Find Your Strategy: 6 Actionable Social Media Strategies from Successful Brands
Late last year, Kapost compiled a list of 2014’s top brands in content. Much of what has made many of these brands successful is their social media strategies.
Let’s learn from six of them here. Whether they’re inspiring their audience through a shared philosophy or learning with their fans and followers by sharing data and studies, these brands—both small and large—have found the winning strategy for their specific personality, voice and values.
Read on to discover what lessons you can learn from these brands and their tactics to develop your own winning social media combination.
Lesson #1: Go all in on images like Hubspot
Great images can have a huge impact on social engagement, as regular readers of this blog well know. Visual content gets 94% more total views and is now 40% more likely to be shared on social networks.
Hubspot pays close attention to the science of visuals, contributing their own original research, and—like our friends here at Buffer—plenty of thought leadership and step-by-step guides on the topic.
The team behind Hubspot are such believers in the power of images that they frequently give away packs of stock photos and have even created 60 customizable templates to help folks with no design expertise create dynamic social imagery.
Hubspot practices what they preach, using diverse and eye-catching images in the brand’s own social media updates.
It makes particularly good use of the cover image sections of the various social sites in which they’re active. With each new campaign launch, a variety of accompanying visual imagery is rolled out, including cover images, customized by site.
Hubspot also takes advantage of the option to “pin” certain posts on Twitter and Facebook, allowing them to highlight a particular piece of content over a longer period of time.
This is a strategy that Buffer has found can lead to up to 3 times the engagement on pinned posts:
How you can go all in with images:
- Use Canva‘s easy-to-use templates for creating Facebook, G+, and Twitter cover images.
- Play around with tools like Piktochart and other infographic-creating tools to create eye-catching visuals like charts, headlines, and more, for all of your social media posts.
- Explore the photo resources in Buffer’s giant list of 53+ Free Image Sources For Your Blog and Social Media Posts.
- Download the unique (and free!) photos on Unsplash or Death to the Stock Photo to create sleek and beautiful images for your social accounts, blog posts, and more.
- Try Buffer’s new image creation tool Pablo to create custom, branded images in seconds
- Take visual posts that are performing well and pin them to the top of your social media timeline for even more mileage.
Lesson #2: Inspire like Red Bull
The thrill-seeking energy drink brand Red Bull gets huge per-post engagement from Instagram. Yet according to an analysis by SimplyMeasured, the company made fewer posts to Instagram than any of its other social networks, averaging just 0.6 posts per day.
Red Bull’s Instagram story is proof that it doesn’t matter how much content you publish. It matters what that content is.
What makes Red Bull’s Instagram posts (and content in general) so engaging is its focus on two core values: action and inspiration.
Red Bull highlights people doing extraordinary things in extraordinary places. This content appeals to risk takers, recreational athletes, and all viewers who are stirred by the Red Bull vision of life.
The picture below, for example, has 66K likes. It drives engagement not because viewers can relate to it, but because it makes viewers stop in their tracks and say, “wow.”(Or, more likely to Red Bull’s audience, “sick.”)
Red Bull also does a marvelous job unifying the subsections of its brand into a cohesive experience on Instagram.
Follow the main @redbull account and you see what you’d expect from the brand—epic, visual content of people doing “extreme” things. However, a closer look reveals a melding of the brand’s various areas of focus into one. Red Bull is active in sports, but also in music and art. Interspersed with people jumping off cliffs, are colorful and creative images that embody the same sentiment of living life in a big, inspiring way.
How you can inspire:
- Get to know your audience in-depth.
- Create content around not just your product but also the greater idea and values of your product. In an interview with Mashable, the freelance journalist Nicke Amies spoke about his experience writing for the Red Bull-financed magazine Red Bulletin:
“I’VE NEVER BEEN ASKED TO CROWBAR RED BULL INTO ANY STORY I’VE DONE WITH THEM,” HE SAID. “THE PROMOTION OF THE BRAND COMES THROUGH THE ACTIVITIES I COVER.”
- Remember: People don’t buy products; they buy better versions of themselves.Sell the experience of your product, not just its features.
Lesson #3: Provide value like MailChimp
Pictures of people jumping out of the sky is definitely engaging. But that kind of content doesn’t make sense for many brands.
Even if you don’t think your industry is sexy, it is providing value. If it weren’t, you’d go out of business. Figure out the needs and wants of your audience, and deliver the content that meets those needs.
MailChimp does a great job of this. Their posts are data-heavy and value driven. They feature great go-to email guides, and spotlight trends that provide immediate value to their marketing audience.
MailChimp is focused on not just providing customers with value through content, but also value through customer service. A quick look at the “Tweets & Replies” thread on their Twitter account reveals a regular cadence of warm replies, in a friendly rather than formal tone.
Notice how all the URLs in the above picture begin with “longreply.com?” The company is so dedicated to making customers feel valued that they actually built a product that allows customers to get in-depth answers quickly via social media, without having to send dozens of tweets back and forth.
How you can provide value:
- Fall in love with data. Dig into your own using Google Analytics, your social platforms, your CRM and marketing automation to identify trends that might hold value for your audience. Then, share them in a digestible format.
- Add research to your ideation and content creation process. (Here’s how Buffer researches!)
- Monitor data hubs like Pew Research and industry-specific resources likeMarketingSherpa for insights you can share to benefit your users.
- Check out this awesome list of open data sources from visual.ly.
- Provide stellar social media customer service and add even more value by building your community.
Lesson #4: Show, don’t tell like Coca-Cola
The Coca-Cola company knows who they are, and what they stand for. The company’s mission, according to its website, is:
- To refresh the world – in mind, body and spirit
- To inspire moments of optimism – through our brands and actions
- To create value and make a difference everywhere we engage
But you don’t need to go to the company website to learn about these values. Coca-Cola showcases them throughout their social channels, featuring warmhearted stories of generosity and goodwill that beg to be shared.
Coca-Cola shares around the globe these stories that naturally highlight and unify its mission and values. Its YouTube channel isn’t divided up into smaller sub-channels by country, region or product line, for example. Instead, it features video stories from all over the world in one place.
How you can show:
- Have a clear vision of your brand’s values. If you don’t have a clear understanding of your brand’s values, you won’t inspire your audience. Document your brand values, circulate them, and showcase them throughout your messaging.
- Walk the walk. If your brand cares about the environment, show it with stories about specific projects, initiatives and outcomes. Maybe that’s with content about the recycled material you use for your products, or the fact that your factory uses solar energy.
Lesson #5: Feature your customers like Square
Social media is for making human connections. If your brand starts to feel too transactional, users could tune you out. A great way to keep the human element alive and strong within your corporate social accounts is to feature the human side of your customers.
Square does a great job of this. Its “Square Stories” collection doesn’t just feature the company’s mobile payments product, but — more importantly — how the product influences the real lives and relationships of the people who use it.
The kind of content that says “others just like you have done this” is great for social media. It makes your audience feel more intimately connected to the product or service they’re buying, and deepens their relationship with the company interested in their success.
How you can feature your customers:
- Work with your customer success or service team to understand who your customers are and how they’re using your product. This ultimate case study guide from HubSpot is a great place to start.
- Go beyond the typical case study: visit customers in their own environment and document the meeting. Showcase their surroundings, their challenges, and their triumphs.
- Celebrate diversity. Your users likely don’t use their product in exactly the same way. Celebrate the differences in your customer stories. Your readers will be more likely to see themselves in your customers.
Lesson #6: Display your culture like Intuit
Intuit is one of the rare B2B brands using Pinterest with great success.
Its most popular profile is the Intuit Careers profile: 36 distinct boards highlight the company’s status as one of Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For.” The boards showcase the people that make up the company while offering lifestyle tips and advice for potential job seekers.
Regardless of your company’s size, recruiting great talent is likely a major focus. You need people who can not only succeed in the position they’re hired for, but also blend well with your company culture. Intuit presents a great way to use social media to highlight what it is that makes a great employee there.
How you can display your culture:
- Work with your HR department to spotlight the individuals who make up your organization. Interview your colleagues about their passions, their preferences, their quirky habits. Weird is usually better.
- Document company outings, happy hours, and meetings. The more human you come across, the more your audience will love you.
What are your biggest lessons?
You can implement any of these social media strategies starting today, based on your company values and the needs of your target audience. Pick and choose from the brands above to find the right mix for your company.
And, don’t forget to experiment early and often. One of the best things about social media is that you get immediate feedback. You’ll soon understand what’s really resonating with your followers and what isn’t.
What are your biggest social media marketing lessons? What are some brands you’ve noticed doing an amazing job? Share your thoughts in the comments and keep the conversation going!Source: https://blog.bufferapp.com/6-social-media-lessons-from-the-best-brands-in-content
10 Social Media Branding Strategies Every Business Should Follow
Social media can be used for a variety of purposes. Whether it’s social selling, content marketing or customer support, social media gives you the perfect opportunity to reach your target audience and build your brand. However, with so many different platforms available and heavy competition on all of them, it can be difficult to set your brand apart and carve out your place on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
Is your brand being represented the way you want it to on social media? If the answer is no, follow these 10 social media branding strategies to amplify your results:
1. Choose The Right Networks
If you’re not gaining any traction on some of the social media platforms you’re active on, it may not entirely be your fault. With hundreds of social media apps out there, and new ones popping up every day, it’s tempting to jump into all of them. However, every social network won’t be the right fit for your company. Your job is to find the networks that align with your brand’s image. Otherwise, you’ll struggle to make progress.
For instance, if your company is a steel manufacturer, then Tumblr probably isn’t the best option for you. Tumblr’s primary demographic is teens and people in their early twenties. A better option would be LinkedIn since it’s a B2B network that attracts business owners.
If you’re struggling to find out which social networks your target audience is most active on, take a look at these social media demographics to get the perfect starting point.
2. Don’t Overlook Visual Branding
Visuals play an important part in social media branding. If each of your profiles looks like they’re owned by a different company, it creates a disconnect for your users. You want your branding to be consistent across all channels. This will help people immediately recognize your company no matter which site or app they’re using.
One company that does this very well is Coca-Cola. When you look at the company’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles, you’ll notice the consistency in color and design:
Here are some tips to take away from Coca-Cola’s use of visual branding on social media:
Choose a color palette: Coca-Cola uses its classic red and white color scheme across all social media channels. It doesn’t just stop at the logo. When you look at the posts the company shares, you’ll rarely find visuals that don’t include the color red. The easiest way to develop your color palette is to take a look at your logo. You want to get to a point where people associate those colors with your brand. Keep in mind that different colors can impact the way people perceive your brand.
Use the same logo/avatar: You should be using the same avatar for every social network. The easiest option is to use your logo or a symbol that represents your company. People should see your avatar and immediately associate it with your brand.
Filter carefully: Whenever you’re sharing images on Instagram or other visual channels, keep your filters consistent. Whether that means using no filters at all or Mayfair, choose one or two and stick to it. Using a different filter for every image you share makes your posts look unorganized and inconsistent.
Create templates: If you have a team handling your social media marketing efforts, it can be helpful to create templates for any graphics you share on social media. That way, your fonts, colors and designs will always be consistent. You can do this through Photoshop or use a visual tool like Canva.
3. Develop Your Voice
Your brand’s personality should be reflected in your social media posts. That means developing a social media voice. This is the way your brand communicates in Tweets, Facebook posts and Snaps. Finding your voice can take some time, but you’ll settle into it eventually. To find your social media voice, consider these three main elements:
1. Your company culture: What is the culture like at your company? Your culture is what you stand for, what your company is about and what makes you special. For example, Under Armour’s culture is all about performing to the highest level and being innovative. The use of hashtags like #IWILL in social media posts shows that the company’s social media voice is a direct reflection of its culture.
“IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT HAPPENED IN THE PAST.” – @ANDY_MURRAY
2. You audience: Speaking in a way that your audience connects with is very important. That could include using certain lingo and references that are popular in your target market. Taco Bell is constantly in tune with what’s popular with its audience (a younger demographic) and crafts its social media posts to fit that voice.
3. Authenticity: Whatever your social media voice develops into, make sure it’s authentic to your brand. Trying to sound a certain way just to fit in can backfire. Taco Bell’s posts resonate with its audience because the company has been consistent and it feels authentic. If you look at the Huggies Twitter account, you’ll find plenty of Tweets that speak directly to the company’s main demographic, which is mothers. The Huggies social media voice is genuine and authentic to the brand.
4. Be Consistent With Your Topics
Sites like Twitter, Facebook and Google+ are very good for curating content from around the Web. Curating is a great way to help you build authority in your industry as well as provide a steady flow of social media posts that aren’t self-promotional. Finding blog posts, videos and other content to share with your audience sounds simple enough. However, many businesses go into it blindly without creating any type of guidelines as to what topics to share.
As a result, your Twitter Timeline can become filled with a random mix of Tweets about five or six completely different topics. Avoid that mistake by streamlining your efforts.
Pick a few topics that are closely related to your industry. For instance, the popular career site Monster.com Tweets articles about employee satisfaction, career advice and workplace culture. All of these are directly related to its brand. If Monster started adding Tweets about investing and personal finance, it would seem out of place. But by focusing on its main areas of expertise, Monster’s brand has become a go-to account for people’s interest in career related content on Twitter.
5. Post Regularly
Nothing will kill social media branding efforts more than irregular posting. If you’re only Tweeting once every few days or upload one new Instagram picture a month, you’re going to be forgotten. Shortened attention spans combined with rapidly growing social networks have made publishing more important than ever.
How frequently you post is going to depend on your audience. It will take some trial and error to find out what works best for your brand. One of the best ways to determine how often you should post is to use Sprout Social’s social media publishing and analytics tools. The publishing tools will allow you to schedule your posts to be sent out when your followers are most active. The analytics tools lets you gauge which posts are gaining the most engagement. You might find that your Tweets get more engagement on the days that you post 10 times as opposed to five. Always track and review your social media efforts.
6. Connect With Influencers
When companies like Nike and Starbucks post a new image on Instagram, they get a lot of engagement. That’s because they’re both established brands with millions of followers. If you’re just starting out or don’t have a huge audience, your content won’t get the same amount of attention since you’re relatively unknown.
A good way to achieve faster results and amplify your social media branding efforts is to build relationships with influencers. Influencer marketing allows you to piggyback off the audience that established people in your industry have already built. Since the influencer has already earned the trust and respect of their audience, getting a co-sign or mention from them carries a lot of weight.
Keep in mind that just having a lot of followers doesn’t qualify someone as an influencer. They should also possess these traits:
Don’t go into your marketing and social branding efforts alone. Start building relationships right away.
7. Don’t Waste Your Bio/Profile
Far too many brands make the mistake of letting their bio or profile section go to waste on social media. When you’re in the process of building your brand, letting people know who you are and what your company does is vital. Brands like Nike can have #justdoit in their profile because they’re a well-established company that almost everyone knows. Most companies don’t have that luxury.
Don’t fill your profile up with random hashtags or motivational quotes. Treat your bio like an elevator pitch. If you had to describe what your business does in one or two sentences at the most, what would it be? Here are a few examples of companies that use their bio sections effectively.
Pinterest clearly describes what the network is used for and mentions some of its most popular categories to give users an idea of the type of content people share on the site.
Office Shoes uses selling words like “leading” and “biggest” to convey that it’s the best in the industry.
Sprout Social’s profile spells out what Sprout is, who it’s for and even works as a lead generation tool by offering a free trial.
Take some time to go back and look over your profiles and bios across all of your social media channels. Are you making the best use out of them for your brand?
8. Promote Your Profiles
One challenge that a lot of businesses have with social media branding is building initial traction. Getting your first few followers can seem impossible when you don’t even know where to start. However, if you’ve been in business for a while or have other Web properties (website, blog or other social media accounts) then you should start there. Unless you tell your current customers, friends and family that you have a Snapchat or Periscope account, how will they know?
This might seem like an obvious tip, but many businesses take a passive approach to social media branding and wait for the results to happen. It simply doesn’t work that way. Promote your social media profiles whenever and wherever possible. Print it on your flyers and brochures, link to them from your website and cross-promote on your other social media channels. Get the word out.
9. Engage, Engage, Engage
If the only time you post on social media is to share content, it’s like having a conversation with yourself. As we alluded to earlier, in the beginning stages, your brand will be unknown. You can start building awareness for your brand on social media by engaging and interacting with other users. It’s as simple as replying to Tweets and commenting on Facebook and Instagram posts.
Some companies feel weird about replying from a company account. Don’t worry, it’s perfectly acceptable for companies to reply to each other on social media. In 2013, the Burger King Twitter account was hacked and people half-jokingly accused McDonald’s. The fast food chain was quick to let Burger King know that it had nothing to do with the hack. And then the MTV Pop Twitter account replied to the McDonald’s Tweet.18 Feb 13
WE EMPATHIZE WITH OUR @BURGERKINGCOUNTERPARTS. REST ASSURED, WE HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE HACKING.
The lesson here is that you shouldn’t be afraid to interact with other companies on social media, even if they’re your competitors. It’ll put you on their audience’s radar as well as theirs.
10. Claim Your Name
Trying to be active on eight or nine social media sites isn’t a good idea unless you have a social media team working full time for you. It’s best to choose two or three platforms to focus on, then you can expand as you start to grow. However, just because you’re only going to be active on a few doesn’t mean you can’t setup profiles on others.
By claiming your company name on major social media platforms, you’re securing them in the event that you ever decide to use them. This is also beneficial for SEO. When people Google your company name, there’s a good chance that some of the results on the first page will be from sites like Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. If someone else has claimed the Twitter handle for your company name and is actively using it, it could confuse your audience when the link shows up on Google.
You can use KnowEm to do a search for your company name across popular social networks and see if the username is available.
On a similar note, keep your usernames consistent. You may run into a situation where your company name is taken on a social network. When that happens, create a variation that you can use across any other social network that doesn’t have your company name available. Having a different username on each networking platform creates inconsistency, which hurts your branding efforts. Simply put, social media managementshouldn’t be a chore for you and your marketing team.
Pulling it All Together
As social media marketers, it’s easy to focus on the content you share and growing your number of followers. But take a second to think about the connection between social media and your brand first. Prioritizing social media branding will help you connect with your target audience, be more strategic with your efforts and get better results.