You decided that your brand needs to be on social media, but what now? How do you launch your profile, ensure your content is great, and encourage people to follow you?
The first task is to identify which social media channels are suitable for you. Is your brand visual? Do you have a great looking product or do you create amazing interior design? If so, Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram are all great options for adding a key visual element to your branding. If your brand is a service or a company, then LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook will help you to generate awareness of yourself.
Once you’ve chosen your channel(s) you need to decide upon your voice. Are you a corporate brand with a formal tone of voice? A fun and quirky brand, using chatty a language or a cool young brand with a street vocabulary? Make sure the tone of language or ‘voice’ you have across your social channels is the same as your visitors would encounter if they entered your store or office.
There’s no point being Abercrombie & Fitch in-store only for your social posts to resemble John Lewis. Your brand is precious, so protect it and project it wisely on channels which are instant and prone to going viral. One swift wrong tweet in an odd tone of voice will leave followers unsure of your brand and sure to respond in a negative manner.
Furthermore who is your target audience, what age are they, what do they do and where are they physically located? Facebook allows you to geo-target your posts, perfect if your business has a niche or local clientele, or if you want to offer a bargain or promotion to an audience in a specific area. This feature will also help you if your posts need to reach an international audience. Consequently, you may need to write in more than one language and target those posts to the relevant countries.
A social media management tool, such as Hootsuite (or watch out for the forthcoming Social Marley), will also enable you to find tweets from a specific geographic location. Leverage the tools available to you to reach the greatest amount of people you can within your target area.
All social media channels have a search function. Play around with it, and make sure to do your homework before you start creating your own posts. Look at what your competitors are saying and doing and determine how you can do it better. Are they offering discounts with a code related to a particular channel in order to track back the ROI? Or are they using their pages as an interactive extension of their actual website by uploading great content, images, blog posts or videos?
You should also look at what not to do on Social media. If your closest competitor’s page is dry and dull with very few likes/followers and little engagement, you can seize the opportunity to make your page everything theirs isn’t. If you love a brand, analyse and recognise what makes you love this specific brand, and what are they doing to encourage you to interact with them by sharing/re-tweeting/commenting on their messages? Your goal is to give your consumers a positive experience, make them feel part of the community and engage with your brand.
Don’t be afraid to show personality. Social channels are just that, social. Admittedly, LinkedIn is less so – you can tow the corporate line here and stay considerably more business oriented. But, for the other channels, allow yourself room to breathe and create your own tone of voice. There’s a lot of competition out there, so take advantage of your uniqueness, how will you otherwise stand out in the crowd?
You have to be consistent with your communication! It’s pointless to set up your accounts, and then ruin them with a sloppy design base. Take time to create a tailored and bespoke suite of image backgrounds and profile pictures, so no matter which channel your customers visit you on, they’ll recognise your brand.
The same can be said for your posts. Don’t rush into creating posts with little meaning or thought. You’ve done your research so put it into practice. Work out your ideas for the week; gather your links (if needed) and relevant images. No one wants to look at a social page full of text and nothing else. Utilise videos and images to break up the page and create engaging content of colour and interest.
Changing your profile picture or cover photo can generate a multitude of likes and comments. If your brand is visual, use this to your advantage. Showcase your recent coverage in a magazine, post images of your latest product or put together some great facts relevant to your industry/market sector in an infographic. People respond to visual posts far more than just text so layering text over an image is also a great way of adding a visual dimension to your brand.
So, your pages are now live, your content and designs are ready, but what’s the next step? You now need people to engage with. Each social media channel has a different way to encourage networking. With LinkedIn, you can use your personal profile to communicate with your connections about your company and ask them to follow you. With Facebook, you can invite your personal friends to like your business page and invite your email contacts. On Twitter you can follow anyone who could be considered a stakeholder and of interest to your business: clients, prospects, suppliers, investors, journalists, industry thought leaders, etc.
The key is to make sure you’re interacting. Find the pages relevant to you and your business and introduce yourself. Join appropriate groups on LinkedIn and play an active part in the discussion. Share, retweet and reply to information or subjects that matter to you.