“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.”
Henry David Thoreau
Creating a social media branding strategy can be daunting, given all of the possibilities available. If you jump in without a plan, you’ll likely veer off course and wind up with a campaign that makes about as much sense as giving KFC gift certificates to PETA members.
There is definitely a better strategy to build your brand online.
Step #1 – Establish Goals
“I don’t focus on what I’m up against. I focus on my goals and try to ignore the rest.”
Setting goals is essential to your strategy. There are many social platforms, each with different audiences and ways of sharing. Precisely understanding what you want to achieve on Social Media can help you plan a strategy to choose the right ones to achieve your business goals.
- Are you looking to increase your brand mentions and interactions?
- Do you want to drive more social traffic to your website?
- Is your goal to use social media marketing to convert prospects into customers?
- What social sites are your potential customers most active on?
- Which ones are right for YOUR brand?
Setting goals will also help you decide what metrics you need to use to test if your social media strategy is actually working. This will allow you to drop ineffective strategies and give you the opportunity to test different tactics and perfect what works for your brand.
❏ Describe your goals in detail: Aim for 1-3 goals
❏ Determine how your goals will affect your brand and your bottom line
❏ Research the metrics you will use to track your progress
Step #2 – Pinpoint Your Audience
In order to craft a compelling message that resonates with the people important to your business, you need to know who’s in the conversation.
You have an audience. Every business does. You also have an ideal client. Those people have specific interests, dislikes, and passions. You need to pinpoint all of these areas to create a marketing strategy that speaks to your target market. Not just as it relates to your product or service, but also as it relates to the interests your audience holds dear.
❏ Create detailed personas of your target customers
❏ Read blogs that you think they read. Visit the social platforms you think they visit. Stalk them… in a good way!
Step #3 – Define Your Voice
How do you want people to perceive your brand? Professional? Energetic? Fun? A little in the middle? What are your values and purpose?
The personality of your brand must match your audience (i.e. personas) in mind.
You also need to decide what platforms to use. Trying to be everywhere at once will spread your resources thin. It is better to focus on those few platforms that your audience use the most.
If you focus on developing the platforms your customers spend most of their time on, you will have a better of chance of reaching these customers. You will also be able to scale your efforts and build a community.
❏ Describe in detail the tone and attitude of your company
❏ Create a brand style guide that defines your brand’s visual voice
Step #4 – Build Processes and Policies for Your Social Media Branding Strategy
When you are active on social media, you will be in conversation with your prospects. Besides fielding questions and engaging with your followers, you may also have to deal with an angry customer. You will want to plan how you will respond and what steps you will take when there are issues that affect the brand.
You should be able to answer these questions:
- How will you or your team manage interactions with fans?
- Will you respond as a brand? As a person?
- When you personalize posts will you be signing off with your name or initials?
- How will you respond to negative comments or reviews?
- What tools or software will you use to manage your brand?
Crafting a policy on how you will respond to customers on social media ahead of time can help you prepare for any eventuality. If you have a team of people working on your social media, this is an absolute must. You want to make sure everyone is on the same page, so the brand maintains consistency no matter who does the talking.
❏ Create written processes for responding to customer complaints
❏ Determine what tools/software will be used to manage the brand
Step #5 – Launch Your Campaign
Once you have laid the foundation for your social media branding strategy, it is time to create a campaign. Your campaign needs to be tied to a highly specific offer that matches your brand goals. This will allow you to focus on sharing content that is closely related, and that your audience will find valuable.
This is where the actual design of your social media profiles becomes important. You need to reflect the essence of your brand, and you want your branding to call attention to what you are promoting.
❏ Create a highly specific offer that ties in with your brand
❏ Design your social profiles to showcase your offer
Step #6 – Determine Post Frequency
Every social network is unique. People use Facebook differently than Twitter or Instagram. Each network has its own personality. You want to adapt your message to fit the personality of the platform. Some are much more visual and require more image-based posts.
You have already decided what platforms your brand will use. Now you need to decide how often you will post. This article from Fast Company shows the best times to post on social media.
The best strategy is to use available data to your advantage and make sure you adopt a social media plan that follows best practices. Then, you need to measure performance and optimize for your brand.
Good rules of thumb for different platforms is to post on:
- Facebook 3-10 times per week
- Instagram 2-3 times per day
- Twitter at least 5 times a day
- LinkedIn 2-5 times per week
- Google+ 3-10 times per week
- Pinterest 5-10 times per day
❏ Decide how many times per day you will post to social media using current industry best practices, case studies and your time constraints
❏ Determine what posting strategy will be used for each platform
Step #7 – Create A Content Calendar
Your social media campaign will be directionless without a content calendar. It will lack fluidity and will not be cohesive. A content calendar will help give you a high-level view of how your messages tie back into your brand and make sense when paired with your offer. It will also save you time in the long run.
There are so many different ways to decide what content you will post. This post from Buffer breaks it down for you.
❏ Create your content calendar
❏ Schedule content with descriptions, titles and research for each post
Step #8 – Engage Influencers
Influencers will be extremely important for amplifying your message. Connect respectfully with people who share your interests and are “in the know”. With the help of their good reputation, their endorsement of your brand can pay off big time!
You can use tools like Buzzsumo to see who the most prominent people are in your niche. Find them on social media and follow them. Start small so that you can work on building and maintain a lasting relationship.
❏ Research who is influential in your space and to your customers
❏ Follow and engage with them across the networks you are using and get noticed
Step #9 – Schedule Engagement Time
If you want to be successful on social media you have to spend time talking to people. Randomly sharing content or only talking about yourself is not going to win you many friends. Even 30 minutes a day (when done consistently) can boost the engagement of your brand.
❏ Devote time to engaging with your customers, fans and influencers
❏ Set a schedule for participating on each social network
Practice, Practice, Practice
If you practice these 9 steps for your Social Media Branding Strategy, your brand will gain recognition, and maybe even a little more love! Just remember to always be authentic and true to who you are as a brand. And have fun