Last week, I was having a movie night featuring the 2015 Nancy Meyers movie The Intern, which I highly recommend for a night when you just need a feel-good film to take your mind off the craziness that is the year 2016. The movie centers on Ben, a 70-year-old widower who takes an intern position at a flashy start-up after retiring from a career in marketing for phone books. Phone books!
I mean, no disrespect to the phone book industry because I’m sure it has complexities and challenges I’ll never understand, but I let myself have a wistful moment to daydream an Internet-free, social media-less marketing world. Where you just had paper and print to think about. Where engagement was a word reserved for talking about a couple that plans to marry. Oh, when times were simple.
The advent of social media has taken the concept of branding to a whole new level. No longer do we just market and advertise our businesses and products; we have to tell the story of our brand at the same time.
While I love the new level of connectedness and transparency provided by social media, I grow frustrated that individuals and businesses have to invest such a high level of energy into something that isn’t necessarily their passion.
However, it’s undeniable: to run a successful business, establish a platform, or gain recognition for your craft, social media is often one, if not the most, strategic element of your brand. Learning how to stand out and tell a good story is key.
Focus on Your Strengths
Better to do two social platforms with excellence than five half-heartedly. If you feel more confident on Instagram, don’t stress out about Twitter and vice-versa. Emily Ley is an excellent example. With a design-centric business, she thrives on visual platforms like Instagram and Facebook, but she doesn’t stress over her Twitter presence. Her tribe doesn’t seem to mind.
Take Design Seriously
Think about how you want to visually communicate your brand. What colors represent your business? What images encapsulate your message? I’ve been working through the Facebook Blueprint courses, and one thing they emphasize is the importance of creating a cohesive design across your social media platforms. Coordinate your cover photo with your profile picture, and also extend the key elements across your Twitter and Instagram accounts. Creating a visually appealing space for customers, fans, and readers makes your brand memorable.
Make sure your up-to-date on your image dimensions to avoid having your design elements sabotaged by bad resolution. Jon Loomer recently posted a great infographic with all the necessary information.
Value Quality Over Quantity
Facebook and Instagram’s ever-changing algorithms make it tempting to start bombarding your social-sphere with content in hopes that people will notice you. In these desperate attempts to be heard, you end up losing your audience by serving them too much content that doesn’t truly serve their needs. Take a deep breath, collect your thoughts, and formulate a plan to deliver quality content in lower doses.
Paring down your content for quality keeps fans more engaged even if the frequency diminishes. They will look forward to your next post instead of dreading the deluge and ultimately unfollowing altogether. The other beautiful part of this strategy? A lasting supply of recyclable relevant content. For more ideas here, check out this recent post by Instagram guru, Robbie Hall.
Develop a Style Guide
Decide how exactly you want your voice to be heard on social channels. Especially if and when you begin handing off content creation to other people, have your style articulated explicitly to ensure the integrity of your brand. Establish your tone of voice, determine any brand-specific terminology, develop hashtags, and document any other characteristics that are essential to your social presence. No detail is too small if it plays a part in your brand’s overall narrative.
Don’t Make Perfection the Goal
In the age of moments, brands are becoming less about perfect curation and more about accessibility. With platforms like Snapchat and Periscope on the rise, customers and fans have a growing desire to see their favorite companies and influencers let down their hair and have fun. This doesn’t negate the need for curated content, but it’s healthy to have a blend of both sides of social media.
Tell a Good Story
As an avid content consumer, I am always waiting expectantly for the next weekly fashion posts from my favorite blogger, the nightly flower posts from my favorite florist on Instagram, and the daily updates from my favorite author on Facebook. Consistent content keeps my thumb poised for liking; it builds anticipation. I’m always looking forward to learning the next piece of the story.
Branding is just a fancy word for telling a good story. People are hungry for authentic experiences, and you have an opportunity to develop trust with your audience by being a consistent source of meaningful content. While that’s a weighty charge, it’s also some of the best motivation out there.
Post written by Ink & Well’s freelance word nerd, Grace Willis. A Nashville native, Grace works in publishing and spends her days communicating about books in every medium imaginable. She works hard to give her cat a better life and to help her husband finish nursing school. Any free time is dedicated to reading, running, and plotting future travel plans.