When I originally sat down to write this article, I had a working title of “Why Branding Matters to Social Media,” but after about 10 minutes I realized that title was completely wrong. It’s not branding that matters to social media – the important question is how social media matters to branding.
Building your brand is one of the most important things that you can do for your company. And considering that research shows that 22% of Americans use some social media platform at least once a day, it is one of the best ways that you can build a solid foundation for your brand. In addition to being extremely popular among the masses, social media also gives you the ability to contact your customers directly and build relationships with them.
I’ll give you an example. I was trying to check into a flight on my phone for a trip I was taking with Delta, but I was having a lot of problems. I called their customer service line, but the wait was over 40 minutes, which greatly annoyed me. But then I thought, “Wait. I’m a social media person. I know the value in being able to connect with customers through social media.”
So, I decided to try my luck and tweet Delta about my problems, not really thinking I would hear back from them. They quickly proved me wrong, and tweeted me back within 2 minutes and had the whole thing resolved in 10. Last year Delta said they were “raising the bar on flying,” but they’ve also raised the bar on customer service, which just builds on their brand and their approval rating for their customer, and that tends to make repeat customers.
What Is Branding?
Don’t believe the buzz that says that branding is some hot, new thing. Not true. Branding has been around for a long time. I mean, we’ve been branding livestock for centuries. If you think about it, it’s not that different today. Sure, you aren’t sticking hot metal to the hide of cattle, but you are trying to make yourself identifiable.
Unfortunately, a lot of people mistake marketing and branding to be the same thing, but they are actually pretty different. First and foremost, your branding initiatives should precede any marketing that your company does. Sure, marketing works to contribute to your brand, but before you can start telling your customers to buy your products or services, you first need to tell them who you are. Your brand should be what people think of when they think of your company, whether that is helpful – like Delta now is to me – or the blue box when you think of Tiffany’s.
Why Is Branding So Important?
Whether you realize it or not, every single thing that your company does, both in the physical realm and online, is a representation of your brand. From the employees you hire, to the colors that you use on your business cards, it all comes back to your brand.
As we’ve already stated, your brand is what people are going to remember you by and what is going to make loyal customers out of them. That’s why it’s so important that you make sure you have an established identity and brand. Think about your company. What do you want people to think of when they hear your name? Every choice you make needs to come back to that question.
Why Does Social Media Matter to Branding?
Social media has completely changed the way that we connect and communicate with people over the past two decades. Today, over 2.1 billion people have social media accounts. With all those people using social media, you now have the ability to connect with more people, and people you otherwise probably wouldn’t have found.
In addition to the sheer amount of people that social media open up to you, they also give you an outlet. Using social media is a great way that you can develop your brand identity and establish yourself in your industry. But how exactly can you use social media to help build your brand? Here are three steps to help you do so.
- Pick Platforms That Work with Your Brand
There are a ton of different social media platforms out there. In addition to your big ones – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, and Pinterest – you have Snapchat, YouTube, Myspace, Bebo, Friendster, Xing, Tumblr, Vine, Delicious, Flickr, Path, and a ton more.
Just because there are so many social media networks out there, it doesn’t mean that you have to use them all, or that you should. Using all of those would take a full time social media staff, which, unless you are a huge corporation, you probably don’t have the resources for. At the same time, most of them probably wouldn’t make sense for your brand anyway.
Let’s use Visiture as an example – we are a search marketing company, and our social media goal is to use our platforms as our voice to inform our audience and show our brand identity. We use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, but we have no use, really, for Pinterest.
Now, compare that to one of our clients which is an eCommerce site that sells clothing. Pinterest is huge for them, but LinkedIn doesn’t work for their company. It all depends on your brand and what you are trying to accomplish. Here is a breakdown of the big social media platforms to see which ones fit best into your social media strategy.
Facebook: If there is one social media site that works for 99.9% of companies, it is Facebook. Facebook is the giant in the social media sphere, and that doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon. It is the world’s largest social media network that boasts over 1.4 billion members and an annual revenue of more than $12 billion. It is a great platform to use because of the variety of posts that you can share, and because of the heterogeneous user base.
Twitter: Twitter is another extremely popular social media site that is also extremely simple and fun to use. With over 300 million active users, it’s easy to find people out there to connect with. Messages on Twitter are limited to 140 characters for now, so at times it can be difficult to come up with a shortened version of your message, but it is plenty of space to get your point across.
Instagram: Instagram is somewhat of an up-and-coming social media site for business and, especially, eCommerce sites. It is a photo sharing network that allows you to post pictures to engage with your audience. In addition, the $1 billion dollar acquisition by Facebook now allows companies to advertise on Instagram, which is relatively new, but showing great results.
Google+: Google+ was released in 2011, and, after a huge debut, it was quickly abandoned as being another Facebook copycat. So, Google had to make some changes and, in 2015, it rolled out a new platform that put more significance on the communities within Google+.
Today, the network is an impressive combination of both Facebook and Twitter, with the power of Google behind it. You can add your content, highlight different topics, and separate your contacts into your circles and communities. Although some claim that Google+ still isn’t as popular as it could be, it has a lot of members and is extremely popular in the tech industry.
LinkedIn: If you are looking for a professional social media network, then look no further. LinkedIn is really the only big network that is geared toward business. It is a networking site that helps you to connect with your customers, employees, other businesses, and more.
Pinterest: Another huge platform that has really shown its worth in the past year or two is Pinterest. With over 10 million monthly visits, it’s one of the most visually enticing platforms out there, and it is a huge player in the eCommerce world. With the addition of the “buy” button, Pinterest is becoming more and more important for social shopping.
- Push Content That Means Something
After you have decided which platforms work best with your brand, it’s time to put them to use and, to do so, you need to start pushing out content. You have to always remember that it is more important to give your audience content that they want to read and take in, rather than just pushing out content for the sake of it. You also have to keep in mind your brand image at all times. Continue to ask yourself how you want people to think of you. If your content isn’t promoting that, then you are doing it wrong.
- Stick with It
Perhaps the most important piece of advice that I could give you when trying to build your brand with social media is to stick with it. I can guarantee you that it isn’t going to happen overnight. It takes time and dedication. If you consistently promote your brand day in and day out, it is going to really pay off for you.
Give it some time and if, after a few months, you aren’t seeing the results that you want, maybe it’s time to reevaluate what you are doing. It all comes back to your brand identity and whether you are in line with the brand you have established. If you are, then results will come with patience.