Eimear Walsh Digital Marketing
We take social media so much for granted now, it’s hard to believe that it’s only been a little over 20 years since one of the first true social media channels (SixDegrees.com) was launched in 1997. Since then, the number of social media channels has exploded exponentially and no business or brand manager would consider a marketing strategy that would not include these channels as a means of reaching their customers.
At Alternatives, we have noticed the demand for brand managers has sharply increased over the last six months as companies have seen budget restrictions lift.One main challenge for every marketing team remains brand consistency across every touchpoint. How do you make sure your customers / audience can recognise your brand across all your channels, email marketing, videos, social media?
Essentially a brand is far more than a logo or a particular set of colours – it’s all about emotion, how you make your customers feel and how they connect with you. This is achieved by taking the same consistent approach across every touchpoint. We’ve outlined some points below on how to achieve this regardless of the size or sector of your company or your marketing team.
Basic Style Guide
The first thing any good brand manager understands is the importance of a consistent logo, colour palette and styling. Depending on the medium, the logo styling may vary but it is crucial to ensure your branding throughout your profiles / communiques have a common thread that is recognisable as your brand. It’s not necessary to have the same visuals on each social media channel but you should stick to one recognisable colour palette to reflect your logo.
Any basic brand strategy should be audited on a regular basis, (if not quarterly, then at least bi-annually) and updated accordingly. Audiences can get bored easily so new content is essential and your brand should evolve alongside that, especially to reflect trends on social media. However, it is important that anything you do still reflects your basic style guide and branding message. You can adjust it for a campaign launch or to take advantage of a particular holiday or to get involved in a viral trend. All of these still must be relevant to your audience and reflect your basic brand message. Make sure that you post on a schedule – consistency is key for social media and that your content aligns closely with your brand strategy.
Mapping Marketing Personas
Developing marketing personas will really help develop your understanding of your target audience. As every good brand manager knows, audiences will be vastly different across different social media networks. The content needs to reflect your audience and what will resonate with viewers on TikTok or Instagram may not have the same impact as on Facebook or LinkedIn. The best solution is to create multiple marketing personas within your brand strategy.
Start with your existing customer base and then map them to the different social media networks that your company has (or set up the most demographically relevant channels for the company). Being able to establish a persona will help you with content creation and the tone of your message.
Create A Brand Voice
When branding your social media posts, copy and captions are important. Social media accounts should have some personality regardless of their sector – eg. for RyanAir, their voice while informative, is also quite sarcastic and funny and their audience expect that response. For other companies, it’s vitally important to be able to read the room and know what’s off limits – eg. some banks that tried to offer advice on saving money during the recession were sharply criticised by politicians for accepting bailouts. If you don’t have a brand voice already established, then do your research and start out with a consistent voice.
A voice and tone guide should include company catchphrases and terminology. If you use the word “clients” instead of “customers” or “nutrition” instead of “food”, then be consistent across all your content. If you’re managing a large team and there are multiple people managing your social media accounts, then make sure they’re all up to speed and give them a guide so that your brand voice sounds consistent.
Multiple Focus Areas? Multiple Accounts!
Depending on the size of your company and the range of products/services, you could create different social media accounts for different areas. Again, consistency of the visuals is crucial but being able to narrow down your target audience and develop far more focused and relevant content for each is key to driving the success of your message.
Eg. If you have an FMCG company and multiple products, then you could create a voice (remaining within your overall brand) for each product, eg Mars Wrigley has several different products sitting within their overall brand yet has different voices per their products. They also are a great example of using an account per location eg. Mars UK which caters for a different audience than Mars in the USA.
If you’re a professional services firm, you may want to also go down the geographical route, ie EY Ireland vs EY India – the overall branding remains the same as per the global brand but the content is very different as is the tone so setting up multiple accounts may be the answer. This also goes for small companies who may have different locations/offices within the same country but who have different client /expertise focus.
In summary, consider your offerings and decide if it would best to divide the focus. Do ensure branding remains consistent over all the offerings while maintaining individual voices. You can use scheduling platform software like HootSuite or Sprout to manage all the channels through one medium. These tools constantly adapt to the market adding new channels or ability to analyse engagement levels so they are useful. Do your research first as some of these platforms limit the amount of channels you can use within the one platform.
Measuring Brand Engagement
Using social media as part of your branding strategy is a vital part of your overall marketing plan. However, being able to measure and analyse the results is crucial. Analyse your engagement on social media and your social mentions to understand what is working for your brand. Everything should be audited on a regular basis to find out what is capturing attention or what is being ignored so that you can adjust your content or the channel to reach your relevant audience.
A large chunk of your target audience spends time surfing social media channels with almost 75% of global audiences having some sort of social media account themselves. This is precisely why businesses should focus on social media to expand brand recognition and their client base. When used correctly, it’s a highly effective marketing strategy that can reach your target audience with engaging content.
As a brand manager, it’s an inherent part of the job but you are constantly balancing between what your brand message is and what’s currently trending. As long as you keep your brand consistent and are prepared to evolve your strategy on a regular basis to adapt to market changes, then your success is guaranteed.
Eimear Walsh is Managing Partner of Alternatives and is currently working with a number of companies across a broad variety of sectors on Brand Manager roles.