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No one questions the importance of branding nowadays – but social media branding is its own ball of wax. Here’s why the distinction matters.

Your brand isn’t enough

Just as websites were a necessary brand investment in the 90’s, a branded social presence is critical to success now.

It’s not enough to have an eye-catching logo carrying the torch from your dot-com to your Facebook, Twitter, etc. profiles. On social media, brand recognition is about persona and attitude.

What is the voice of your brand? Are you consumers’ best friend? Snarky acquaintance? Knowledgeable peer? As much as your messaging matters, so too does the tone with which it’s delivered.

So how do you decide what your social brand should be? Social media listening, of course.

Who do consumers want you to be?

The answer to this question matters more than you think. If you’re a crisis hotline, you can’t have a humorous persona, obviously. But other branding options might be less clear.

Missing the mark costs you time, money, and prospects – so you want to get it right. Start by analyzing your intended audience – the one based on demographics. Expand from there to include psychographics – i.e., behaviors, attitudes, interests.

Psychographic insights are key, because assuming your audience is “Millennial parents” doesn’t give you much to work with. You need to know what kind of parents they are, and what kind of people they are.

That’s the information that tells you what they expect from your brand.

Additionally, you need to know if your audience is bigger than those targeted parents – say grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. If you pull insights based on common interests, you open up a world of possibilities. Use sentiment analysis to reveal what matters most to your audience.

Your audience should ultimately consist of multiple segments based on shared passions. You’ll create messaging for these segments individually – but something about your brand will unite them all.

This data should inspire a direction for your social brand – one based on the expectations of your audience, something you must monitor regularly. If you stray beyond what they consider to be “on brand,” they’ll let you know.

Opinions change, so monitor brand perception regularly

Look to competitors for ideas

Standing out is the end game, so you don’t want to use the same approach every other retail brand uses, if that’s your category. But first, you need to know what others are doing, and how they’re being received.

It might be that your audience demands humor from all fast food brands, so you’d be smart to deliver if you’re in that niche. But use your sentiment data to add a layer to your persona. Perhaps your brand is funny, but also charitable – donating proceeds from every order to help local causes.

The more you know about your audience, the more ways you’ll find to stand out from the competition.

Competitive intelligence also provides the opportunity to learn what isn’t working for other brands – so you can go in a better direction.

Where and how you share is part of your brand identity

As you’re performing social listening, pay attention to the channels where your audience is active. Where you interact on social defines your brand as well. Would an investment broker share updates on Snapchat, using animal filters? Probably not – unless their audience skewed super young and their analytics told them they should be there.

Likewise, the local movie theater probably doesn’t need to worry about posting on LinkedIn – unless they’re looking for new hires.

Some channels work for almost any brand – like Facebook. But some channels are more suited to thought leaders, while others are more suited to fashion trends. Use your social listening tools to know where your brand belongs, and the type of content your fans crave.

And be sure you’re consistent across all brand info points. If your bio says “elegant, modern design” your Instagram feed should certainly feature images and a tone reflecting that.

If your brand is all about how-tos and sharing life hacks, YouTube might be your main focus.

Social branding is a key component of your customer experience management strategy. It should be a natural extension of your brand, while bringing consumers deeper into the experience you offer. With a little social listening, you’ll give them exactly what they want.

Want a personalized demo of our sentiment analysis tools? Reach out!

Image from Mike Mozart

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