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In less than two decades, social media has transformed how people communicate. Social media platforms have also dramatically altered how brands reach potential customers and build long-term relationships.
Social media enabled brands to break down barriers and reach their audiences directly. As a consequence of making it easier for companies to reach audiences, more businesses are leveraging social media for growth. Effective social media branding can help companies stand out in busy marketplaces and strengthen their brand identity simultaneously.
Social media platforms may have started as a way for individuals to connect. But as millions and now billions of people have joined them, they have also become powerful marketing tools. The latest statistics at the time of writing showed that more than four and a quarter billion people globally used social media at least once a month.
While that figure is impressive, the power of social media is not limited to user numbers. According to industry experts, nine out of ten people buy from brands they follow on social media platforms. There is no doubt about the strong connection between an engaging social media presence and conversions. Social media platforms are powerful tools to help build brands.
Defining social media branding
Social media branding combines the strengths of two cornerstone elements of successful marketing strategies — branding and social media marketing. To deliver transformative results for a business, social media branding strategies must do more than add a logo to a post.
Brand teams must integrate the brand’s unique value proposition with its look, voice and feel to craft memorable messages. Some of the most captivating social media branding is focused on encouraging interaction and engagement between a brand and its audiences.
Using social media branding to build brand awareness and reach
Through social media platforms, brands have an unparalleled opportunity to extend their reach beyond their existing audiences. By developing captivating content, companies encourage their existing audiences, or followers, to share it with others. Without additional effort on the side of the business, the audience grows.
Hashtags are another excellent way of reaching new audiences interested in a topic the brand is discussing. As non-followers pick up your company’s content and share it, there is an opportunity for it to go viral and be seen by thousands or even millions of social media users who may otherwise never have known about your company.
Establishing brand identity and differentiation through social media branding
Building awareness and reach are only two components of successful social media branding. As social media use grows, more brands use these platforms for their marketing, and it is becoming increasingly more challenging to stand out from competitors.
Social media branding allows companies to show their audiences what differentiates them from their competitors. Few other channels offer the same level of choice of communication, what to talk about and how to interact with their audience without a barrier. This is why social media platforms are such powerful tools for sharing value propositions and clarifying how brands are different.
Engaging and connecting with target audiences
Connecting with audiences has been somewhat of a side note throughout this article. However, connecting and engaging directly with an audience is perhaps the greatest strength of social media channels.
This immediacy allows brands to listen to feedback from their audience, respond to it directly and build stronger relationships. At the same time, brands can show their personality more easily than on other channels. For example, Taco Bell’s social media content and interactions have a distinct funny and sarcastic tone to them.
But brands can also showcase their values to their customers as Starbucks does with its community-focused Facebook content. One of the keys to maximizing the impact of social media branding is consistency in both verbal and visual messaging to reinforce the brand’s identity.
Leveraging user-generated content
The next step in building engagement is utilizing user-generated content. For example, by sharing a genuine product review, brands can highlight their unique value propositions through a third-party endorsement. User-generated content is a powerful tactic to build audience trust.
Influencing consumer perception and trust
Consistent social media branding, especially user-generated content, consumer reviews and testimonials, can influence and change consumers’ brand perception. Today, many consumers are skeptical of companies’ statements in their marketing campaigns.
Content that has been created by a product’s or service’s users automatically benefits from greater credibility and helps build trust between the brand and the audience. Brands can reinforce that trust by ensuring their messages resonate with users’ content.
Driving website traffic and conversions
Aside from allowing brands and consumers to connect directly, another strength of social media platforms is driving website traffic and conversions.
Social media posts are an excellent tool to introduce a topic and entice the audience to visit a website and learn more. Clear calls-to-action are imperative to encourage users to click on a link. Without them, it is too easy for content to get lost among competing messages.
Measuring social media branding success
Without measuring the impact of different social media branding activities, brand teams cannot know which campaigns have been successful and which need refinement.
Tracking critical metrics like views, reach and conversions is essential. To make analytics even more meaningful, companies can analyze the sentiment underlying reactions and adjust the effectiveness of their activity. Most social media platforms continue to develop more sophisticated metrics and tools to help brands in their journey.
Social media branding combines the reach of social media platforms with the impact of carefully crafted brand messages. Together, these two can help companies build highly effective marketing campaigns. Increased brand awareness, brand trust and audience engagement all drive business growth for years to come.