When you set out to make a name for your business in the digital space in 2022, one area you can’t ignore is social media branding.
For one thing, social media is where your ideal audience is, but more important is what social media allows you to do: establish your company voice through original branding.
Branding has always presented challenges to businesses. Your main obstacle is to differentiate yourself from everyone else out there who’s doing what you’re doing or selling what you’re selling.
Whatever industry you’re in, you’ll have competitors who are going after the same audiences you are. And those audiences can’t possibly buy from every company they see. So you need to convince them to come to you with their needs.
Now, every business is going to be different with how it approaches social media branding.
Maybe you know exactly what you’re about, what sets you apart, and how to convey that to the public. Or maybe you know what makes you different but not how to communicate it. Maybe you’re at a complete loss for how to do any of this.
If that’s the case, we’ve prepared these social media brand guidelines to help you.
By the way, if LSEO can be of any help to you along the way, let us know, because our social media marketing services have helped countless brands to establish themselves in the online space and start driving their bottom lines.
So, let’s get into some actionable advice that can help you (we’ll illustrate what we’re talking about with examples from brands out there).
1.) Define Your Messaging and Voice First
There are several places where we could have started with this listicle, from image choices to color schemes, but we thought it made the most sense to build from the ground up.
Knowing how to brand yourself on social media starts with your messaging and voice. That’s how you’re going to draw in the audience you want. And if you can’t figure out how you want to sound, then your visuals won’t matter as much.
Your messaging is up to you, and that’s where some brands get tripped up. You might understand your business completely but have no idea about how to make it seem attractive to the public.
Ask yourself what the meat of your business is. What is the main “thing” you want to get out into the public? That should be your focus.
Let’s take a look at one of the best-known social media presences out there, Buffalo Wild Wings. The public knows this chain of sports bars for its irreverent (more on that soon) food-based social media posts and website content.
Let’s have a look at a recent Instagram post from the always-on-point B-Dubs:
Like I said, we’ll come back to the voice in a bit. Let’s focus on the content for now. BWW has a new item called Bird Dawgs. It’s chicken tenders, beer cheese, grilled onions, and wild honey mustard on a hoagie bun.
So what do they do? They post it. It’s so simple.
They set up a professional photo shoot of the item, dressed it the right way next to one of their signature tall beers, and put it out to the public.
And although food does not feature in every Buffalo Wild Wings social post, it’s the consistent theme, and so that’s their messaging: “Our food is delicious and looks good. We also have beer. Come watch sports with us.”
Except, they aren’t going to say that exactly. They’re not on social media to hard-sell you their new hoagie roll. They know their audience isn’t a bunch of stuffy people looking for pricing and more information. It’s people who want to eat good bar food and enjoy themselves.
So the food does the selling. That’s why it’s the messaging. It keeps the BWW brand top of mind. You see their food posts for long enough, and you’ll probably end up in a Buffalo Wild Wings. That’s what social media branding is all about.
What should you do if you’re trying to define your social media messaging? Here are some examples:
-Let’s say you’re a chain of 1950s-themed restaurants that comes up with creative names for all your new food items. It seems to me your messaging should focus on showing off that new Elvis Eggplant, Marilyn Manicotti, or, dare I say, Brando Bratwurst. You could also concentrate on the atmosphere, showcasing your jukebox, checkered floors, or retro server uniforms.
-What if you’re a contracting business? Well, I can tell you what I like to see when I’m considering hiring a construction company for some remodel: photos of the before and after. If you’re confident in your work and want the public to see what you can do, then that’s the focus. Show the finished product, over and over.
-Take an ecommerce example. If you’re an online seller of custom graphic t-shirts and other clothing, then you know your posts have to show recent designs you’ve made or products you’ve manufactured. Depending on the size of your inventory, you could potentially never run out of images for your posts. The products themselves are what will get your audience interested and involved.
Your social media messaging is what your account will post consistently to get people to remember you, so make it a good message.
Your social media branding voice is actually distinct from your messaging. Remember when your parents or your first-grade teacher said to you, “It isn’t what you say, but how you say it?” This is like that.
Your messaging is your content. Your voice is the attitude that goes along with it.
Let’s stick with B-Dubs for this, because as I said, they’re a brand that’s known for their snarky and playful tone.
The post I showed above has that voice on display, but this one is more front and center:
Now, the design is pretty simple. It’s a screengrab of a BWW Twitter post with a closeup of their boneless wings. Voice is all about the words, though.
“He’s a 10 but he eats boneless wings with a fork.”
And the caption: “You’ve got hands for a reason.”
It’s just fun. It’s cheeky, it’s amusing, and it keeps you coming back for more.
No one believes that Buffalo Wild Wings staff are going to give you a hard time when you use a fork with boneless wings. But the voice helps to establish the brand as human. Imagine if all the photo captions were just, “Come into Buffalo Wild Wings to get your boneless bites.”
Think of your voice as the personality of your social media accounts.
Sarcasm works for Buffalo Wild Wings. It won’t work for a funeral home.
And you can’t ignore your brand’s voice, either. Social media is a busy place, with a whole lot of businesses vying for the same audiences you are.
Somewhere in those numbers are your audiences, and in 2022, they have options like never before. Your brand’s messaging and voice could be the difference between them choosing you or someone else.
2.) Stay Consistent with Your Social Media Branding
Any set of social media brand guidelines has to talk about the importance of consistency in your social media posting.
Check out these screenshots. We’ll talk about them after.
That was from Wendy’s Instagram, and here is their website homepage:
We have a Wendy’s Instagram post that shares a Wendy’s Twitter post talking about the new strawberry Frosty. We then go to the Wendy’s website to find visuals and words discussing the strawberry Frosty.
As of this writing, it’s a new item, and so the brand wants to get the word out (in its famously satirical voice, by the way).
Think about an Instagram user seeing that post for the first time and learning that there’s a strawberry Frosty now. The user goes to the website to see if there’s more to be learned, and so there is.
That’s called consistency, and it’s what keeps audiences engaged.
If the Instagram post was all that existed on this new food item at Wendy’s, and nothing more could be found even on the website, there’s a good chance they’d have lost some potential sales.
Brand consistency doesn’t apply only to specific content itself, though. It applies across the board! It goes from logos to colors to messaging to voice to visual content to posting frequency and everything in between.
So, in the Wendy’s examples, you can see that, although the strawberry Frosty copy is unique on each medium, it’s consistently informal and funny.
The brand also sticks with its classic logo of the original Wendy girl across platforms. Sure, the Twitter one has a blue background, but still, there’s Wendy.
The whole point of consistency is just not to confuse people. I know that if I saw one brand logo on Instagram and something completely different on Twitter or the website, I’d wonder if I was in the right place.
Don’t let that happen to you. What you do on one social media platform, do on the others. You don’t have to mirror your content exactly, but keep the overall tone and visuals the same.
Check out some more examples below of logo, visual, and content consistency across digital channels.
The top one is LSEO’s Instagram, and below is the LSEO website homepage:
And two more:
Above is Hyundai USA’s Twitter, showcasing the IONIQ 6 electric car. Below is essentially the same content on the homepage:
3.) Be Bold with Your Visuals
In every screenshot I’ve shared so far, the entity relied on visuals in some way to get something across, whether it was a product or just to show cross-channel logo consistency. And honestly, if you’re on social media, you know that it’s the visuals that even give you a leg to stand on in the first place.
Visuals play a huge part in social media branding because they’re what you’re left with when users don’t feel like reading your words. Images are the first things users see on your social posts. Words add vital context, but people’s eyes are mostly spent on the photos.
So, to establish yourself boldly on social, you need to go big on your visual game.
Think first about how your current images align with the items mentioned above: messaging, voice, and consistency.
Are you drawing from the same set of product images on your Facebook ads as on your Twitter and website? Do you maintain the same tone on all platforms as you caption your images? If you like a red and black color palette on all your platforms, are you sticking with it in some way when you post?
All of that is important, but it also isn’t the be-all, end-all. Grabbing social media users’ attention is about catching and holding their eyes above anything else.
Let’s have a look at the homepage of clothing retailer American Eagle:
If you go to the actual American Eagle homepage, those sparklers are actually animated to glitter. I like the homepage photo a lot because it shows the clothing in real life, not just on a hanger. It gets you imagining yourself and how good you’ll look in new clothes from American Eagle.
Then, if we move over to American Eagle’s Instagram, we see a mix of posts that include shots of the clothing itself alongside photo shoots with models wearing the clothing, just like on the website:
And to be honest, this is what I expect to see from American Eagle. It’s consistent, and it works.
“Here’s our clothing, and here’s what you’d look like wearing it out in the world.”
As I said above, social media branding isn’t always about going out there and hard-selling people on your offerings. You have to show them what you want them to see, but do it in a way that inspires them to incorporate your products or services into a happy life.
Taken that way, you could say that American Eagle uses its social media photos to sell not clothing, but instead, the positive feelings you get when you go out in some new clothes.
In that vein, your photos don’t always need to be of your product. They can simply be consistent with your brand’s overall philosophy and outlook, while still being visually eye-catching.
What are some other post options?
Go for quotes relating to your business.
Post photos of your offices.
Highlight a staff member every week.
None of these photos directly showcase your products, but they certainly go a long way toward keeping users engaged with your company.
4.) Listen to What Your Followers Tell You
There are a lot of active steps you have to take when you’re first learning how to grow a brand on social media. But this last tip is more of a passive one: it’s about listening.
You can’t post on social media in a vacuum. Remember that you’re posting for human consumption. You’re posting because you want something from people, but you can easily scare them away by going too far in one direction.
People will disengage from and unfollow a brand on social media due to any number of reasons, but common ones include overly frequent posts, irrelevant or unwanted content, and inconsistency.
When I say to listen to your followers, I mean to observe what they do and how they react. Are you getting more comments at 11 AM as opposed to 7 AM? Is your follower count dropping slowly? Do your posts seem to perform better on Tuesdays than on Fridays?
There are all kinds of stats you can look into for improving your engagement, but no one will know more about your social media branding efforts than you.
Once again, listen to your audience to see what they want. Part of this passive step is actually going to involve some more active engagement, though.
Reach out to followers on social to ask them what they like. Ask what they’d like to see more of. There’s nothing wrong with breaking the fourth wall in that way. They have to know there are people behind all those posts. You can also take the Wendy’s route and try to respond to as many comments as you can.
Basically, do what you need to do to get a better feeling of who your social media audiences are and what they want from you.
This is especially true of new businesses that are just breaking into the digital space and figuring out how to grow a brand on social media.
You can become as successful as any of the other famous presences on social. It will just take you some time and persistence.
Let’s recap the different social media brand guidelines we’ve covered with this helpful chart:
|Social Media Branding Factor||What It Means|
|Messaging||The content of what you’re posting|
|Voice||The tone of your messaging|
|Consistency||Keep your posts on-brand over time|
|Visuals||Post attention-grabbing visual elements|
|Listen||Adapt your approach to your followers|
LSEO’s Experts Can Help with Your Social Media Branding
Social media in 2022 is marked by many thousands of brands and billions of users. There are businesses out there that are succeeding on all their social media platforms because of the work they put into setting themselves apart.
If you need some help getting your social media branding down, let LSEO know. Our paid media experts have decades of combined experience and have spent a long time guiding the biggest brands to enterprise-level success on social media and beyond.
Call us up today to learn more about how we can help!