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Brand awareness is the top priority of most social marketers. We also hear that very often from our customers. Yes, they need more people to buy that product, but to even think about doing that, customers need to know about them, their business, and most importantly, their brand.
To understand what a brand is, I’m going to point you to a very cliched argument. It’s the difference between you choosing Coca Cola over Pepsi (you know you do), or have a preference between Nike or Adidas.
It’s not so much the quality of the product that makes you choose one over the other, it’s what they represent. For eg. Coca Cola represents community, whereas Pepsi represents heroes. And you might not consciously know this, but this can push you to make a decision, or even be loyal to Coke.
And the more you agree with what the brand represents, the more loyal you are to a brand, and eventually the more you’ll buy from it. Which explains why brand awareness is a top priority for social marketers.
So at the end of the day an effective Brand strategy on social will make you more visible, it will establish your unique brand persona in the eyes of your target audience, and it will help you interact more easily with them.
So how do go about building Brand Awareness?
There are a gazillion brands on social media trying to get the precious attention of people online. So, making your message stick is probably never been more difficult. But on the other hand, it’ll never be this easy again. ;)
So here are a few elements to nail in your Social media marketing strategy to build a consistent, memorable brand.
1. Be You. Be Human. Be Open.
Perhaps the most important part of this exercise is to drop your rigid corporate tone in social media communication and sound human. Communicate in the way that people talk. Use colloquial language. Don’t be too afraid of using internet lingo. There is a way to look professional without sounding like a robot.
Once you’re sounding more human, take out the time to know your brand persona. Which is to say, if your brand was a person, what would you want them to be like? Keep in mind, they must be open, easy to talk to, and trustworthy above all else.
Side note though, the purpose of building a brand persona is to show it in all your communication. So all the people responsible for communication should either already have those personality traits, or actively try to inculcate them. If it starts and ends at a brainstorming exercise, then it’s of little use to your brand.
2. Make the Most of the Attention you Get
Organic reach has plummeted across the board. Brands that used to get thousands of views of their content are now getting considerably less views. So less people are seeing your content.
Couple that with the fact that so many more businesses are trying to get people’s attention now and it starts to look I’m trying to pull a Halloween scare on you. But don’t worry. I won’t leave you hanging.
The point is, you have a small window. Make the most of it. And here’s how:
Be opinionated. Be visual. Be loud.
As a brand you must have strong principled opinions about trends within your industry. Be vocal about them. Not only will that help you get noticed, it will also make you easier to trust. For example, one of our most read articles on our blog has the following title:
It’s catchy, it spikes people’s curiosity, and it doesn’t make any impossible claims.
As far as being visual is concerned, it again helps grab people’s attention. I won’t go into the specifics of color theory here, but certain colors evoke certain emotions. Which is why you see certain brands sticking with shades of blue to evoke trustworthiness, red to evoke feelings ranging from warmth to anger among others.
But in general, using vibrant colors in your content definitely makes people pause while scrolling and take the time to look at what you post, and associate that color with your brand. Colors also affect how people interact with your content. According to a recent study, Colors like red, purple, and pink promote sharing of content, whereas green, black, blue & yellow decrease such chances.
3. Tag. Hashtag. Engage the community/influencers
It’s pretty much all there. Making hashtagging and tagging the right people in your content makes for a solid strategy to build brand awareness for two major reasons. Firstly, knowing what hashtags to use in your post helps your content show up in the relevant streams on social media. So your target audience knows what you’re all about. Hashtags are more relevant on Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter than they are on Facebook. On LinkedIn, as this study shows, for starters, hashtags improve the visibility of your content.
But to push your brand, you can use ‘branded hashtags’. At Willow, we often use the hashtag #lifeatwillow to go with our team or workplace pictures which can work well as an employer branding strategy. Other times, brands might use hashtags related to certain long-term marketing campaigns. Not only does this make it trackable at the end of the campaign, it also encourages people to use those hashtags to create content. And trust me, nothing is better for your brand than user-generated content.
Secondly, associating yourself with influential people within the industry that you want to be known in helps you take advantage of their audience. An audience that already subscribes to the brand of the influencer that you want to be associated with, should also by extension be interested in your brand.
If you play your cards right, and these influencers interact with your content because they were tagged in it, that can be ten times better for your brand. It acts like a kind of endorsement for your brand. As a business that has just embarked on that journey of becoming a brand, this can be huge.
Of course, don’t overdo it. You can seem too desperate if you start tagging 10 big influencers in the same post.
4. Platform specific content: Purpose same write-up for different platforms
One of the first questions you need to ask yourself as a business is ‘do we need to be present on all platforms’. For small businesses and startups, with everyone fully booked with their daily tasks, focusing on one or two important social media platforms can make all the difference.
It’s then a matter of what type of content works best on that platform and then getting better at making that kind of content.
We experiment a lot at Willow, but even with general analytics, over the course of a few months, you can figure out what works well where. For us, on Facebook, Images perform the best. On Twitter, curated blogs get the highest visibility, and on LinkedIn, documents get the lion’s share of views. But this might be specific to us and our industry.
Repurposing content for different channels is also a great strategy. Once you know what kind of content works for the channels, you can try posting it as a link on Facebook, probably extract an infographic from the same blog and post it on LinkedIn, and make a short video based on the blog on Twitter.
I realize how casually I dropped the phrase ‘make a short video’ into that sentence, but with the tools and solutions available today, that’s just how easy it is. A few great tools that we’ve come across which are cheap, if not free, are Kapwing and Lumen5.
With Kapwing making a video can be as easy as making a slideshow. And Lumen5 is interesting for other reasons. With Lumen5, creating videos from your blogs is a piece of cake, as shown here. This is a video we made under 10 minutes using one of our blogs. Disclaimer: We aren’t being paid to promote them.
Reminder: Make sure the colors, fonts, and logos, and messaging are kept consistent in all your videos, and image posts. Strong visuals stay in people’s minds and build brand recall. Brand recall can help people can associate a certain level of quality to your product.
5. Use Stats/Case Studies/References
As a business that has just popped up on the map, and people are just finding out about it, what really hurts your trustworthiness as a brand is not facts, figures and stories from real life that can be referenced. The proof of the pie is in the eating. If you make a claim that cannot be backed by a strong second source, you’re doing yourself no favors as a brand.
Here are some kind of references that you can use
- Reports from established industry watchdogs such as Deloitte, PwC among others. Not only does that show that you’re updated, it shows your audience that your activities are based in industry best-practices and benchmarks.
- Case Studies from your existing customers. Another kind of reference that can act as a second source. What’s better for your brand than good words from a customer? You can keep waxing lyrical about your own business, but your brand’s worth really gets elevated when someone buys your product, and likes to be publicly associated with it to the extent that they say something positive about it in public.
What you can consciously do is compile case studies from your customers which talk about how they’re using your product, have concrete real life examples of the impact your product/service has had for them and then showcase them on your channels. Here again, video is your best friend. They’re not words written by you, but coming straight from your customers, which makes them more believable (no offence).
6. Show authority by teaching.
Businesses build products, brands build a story, a sense of authority, and the perception of quality around that product. Powerful brands these days do a few things well these days; they advocate for good causes, and they act as an authority and a source of knowledge within their industry. Brands are going to great lengths these days to educate their target audiences around the topics. Not only does that cement their place as the go-to authority in that matter, it attracts more people towards their brand too. Here are a few strategies you can put in place to do that.
- Start a podcast: It’s easy to set up, it is not very formal, and it can really help you to build an audience, because at any rate, people hear an actual person imparting knowledge and answers to questions and problems they have. Most of the time, if you have a good topic, two people just talking about how they go about solving a problem, you have a solid foundation for a podcast. What certainly helps is that podcast hosts have a certain proficiency in that field or are well-known. You can mix up the format, invite expert guests, and certainly do more interesting things. It will all help to promote your brand and its authority.
- Share your opinion about popular articles and discussions: This is the easiest way to start building your authority on social media as a brand. There are tons and tons of great articles that you as a brand would want to endorse and share with your audience. Instead of having to write your own content, this way of imparting wisdom is low maintenance and can still help build your brand. Share best-practices, tips & tricks, shortcuts, and analytical pieces that you like with a short statement about it. A lot of our clients find great content related to their industry and their brand through Willow, which they can schedule straight from Willow’s platform too. You need to however be sure not to share subpar articles from shady websites. It can have an adverse effect on your brand’s perception. Either stick to publishers you trust such as Forbes, HBR, Times etc., or read through the articles you share for quality control. Your brand deserves as much.
- Write your own content: More time-consuming definitely, but in your content mix, your own blogs need only make up 20% of what you post. To boost the health of your brand, your content needs to be quality content. There is a lot of content online, and people are more aware of clickbait than ever. You want your content to establish your authority in that field. It establishes your brand in the minds of your target audience and might pull them back to your website to look for answers to other related questions that they might have. At Willow, our Willow Academy blog fulfills that purpose. As a thought-leader and authority within Management Consulting, your blog could help people solve recurring problems that you may have seen across multiple projects. Which eventually helps boost your brand
- Video series: A few brands now host a short talk show style video series where they talk about recurring problems and how to solve them, invite guest speakers, take live questions, and that can really help to establish your brand. With the popularity of video content and people’s engagement with it, this is always a good strategy to implement. Your equipment does not need to be fancy. You don’t really need to have it scripted. An idea, a topic, a few pointers that you need to talk about and a good conversation can make for an engaging video that can be a good source of knowledge, and great for brand awareness. If you’re confident, you can even go Live on social media. For Facebook Live, you can use Be.Live to broadcast and invite other people into your Facebook Live broadcast. LinkedIn Live broadcasting is still in its demo phase and you can apply to test it out here.
7. Be consistent
Finally, be consistent. One of the biggest mistakes you can make while building your brand is doing too much or trying to do everything. Focus always helps. Start with building your brand persona, figure out the visual elements that complements that persona, and then be consistent with it. Once you’ve built a brand voice, try to retain it. If you indulge in some light humor, retain it. If you need a corporate sounding voice, retain it. Varying these essential elements can hurt your brand, and confuse your audience.
And there you have it.
70% of social marketers have brand awareness as their top priority but a lot of them fall short of it because they miss these key elements in their social media strategy. Use these strategies, let us know on our social channels how well they work for you!