help with this, it’s important to answer the questions: What is the brand? Who is the customer? A business’ social media posts should keep these questions in mind and find ways to elicit responses from its target audience. The shoe company Timberland, for example, has generated healthy engagement on Facebook by posting shout-outs to individual fans who share their photos on the brand’s timeline. This resonates well with the brand’s target audience of millennials who love to post photos of their everyday activities, while forging an individualized connection with fans and strengthening their perception of the brand.
Dr. John McArthur, associate professor and Director of Undergraduate Programs at Queens University of Charlotte, notes, “In the Knight School of Communication, we investigate communication principles that can guide social media practice and build brand messages that are both social and intentional. At a very basic level, a brand identity is only as good as the audience’s perception of that brand. Participatory media can be a valuable component of an overall branding strategy for an organization, but it should be used purposefully. When an organization defines the ways that social media will act in support of its brand, the organization and its audiences can connect in ways that are both engaging and purposeful.”
Offer Exclusive Material to Social Media Followers
Television shows use this method of exclusivity, but it can also be applied to any business with something to offer. Encourage followers to engage with the business via social media by offering them something they can't get otherwise. This might be cleaning tips, recipes, freebies, sneak peeks at new products or white papers. Whatever it may be, make sure fans and followers feel like they're receiving something unique.
Create Visual Appeal
Posts with photos and videos get more likes and shares than text-only posts. People scan their social media feeds casually and only stop to pay attention when something catches their eye. There are several ways to incorporate images, such as by including shocking photos, interesting videos or timely memes. Be sure visuals are easily identified by viewers as something they can relate to according to their passions and relevant to the subject matter of the post, not to mention your brand’s positioning.
Include a Call to Action
When engaging posts encourage viewers to like and share, people are more apt to do so. Some businesses use the "like if you feel this way, share if you feel that way" approach. This lets individuals interact with the topic by allowing them to express their opinions. When employing these techniques, it's particularly effective to respond to the comments individuals make. This helps make those taking the time to interact with a business’ social media feel like the company truly appreciates their point of view, which in turn will help foster a rapport between a business and its customers.
Interested in learning more about how social media plays into modern communication and branding? Pursuing an MA in Communication can help you develop the strategic communication skills to successfully engage any audience through social media and other communication platforms. Consider pursuing a master’s in Communication online from the Knight School of Communication at Queens University of Charlotte and learn how to leverage the latest communication theory and tools to achieve your personal and professional goals.