In the early days of social media, all brands had to do was be there. Competitions, pictures of cats, straightforward ads – because so few companies were using social to reach their customers, it wasn’t hard for content to generate clicks. Now, more than 15 years after the launch of Facebook, social media marketing is ubiquitous. With so many brands, so many platforms and a constant flood of content, it’s harder and harder to cut through.
That’s why brands need a strategic plan for social media brand building, not a scattershot approach. While many businesses focus on lead generation and driving traffic to their websites or other sales channels, that approach may be less successful in the content-heavy world of social media. Switching your focus to brand-building and engagement may not help you meet those immediate KPIs or increase revenue this month, but could help you boost your social media brand health – and grow your business long term.
Social media brand-building is what grows relationships between your brand and your customers, without specifically selling your product or service. This content may spark conversations with your customers, share information about an issue relevant to your audience, give insight into your brand purpose on SM or simply make people aware that you exist. In contrast, direct-response content is about prompting customers to do something – whether that’s a lead, a sale, an email address or a click through to your website.
Analysis shows that companies should be spending around 60% of their marketing budget on brand-building, and 40% on direct-response work. Unfortunately, the reality is that most companies devote 80% or more to immediate, direct-response work.
The proof is in the ROI
While the results of direct-response content may be easier to measure in the short term, both elements should be part of your social media strategy. They may not be quite as simple to measure or track, but the benefits of SM brand building grow over time, with increased awareness, positive sentiment and trust in your brand potentially leading to increased sales.
A recent Facebook study looked at the difference in results between direct-response (or lower funnel) content, and brand-building (or upper funnel) work. The findings showed that while both were important, brand-building was a stronger driver of sales for some types of business – particularly retail and eCommerce. In others, direct-response and brand-building content had similar ROI results over time.
The results also showed that the cost per impression for brand-building content was far lower than that of direct-response marketing. This may be because brand-building content appeals to a broader audience, drawing in more potential customers over time, while direct-response marketing tends to target a smaller audience segment.
Because social media brand building doesn’t necessarily have a direct, measurable effect on sales or leads, we need another way to track its impact. That’s where social media brand health comes in.
‘Brand health’ isn’t a single metric, but a collection of data points that, put together, give you a cohesive picture of how your brand is performing. Brand awareness, reputation, share of voice, customer satisfaction and customer sentiment all factor in. After all, likes and shares only tell you that people are viewing your content – not how they feel about your brand.
In the past, measuring your brand health on social media hasn’t been easy, but with sophisticated social analytics tools and social media sentiment analysis now available, it’s possible to get a real insight into how you’re performing.
If you spend at least some of your time focusing on boosting the elements of brand health rather than instant sales results, it could make all the difference.
Want to cement your brand in customers’ minds? Be consistent. If your social media presence is all over the place, your audience won’t be able to build a lasting impression of what your brand stands for.
That’s not to say that every post should be identical, just that it’s important to use your logo and brand colours across different posts and channels. Even more importantly, develop a strong brand voice and stick to it – if you swing wildly between formal and casual or serious and jokey, you’ll just confuse your audience.
After spending a decade or more on various platforms, most social media users are pretty savvy. They can tell right away if you’re trying to sell them something and will scroll right on past if they’re not interested. That’s why social media brand-building needs to focus on non-sales content – that doesn’t push the audience to do anything.
Depending on your brand, that could mean sharing bios of your team or shots of your product being made, asking your social followers questions, sharing tips or tricks relevant to your industry or even sharing hilarious (and vaguely relevant) memes. It’s about keeping your brand in customers’ minds and posting positive content, without the hard sell.
Post frequency can be tricky. Post too often, and you might just irritate your audience. On the other hand, posting infrequently can be dangerous too – the same study shows that people need to see something 2-4 times on social media to purchase it and that 17% of people had unfollowed a brand because it hardly ever posted content.
The key is to have a plan for regular posting, so you’re not simply adding content when it occurs to you or getting carried away and posting far too often.
It sounds too obvious to mention, but your content needs to be relevant and interesting if you want it to build your brand. Boring, repetitive, irrelevant content won’t necessarily offend your audience – it will just make them unfollow or ignore you, which is almost worse.
You should know your customers well, so tailor your posts and keep them fresh. Switch between photos, text posts and video – change the content so you’re not always posting product shots or behind-the-scenes video, and pay attention to the types of post that get the most traction.
One of the best things about social media is that they let you communicate with your customers directly, in real-time. Use this to your advantage and stay connected on your chosen social channels – respond to customer queries as quickly as you can, reply to comments if you need to and generally make it clear that you’re active on social media.
This can help you build real relationships with your customer base, and give them a positive experience with your brand.
Social media brand building isn’t something you just tick off your list. It’s an ongoing process that requires solid strategy and a consistent approach. Like all social media marketing, it needs to be carefully tracked and measured so you can see the results over time. That’s where Zavy comes in.
Our raft of social analytics tools gives you serious insight into your brand performance, measuring everything from share of voice to sentiment to how your brand is performing against the competition. We give you a clear, accurate, big-picture look at how your brand progresses over time. If you’re working on building your brand on social, it’s the best way to see your hard work in action.
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