5 actionable strategies for social media branding
1. Cover your basics
We won’t go into the minute details of a basic branding, but what you do want to make sure is that you have is a consistent logo, color palette, bio, boilerplate and handle. Some companies like to change logo styling slightly between networks depending on how small the allotted photo space is and the interests of those specific audiences. Whichever you choose, the most important thing is to ensure your profiles have a common thread that people will recognize as your brand. In the above example, Burt’s Bees uses the same logo for both Facebook and Twitter. Their banners are also the same. It isn’t always necessary for the two banners to be the same on every network, but this approach succeeds because even the colors in the banners reflect those in the logo. You could implement this with unique banner designs by retaining a recognizable brand color palette, even if the text or the imagery in the design changes from one network to another. Since Facebook allows you to create Video Cover Photos, you could also explore animating your standard brand banner—think video views!
Once you’ve got the basics of branding your social profiles down, then you’re able to move on to more intermediate strategies. Even your basic branding strategy should be audited and updated quarterly. These next four strategies are not one-and-done deals. Your audience craves new content, and your brand should evolve alongside that, especially on social media. There also may be times where you can use your branding basics to your advantage. Celebrating a hashtag holiday or the launch of a campaign could be a significant time for this! Branding your social media presence takes time and, like your posting schedule, will need consistency, forward thinking and focus to implement.
• Action steps
• Perform a social media audit across all of your accounts
• Ensure logos, banners, bios, posting cadences and handles are consistent with your brand guidelines, and audit regularly.
• Make sure you’re posting on a consistent schedule consistently and that your content aligns with the look and feel of the branding you’ve established.
2. Extend your visual branding
So now that you have a consistent visual brand across network accounts, it’s time to enhance that even further. What does that mean? It means ensuring you have the same colors and fonts reflected in your images, graphics and videos. When someone visits your Instagram page, is the filter or pop of color immediately apparent to them? When a video is published, are the overlay text fonts similar to those that you use for your blog post’s featured image?
Over time, your customers will see the consistency in posts and begin to recognize when a post is from you without seeing your brand’s logo or social media handle. This type of brand recognition is the goal for your social media branding efforts.
I know Anthropologie for their pastel and earthy colors. The general brand feeling is light and airy, which carries into their clothing. And though they may deviate from that depending on the season, the consistency carries into their Instagram Stories. A single story has a clear beginning and end in terms of color and design. The story set in the above example uses a specific font style and design approach throughout the story. Stories like this help reinforce brand identity with these recognizable elements, and as the brand’s followers see these types of Stories over time, they’ll be able to recognize the brand’s unique approach to visuals even without checking the logo or brand name at the top.
• Write out your visual brand guide to include fonts, their uses and colors. For example, at Sprout, we define brand elements like typography and color and outline their uses on a visual style guide.
• Create graphic templates for the same type of announcement (e.g. recent product announcement has a similar font, color and design)
• Create photos and videos that keep your brand’s aesthetic and color choices in mind. The posts should flow seamlessly into each other.
3. Develop your marketing personas
Your marketing personas will vary between the networks. Audiences on TikTok are younger than audiences on Facebook. This is the reality, and if you use the same content across both networks, it’s possible that it won’t resonate the same way. It’s best to create multiple personas for your own marketing efforts.
Start with the company’s customer base and then map them to the different social media networks you use. For example, your Twitter account could target millennial parents while your Instagram account targets small business owners. Having these established personas per network helps you narrow down your content ideas and maybe even adjust your voice.
Chipotle uses memes on their Instagram account to connect to that specific type of customer. They’re tongue-in-cheek memes that usually bring a laugh to those familiar with them. With each meme posted, you come to expect another meme, which establishes a certain brand awareness of Chipotle on Instagram.
• Create multiple marketing personas and assign the social media networks that match
• Examine your networks’ different demographics or set up listening queries if you need to get to know your audience
• Create content to match the personas
4. Establish your brand voice & tone
After visuals, captions and related copy are the next important piece of branding your social media posts. Company social media accounts have some personality. For some, it’s sarcastic or snarky and for others, it’s informative. You might already have a brand voice established for your other marketing focuses. Extending that to social media, and cultivating a specific approach by social platform, is highly recommended.
A voice and tone guide should include details like brand persona, company catchphrases, personality traits and vocabulary. The smallest details, like whether you use the term “clients” or “customers” will help you keep your writing consistent. If you have multiple people managing your accounts, having a guide to reference keeps your team aligned so it doesn’t seem like your company is writing from disparate perspectives.
MailChimp’s style guide covers several areas, including social media and newsletters. It’s easy to navigate and is direct in its approach and examples. While your own guide may only be for internal use, having it accessible to everyone in the company allows for people to refer to it when writing anything from marketing copy to sales emails. Everyone agrees and that cuts down on repetitive work.
• Fully develop and write out your voice and tone guide. Better yet, use social media listening to validate some of your writing style decisions.
• Audit your own social media posts to see where you can improve in voice and tone
• Share the guide and education teams that write copy. Ensure that your social team, including customer support, is writing recent posts with this voice and tone guide.
5. Create multiple accounts for different areas of focus
If your company is large enough or has a diverse set of products and/or services, it’s sometimes best to have multiple accounts. The advantages of having these original accounts include being able to hyper-focus your branding, cater to a specific audience and serve up relevant content.
Some unique ways you can approach this include:
• An account per location: This is most popular on Facebook because it offers a location feature for Pages (CarMax has locations set up on Facebook)
• Separate marketing and customer service Twitter accounts for those that receive a high number of inquiries
• Accounts by an audience such as Nike for every sport they work with
• A mascot account like some popular sports teams have
• Department-specific accounts for higher education
GEICO maintains several accounts that address unique areas of the company’s endeavors. With their primary account, they highlight corporate responsibility and general announcements. With the Gecko account, the voice is from the mascot and photos always include it. The GEICO Racing account is solely focused on their sponsored NASCAR team and race updates.
• Look at your offerings and see where it would be best to divide up focus
• For each account, repeat your branding steps to ensure consistency across them all. For example, one location may want to be a little more sarcastic than another to fit its customer profile.
• Use a service like Sprout to maintain multiple accounts under one ownership