Social media can be a powerful and inexpensive tool for pushing your brand on social media, whether you’re promoting a coffee shop, a charity, a cryptocurrency, or yourself and your own inimitable wardrobe. Fast and cheap broadband has allowed your brand to enter the screens and consciousnesses of nearly every potential customer in the UK, without the expense of creating a TV spot or paying for a newspaper ad.
But it’s easy to stumble: to target the wrong audience; choose the wrong influencers; even use the wrong platform, one that doesn’t gel with the brand image you want to create.
At best you might create content that generates little attention, that simply vanishes into the never-ending scroll of a newsfeed, registering no likes, no hits, and no sales. At worse, you could attract the ire of commentators and trigger a backlash that can permanently tarnish you brand.
In traditional media all publicity might be good publicity, and even if it’s not, your TV spot, once pulled, will never air again and yesterday’s newspaper advert is lining today’s rabbit cage. But on the internet, infamy is forever. Go viral for the wrong reasons, or stumble publicly while trying to do so, and you may never outrun the shame. Time to delete your accounts, rebrand, and maybe change your name.
Before you throw tons of cash into video or agonise for hours over an Instagram filter—you know, the fun stuff on social media—it helps to get the basics of social media marketing down.
- Choose the right platform
There’s now a dizzying array of social media platforms competing for our connections and clicks—and your ad money. But before launching a Snapchat social media blitz for your yoga retreat or small manufacturer, take a deep breathe and consider 1.) the audience you want to reach and whether your chosen platform gives you access to them, 2.) the image you want to cultivate and whether the platform fits it, and 3.) your unique selling points and whether the media hosted on the site allows you to capitalise on them
- Facebook: 44% of the UK population uses Facebook once a day. In fact, it’s reach is so great, transcending nearly all barriers of age, that only 21% of UK internet users don’t use the site. That means Facebook is perfect for reaching a huge swath of the population and creating brand recognition.
- Instagram plays host to a bevvy of fashion-conscious influencers and aspirants. Its focus on images mean it’s a natural for promoting clothing and lifestyle brands, or other products that look great in photographs.
- Twitter: If your brand traffics in irreverence, you can gain some traction with quick comebacks and memes on Twitter. Be sure snappy repartee suits the image you wish to create, however. What would be a good look for a hip new restaurant wouldn’t suit a charity or NGO.
- LinkedIn is a B2B network that allows you to connect with business owners and employees while they’re in a work headspace—and not scrolling for recipes.
- Produce sticky and shareable content
On these platforms, you’re competing for eyes and engagement with four newborns, six colourful breakfasts with avocado, and 17 influencers styling the same Topshop skirt. Your content, whether images, videos, texts, or memes, needs to pop, prompting likes and shares and making people remember: you and your product and not their four friends who got engaged over the weekend.
Increasingly, text is buried on social networks; great images draw clicks. Don’t slough off text all together, but don’t be afraid to complement your stunning, well-crafted copy with a photo. On Twitter, just 10% of all content has a photo but it prompts nearly half of all engagement on the site.
- Develop and stick to a visual Brand
Realistically, your brand will operate across multiple social network. Develop a consistent visual identity, using the same colour palette, fonts, logo, and image across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the rest. What do you think of when you think of Coca Cola? Red and white and a swirly cursive font—and maybe some Christmas polar bears. You want your brand to conjure up the same consistent image in your customer’s minds, so when they see a flash of your chosen green on Twitter, they know you’re their favourite purveyor of soap/terrariums/insurance from Facebook. Furthermore, it’s a shortcut to looking professional, without shelling out thousands to an advertising company.
- Post regularly
You don’t have to be churning out John Lewis Christmas ads every other day, but you should commit to a regular posting schedule of content. Keep yourself on the top of your audience’s newsfeeds and you’ll stick in their memory when it’s time to make a purchase.