USPs and differentiation
Before you start posting, a great way to help identify the right direction of travel on social media is to consider your USPs. Ask yourself:
- What do you do better than anyone else?
- What makes your brand unique?
- What do you want people to think when they think of you?
A well-considered brand strategy is the best starting point – providing a solid foundation for consistent and coherent communications. A brand strategy will articulate answers to the fundamental questions of Why?, What?, How?, Who? and Where? This shared knowledge means your social team can operate swiftly and confidently.
A clear visual identity is fundamental for differentiating your brand from competitors, especially in a customer’s noisy social media stream. Leverage your visual assets to make your posts unmistakably yours. Remember, just because your team is familiar with your identity doesn’t mean your audiences are – repetition and consistency are often overlooked virtues for brand building on social media channels.
How to stand out on social media?
Underpinning any brand’s successful social media activity are three core tasks. Get them right, and you’ll build an audience that pays real attention.
- Draft a content plan
- Ensure consistency of activity
- Maintain authenticity in tone and content
Draft a content plan
In social media, planning means devising a goal and timing schedule for your output. Maybe your goal is to champion your customers. Alternatively, you could decide that the purpose of your brand’s social media activity is to position itself as a thought leader in your sector. Adopting different goals for different social media channels might even be fruitful.
To develop an effective schedule, you must start by asking pertinent questions. Are there seasonal activities around which you can build an engaging narrative? Are there events in your corporate calendar that need to be supported? What is the optimum combination of corporate brand posts and those relating to products or services?
Having a plan means things get done – and they get done for a valid reason. Having a plan also helps you ascertain what worked and what didn’t, so you can refine your social media messaging to make it more engaging and effective.
Ensure consistency of activity
Consistency of activity means establishing a regular social media publishing cadence which helps prevent both your fans and social algorithms from having to guess when they’ll hear from you next. Planning a social media publishing calendar makes this more likely. Designating clear responsibility to the individuals involved in creating your brand content also helps. Before finalising your publishing cadence, make sure you test what days or times deliver the highest rates of engagement.
Maintain authenticity in tone and content
A well-considered brand strategy will define the values and personality that your brand is trying to uphold and project. A tone of voice guidelines should provide instruction on bringing your brand values and personality to life in writing. You must be sure that – even with multiple writers engaging in omnichannel social media activity – your target audience can recognise your posts immediately. So, if your brand doesn’t have an easy-to-use and coherent tone-of-voice guide, make creating one a priority.
Choosing the appropriate subject matter is also crucial. If it isn’t relevant to the brand or its audiences, you must ask, “Is the brand’s social media feed the correct place to discuss this subject?” Perhaps some things might be better appearing on the personal social feed of one of the leadership team or other staff members – or just avoided altogether.
Five tips for getting your brand noticed on social media?
1. Don’t forget to entertain people
We are talking about a social media channel, not an annual report or a corporate brochure. The nature of the content is ephemeral, and your brand has a license to be a bit more informal and relaxed. Don’t always try to sell; just engage. Use different formats of social media content, such as video, slideshows, polls, questions, images, and plain text. Allow your viewers to see behind the scenes, highlighting the people and effort that goes into delivering your brand’s products or services.
2. Leverage your experience and expertise
People now instinctively look online to answer any questions they might have or find out more about a subject they are interested in. Whatever area or sector your brand operates in, social media provides an opportunity to deliver valuable content to a receptive audience, so take it. Establish yourself as a thought leader in your field and one that is generous with the insight and knowledge that makes a prospective customer’s life easier. You will likely be rewarded with improved brand awareness, engagement, and loyalty, as well as increased traffic to your main website.
3. Keep your finger on the pulse
Be timely and topical. Brands do not exist in a vacuum. Even specialist B2B sectors exist in the broader context of society. So, demonstrate your cultural awareness and highlight your brand values and personality in how you respond to news and events. However, don’t jump on every social media bandwagon; make sure your attempt to capitalise on a trending theme is still relevant to your audience and authentic to your brand – and be prepared for people to disagree with your opinion.
4. Remember it’s a dialogue, not a monologue
Social media is a conversation between a brand and its audience. Prospective consumers are not passive; they want to engage with the brands they invest in. So, keep an eye on the comments and be ready to answer any questions or simply respond by saying, ‘Thank you.’ However, social media audiences don’t always say what you want to hear, so work out how you will respond to constructive criticism. You can turn a justified negative comment into a positive experience for the complainant and a valuable learning experience for your organisation. Make sure you also have a considered and on-brand response to malicious content.
5. Analyse your results
Social media can be a time sink, so to justify the investment, it is vital to analyse the effectiveness of your efforts. Track the data and be intelligent about the metrics you use to measure success to ensure you are reaching your brand’s target audience. Paying attention to analytics also allows you to test and refine your approach quickly and efficiently, so you can double down on the content that works to make a social media campaign even more effective.