Social media platforms provide a quick, convenient, and often free way to reach your target market, advertise your products, and promote brand recognition. With new and improving options come novel challenges: each site uses different media and formats, making it difficult to develop consistent strategies across platforms. Advertisers must develop videos for YouTube, photos for Instagram, and 140-character posts for Twitter. How does a marketer keep up with so many requirements?
Consider the silver lining: More social media channels mean more opportunities to reach more potential customers and wider brand recognition. This means that although overcoming the challenge of varying formats may take considerable effort, the end result is definitely worth it. What can your business do to achieve these benefits?
1. Find your voice
Before launching a marketing campaign, you and your business need to decide how you want to present your products and services. It can be difficult to establish a specific voice for your business, but it is one of the most significant ways to maintain consistency across social media platform. Working with your team to define your brand will pave the way for social media presence, and make future decisions much easier by giving you a framework within to work.
Is your company playful and light-hearted, like the “freaky fast” Jimmy John’s talker or the dynamic duo frequenting Sonic? Or do you prefer to present as no-nonsense and authoritative, like Lincoln and IBM? Some companies like GEICO cast entertaining and recognizable characters in their ads. There are many options when it comes to finding your voice, and the key is to communicate the same message in the same way across multiple platforms and over time.
While adapting to change is necessary for any business, it is not necessarily wise to jump onto any bandwagon that comes along. Knowing your brand definition and voice allows you to prudently adapt to trends that fit naturally with your existing strategies.
Even successful companies can succumb to that pitfall. The most recent and prominent example is Pepsi’s infamously unsuccessful “Live for Now” ad featuring Kendall Jenner. In an attempt to respond to the current of social justice movements, Pepsi came under fire for co-opting the Black Lives Matter movement for profit, and minimizing the difficult and arduous process of overcoming oppression and discrimination facing civil rights advocates. The public responded en masse, making jabs at both the company and the model for the insensitivity of the ad.
Sea World made a similar mistake in 2015 by responding to the trend of transparency and social accountability with the #AskSeaWorld campaign. The timing could not have been worse, because of the recent release of the documentary “Blackfish” that exposed the company’s mistreatment of animals. Animal rights advocates used the opportunity to question the company’s policies and ethics. This is how influencer marketing on YouTube can work in both directions: good and bad publicity.
In sum, your business must consider each marketing campaign thoroughly, and decide which trends fit well with your established voice. Having a well-defined brand gives you a foundation on which to build, helping you navigate the potentially dangerous journeys that can come with changing tides.
2. Find your look
Before you focus on content, which depends on the social media channel, consider what lies within your control. Fortunately, one of the most recognizable aspects of your advertising is also the most simple: the aesthetic design. For a majority of social media platforms, this amounts to a profile picture and/or banner that can be consistent across platforms. This includes your logo, colors, and fonts.
Here, we’ll take a lesson from companies who have successfully ingrained associations between colors and shapes with their brand. Whether you’re on Snapchat, Facebook, Pinterest, or Reddit, if you see a red background with yellow arches, you’ll expect an ad from McDonald’s. A white mermaid surrounded by a green circle? You know Starbucks is on your screen. In order to achieve the recognition these companies have, you’ll need a unified set of images that are familiar to your customers.
Simply put, use the same profile picture and banner for all of your social media accounts, to the extent that this is possible. Maintain consistent colors and fonts in your advertisements, so your customers know who you are on any platform. Because these features are almost entirely under your control, maximize this opportunity for visibility and consistency.
3. Find a balance
You may be wondering how it is possible to keep a consistent design and tone while also catering to the respective audiences on each social media platform. Sure, getting Twitter likes and shares is a critical measuring component of a campaign, but it certainly isn’t everything. It is crucial to know your audience and anticipate their response to your marketing campaigns.
Recently, United brought negative attention upon themselves after forcibly removing a passenger from a flight. If the event itself were not disturbing enough, the company’s “apology” on Twitter underplayed the assault by calling it an instance of “re-accommodating customers,” which not only drew fire but also negatively impacted their stock.
Doing nothing to ameliorate the already dire situation, United’s used a corporate euphemism on a channel that generally prefers honest, conversational, and personable content. While neither United nor your business should change its voice for every social media platform, it is vital to consider your audience before deciding the content of your marketing campaigns.
This elusive balance may seem impossible to achieve, but with some thoughtful effort, you can develop a coherent message adapted to prospective and existing customers found on various channels. Knowing your brand identity, you can find common ground with any customer base that stays true to yourself.
4. Find a dashboard
Practically speaking, your business may benefit from tools that help you manage your social media accounts from one dashboard. Hootsuite allows you to coordinate your social media content and schedule posts from one place. They also have analytical tools to help measure the effectiveness of these campaigns. Sprout Social offers a 30-day free trial for social media management, customer service responses, and marketing strategies. Finding a resource to develop social media content across channels helps ensure consistency, and make your marketing strategies more simple and organized.
With these tips and tools, you’ll be on your way to a well-defined brand identity and recognizable design that caters to the needs and responses of your target market.