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5 Reasons to Brand Your Social Media Accounts

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In modern day society, celebrities and famous entrepreneurs are no longer overnight successes created within the elitist gates of Hollywood or the boardrooms of exclusive venture capital firms.  They are instead ultra-accessible, ordinary people that build extraordinary brands using the world’s most powerful (and free) marketing platform to spread their message. Social media has leveled the playing field, and the successes of Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, and the like are those that have figured out this whole branding game.

If you’re not seeing traction on social media, it’s likely a result of two things: not taking the appropriate and consistent actions (get an idea of what those are here) and not having a strong brand across your platforms.  Truthfully, you need to have an idea of how to convey your brand on social media before you can ever begin to take the appropriate actions.

When social media is done well, it boosts brand awareness, grows your target audience, builds brand loyalty, and drives conversation between you and your customers.  All of this is well-reflected in a healthy revenue stream.

Below are 5 arguments for why you need to focus on creating a strong and consistent brand across your social media platforms.

Dominate your competition

Today’s entrepreneurial spirit combined with fewer barriers to entry mean the marketplace is noisier than ever.  Competition is fierce and it’s becoming harder to capture the fleeting attention, let alone hearts, of your audience.  According to Facebook, there are now more than 50 million small businesses present on the platform. Hundreds of thousands of brands are vying for your customers’ attention, so how are you going to dominate your competition?

Social media platforms are aware of this and they are acting in accordance. In fact, Facebook’s algorithm is now designed to present users with only the content they are most apt to consider “meaningful”, determined by more than just a click-through or a like (considered “passive interactions”). Facebook instead determines “meaningful interactions” primarily through the quality of engagement, such as comments and shares. If your content doesn’t scream your brand and doesn’t add value to the lives of your followers, it results in a sub-par user experience and gives them no reason to engage with you.

Strong branding across your social media platforms is like having a bug in your audience’s ears, elevating your message above the rest of the noise.  When your voice is clear, consistent, and compelling, your customers understand you and seek you out above your competition. They relate to you and an emotional bond is created.  Emotional bonds are more likely to solicit meaningful engagement from followers, therefore allowing you to gain more exposure as Facebook decides your messages resonate better than your competition’s. And that is hard to compete with.

Increase trust between you and your consumer

When your prospects trust you, moving them to the next step in your sales funnel becomes that much easier.  Key components to creating trust between you and your audience include providing value, being open, being accessible, and being consistent in your messaging.  Social media allows companies to do this like never before. And the best branding on social media is really all about one thing: consistency.

When you have cohesive visual elements – your cover photos, logos, color-schemes, and filters all match across all of your platforms – users begin to recognize your look.  When your voice and messaging is consistent, users begin to recognize your sound. The more they can instantly recognize your brand, the more credibility and trust you build.  Familiarity is a comforting thing, and the same is true in the business world. People buy from those they know, like, and trust.

While moving a prospect through your sales funnel quickly and efficiently has its obvious short-term benefits, building a solid foundation of trust is key to creating brand loyalty.  It is only when a consumer has the utmost confidence in you that they will forego any underpriced competitor. Trust is what keeps them coming back, making repeat purchases, and turns them into a promoter for your brand for years to come.  Raise the level of trust and raise the lifetime value of each customer.

Increase reach and awareness

Never before have small businesses been able to compete at the same level as household names for free.  Social media puts you right in line with your competitors, but only if you have a strategy in place that can compete with the big boys.  

The only way accounts snowball and gain viral following is when they create value in their followers’ lives.  This means your accounts must have a strong identity (in other words, they must be branded). They must clearly showcase one voice and consistent messaging. When you can speak clearly in a voice that makes sense for your brand, your customers will engage.  Engagement is how you build a loyal following not only on social media, but for your business for years to come.

Furthermore, good content is shareable content.  This means your followers that enjoy what you post will share with their friends (likely to have similar interests to them, thereby fitting into your target demographic) – presto, free referrals to build your brand awareness.  

Social media allows you to reach your current audience in a deeper manner than you could have before, and it allows you to reach new audiences.

Secure top of mind and recall

One of the biggest parts of building your brand on social media is creating content.  In the past, we could secure top of mind with expensive traditional media ads or by hounding our prospects with laborious follow-up calls.  Now, you can get to them on the daily, several times a day, and hundreds of thousands of them at at time, by providing valuable content. An average Facebook session lasts 20 minutes, and you can get into your consumer’s mind by posting and sharing valuable content on social media.  

In fact, business expert Spencer X. Smith claims that ROTOMA (return on top of mind awareness) is the ultimate ROI of social media (he’s written an entire book on the subject, ROTOMA: The ROI of Social Media Top of Mind).  “Either you’re communicating on social media or you’re not… share your experiences and share your wisdom, and watch your ROTOMA through social media soar,” says Smith.

Transparency to build trust

When you brand your social media, you commit to a story that you’ll tell through different mediums and different content.  You commit to two-way conversation with your audience, and to listening. When you’ve worked to create a solid identity on your platforms, vulnerability is a part of this.  Social media is no place for strict professionalism (although this doesn’t mean being inappropriate, unless of course that is your brand!).

Customers today want more than your mission statement and your newest product launches.  They want honesty, raw behind the scenes of the people that work for you, of your leadership team, they want Instagram take-overs, and glimpses into a day in the life.  Don’t be afraid to be open or to use humor. Show the human side of who you are, and you’ll find that you sail through mishaps and mistakes a bit easier, no wordy press releases needed, because your customers trust you.

Conclusion

Branding doesn’t have to be a drawn-out, complex process.  In fact, the best branding is simple. Evaluate your messaging and how you present it – your visuals and your voice.  Branding your social media gives your followers a way to recognize you, creating instant credibility and trust. When your prospects trust you, moving them to the next step in your sales funnel becomes that much easier.  For more on how design affects ROI, keep reading here.  

How to Create a Social Media Content Calendar

The biggest mistake companies make with their social media is failing to plan – they don’t have a consistent schedule for what and when to post.  Consistent posts are the number one way to grow your followers and increase engagement.  It creates trust between you and your audience.  We know you’ve got seemingly bigger fish to fry as a business owner than worry about what you’ll post on your company’s Facebook page, but you also know how crucial social media is to modern companies.  In order to drive traffic and brand awareness, you have to make sure your social pages are optimized for engagement and conversion.  This means you have consistent, engaging, and recent posts.  Don’t get stuck pushing out less than stellar content because you’re panicking and haven’t posted in two weeks.  Plan ahead using our strategy below to create a content calendar and never miss a post again.    

1. Know your intent

The first step to a successful social media strategy starts with your objective.  You have objectives for your business, you have objectives for your personal life, why would you not have them for your social media plan?  If you don’t know why you’re on social media in the first place, you won’t get much out of it.  Set a specific goal, which could be different for each platform.  

Is your Instagram intent to drive brand awareness or to position yourself as a thought leader with your content strategy? Every brand’s objective is different – take outspoken entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, for instance.  He’s all over Snapchat and Instagram stories with the objective of grabbing your attention – he wants to be sure he stays top of mind and in your face.  Your brand’s objective may be completely different.  You may be looking to drive product sales on Instagram, or to generate leads on Facebook in order to build up your email list. Take some time to truly think about what you want from your accounts and you’ll have a stronger platform on which to build your content.

2. Who is your audience?

No different from the entrepreneur with a startup, you have to define your target audience.  Know who you are trying to reach.  Your message should be targeted to your ideal customer. You can use online tools to find demographic info on your followers (take a look at Klear for all platforms or Followerwonk for Twitter).  If you don’t have a strong follower base yet, analyze the followers of your competitors.  Look at their hobbies, their likes and dislikes, and their values.  What do they want to see from you? Take a look through your past posts (or those of your competitors) and look for trends.  Which posts had your highest engagement rates? Can you identify why? Post more of that.

3. Decide on how often to post

The next step is deciding how often you’ll post content.  This differs depending on which platform you’re using.  For example, Twitter feeds move much quicker than those of Facebook or Linkedin, and therefore you could tweet 5 times a day.  Posting 5 times a day on Facebook is a good way to annoy and lose your followers.  

Constant Contact has created an awesome cheat sheet for posting frequencies on most platforms.  The infographic below doesn’t include Instagram, but typically once or twice a day (no more than 5 days a week) works well for most brands.

Social Media Posting Frequency

Source: Azure Collier, What and How Often Should You Post on Social Media? Check out the full article here. 

Also make sure that you are staying on message. Don’t “spam” out inappropriate or unrelated content just because you are scheduled to post something today.  Stay consistent with your brand’s voice so you can attract quality followers that share the same values as your brand.

4. Humanize your brand

Social media is about being human, so humanize your brand.  Heard of the 80/20 rule?  It states that 80% of your content should aim to entertain, educate, or humor your audience, with no more than 20% being self-promotional.  Frankly put, stop annoying your followers with constant product photos and links –  avoid the hard sell on social and instead focus on engagement, building relationships, and connecting to build brand loyalty and awareness (see our tips on social selling here). You want to promote lifestyle posts, and posts that cater to your customers’ interests, more than you post about your products and company.  If all you’re doing is posting self-promotional or product-related posts, your followers have no opportunity to engage with you and you’re simply shouting at them.  

People want to see who you are and engage with people, not logos.  
Show the faces and stories behind your logo, be honest, and be open.  Social media is also one of the best PR tools a company could have in a time of crisis.  If you screw up, and you’ve taken the time already to build up a legitimate and quality following, you can use social media to acknowledge your mistakes and move on.  

5. Start scheduling

Just like with your daily or weekly calendar, fill in the  priorities first.  You’ve seen the philosophical depiction of the golf balls in the mason jar, right?  Be enlightened, then schedule your golf balls. 

How to Live a Happier Life

A college professor uses an empty jar, golf balls, pebbles, sand and beer to share some simple truths about how to live a happier life…

Posted by The Art of Learning on Wednesday, December 21, 2016

 

Your priorities might include upcoming promotional items, new product releases, or upcoming events. Have your team create the content and put these on your content calendar first.

From here, you can fill in the gaps with your other 80%, lifestyle-focused, content.  One of the best ways to ensure that you’re following the 80/20 rule is to set certain days for specific themes or posts according the your brand’s voice.  This not only makes it easier for you to come up with what content you’ll need regularly, but it creates consistency for your audience.  

For example, every Monday, post a motivational quote or photo.  This can be a great opportunity to truly show your brand’s voice, get creative, and even use humor (a great tactic, by the way, to humanize your brand).  Check out Noir Agency’s hilarious use of Motivational Monday below:

A post shared by NOIR (@noiragency) on

You could also post an industry-related tip every Tuesday (extra points for connecting it to a blog post on your website), Thursday Throwbacks, or celebrate social media holidays, like National Hat Day.

6. Finding and creating content

Option 1: Create your own stuff

Of course the first option for sourcing content is to create it yourself.  Photos of work you’ve done, graphics you create, or photos from the office or company outings are all ideas for original content.  But be sure you have a clear theme for your Instagram feed first that matches your brand.  Do you use bright colors and upbeat lighting in all your photos? Do you post a branded graphic every 3rd post so that it creates a cool pattern throughout your feed – like graphic designer WhiteFox Studios below?

Whitefox Studios Instagram Feed

By creating a theme, you strengthen your brand awareness and give people a reason to follow you.  Great content is necessary to keep people engaged, but if your content doesn’t look good, why would anyone want to come back?

Option 2: Share someone else’s stuff

Don’t overwhelm yourself trying to come up with original photos and graphics to fill your content calendar.  You can also use tools to curate relevant content that relates to your brand and appeals to your audience.  Later, the scheduling tool, has a tool where you can search for content from other users.  This is also a great way to connect with more people – find influencers within your industry that have great content that would be of value to your audience, and share it  (ask first before you share!)

Once your calendar is set, you can fill in the gaps in between scheduled posts by posting manually, responding to messages and comments, and engaging in conversations with your followers.  

If you need more help creating a strategy or even managing and posting to your social accounts, check out how we get social at Upperhand Creative!

5 Tips on Leveraging the Power of Social Selling within your Business

5 Tips on Leveraging the Power of Social Selling within your Business

Social selling (the process of leveraging your social network to build relationships and ultimately fulfill your sales goals) is a hot topic in today’s social media marketing landscape, but do companies truly leverage the power of a strong social selling strategy? For one reason or another, companies think they can bypass typical social regulations and push, push, push their products ad nauseam on social media platforms. Millennials, who make up the greatest buying power in today’s economy ($1.3 trillion annually), do not respond to hard selling [source: Millennials as Brand Advocates, SocialChorus]. They want to be a part of something, they want to see you tell your story, they want to trust you – they are a generation of social media and sharing. Therefore, there truly is no better platform than social media to grow your audience, build trust, and create brand loyalty. But how do you create a strategy that aligns with your brand’s mission? Social selling has all the answers. Below are our top five tips for injecting a social selling psychology into your organization ASAP.

1. Know your brand

First and foremost, you need to have a strongly established brand identity and you need to know your exact disposition within your industry. A strong brand strategy centers around tailoring your marketing strategy to your differentiator and communicating those differences to your consumer base. You must know what differentiates your brand from others in your industry before you can begin to hash out your content strategy.

You must also know your brand’s personality, which should align with the persona of your ideal consumer. For example, you may be a graphic t-shirt company, but who is your target audience? Do you mainly sell to gym rats, or to the humored, beer-drinking, weekend warriors? Knowing your target audience will allow you to get specific. Profit is in the niche. Once you’ve identified this, you’ll be able to cross-check every piece of content you create or share against the values of your brand. By creating a strong identity, you make it easier for people to get to know you. This should have a strong image associated with it as well (themed color schemes, specific fonts and typefaces, and an overall visual style) – having great content is not enough if it looks terrible.

2. Set yourself up as the resource

If you can add value to your followers’ daily lives, they will trust you. If they trust you, they will listen to you and come to you as the expert when in need, rather than you continually having to seek out your prospects. Once you’ve identified a niche, you’ll be able to see exactly what that target audience needs as far as content is concerned. If you can continually turn out great content, your followers will gain value from your posts and will automatically perceive you as the thought leader within your industry.

3. Content

Content is king; gone are the days where you can simply send out an email blast with a link to your offer and have people buy on first exposure. Content, whether created or curated, is what establishes your position as a trustworthy expert within your given field.  Plain and simple, content is what allows you to add value to your followers’ daily lives. Content can be established through creation of original graphics (making sure these graphics follow your brand standard), sharing content that is important to your target demographic, and blogging about relatable topics within your niche.  Learn how to save time and increase results by creating a content calendar here.

4. Does your content have an objective?

Make sure that whatever content you share has an end game, an objective that also fits in with your overall marketing strategy. Creating amazing content is useless unless it drives the user to the next step. Typically, any next step can be lumped into one of three categories:

1) consume more content

2) opt in to an email list

3) buy (or re-buy) a product

Decide which one your sights are set on, and link, link, link to either related articles (if you’re blogging), back to your website, or give them value in exchange for contact information.

5. Engage!

Lastly, all of this does you no good unless you’re willing to build and nurture two-way relationships. Don’t ever link people to a platform you are not engaged on – if you don’t engage on Twitter, don’t link people to your Twitter; you’re only sending them to another dead end. Sales can be about manipulation tactics, which may get you a sharp, but short-term increase in your bottom line. On the other hand, sales can be about building relationships, which will give you long-term success and brand loyalty.

Spend a few minutes each day engaging with your followers, targeting key decision makers and following them, and then interact with them – comment on their posts, like their posts, and share their content. After a few exposures, they will perceive you as another “friend” on their social media and they are much more open to engage with you and your brand.

When it comes to social media, play the long-term game and create your strategy in alliance with your brand identity, and you’ll find much more success in building loyal followers.

 

Take your social media strategy to the next level.  Get our guide to Executing a Winning Social Media Strategy in under 25 minutes a day for free!