How To Build a Strong Brand on Social Media in 2020
A complete guide including trends, tactics, platforms, and what to post
Social media users are sick of click-baiting ads and the content of brands and people that they don’t know.
Building a strong brand is, without doubt, the new (and lasting) way of succeeding in business.
No matter if you are branding yourself as a coach, trainer, consultant, writer, or building a brand around a product or service that you are selling, in both cases, it’s similarly essential.
People who consider buying from you want to relate to you and your products.
And the best, most effective (and probably also most cost-efficient) way to ensure that people feel close to you is branding.
Just think about huge brands like Adidas, Nike or Coca Cola — we feel as if we know them intimately.
We know what they stand for, what they sell, which values they communicate, which stories they tell.
Whenever we see ads for those brands, it feels relatable because we already have a particular image of the company and its products. In most cases, a positive one that is helping us in making buying decisions.
Nowadays, if you are starting a business, you will face oversaturation in most markets.
No matter if you want to sell gym wear, fancy water bottles, a social media service, or remarkable phone cases — there is enough of all of these things.
And still, new brands and products are arising every day.
However, what’s interesting is that some of them manage to succeed.
And in most cases, the single reason for their success is branding.
They thrive in giving us a certain feeling, in conveying a particular lifestyle that we admire.
Just as Simon Sinek explains through his Golden Circle:
People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. And that’s why some brands and companies succeed, while others don’t.
Through branding, you can build longlasting relationships and a community of raving fans.
Building a brand is why most people and businesses are using social media.
They want to strengthen their brand and make potential customers aware of their products or services.
However, building brand awareness doesn’t stand on its own.
Having a strong brand leads to more sales and revenue, even if that’s not the number #1 goal you are pursuing on social media.
Why social media users are on the platforms:
Most people are on social media to stay in touch with their friends and families or to stay up to date on news and events.
The majority of social media users want to be entertained and informed.
That’s why the harsh advertising of products doesn’t work anymore.
People want to feel connected. They want to feel as if they were part of a community, of something bigger than themselves.
That’s why branding is such a powerful tool.
Through branding, you can give your customers something that they can rely on and relate to.
They will feel as if they are part of a community and a lifestyle that is represented by your brand. That’s precisely how you win fans and customers.
Branding, no matter if it’s personal branding or the brand of a company or product, gives people connection.
It gives them something to rely on.
A strong brand triggers specific emotions and feelings.
The clearer you are on your target group and your favorite clients, the easier it will be to build a brand that fits their needs and wants.
Why should you even bother building a brand on social media?
Because that’s where people are.
For most businesses, I can’t think of any reason why they should not be on social media and grow their brands.
Through social media marketing, you can not only build a strong reputation, but you can build relationships with your customers.
You can use various platforms to spread your message and reach people who feel attracted to you or your business.
By communicating your brand and its values, you can stay at the top of your customers’ minds and be there when essential buying decisions are made.
We are living in the era of social media, and there is no way of building a strong, successful brand without being present on some of the biggest platforms.
Running old-school ads on TV or going for billboards might give you visibility. However, there is no way of building deep connections with your ideal customers through this type of advertising.
Think Outside the Box — An Example for Successful Social Media Campaigns
Even though new platforms and chances are still arising, the social media landscape, in general, is pretty oversaturated.
Compared to five years ago, people know what ads are, and they quickly get annoyed by it.
Even though social networks are built in a way that keeps us hooked for as long as possible, our attention span is concise.
According to studies, people’s attention span on social media is less than seven seconds.
Thus, it is more important than ever before to create creative and remarkable campaigns and strategies instead of harsh advertising.
One example of such a campaign that went viral around 2006 is Will it blend.
The company Blendtec is selling nothing more than blenders.
Yet, through their social media campaign, they managed to increase their sales by 700%.
Partly because of the absurdity, the videos went viral on YouTube and other social networks.
What they did was blending different items to check whether their blender was capable of doing so or not. People could wish for items through comments, and the company did its best to try out any of those wishes.
Some of the examples are iPhones, tennis shoes, and many more.
The 5 P’s of a Successful Social Media Strategy
Plan — Create a strategy and set goals
Building a successful brand on social media is no coincidence.
It might come with much testing, yet, proper planning is essential for succeeding.
Creating a social media strategy is no science; however, it needs to be done according to some rules.
One of the biggest mistakes brands do when they start using social media is to begin without any plans or goals. They post some pictures and videos in the hope that their ideal customers would see it.
If you want to take social media branding seriously, you need some lead time before actually getting started.
Before posting anything, get clear about the following questions:
- What are your main goals on social media? What are you trying to achieve?
- How much time (and/or money) are you willing to invest in your social media marketing?
- Whom do you want to attract through your channels?
- What is the purpose of your social media marketing? Do you want to establish your brand, sell products, build a community, or something else?
- Who is going to create your content? How often are you going to create content?
- Which channels do you want to tackle?
- Who is your target group on social media?
Before having clear answers to these questions, it doesn’t make any sense to plan further ahead.
First, get clear about what you want to achieve, then start thinking about the rest.
Produce — Tell stories that resonate with your audience
Once you crafted a plan and got clear about your social media goals, it comes down to producing valuable content.
Every piece of content that you produce should serve some purpose.
Any picture, video, or text you share with your audience should help you in reaching your social media goals.
Producing your content in batches, meaning that you create lots of content at once, is the most efficient way to go.
Make sure to have a particular routine within your content so that you can adequately produce it once in a while.
Publish — Decide on the platform and post at the right time
Once your content is ready, it needs to be published. Even if that sounds straightforward, it requires some planning as well.
For example, you should take care of the exact posting time you want to target.
Additionally, you need to decide whether you publish your content manually or if you want to use social media planning and scheduling tools.
Hootsuite, Later, Planoly, Unum, or the Facebook Creator are just a few of the tools you can use for your social media marketing. Most of those even have a free version or at least a trial period.
Promote — Use your existing community and ads
Creating excellent content is sweet, yet if no one sees it, it doesn’t serve.
To ensure that you reach your social media goals, you need to find ways of promoting your content.
The easiest and most cost-efficient way to do so is to use your existing community (if you have one).
For example, build an email list through which you can directly contact those who are interested in your brand and business.
Another way is to make your money work and invest in ads.
If your main goal is to build brand reputation, you might reach quite a lot of people by investing little money. However, if you’re aiming to sell products through your ads, it might get costly, depending on the specifics of your product.
Prove — Compare benchmarks and your KPI’s
Social media marketing needs proof.
Through social media, it is easier than ever before to measure the outcome of your efforts.
Even if it might sometimes be tricky to interpret numbers, you can easily set target numbers and check if you’ve reached them.
Social Media Trends for 2020
Video is king
This trend was already valid for 2019, but the demand for video is still increasing.
Nice, fake Instagram pictures annoy users; they want to see real-life video content.
Your customers want to see you in action.
People buy from people.
That’s why it is so crucial that you show the people behind your brand.
Personal branding is more important than ever before, and video is an essential part of it.
Through video content, you can transfer so much more emotions than through simple images or even text.
If you want to build relationships, trust, and a lasting brand on social media, you need to get used to creating videos.
Live, live, live
As stated above, people don’t want to see fake images anymore.
Instead, they want to feel as if they are part of your journey. That’s why live streaming is steadily increasing, just as video content in general.
The biggest social platforms make live streaming so easy that everyone can quickly get started.
All you need is your phone, and you can comfortably live stream from anywhere in the world.
Giving insights into your brand’s daily business and what your employees are doing throughout the day is a great way to build relationships through live streaming.
If you are a coach, trainer, or consultant, you can use live streams to educate your community on specific topics and schedule the sessions, just like a workshop or live training.
If you are planning your live streams, make sure to communicate the exact timing, so that your community can get excited and prepare themselves to watch your content.
Since Instagram introduced the story feature, the fame of it increased dramatically.
The average time users spend on Instagram has increased since the introduction of the story feature.
Currently, stories are getting much more engagement and are watched much longer than feed postings.
Stories are more personal, creative, and flexible to create. In comparison to feed postings, stories don’t need to be perfectly beautiful, but rather authentic.
Luckily, you can also schedule story postings and plan them ahead.
What works well in stories are repetitive formats as the community gets used to them and likes to see the same formats over and over again.
Instead of stressing over content creation, figure out what your community likes to see and produce more of it.
Micro- and Nano-influencers
Influencer marketing is not dead.
Yet it is changing.
While the vast, million-follower influencers are losing trust because of lacking authenticity and credibility, micro-influencers and nano-influencers are rising.
Nano-influencers are usually those with approximately 1,000 to 5,000 followers, while micro-influencers can have up to 50,000 or even more followers.
There are no hard borders when it comes to these definitions, yet here’s a summary:
People can relate much more to smaller influencers as they feel connected.
The million-dollar, glamorous lifestyle is not relatable for most people, thus they also hardly trust big influencers anymore.
Instead, users want to watch people who seem to be just like themselves.
By being down to earth and not only showing a perfect lifestyle but also behind the scenes, small influencers can build strong relationships with their community and empower more sales if they engage in brand cooperations.
Realtime and personal
All the trends mentioned above can be summed up by two words: realtime and personal.
People don’t want to watch a perfect, fake world anymore.
They want relatability.
The more personal you are, the more behind the scenes content you share, the more your community will be bound to you and your brand.
Stop chasing perfection, instead be real and authentic.
Show what you are doing, what your brand is doing.
Share your struggles and successes.
That’s how you build lasting relationships and win customers.
Even if that might not seem like a new trend, on platforms like Instagram, GIFs are still growing in popularity.
It’s pretty easy to create creative GIFs of your brand and even of your products, and people love it.
If you can motivate your community to use your GIFs in their own stories, you will get free advertisement.
GIFs will also make your postings unique and outstanding.
If you have a few specific GIFs that you use often, people will immediately recognize your brand and engage more often.
Throughout the last years, mobile usage has increased steadily.
Especially when it comes to social media, people are consuming most of the content on their phones.
Make sure that your content is optimized for mobile devices instead of desktop versions.
AI and AR Filters
Just like personal GIFs, filters are still increasing in popularity.
Many big brands and influencers already produce their own face filters and empower their communities to make use of them.
These are also easy to produce and can have a huge leverage effect on your brand.
If many people start using your filters, you will again get free advertising for your social profiles and your brand.
Of course, this doesn’t make sense for any brand out there, yet, if you are selling, for example, beauty products, using your own filters might be a huge gamechanger.
Social Media Goals
Without a goal, every path is wrong.
What do you want to achieve? And by when do you want to make it?
These two questions are crucial for your social media strategy and successful brand-building.
Without proper goals, you will be investing tons of hours and money, without any significant outcome.
Especially if you start using oversaturated platforms like Facebook or Instagram, you will soon experience desperation if you are not aware of what you want to achieve.
Typically, your social media goals will align with your business objectives.
For example, if your business objective is to grow your brand, your social media goal might be to get awareness. This can be measured through the number of followers, shares, or views.
If your business objective is to drive sales and leads, your social media goal is going to be conversions. You will take care of the number of website clicks or email signups instead of the number of likes.
Your goals should be smart
You’ve probably heard about smart goals thousands of times.
Yet, we often forget to put it into practice; that’s why I want to remind you of it quickly.
Each of your social media goals should be:
- Measurable (!)
- Attractive and attainable
When setting goals for your brand, make sure to know why you do it.
Please don’t set goals just for the sake of setting goals.
Be clear about your objectives, and know what you want to achieve.
Know Your Target Audience
To market your business successfully, you need to know who you are addressing.
Who is your brand audience?
Which people are you trying to address? Who is your ideal customer?
No matter what service or product you are offering, you cannot be everybody’s darling, and you can’t serve everyone.
Be clear about who you want to impress and which connections you want to build.
What are the problems of your ideal client? Which of their problems can your brand solve?
What are the needs of your potential customer?
How old are they?
Where are they located?
How does their typical day look like?
What dreams and aspirations do they have?
Where to get all the information from
It’s pretty easy to gain insights into your ideal customer group.
By doing some research online, you can gather a lot of valuable information that will help you to adapt your content and strategy.
Even social media or Google analytics can tell you a lot about your ideal clients and assist you in approaching them.
You can also do some interviews with your target audience; however, that might take some more time than analyzing existing data.
One more tip is to analyze your competition. Look at what they are doing and what people like vs. dislike.
Be aware of your industry benchmarks and statistics, so that you can adequately compare your own numbers to the industry average.
The Social Media Landscape
While a few years ago, it was clear that your brand has to be on Facebook (and later on Instagram), times are changing now.
There are several “big players’’ and not all of them might be relevant for your business.
Different platforms come with different benefits, but of course, also with several difficulties.
You cannot produce one piece of content and distribute it on several channels anymore. (I mean, of course, you can, you can do whatever you want, but you don’t succeed by doing so.)
Every platform has a native language that you need to adapt to.
While long texts have a hard time getting attention on Instagram, videos are not suitable for Pinterest, and so on.
Once you are aware of your target audience, you will know which platforms are relevant to them.
Generally speaking, it might not make sense to prioritize TikTok as your primary channel (yet) if your target audience is +35 years old.
In contrast, if you want to target people between 12 and 18 years, Facebook might be a flop.
Below you can see the most popular social networks worldwide at the beginning of 2019.
However, what you should keep in mind is that these numbers might change rapidly.
Social media is a really fast game, what’s trending today might be a flop tomorrow.
Make sure to analyze your ideal customers and know them well. That’s the only way to cope with quick changes and be flexible.
As mentioned, even if Facebook is the most popular network worldwide, you might completely fail to reach your ideal clients there. (For example, because they are hanging out on TikTok)
How to Find Your Ideal Platform(s)
Finding out which platforms to use for building your brand on social media might take some time and testing.
Yet, there are some basic questions you can ask yourself that will make the selection easier.
The most important factor when it comes to choosing your social media platforms is:
Is your audience there?
I know I’ve mentioned that one before, yet it is super important that you genuinely take that factor into account.
You might have the most amazing Instagram account. Still, if your customers are not there, you won’t achieve any of your business objectives.
Second, ask yourself how your audience is using the platform and understand their behavior.
Additionally, the following questions can help you in discovering your ideal platforms:
- Can you use the platform to achieve your business objectives?
- If you want to run ads: which targeting options are available?
- Does the posting format of the platform give you the ability to tell your story and compellingly communicate your brand?
- Are you able to invest in the platform? (E.g. creating videos might take much longer than texts or pictures)
Regularly Audit Your Social Media Presence
No matter if you are starting out or already running your social media brand, regular audits should be part of your schedule.
Without proper reflection and analysis, you’ll never know if what you’re doing is working out.
What I’d suggest is that you schedule a monthly social media audit where you check on the following questions:
- Which strategies/postings/stories are working and which aren’t doing well?
- Which people are engaging with your content and are part of your community?
- What are the current interests of your target group? Are there any new trends?
- How is your competition doing? Do they have any changes in their strategy?
By reflecting regularly, you make sure that you stay on the right path and don’t lose energy on the wrong activities.
Your Brand Design
Your brand is all about telling a story.
It’s about making the story as sexy as possible so that people want to be part of it.
And to brand that story, it is necessary to be remarkable.
Your brand design is the best way to be unique and remarkable to your audience.
This typically includes your brand colors, your logo or avatar, and templates that you can re-use.
If you are starting to build your brand, don’t get caught up in colors and letter fonts.
That’s a mistake that I often see and also did myself.
Finding the perfect color palette and the ideal filters for Instagram might be a fun task, yet they are zero percent productive.
Make sure that you stick to your brand design, but don’t overcomplicate the creation process.
Here’s a quick overview of which feelings specific colors might transfer and how established companies chose their colors:
However, the core of your brand design is to decide what you want to communicate.
You need to know your brand’s core values and which emotions you want to transfer.
Once you have an answer to these questions, it will be easier to decide on colors and fonts.
Your Content Strategy
By now, you:
- Know who your target audience is
- On which platforms you find them
- Which emotions you want to communicate through your brand (your brand design)
Now, we can focus on your content strategy and planning.
Before we dive in, let’s step back and get clear about why we are doing all of this:
Social media branding makes it easy to get more potential clients into your sales funnel by giving them reasons to trust you.
When you successfully build a brand on social media, the rest of your sales process will be more efficient.
The 3 Content Marketing Pillars
When it comes to your content strategy, there are thousands of things that you can do.
However, what is proven to be efficient and effective are the following three pillars:
Create consciousness about what you are doing.
Show your products and services.
Communicate your wins and show what your brand is doing in a way that is easy to understand.
If people don’t immediately understand what you are doing, they will leave your page very quickly.
Be clear and focused. Make sure to communicate the core of your brand regularly.
Show your competence.
Your audience should know that you are great in whatever you are doing.
Provide case studies or industry updates.
If you win any awards or certifications, show them.
Communicate honest feedback from prior customers — social proof is the best way to attract new customers.
Show your audience why they should buy from you.
The last pillar is building affinity.
As mentioned earlier, a social media brand only works if people feel attached to it. Your audience should feel a sense of belonging.
One way to create affinity is to show behind the scenes and your team. You can also clearly communicate your company culture and your general philosophy.
People feel connected to people and brands that show more than just the surface.
Make sure to include all three types of content into your strategy. By doing so you will ensure that you cover the most essential parts of your brand.
How To Come Up With Content Ideas
Once they start creating a social media strategy, many people quickly despair because they don’t know what to talk about and what to post.
However, it has never been easier to generate content ideas quickly.
There are numerous different ways of coming up with new ideas:
First, check your analytics.
See what works well and do more of it.
If you realize that a particular content piece does very well among your audience, come up with new ideas on how to create similar content.
At the same time, eliminate those pieces that performed poorly.
Ask your target audience
It is more relaxed than ever before to engage with your social media audience.
If you want to solve problems and create value, ask your audience what they are missing.
Ask them how you could help them and create content that accurately answers their questions.
Social media groups
There are Facebook groups for almost any possible topic out there.
Join relevant groups and scroll through them. Find out which questions get asked and provide solutions to these.
Another way to come up with new content ideas is to browse through hashtags.
By doing some hashtag analysis, you will discover new topics that are related to your niche and relevant for your audience.
Customer service questions
Which questions do your customers ask?
Browse through the messages that your customer service receives and provide reliable answers.
Direct and indirect competition
What is your competition doing?
What is working well for them?
How can you do it even better?
Analyzing your competition is a great idea to come up with new ideas.
Optimization & Testing
Last but not least, social media marketing is very fast-moving. To succeed, you constantly need to test and optimize.
Knowing your numbers is a huge advantage and the only way to improve the outcome.
- Prove whether or not what you did worked
Did your campaigns go well? Did you reach your desired goals?
Be honest about your results; that’s the only way to improve.
Social media marketing and especially building a strong brand can be frustrating if you don’t reach desired results.
However, being honest and proving your results is the only way to improve.
- Keep track of your analytics, your data, and your KPI’s
You already know that setting specific, measurable goals is crucial for successful social media marketing.
And the only reason why we set goals is to come up with strategies on how to achieve them.
If you don’t have goals, you will end up nowhere successful.
However, if you know what you wanted to achieve, you can analyze your data and find out whether you did good or bad.
Ideally, you should have just a few key performance indicators that help you to figure out whether your work is doing good or not.
- Quantify all the information and create a report
To be able to optimize your strategies, you need to be aware of your current performance.
If you have the resources (time and/or money), put together a proper report that tells you everything you need to know to improve your social media marketing.
All your effort is to no purpose if you don’t keep track of your performance.