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An image of a pink metal nut and bolt on a solid blue background. When building a branding guide, you'll need the right tools — and this blog explains the nuts and bolts of putting together an impactful strategy.

The Social Media Branding Guide

TJ Kiely

Feb 16, 2023

Telegraphs, knuckle busters, rotary phones – not many things stand the test of time. But branding is one of the few historic business tools that continues to be relevant for modern companies, especially in terms of social media branding.

The practice of branding dates back 4,000 years ago when farmers used to mark their cattle with a hot iron, or brand. The goal was to make their cattle instantly recognizable. Over time, other businesses have taken up a similar practice to grow the popularity of their name, logo, and values.

Today’s branding looks and functions a lot differently than 4,000 years ago, especially as more businesses see the value of using social media for marketing. Creating your social brand identity isn't just about putting up a logo and using your company colors in your messaging. The key to an effective social strategy is to ensure that your social media branding is consistent with the rest of your marketing.

Creating a solid social media brand takes intention and effort. Here’s your ultimate guide on how to achieve brand consistency across every social platform and other touchpoints.

Table of Contents:

What is Social Media Branding?

Social media branding is a cornerstone of your social media marketing strategy. It supports your brand identity and ensures that your brand is front and center of everything you post.

Your social media brand is an extension of your offline brand. It’s a combination of your company’s values, mission, and vision. It demonstrates what your company is all about and is developed in a way that attracts the type of customers you want.

Just like all of your other branding (e.g., email, in-store, website, etc.), your social media branding will need to reflect the persona of your company.

How Has Social Media Changed Branding Forever?

The art of branding isn’t new, but it has gotten a revitalization thanks to social media marketing. Every social platform you use gives you another opportunity to brand yourself. The more channels you have, the more important (and more challenging) it is to maintain a consistent brand persona across all of them.

This is tricky since each social media platform looks and functions a little differently and attracts a unique type of user. For example, your Instagram branding strategy might include live videos, while your Pinterest branding will rely more heavily on static imagery. Both can support your brand but will appeal to different audiences in different ways.

Something else worth mentioning about social media branding is the real-time capabilities to reinforce your brand image. Users can leave comments on posts and send messages directly to companies. Social media users are increasingly using social channels to contact brands because it’s faster and more authentic. Research from SproutSocial found that 65% of consumers feel more connected with brands that have a strong social presence.

Likewise, companies can respond to user comments, reviews, and messages. This give-and-take of real-time feedback makes it all the more important to hone your social media branding efforts so that any responses are on-brand, on par with how you want your company to be perceived.

Why is Social Media Branding Important?

In 2020, more than 3.96 billion users worldwide engaged in social media. That’s a lot of potential prospects for brands to attract. And just like offline channels, good branding gives you a better chance to increase brand awareness, make your brand memorable, and earn trust.

When you’re the same persona on social media as you are in your store, office, or email funnel, you build more credibility with your audience. People can easily see the value you offer them. They know what makes you different and unique from your competitors.

What’s more, your social media brand may be a prospect’s first impression of your company. Research shows that 90% of people buy from the brands they follow on social media. In addition, 57% of social media users follow brands to learn more about new products and services.

Your social media branding strategy can not only help to attract more followers but also build trust and credibility that will earn you sales in the short and long terms.

How Social Media Helps in Branding

As a marketer, one of social media’s biggest advantages in branding is the speed at which information travels. Because social media channels have such huge followings and engagement rates, brands can quickly and easily share information with a large target audience. In turn, those users can share the same message with their own audience, and so on.

Gaining impressions used to take weeks or months in an offline world. Now, it occurs in minutes in a social media-driven one. The number of impressions has drastically increased while the cost per impression has significantly decreased.

In addition, social media platforms offer data insights for businesses to visualize their reach. Gauge how many views, likes, and comments you receive. Or, hire a social media management service to track mentions of your brand that you don’t receive directly. If people are talking about your brand, social media gives you a chance to become part of the conversation – even if you weren’t invited!

Tip: Learn more about tracking your social media branding success in our social media analytics guide.

Social Media Branding Examples and Why They Work

Now that you know more about social media branding, let’s look at some social media branding examples to follow.

Brand Humor

First up, there's brand humor. Twitter has become a hotspot for brands that like to sound off zippy one-liners, jokes, and sarcasm. For brands like Wendy’s and MoonPie, their creativity in their Tweets has become the number one reason for users to follow them. These brands are constantly engaging on Twitter and coming up with off-the-wall yet relevant content to share with their followers.

Brand Cooperation

Mattress producer Casper has taken a unique yet well-branded approach with Spotify. Their Casper Sleep Channel offers soothing, relaxing sounds to help listeners drift off to sleep – and potentially dream of a new Casper mattress!

Branded Visuals

Trendy clothing and accessories E-commerce company Square Sayings combines its products with well-branded visuals to grow its reach. Each image on the brand's Instagram page is a quote using the same bead-style graphics that you’ll find on the merchandise. What makes these quotes even more interesting is that they’re not the same generic stuff you’ll find plastered across the internet. They’re smart, witty, and highly relatable, and you can get them printed on everything from T-shirts to cellphone cases.

Social Media Branding example: Screenshot of squaresayings' Instagram feed

Personal Branding on Social Media

You can do personal branding on social media, too.

For example, experts on LinkedIn will post relevant insights about what they do and flag posts with a hashtag. The more often they post and the more consistent they are with the subjects of their posts, the more likely they are to be seen as an expert in their field.

UGC for Social Media Branding

Keep in mind you don’t have to do all the social media branding yourself.

User-generated, share-worthy content - like these user-generated content ideas - can help strengthen your brand and add authenticity to the mix.

Take The Everygirl, for example. This lifestyle publication doesn’t have products to promote, so it relies on UCG to become a go-to source for career-minded women. On its Instagram page, it gives a tag for users to include in their posts and be featured on its page and feed.

Screenshot of theeverygirl's Instagram profile for UGC

How to Improve Your Social Media Branding Strategy

Creating a social media branding strategy takes time and intentional effort to develop. If you don’t give it the attention it deserves, you can’t expect your followers to, either. But when you focus on the fine details of your brand, nurture them, and remain consistent with your efforts, you’ll not only build a strong brand but also brand advocates that will help you market yourself without being asked.

Let’s look at some things you can do right now to improve your social media branding strategy.

Fix Inconsistencies

First things first: the most basic elements of branding are largely visual. How would you feel if your local McDonald’s suddenly ditched the golden arches in favor of a purple Comic Sans “M”? Something about it just wouldn’t make sense, right?

The same goes for your own brand. Your brand is a collection of fonts, typography, colors, logos, and other elements that create a common thread for your business.

Do an audit of all your social media channels to fix any inconsistencies that could make your brand appear disparate or messy.

Connect Your Marketing Personas to Social Media

Once you have a visually consistent brand, it’s time to start tailoring your brand for each of your social media channels. This is because your Millennial and Gen X audience on Facebook might be completely different from your Gen Z audience on TikTok. They’re not going to like and engage with the same things.

Get specific on the type of person you want to connect with on social media. Then, start developing your social media brand management campaigns to speak to those personas on the right channels. A social content calendar can be a valuable tool to help you develop the right content for the right social profiles. Download our annual content calendar template for free.

Create a Style Guide

Got a whole team of social media brand management experts? Then a style guide is a worthwhile investment.

Your social media style guide defines the brand voice you want to use for every channel. It can be as detailed or basic as you like, as long as it helps every content creator keep a consistent voice in line with your social media strategy.

Maybe you’re snarky like Wendy’s Twitter account. Or maybe you’re inspiring like Sharpie.

Choose your voice first, then develop content that sounds like you (not the other way around!).

Consider Creating Multiple Accounts for Different Focus Areas

What do Geico, the Geico Gecko, and Geico Racing have in common? They’re all part of Geico’s brand strategy on social media – but they each have their own accounts!

Each account addresses a different endeavor of the company. Some people love Gecko’s voice and his appearances in commercials, so he has his own account. The Geico Racing account is dedicated solely to Geico’s NASCAR sponsorship. These are two very different audiences with different priorities, but they are engaging with the same company.

Nike did something similar with its customer service channel. It created a separate Twitter handle, @NikeSupport, reserved just for customer inquiries. News and gossip site Buzzfeed has separate topic-based channels for food, animals, quizzes, videos, shopping, and more.

Smaller brands can follow a similar path to reach their social media goals. For example, if you are deeply involved in a charity or non-profit, consider making a separate channel for those updates. Multi-specialty retailers might have different channels for different types of products (e.g., women’s clothes vs kid’s clothes, etc.). This gives you a chance to appeal to a wider variety of audiences and deliver content that’s most relevant to their interests.

Social Media Branding in a Nutshell

No matter where you are in your social media branding journey, know that the value of a strong brand cannot be overemphasized. If you’re just getting started on social media, you might not know which direction you want your brand to take. Or maybe you already have a social presence but feel it can be better, stronger, and more loyal to the brand you’ve built elsewhere.

A social media brand management expert can be a valuable resource in both of these cases and more. Contact Meltwater today and let’s discuss your social branding goals!