Imagine that you’re relaxing in a movie theatre watching an old classic western movie. On the screen, the hero gallops into the frame. You know he’s the hero immediately – by his branding. He’s riding a beautiful horse, the music is swelling, and he’s wearing a white hat.
If he’s typecast, you might see this same actor as a recurring hero consistently, in many pictures of the same genre – perhaps only his character’s name changes. And the villain, of course, wears a black hat. (This is where “white hat” and “black hat” SEO practices get their names.)
B-movie stylists and social marketers have some similar needs. What tactics can you use to communicate to an audience, quickly and accurately, the nature of a character/brand? What trustworthy shorthand can you use to set an expectation of your company, so you can get on with the action?
Establishing a strong brand identity means you’ll come across consistently no matter the setting, including across wildly varying social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. They all require different marketing approaches, but your brand consistency across social channels helps make your company memorable and distinguishes you from your competitors.
Here are seven top tips to help you maintain brand consistency across all social media platforms.
1. Know Your Audience
The first and most important step is to recognize and understand who your audience is. Ideally, you’ve created buyer personas and so know who you’re selling to and what they want. Know which social media they use, and consider the way they communicate. Pay attention to tone, frequency, style, and any other characteristics that could matter.
2. Choose Your Voice
Next, you must establish a voice for your brand. Will yours be humorous or subdued, instructive or laid back? The voice you speak with becomes a huge brand identifier. It also determines the type of audience you attract and how people perceive you. Make sure the voice you choose appeals to your target audience and that you use it consistently across all social media platforms. Make sure your voice is different from your competitors’.
3. Be Consistent
In visual advertising (print, TV, digital), a high watermark for success is when your logo can be left off and people still know the ad is yours.
For social media, it’s instant recognition of your company’s posts. The takeaway: success points to consistency of voice, tone, artistry, message.
Don’t forget frequency. It’s unprofessional to post a flurry of updates one week and nothing the next. But keep in mind that posting too often can annoy your followers and tarnish your image. It’s a balancing act.
As you decide what to post where, consider the benefits of sharing valuable content on multiple platforms in order to reach a wider audience – since not everyone has an account on every site. Just be sure to alter your content appropriately so it matches each site’s demographics and posting styles.
By focusing on consistency, your audience begins to know what to expect from you which, in turn, helps you attract followers who are genuinely interested in what you have to offer.
4. Show Off Your Human Side
Social media is about people and personalities. Skip the sales-y messages and prove you care about more than just making a profit by humanizing your brand. Remember…people establish relationships with, and buy from, people…not faceless companies. Read over your updates before you publish them and make sure they’re appealing to actual humans.
Timely, personal response is equally as important. Showing that you care enough to answer a question or settle a customer service issue is a great way to show off your human side. Again, be consistent across all platforms. If you answer Facebook questions, be sure to respond to tweets on Twitter and comments on Instagram.
If you don’t have the time and resources to fully engage in all the channels your prospects use – posting on a consistent schedule, monitoring the channel, and responding in a timely way – then cut back. Determine the number of most important, must-have channels you can execute well on, and focus on them. A poorly managed channel presence is worse than no presence.
5. Strive for Originality
Curating others’ content is a good idea; it shows that you’re engaged in your industry and respect other’s opinions. But make sure to add your original thoughts. For images, although it’s appropriate to occasionally use stock photos on blog posts, be original when you post on social media sites. For example, share genuine photos from your business.
And as you strive to be original, also strive to always be honest. Your reputation is on the line every single day. The fastest way to lose followers is to lose their trust.
6. Remain Active
No matter which social media sites you sign up for, keep your account active. Post updates regularly without spamming your followers, and offer value continually.
One way to stay active and attract more followers (without begging for likes – a giant no-no) is to hold a contest. Choose the prize carefully: It should be rewarding enough to your audience to easily spur their participation. Consider it an investment to earn truckloads of new followers.
7. Enact Your Existing Brand
Before you joined the social media world, you probably had a great logo and tagline in place. Don’t reinvent that wheel simply because you’re expanding your online presence.
Extend your existing brand when setting up your social media presence; you want people to recognize you wherever and whenever they meet you. Use your logo when and where possible, and maintain a uniform color scheme for consistency and brand awareness. Remember, the people you meet on social networks will check out your website if they become interested in you. It’s important to be recognizable and consistent across all channels.
Want to learn more? Check out the Act-On Center of Excellence and its many resources for social media marketing, including the 8-part “Social Media for Lead Generation” course.
Photo of Tom Mix by Insomnia Cured Here, used under a Creative Commons 2.0 license