By: Aasha Collins, Social Media Manager at The Tylt
Within the past year, global social media users grew from 288 million to 3.48 billion, which means that nearly half (45 percent) of the world’s population is now active on social media. As people continue to flock to these platforms to experience and share their favorite content, brands need to to find and connect with their audiences effectively, otherwise, they risk being lost in the shuffle.
Read on for five winning tips to make your brand stand out on social media.
Establish a Personalized Brand Voice One of the key elements to creating a winning social media strategy is to ensure that your brand’s voice shines through. A brand’s voice on social should be an extension of the overall brand voice and reflect its vibe and personality. Is the brand informative or entertaining? Sarcastic or playful? Formal or informal? Now, that all depends on your brand guidelines, what type of market you operate in, and who the audiences are. If a brand sells fast food, the brand’s tone may be more casual and light-hearted. If a brand specializes in enterprise software, the voice may sound more professional and informative.
Before establishing what your brand’s tone is, it’s important to understand how you want your audience to perceive your business. The most successful brands on social media that captivate and engage audiences all have one thing in common: they serve up relatable content that their audiences look forward to viewing. If your audience connects with your brand’s personality, it increases your chances in building trust, and as a result, can lead to increased advocacy from your followers.
Social media content sharing is also a huge opportunity for brands to gain exposure. According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family over any other type of advertising. WebFX notes that 72 percent of brand followers are more likely to make a future purchase from a brand that they follow and engage with on social.
The Power of Creativity There is an unlimited amount of creative opportunities your brand can seize to create long-lasting impressions and facilitate meaningful discussions on social media. With Instagram’s recently enhanced Explore feature, brands are expanding their social media strategies to get more users to view and engage with their content. Taking advantage of new features within platforms like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook can have a positive impact on your social media strategy by exposing the brand to different audiences and content formats.
With over 400 million active daily users on Instagram Stories, brands are also experimenting with features like polling and Q&As to engage followers and crowdsource for feedback. These features help brands to be creative and spark conversation with their followers. The Q&A feature, in particular, can be a powerful tool for brands and influencers who want to communicate in a more personalized way, gather feedback on a topic or product, and further show a commitment to addressing the questions and concerns of their communities. Try using Instagram Stories to drive interest in a campaign or to generate discussion around topical events or news. Another useful result of polling your audience on social is that your brand may see an uptick in user-generated content as followers weigh in on debates. This is beneficial because user-generated content, like polling results, quotes or memes, can help brands understand audiences better, improves engagement, and generate content that can be used for future marketing campaigns. Brands can also leverage Instagram Stories to create shareable content and engage with new audiences. If your content is targeted at the right audience, it can increase your chances in having followers re-post your content on their Stories feed. As a result, your brand can connect with new audiences it may not have considered targeting before.
Instagram Stories can also further showcase your brand’s personality. With features available such as moving graphics, emojis and different text overlay options, brands can get creative and test new approaches and styles before determining what resonates best with their audience. Some brands may show off their bright personalities by using colorful text overlay while others may show off their playful personality by posting polls that ask their audience humorous questions.
Within Instagram Stories, several brands are using the highlight feature because it allows their audience to quickly discover and view their content over and over again. By using this feature, your brand can extend the shelf life of existing content and categorize it for better user experience. Some companies may categorize different stories they have posted so users can quickly find the content they are searching for. For example, highlight stories can be separated by topics such as FAQ’s, new product launches, or partner collaborations.
With the increased desire to view video content, IGTV has become a popular feature among brands. IGTV allows brands to create personalized channels that their audiences can subscribe to. According to Vimeo, 80% of consumers would rather watch live video from a brand than read a blog, and 82% prefer live video from a brand to social posts. This is why it is important to try different video channels on social to engage and spark conversations with your audience.
The Live feature on Instagram and Facebook is another way to increase engagement and interact with fans and followers. For example, retailers may opt to host a Live stream to conduct live FAQ ahead of, or after a product launch. Brands can also use Live to share experiences at conferences, stream how-to tutorials, give advice, show what the brand culture is like, or just to say hi to the community.
Offer a Healthy Mix of Content Brands that have the highest engagement rates on social media tend to have a healthy mix of content and don’t inundate their following with promotional material. Solely posting promotional content is a sure fire way to turn off your followers and can lead to a decrease in engagement rates.
So, how do you know when to post? And how do you know the type of content that will produce the winning result?
Every social media expert has their own rule for when and how to strike a balance in the content mix. Rather than drawing a strict line between promotional and other content, brands should create a content mix that varies between entertaining, educational, and shareable – based on what their audience cares about.
While user behavior is always evolving, the best times to post content that people engage with differs on each platform. Sprout Social notes that the best times to post to Facebook is on Wednesday at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m, as these times produce the highest level of engagement. For Instagram, the time people engage with video content the most is Friday at 9 a.m. For Twitter, the highest engagement periods are on Wednesday at 9 a.m. and Friday at 9 a.m.
It isn’t enough to know when the best time to post content is. It is also important to have a diverse content strategy in place to help keep your followers interested and connected. Try adding personality to your content mix so your audience can learn more about your brand and its employees. For example, posting an employee spotlight post across your brand’s social channels that recognize the employee of the month, or an employee on their birthday can humanize your brand.
Social media isn’t all about converting sales. It’s about interacting with your brand’s audience and creating long-lasting impressions. With that said, your brand should actively follow social trends and identify how to be involved in a conversation. Most importantly, your brand should also look to add value to conversations with followers. If your brand can elevate the conversation about a topic that appeals to your audience, followers will pay attention.
Create Content that is Highly Shareable. Have you ever wondered how a brand created a specific piece of content that went viral on social media? That brand tapped into its audience interests and used that information to create highly shareable content. Now, how can your brand do that?
People want to find the content they are interested in and relate to. A few types of content that tend to be widely shared across different social media channels include inspirational posts, quote cards, GIFs, and memes. Posts that are informative, humorous or emotionally uplifting also tend to be highly shareable. According to Psychology Today, consumers use emotions vs. information, to evaluate brands on social media. Positive and uplifting emotions can have a particularly strong impact on consumer loyalty and advocacy.
After you tap into the topics your audience is interested in, it is important that you make it easy for your audience to share the content with their friends and family members. You can accomplish this by encouraging followers to share content by providing an incentive. For example, brands can bring out the competitive nature in their followers by providing a free prize to the 100th or 1,000th follower to share a post by adding a specific hashtag. This can result in an increase in followers and engaged audiences. Brands can also create content that focuses on an individual person. This level of personalization makes people feel like they have been seen and heard by the brands they interact with. If your brand can develop a piece of content that accurately appeals to a specific audience, it is more likely to be shared.
Developing a Successful Influencer Strategy. Before hiring an influencer, it is critical to find the right individual who is relevant to the brand and can forge a connection with your audience back to your brand. If an influencer does not have this type of connection to your brand, you may risk paying for a strategy that will not produce the desired results.
Influencer marketing campaigns can be a great strategy for brands who want to release a new product, target a certain audience, generate buzz or drive traffic to their site. Although there are several benefits to running and managing influencer campaigns, the ultimate challenge is making sure conversations and engagement with your brand don’t fizzle out after the campaign ends. This is why it is essential to work with an influencer who will create a lasting impact for your brand.
Well established brands like Adidas and Zara work with influencers to drive traffic and increase sales through social media. Over the past year, there has been a shift from consumer interest in macro to micro-influencers — people who may have an influence in a particular focused area, and have a highly targeted following. Macro-influencers, which large name brands work with to carry out specific campaigns, can come with a hefty price tag. The rise of micro-influencers makes influencer strategy more accessible for different size companies. According to HubSpot, on average, micro-influencers, receive 0.10% higher engagement rates than macro influencers. This suggests micro-influencers, while smaller are potentially mightier for your brand because they have dedicated followings that will gain exposure to your content.