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Following on from my previous post about what creatives need to know about the new Instagram algorithm, this one is all about how to build a better brand on social media beyond just Instagram.
Social media is huge these days. According to the 2017 Sensis Social Media Report, more than 59 per cent of Australians use social networking sites at least once a day and 94 per cent have used Facebook in the last year. In short, you can reach an incredible number of people on social.
But hey, we’re all busy, amiright? To make sure you’re spending your time in the best way possible, here are eight steps to build a strong brand on social media and stand out as a creative — without going crazy in the process.
Step 1: Know your goals.
I’m talking business goals. What are you actually trying to achieve by using social media? You need to know why you are even on social media in the first place and clearly understand why it's a good use of your time. Your social media goals and objectives should be in line with your business goals.
For example, if one of your business goals is to increase revenue by 20 per cent this financial year and you make some sales from Facebook, a social media objective could be to increase traffic from Facebook by 30 per cent. Note that this doesn’t have to be purely revenue related: you could instead be aiming to get more people on your email list, to attract more client enquiries or lots of other things.
Step 2: Know your customer deeply.
‘Everyone’ is not a target market. You need to get hyper-specific about who your audience is and why they're buying from you. What are their motivations, fears and pain points? What do they love doing day to day? How does your brand fit into that? Focus on who you're talking to, what you want to say and what success looks like.
Step 3: Consider your content.
Get clear about the type of content you're going to deliver on social media for your audience. Remember: it's about them, not you. Be generous, add value and build trust.
Generally, content will fall into one of four buckets: education, entertainment, information, or inspiration. Understand what content your audience likes and focus on that. For example, for CWC, this would be to educate, inform and inspire — and less so to entertain.
Step 3: Focus on two to three platforms, max.
Once you understand who your target customer is, take the time to figure out the two to three platforms where they hang out online and focus your energy there. It’s much better to be present and consistent on two platforms than to spread bits of your brand all over the Internet with no love. Meaning: just because someone else killed it on Snapchat doesn't mean it's right for you.
When choosing which platforms to focus on, also consider where your content fits best, and how much time you can realistically commit. For example, shooting and editing video for YouTube will require more time than a quick video on Instagram Stories.
And here's a pro tip: if you’re already using social media, check your Google Analytics to see which platforms bring the most traffic to your website, then focus on the top two.
Step 4: Batch, schedule and automate.
One of the keys to growing a strong brand on social media is consistently showing up. This means contributing regularly and being active. It’s far more time-efficient to block out a couple of hours on a Sunday night (or whenever suits) to schedule content for a month, than to do a little bit every day.
Just make sure you’re still answering messages, responding to comments and contributing to your community. Remember, social media is a two-way street.
Step 5: Include calls to action.
A ‘call to action’, or CTA, is when you tell your audience to do something. We humans are lazy and need to be told what to do most of the time. Some examples might be to follow you, to share a post or to visit your website.
One useful CTA might be to join your mailing list. Remember, you don’t own your social media account; it can be switched off tomorrow (which has happened to brands before). To combat this, your aim should always be to get followers to your website and better yet, onto your email list. That way, you own that relationship and contact information, not Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn or YouTube.
Step 6: Make your brand cohesive.
Your brand, your profiles and the content you're putting out there should all be consistent, above and beyond your social media accounts. This is another time when focusing on just two platforms makes life a lot easier. Whether it's your website, your email newsletter or your Instagram profile, your brand aesthetic should be cohesive, consistent and recognisable.
Step 7: Be authentic.
It might sound obvious, but social media is designed to be social. Talking to your audience should feel like any good friendship or relationship: comfortable, relaxed and genuine. You should be able to laugh and tell stories and contribute to conversations. Be yourself and be true to your brand.
Step 8: Check your data.
The final step is to check your data at least once a month to see what’s working and what’s isn't — and make changes accordingly. Google Analytics offers a truckload of information to help you see what’s bringing in website traffic and making you sales.
On top of this, each platform has its own analytics tool that can provide great info about your audience, which posts are performing best, and what day and time you should be posting.
Schedule it in your calendar to dive in once a month and get familiar with reading your data.
Sadly, there’s no winning formula to growing your brand on social media, but following these steps will position you as well as possible. The most important thing is to not get overwhelmed, and stay focused. You can do it!
Courtney Goes is a Melbourne-based digital marketing and brand consultant with experience across a range of industries in Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Since leaving the corporate world in 2016, she’s been on a mission to help women make smarter marketing decisions to elevate their businesses and personal brands through simple, effective strategies. Working mostly with creatives, freelancers, and female-owned startups and small businesses, she provides clarity, structure and accountability to get real, tangible results. She has also launched Marketing Emporium, a resource hub designed to provide simple and straightforward marketing advice. Contact her at courtneygoes.com.
Opening image by Jaelynn Castillo.