At Ammunition, we’ve worked to develop deep vertical focus in home & building products, and in higher education. This has given us unique insights into how brands in these spaces best utilize marketing and advertising tools, and for the purposes of this article: social media.
One of my favorite projects to conduct with a new client is an organic social media audit. We work to gain a pulse on what social channels the brand is using, what engagement looks like, what audiences they are speaking to, their current engagement metrics, and opportunities to enhance the brand’s presence and get the best performance from their social media investment. After doing a dozen or so of these the past year or so, I thought I’d share some key takeaways and insights that have repeatedly emerged, and help you use them to inform your brand’s social media strategy.
1. EACH SOCIAL CHANNEL SHOULD HAVE A CLEARLY DEFINED ROLE
We cannot treat our approach to social media channels like peanut butter, spreading the same content across each platform. Think about the way that you engage with social media platforms in your own life. For example, you would never visit Twitter to look at the photos your sister shared from Thanksgiving or go to Instagram to debate the latest news headlines. Platforms were designed to have a specific role in presenting creative and sharing content in a unique way. When we develop a social media strategy for our clients, we like to identify content categories that align with the brand’s offering to their target audiences. For the sake of a good example here, let’s say they are: 1) to inspire, 2) to highlight product benefits, 3) to share news and events, and 4) to build a reputation as a leader in the space. We then use this segmentation to work to align specific categories to each channel, mapping to understand how each topic would be used to post content across categories. Not only does this help to ensure that content varies with each post but it also gives each channel a specific purpose.
2. CROSS-PLATFORM CREATIVE NEEDS AN “ON BRAND” LOOK AND FEEL
Almost all brands have a brand guidelines document that is used to inform creative for media campaigns, websites, collateral, etc. However, when it comes to social media, we tend to find one of two things to be true.
- Repetitive content, essentially showing photo after photo of product.
- Randomly selected content that doesn’t reflect the brand’s tone, but rather feels like images downloaded from other social channels and repurposed.
Our goal is always to develop a Social Media Playbook, used to outline brand guidelines specific to social media platforms. The playbook includes similar do’s and don’ts of logo treatments, photography usage, iconography styles, infographic design, etc. And more importantly, a brand aesthetic that makes content that is posted on those channels feel “ownable” to the brand. The goal is to build a signature look and feel for the brand that gives it presence within your followers’ social feed. When you identify your brand’s look, engagement increases and follower counts grow.
3. CONTENT SHOULD BE DEVELOPED TO ENGAGE SPECIFIC TARGET AUDIENCES
Similar to how we work to define a unique role for how each channel provides value to followers, we like to understand who is engaging with the brand on each platform to personalize how content is delivered. Let’s jump back into a real-life example. A consumer is probably not visiting your Twitter profile in order to gain design inspiration for their next home project, that content is much better served through a visual platform like Instagram or Facebook. Whereas a contractor is most likely not following your Instagram account in order to sign up for your next training session or CEU accreditation webinar. When we understand the user base engaging with the brand on each platform, we can tailor content to their specific needs ensuring we are constantly providing value.
4. BRAND NEEDS TO DEVELOP A UNIQUE PERSONALITY OR POINT OF VIEW
It’s often a challenge for brands to find a point of view with their social media presence strategically but it’s necessary in order to give your audience a reason to follow your brand. When we are engaged to build this strategy for a client, we like to ask, “If your brand were a celebrity, who would you be and why?” This challenges the brand to understand what they stand for, the values they want to ensure come through, and the type of personality they want to convey to their followers. A point of view humanizes the brand making content more authentic and less salesy. From there, we are able to craft a personalized messaging strategy for all social media posts that align with who the brand is and what makes them special.
5. CONTENT SHOULD BE POSTED ON A CONSISTENT BASIS
We’ve all been there. The behavior is inherent and it exists on our own personal social channels; tons of photos from a family vacation with rich and meaningful descriptions of who was there, where you went, and what you did, then, nothing for weeks. As a brand, we have a responsibility to provide meaningful content to our followers on a regular basis. By developing a monthly content calendar, you create a way to hold yourself responsible for consistent posting and challenge yourself to continuously identify content opportunities that increase brand awareness, educate potential customers, and build brand affinity with followers.
In short, there is a creative opportunity to enhance your brand across the social media platforms you manage on a day to day basis. When you are able to implement an informed social media strategy, it not only helps guide content towards a defined goal but can increase channel engagement, drive more traffic to your website, and build your follower base. And in turn, drive awareness and engagement that, if managed correctly, will result in sales.