5 actionable strategies for social media branding

We’ve written this guide to help you uncover strategies to ensure a consistent brand across multiple social media networks

 5 actionable strategies for social media branding


While social media has technically been around for about40 years, it wasn’t until after Facebook launched a little over a decade agothat companies began paying attention it as a powerful tool for marketing. Itused to be that branding would be focused on print media, broadcast ads andnewsletters (email and flyers). The addition of social media meant thatcompanies now had another way to connect with their consumers.
Brand consistency across all marketingtouchpoints is a challenge for every company, let alone each social network.How do you make sure that you’re writing in a similar tone in your emailmarketing, one that matches your brand’s vibe in TV ads? How do youdifferentiate between how you speak to those two audiences, if at all? How do youensure that customers can recognize your brand even if it’s their first timeseeing you on social media?
A brand is more than a logo or set of colors,and its so much more than a cover photo. A brand is how you make your customersfeel, and it’s built by taking a consistent approach across every interactionthey have with your brand. We’ve written this guide to help you uncoverstrategies to ensure a consistent brand across multiple social media networks

1. Cover your basics

Wewon’t go into the minute details of a basic branding, but what you do want tomake sure is that you have is a consistent logo, color palette, bio,boilerplate and handle. Some companies like to change logo styling slightlybetween networks depending on how small the allotted photo space is and theinterests of those specific audiences. Whichever you choose, the most importantthing is to ensure your profiles have a common thread that people willrecognize as your brand

In the above example, Burt’s Bees uses the same logo for both Facebook andTwitter. Their banners are also the same. It isn’t always necessary for the twobanners to be the same on every network, but this approach succeeds becauseeven the colors in the banners reflect those in the logo. You could implementthis with different banner designs by retaining a recognizablebrand color palette, even if the text or the imagery in the design changes fromone network to another. Since Facebook allows you to create Video Cover Photos, you could also explore animating yourstandard brand banner—think video views!
Onceyou’ve got the basics of branding your social profiles down, then you’re ableto move on to more intermediate strategies. Even your basic branding strategyshould be audited and updated quarterly. These next four strategies are notone-and-done deals. Your audience craves new content, and your brand shouldevolve alongside that, especially on social media. There also may be timeswhere you can use your branding basics to your advantage. Celebrating a hashtagholiday or the launch of a campaign could be a great time for this! Brandingyour social media presence takes takes time and like your posting schedule,will need consistency, forward thinking and focus to implement.

Action steps

  1. Perform     a social media audit across all of your accounts
  1. Ensure     logos, banners, bios, posting cadences and handles are consistent with your brand     guidelines, and audit regularly.
  1. Make     sure you’re posting on a consistent schedule consistently and that your content aligns with     the look and feel of the branding you’ve established.

2. Extend your visual branding

Sonow that you have a consistent visual brand across network accounts, it’s timeto enhance that even further. What does that mean? It means ensuring you havethe same colors and fonts reflected in your images, graphics and videos. Whensomeone visits your Instagram page, is the filter or pop of color immediatelyapparent to them? When a video is published, are the overlay text fonts similarto those that you use for your blog post’s featured image?
Overtime, your customers will see the consistency in posts and begin to recognizewhen a post is from you without seeing your brand’s logo orsocial media handle. This type of brand recognition is the ultimate goal foryour social media branding efforts.

Anthropologies is known for their pastel and earthy colors. Thegeneral brand feeling is light and airy, which carries into their clothing. Andthough they may deviate from that depending on the season, the consistencycarries into their Instagram Stories. A single story has a clearbeginning and end in terms of color and design. The story set in the aboveexample uses a specific font style and design approach throughout the story.Stories like this help reinforce brand identity with these recognizableelements, and as the brand’s followers see these types of Stories over time,they’ll be able to recognize the brand’s unique approach to visuals evenwithout checking the logo or brand name at the top.

Action steps

  • Write     out your visual brand guide to include fonts, their uses and colors. For     example, at Sprout, we define brand elements like typography and color and     outline their uses on a visual style guide.
  • Create graphic     templates for the same type of announcement (e.g. new product     announcement has a similar font, color and design)
  • Create     photos and videos that keep your brand’s aesthetic and color choices in     mind. The posts should flow seamlessly into each other.

3. Develop your marketing personas

Your marketingpersonas are going to vary between the networks. Audiences on TikTokare younger than audiences on Facebook. This is the reality and if you use thesame content across both networks, it’s possible that it won’t resonate thesame way. To this end, it’s best to create multiple personas for your ownmarketing efforts.
Startwith the company’s customer base and then map them to the different socialmedia networks you use. For example, your Twitter account could targetmillennial parents while your Instagram account targets smallbusiness owners. Having these established personas per network helps you narrowdown your content ideas and maybe even adjust your voice.
Chipotle uses memes on theirInstagram account to connect to that specific type of customer. They’retongue-in-cheek memes that usually bring a laugh to those familiar with them.With each meme posted, you come to expect another meme, which establishes acertain brand awareness of Chipotle on Instagram.

Action steps

  • Create     multiple marketing personas and assign the social media networks that     match
  • Examine     your networks’ different demographics or set up listening     queries if you need to get to know your audience
  • Create     content to match the personas

4. Establish your brand voice & tone

Aftervisuals, captions and related copy are the next important piece of brandingyour social media posts. Company social media accounts tend to have some personality.For some, it’s sarcastic or snarky and for others, it’s informative. You mightalready have a brand voice established for your othermarketing focuses. Extending that to social media, and cultivating a specificapproach by social platform, is highly recommended.
Avoice and tone guide should include details like brand persona, companycatchphrases, personality traits and vocabulary. The smallest details, likewhether you use the term “clients” or “customers” will help you keep yourwriting consistent. If you have multiple people managing your accounts, havinga guide to reference keeps your team aligned so it doesn’t seem like yourcompany is writing from disparate perspectives.

Mailchimp’s style guide covers several areas including social mediaand newsletters. It’s easy to navigate and is direct in its approach andexamples. While your own guide may only be for internal use, having itaccessible to everyone in the company allows for people to refer to it whenwriting anything from marketing copy to sales emails. Everyone is on the samepage and that cuts down on repetitive work.

Action steps

  • Fully     develop and write out your voice and tone guide. Better yet, use social     media listening to validate some of your writing style decisions.
  • Audit     your own social media posts to see where you can improve in voice and tone
  • Share     the guide and educate teams that write copy. Ensure that your social team,     including customer support, is writing new posts with this voice and tone     guide.

5. Create multiple accounts for different areas of focus

Ifyour company is large enough or has a diverse set of products and/or services,it’s sometimes best to have multiple accounts. The advantages of having thesedifferent accounts include being able to hyper-focus your branding, cater to aspecific audience and serve up relevant content.
Somedifferent ways you can approach this include:
  • An     account per location: This is most popular on Facebook because it offers a     location feature for Pages (Carmax has locations set     up on Facebook)
  • Separate     marketing and customer service Twitter accounts for those that receive a     high number of inquiries
  • Accounts     by audience such as Nike for every sport they work with
  • A     mascot account like some popular sports teams have
  • Department-specific     accounts for higher education

·        Measuring the impact of your branding efforts

·        Increasingyour brand awareness across social media is a common goal. Actually executingthe strategies to reach that goal is the more difficult part. These strategies,business examples and actionable steps should get you started in the rightdirection to establishing your brand on social media.
·        Brandingis no longer limited to logos and colors. It’s about your voice, your imageryand even your targeted audience. Because it’s more qualitative, it can makemeasuring its success a little tricky. But as you start on improving yourbranding on social media, you can see the impacts by paying close attention toengagement, mentions and share of voice. You can also use techniques likeregular surveys of your audience to understand their level of brandrecognition, learn what audiences you’re effectively reaching and find out ifhow they see your brand is what you’re aiming for.
·        Agroup report from Sprout Social will give you overall trendsacross all of your networks. Since the reports are customizable by date ranges,you’ll be able to see how your brand is performing since you began yourbranding efforts.
·        Ittakes time to build brand recognition on social media. The most recognizablebrands today like Coca-Cola and Nike are recognizable because they have timeand consistency on their side. While you certainly don’t need decades forsocial media branding, some patience is required. Utilizing the strategiesabove will set you on the path for improving your brand online.

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