Digital Marketing Marketing & Sales

4 Ways Social Media Can Grow Your Brand

Written by Kieran Healy

Most businesses have a social media presence, but many do not know how to properly convert that presence into greater engagement with their target market – and, eventually, more sales.

Big businesses will often have dedicated staff monitoring their social media profiles, but smaller organisations without the capacity to do this can still capitalise on having a social media presence by following these four simple steps!

Starting with…

1. Which Platform Should You Use?

Deciding on which platform you should be targeting largely depends on your business and where your target market is. The main social media platforms (that are easy to target) include:

  • Facebook: By far the biggest of these platforms, with over 2 billion users worldwide. It’s also simple to advertise on and makes it easy to publicly engage with your followers. For these reasons it is an easy platform to start with – although it does carry some disadvantages. For example, without paying for advertising it can be difficult to get people who don’t already follow you to see your posts and business to business marketing can have its challenges.
  • Instagram:  Is a fantastic platform for businesses that produce visual products like fashion, food or furniture, allowing for businesses to create build a large following rather quickly. Pinto Sydney, for example, is a café with nearly 2000 followers. The café is also tagged in a large number of photos taken by customers who have eaten there, which effectively provides the business with free advertising. Using hashtags also helps to get your posts noticed by people who are looking for pictures and services similar to yours.
  • Twitter: Is a bit harder to use for direct marketing, but it is fantastic for allowing you to join conversations about current topics and allows you to establish yourself as an authority in your area. Through using hashtags (again) you can add your post to discussions about virtually anything – although it is best to stick to fields you are an expert in.
  • LinkedIn:This platform is more suited for business to business marketing, especially for professional services and products.You need to be careful that all posts on LinkedIn are polished and informative, making it easy for potential customers to find out more about your services.

2. How Do You Create a Brand Personality?

Virtually everyone in Australia uses social media, but when it comes to running an account for their business they tend to forget what it is that  makes them ignore a post and what engages them. If you want to be noticed, especially as a small business, people need a reason to notice you. Content doesn’t just go viral by accident – it goes viral because it is interesting, and people want to share it with their friends.

An excellent example of a brand using social media to create a strategy is the Wendy’s Twitter account. Wendy’s is a fast food chain in the US that has repeatedly had tweets go viral due to their snarky and funny comments about their competitors (particularly McDonald’s) and responses to comments and questions from followers.

A smaller business that has had similar success building their brand via social media is the White Moose Café in Dublin. The café, which is attached to a hotel, regularly makes the news and creates viral content through manufacturing controversy and debate. A lot of this publicity comes from people who are outraged by the antics of owner Paul Stenson, but he has made his small business a Dublin landmark which attracts tourists from all over the world – as well as a loyal local following.

You don’t need to be outright rude to potential customers to build a brand personality, but the White Moose example shows that, for a small business, being different builds awareness. You need to offer people value from following your social media pages and giving them a reason to engage with you.

3. What is Engagement?

Engagement comes in many forms, and it is a two way street between a brand and its followers. Once you have created content that people want to respond to you need to keep the conversation going and isn’t limited to just social media. By being interactive and  responding to reviews (both positive and negative) you can help to present your business in the best possible light.

On Facebook and Twitter delivering continued engagement is reasonably easy and can be achieved by responding to comments, replies and tags. Despite it being quite easy not all businesses actually bother to respond, which largely defeats the purpose of using social media. However, keeping the conversation going will show that your business is approachable and friendly – and, equally importantly, will keep your brand near the top of the news feed to be seen by more people.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you also don’t have to stay strictly on topic when you engage with your followers. When Southern Rail in the UK was receiving some bad publicity they put a 15 year old on work experience named Eddie in charge of their Twitter account, and managed to generate a lot of goodwill and improved their brand image when #AskEddie went viral.

On other platforms engagement takes other forms. B2B marketing on LinkedIn will largely result in people asking for technical information, or for more details about your services. You should be able to answer these questions easily enough, but you can also engage with other people by giving your input on topics related to your industry (this also applies to Twitter).

On Instagram you could consider getting your customers to tag you when they use your product, and you can also create unique brand related hashtags for them to use. Women’s surf clothing brand Roxy, for example, encourages its customers to post Instagram pictures with tags like #roxy and #roxygirls, which end up providing the brand with a lot more exposure than they would get simply posting on their own account. You can also repost some pictures from your followers, which will encourage them to keep posting.

Whatever form your engagement takes, you need to remember that you can’t just put out content and wait – you need to monitor and respond to comments on your post. You can also encourage your customers to create their own content which promotes your brand – and you should engage with at least some of it, even if you only “like” posts.

4. How To Convert Social Media Engagement into Sales?

Of course the goal of your social media efforts is to increase your sales – after all, you can’t pay rent in awareness! Luckily, turning engagement into sales can be done with reasonable ease across different platforms.

On Facebook and LinkedIn you can simply include a link to your products in some of your posts, or in the comment section. If people are interested enough in what you have to say they are also likely to visit your profile, which will have a link to your website and information about how to buy your products or services. Twitter can be used similarly, except you won’t have a comment section. Inserting links into your tweets in a way that doesn’t look spammy can serve the same purpose.

Instagram is a harder platform to make the link from creating content to purchase behaviour, however you can certainly create awareness of your product. If your existing customers also post pictures of your product then their friends are likely to treat this as a recommendation, which will encourage them to try you out. By liking and reposting pictures of people using/eating/wearing your product you will also be encouraging repeat business. You can also include in-app links to purchase the products showcased on your story, which is very useful for fashion brands.

Final Thoughts

Social media represents a huge opportunity for businesses, but many are failing to take advantage of it. It isn’t enough to just put out bland, promotional statements – nobody will pay enough attention to them for it to be worth your time. Building a following for your brand will get you far more exposure, as well as help you transform customers into repeat buyers. If you’re going to put the time and effort into creating accounts and making posts, you might as well make it worthwhile.


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About the author

Kieran Healy

Kieran Healy is the Social Media Manager at SEO Shark, a digital marketing firm in Sydney. SEO Shark is a full service digital marketing firm offering SEO, PPC, web design and social media services.