As we enter a new decade, brands better understand the power of social media. Companies leverage social networks to broaden awareness, generate leads and increase sales. The proof is in the data. According to an Instagram user survey, 60 percent of people said they discover new products on the platform. On average over 200 million people visit at least one Instagram Business page a day. A report from PwC’s Global Consumer Insights Survey explains that social channels are the biggest source of inspiration for purchases with 37 percent of consumers finding investment inspiration through the channel.
When launching your brand, curating a social media strategy can feel like a massive undertaking. Handles, content, cadence, and tone are all factors to consider when formulating your strategy. Because the platforms are ever-evolving, understanding current trends require constant research. However, these are the 5 things every brand needs to be doing when launching their social media channels.
Lockdown your handles
Your social media handles should reflect your brand. But the option to register a handle with your exact company name match could poise issues. After all, approximately 543,000 businesses are started every month according to Yahoo. This means selecting and reserving a handle becomes a competitive process. However, you don’t need an exact name match to be successful. We reviewed the social handles from LinkedIn’s annual list of the 50 fastest-growing startups. The results showed us that the majority of top startups do not have an exact match social handles.
There are a multitude of tactics you can take to work-around exact name handles. One such strategy is an industry add-on. Brands take a relevant word to their industry and add it to their social handle. For example, Robinhood is @RobinhoodApp and Away is @AwayLuggage. Another strategy is a relevant verb add-on. Not only does this keep your username short, but it also makes it easy to recall. For example, Helix is @HelixSleep and Mirror is @GetTheMirror. Feel free to take creative liberties when selecting a handle. Whatever formula you follow, it’s important to claim the same handle across platforms so customers can add and tag you more effectively.
Create a style guide
In order to post content that is cohesive, it’s imperative to create a social media style guide. A style guide maps out the look and tone of your social channels. The guide provides a reference for anyone managing your social accounts and facilitates a consistent look and feel. There is no universal format for a style guide. Each will have its own components depending on the brand and industry.
We recommend a style guide include:
Tone. Your brand needs a consistent voice that connects with the audience. This language is what makes your company relatable and is the heart of building a community. Is your voice professional, technical, witty or playful? Although we mostly approach social media tone as positive and upbeat, there are popular accounts that have developed a personality all their own. Wendy’s, for example, has a very sarcastic and humorous tone in their social media posts. Although not necessarily always positive, Wendy’s posts have cultivated a following with fans wanting to see what will be posted next. In the style guide, be sure to explain your brand’s persona and how this specific persona will engage audiences.
Formatting. Along with tone, you’ll want to define any specific formatting the texts on your posts should abide by. This can include the way you spell and stylize your name. Another formatting characteristic to consider is how you share links, whether it’s through bitly or another URL shortener platform. These small nuances can have a huge impact on your overall branding.
Look. A style guide should include references to specific colours, filters, angles, and type of content your brand will include on social. The look of your social channels should reflect the overall look of your website and collateral materials. Canva is a wonderful tool to use to create templates for a harmonious feel across all content.
Hashtags. Hashtags are a great way to build and grow an engaged audience. It’s also a wonderful tactic to engage your community and capture User-Generated Content. Research to see if there are any industry-specific hashtags you can be leveraging. Be sure to make rules for how many hashtags you use and on what platforms you’ll use them.
As algorithms shift and audience behaviour alters, one rule has remained; be consistent. Consistency is what will help grow your channels as well as establish KPIs to measure your growth. There are countless studies and reports that site time of day and how often a brand should post on social media for the highest engagement. Every platform is different and there’s no one-size-fits-all formula, however, nearly every study suggests that consistency is key. An excellent way to determine your cadence is to research other successful brands in similar industries and map out their social strategy. This can offer a basic guideline to follow as you begin to build your own strategy.
Make use of UGC
One of the most challenging components to a successful social media strategy is to produce consistent content. You’ll easily run through a library of assets in three weeks. User-Generated Content (UGC) is your lifeline. UGC is an excellent way to leverage ongoing content that is both organic and engaging. In fact, UGC has the power to connect with audiences more effectively than curated content. In a survey by Stackla, 90 percent of consumers said authenticity is important when deciding which brands they like and support. Consumers were 2.4x more likely to say UGC is more authentic compared to brand-created content. A great way to start UGC is looking for influencers in your niche space your brand could work with. Before collaborating with influencers, review the rules and regulations on disclosing sponsored posts.
One key piece of social media strategy that brands neglect is engagement. Posting to social media without engaging with customers is like shouting at a party and not meeting or listening to any other guest. Part of successful engagement is providing agile customer service. According to Social Media Today, 1 in 3 social media users prefer social media customer care services to telephone or email. An estimated 67 percent of consumers now use social media networks like Twitter and Facebook to seek resolution for issues. We all know at least one person who’s Tweeted at an airline. As social media continues to grow, this percentage will too. Constructing a customer engagement plan with crafted scenarios and messaging will provide quick responses and feedback to customer questions (or vents).
By including these five core actions in your social media strategy, you’ll have the framework of what you need to launch your social channels with a strong and powerful presence. Be sure to regularly research emerging trends and platform updates. Currently, Instagram and Facebook are experimenting with hiding “likes” in an attempt to improve mental health. This is one trend to watch, specifically on how this update will morph the way brands traditionally measured social media success. Empowering yourself with the latest social media updates will guide you toward optimizing your channels and converting followers into loyal customers.
This is a guest post by Grant Polachek. Grant is the Head of Branding at Inc 500 company Squadhelp.com, the worlds #1 naming platform, with 25,000+ customers from early-stage startups across the globe to the largest corporations including Nestle, Philips, Hilton, Pepsi, and AutoNation. Get inspired by exploring these winning business name ideas.
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