8 ways to differentiate your brand on social media on a budget

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Standing out on social media has never been an easy feat. Even when your brand is unique and already different from the competition, all social media platforms are so saturated with content that you need to be very smart about your online presence.

Hiring a dedicated social media management company can also be quite expensive (and doesn’t guarantee results, either). What you can do instead to differentiate your brand from all the noise, without breaking the bank in the process, is try some of these tactics. They may take some work, but they’ll ultimately provide the kind of traction you’re looking for.

1. Choose your platform wisely

Many brands make the mistake of spreading themselves too thin on social media. When you have to create content for three or four platforms every single day, you can’t hope to be all that different from everyone else, as you just don’t have the time to be creative.

Instead of rushing madly to be omnipresent, aim to be extremely engaged on the platform that makes the most sense. This will give you the best chance of connecting with your audience in a meaningful way.

For starters, pick just one among the most popular social media platforms. Yes, this will mean that your audience is technically smaller. However, if that audience is loyal and engaged, you will be converting significantly more of them.

Take a long, hard look at your brand and your ideal customer. Dive deep into all the analytics you have access to and see what they’re looking for. How are they finding you, what are their pain points, what kind of language do they use, how do they spend their day? Answering all of these questions will help you choose the right platform.

Here are some helpful insights, too:

  • Video is the most popular content format on the planet. If you can share knowledge in this format, set up a YouTube channel. You will need to be consistent, though, as the platform rewards consistent effort.
  • Twitter is great for providing real-time information. You need to enter into conversations and have fast response times on this platform.
  • Facebook has some of the best advertising features and optimization options, so if you want to run paid ads, definitely consider a Facebook page.
  • Instagram currently favors video content. If you can’t create Reels and Stories, you may see less engagement. You can, however, make them image-based, so video is not a prerequisite.
  • LinkedIn works for B2B audiences and decision-makers who favor professionalism and expertise above everything else.

2. Embrace video

As we’ve mentioned, video is the way to go if you’re chasing engagement. 50% of social media users prefer video over other content formats. It is twice as shared, and 50% of markets claim it’s their most valuable content type.

However, it’s still underutilized, as most brands don’t actually use video marketing on social media.

The perceived high costs of quality products may have something to do with it. Shooting high-quality videos can be quite expensive. However, you don’t actually need them.

True, YouTube videos need to be of the highest possible quality. The appeal of homemade videos is long over, and you need a decent camera and a good videographer to make it on the platform. But this does not have to cost an arm and a leg.

Take a look at MarketBeat. By running a podcast on the platform, they’ve found the perfect way to use the best of what YouTube has to offer without having to spend too much on standing out.

You don’t have to make your video content audio-based. You can create a slideshow or animations for a fraction of the cost of shooting a video. As long as your content is informative and the voice acting is decent, you can embrace video effectively.

Don’t forget that you can also use snippets of your video content on all social media platforms. Cross-promotion pays dividends over time, so if you do create several social media profiles, make sure you point your audience from one to the other.

3. Cater to your audience

To differentiate your brand on social media, you need to understand your audience. Knowing as much as you can about your buyer personas and catering specifically to them can go a long way.

It’s as simple as using the right language and tone of voice. Your aim is to forge connections and show your audience that you’re just like them. Show that you understand their needs and know just what you can do to help them.

Examples will speak a lot louder than mere words in this case, so let’s take a look at three brands that are doing a great job:

  • Gymshark is all about motivation, inspiration, and helping their followers achieve their fitness goals. They’re not selling their products — they’re selling a lifestyle (much like Apple). They speak directly to fitness enthusiasts.
  • Glossier lifts its audience up. They share a lot of user-generated content and strive to create a community that supports each other, and they go much deeper than surface-level beauty.
  • BarkBox simply speaks dog. That’s all there is to it.

4. Promote your existing content

You don’t need to focus on creating content exclusively for your social media accounts — at least, not all the time. If you are already investing resources into producing content for your blog or newsletter, you can easily promote it or repurpose it on your social media too.

If you run a content-based business, promoting your content on social media is simply a must. It will also lighten some of the load on your social media content team and drive targeted traffic.

If you are a brand that does not focus on the content exclusively, the same tactic still applies. Think of it as a funnel. You create a blog post that promotes one of your services. Then you promote that same post on social media, thereby indirectly promoting the service too.

Lastly, always remember that you need to spend less time on social media selling something and more time being of use.

Let’s take a look at this pillar post on valuing a SaaS business. It’s packed with useful data and incredibly valuable insights. Promoting it on social media just a handful of times would be a complete waste.

FE International has promoted it several times across their socials. This kind of resource will never depreciate, and it also happens to be a great way to grow follower numbers. Using all the relevant hashtags will help you reach a new audience and guide them down that funnel.

5. Offer social support

Social media is more than just a promotion channel. First and foremost, it’s a communication channel, and it often runs from your audience to you — not vice-versa.

To stand out among your fellow competitors, use your social media profiles to offer support. This is a major marketing opportunity, as it allows you to show how much you care about your customers and demonstrate some actual expertise free of charge.

Don’t look at the questions you get asked on social media as a pain in the neck. It’s actually free advertising and a chance for you to leave a lasting good impression. It will trigger some word-of-mouth advertising too and certainly make you appear much more approachable and kind than the next brand.

Domino’s, for example, has an amazing Twitter feed. There’s all the pizza, of course, but they’re also doing a great job of offering support, shouting out their customers, and being of some genuine use to their followers.

Wix has a dedicated support account on Twitter, which helps them process all queries much faster (and more efficiently) than they could over email. All it costs is time, but they are rewarded by a great brand image.

The main benefit of social media support is that it’s open to the public. Anyone can see how you treat your clients and customers. If you mess up, everyone will call you out. But if you take the time to be patient and helpful, it will pay off in the long run, even though you won’t be able to track a specific KPI.

6. Showcase social proof

To differentiate your brand on social media, aim to share customer reviews whenever possible. The way others feel about your brand will go a long way in showcasing your value and worth.

Social proof is much more credible than your own marketing propaganda. You, after all, have an ax to grind. You want to convince people to do business with you. Your customers have no similar agenda and can thus be trusted. If they say your product is great, it probably means it is, at the very least, decent.

A lot of leads will encounter your brand on social media for the first time. Don’t make them go to your website to tell them your customers love you. Social proof is way too effective to reserve it for your website alone.

Make sure you don’t overdo it, though, as you want to keep your feeds balanced. You can use other kinds of user-generated content instead of reviews and testimonials: images and videos especially.

Take a look at the Brakes To You social media profiles. They have a couple of Instagram posts that are snaps of their positive reviews, but their Facebook page is teeming with positive reviews from satisfied customers.

Simply asking your clients for a review on social media after you’ve completed the service (or delivered the product) can help you significantly boost your online presence. It’s an extremely cost-effective way to drive more business.

7. Promote engagement

Your social media channels are channels of communication, as you already know. Whenever you post something, aim to end with a question. Don’t just post into the ether and expect people to react. They do still need a prompt.

Whenever someone replies to your post or comment, keep the conversation going. Ask them something else, learn more about them, and figure out how they fit into your buyer persona better.

You can strike up private conversations via DMs with your most active followers and ask them for honest feedback. Learn how they use your product or service and what they may want changed. The more you’re able to study their habits, the better your overall marketing presence will become.

Two brands that are great at social media small talk (if we can call it that) are Starbucks and, believe it or not, MerriamWebster.

Starbucks will reply to tweets from their followers non-stop. They keep track of their mentions and tags, and they’ll actively make someone’s day better with a warm comment, a like, a share, and even a free coffee.

Merriam-Webster always manages to spark a conversation. Their word of the day is always popular; they share their followers’ brilliant tweets, and the quizzes are sometimes truly mind-boggling. All in line with the brand, of course!

8. Showcase your products

Finally, to stand out without breaking the bank, you want to make sure people have a chance to see your products on social media. Don’t wait for them to navigate to your website. Wow them with your inventory on your profiles.

A lot of people will never visit your website, even though they follow you. But if you treat social media as a shopfront and allow your followers to do plenty of online window shopping, they will click through to the products they like.

Firepit Surplus is a great example of using this strategy. Their Facebook page has a Shop section where their products are easily browsable. Their videos section, however, is the best part. This is where they showcase detailed information on their various products, making it super easy for customers to learn more about them.

Chances are most of their shoppers don’t actively look at their website. But when they come across a product they like, they will want to learn more, and Firepit’s social media ticks all the boxes.

Wrapping up

All of these tactics will help your brand stand out from the crowd on social media. They may not be simple to execute, and they might require a fair amount of time, but they don’t have to cost an arm and a leg. You can implement all of them in-house with just a bit of clever organization.

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