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This column is part of a series brought to you by Entrepreneur Coaching.
When it comes to social media, it isn’t just enough to be on it. You need to know how to be effective with it. If you’re not using social media to build your brand, you are missing out. Globally, a third of all digital consumers follow brands on social media, according to a 2016 report from Global Web Index. Assuming you don’t want to ignore a market of that size, you should be asking yourself: How do I build my brand on social media? Here are seven ways I’ve found from working with Coaching clients that make the biggest difference:
1. Pick the right social media platform.
There are literally hundreds of platforms, and more spring up all the time. Not all of them are right for all brands, lead generation software company Wishpond notes. Facebook is by a wide margin the biggest and most-used network, so most brands will have some kind of presence there. However, if you sell to other businesses, LinkedIn may be a better choice. Likewise, young consumers are more likely to be active users of Snapchat or Instagram. See what kinds of people participate in the major social networks and dedicate your brand building efforts to the ones that are popular with your customers.
2. Be active.
One of the most well-established rules of social branding is that you must be consistently active if you are to effectively build your brand. A once-weekly Twitter post or monthly Instagram photo are not going to accomplish much, if anything. For this reason, it’s best to focus on two or three carefully chosen social networks and try to be active on them, rather than posting sporadically to a half-dozen.
Posting nothing but blurbs about your brand’s features and benefits is not likely to lead to engagement, according to Convince & Convert President Jay Baer. Your brand’s social media feed must include a healthy portion of posts about interests that your customers have but that are not merely promoting your brand. For instance, a food brand could post recipes or a financial services brand could post household budgeting tips. And make sure your engagement is two-way. In addition to posting your own content, like, share and reply to others’ posts.
4. Be visual.
Posts that include photos get much higher engagement rates than text-only posts. So include images whenever possible. Video, in particular, can encourage engagement. And don’t be afraid of using color to help you stand out in the stream of postings.
5. Be consistent.
Create a strategy for your social media brand-building efforts, advises Sproutsocial, maker of social media management tools. And make sure that every post you make supports that agenda in some way, even if it is not a straight-up plug. Avoid random posts that don’t connect to your overriding goal of customer engagement with your brand. If you use colors, select the ones you will use in advance, making sure they harmonize with and amplify your brand logo. And always use your logo and brand name the same way, just as you do with your branding message.
6. Get influencers to help you.
Starting a social media brand from scratch can be labor-intensive and take a long time. If you can piggyback on already-established social media participants, it can greatly shorten the time, energy and other resources the task will consume. So share, like and reply to posts from well-connected participants, and be sure to thank them if they share, like or reply to one of yours.
7. Use social media for other types of communication that help your brand.
Social media is increasingly important for customer service and support. When customers are happy or unhappy with an experience they have had with a business, today they immediately turn to social media to report that to, potentially, millions of other users. The good part of the way social media has become so important for posting customer reviews is that businesses can also see the communications from satisfied or dissatisfied customers. This provides an unparalleled opportunity to very publicly thank a happy customer or solve an unhappy customer’s problem. In the process, it’s possible to demonstrate to countless other customers and prospects that your brand is dedicated to customer satisfaction.
Social media has become a major communication channel between customers and the brands that serve them. It has its own rules and brand-builders who want to succeed on social media need to know those rules. But if a brand follows the social media principles for success, social media is one of the biggest, most powerful and accessible channels available for brand-building.