It seems a bit "retro" to be talking about brand awareness through social media, but many businesses - especially service oriented - still struggle to make their content stick. Content only does it's job when the right people see the right posts and shares, and many marketers still struggle with this more than the content creation itself.
So here's a helping hand - 10 tips for increasing your brand awareness using social media:
Find Your Market
It's too easy to assume that your target market use one particular social platform or another. Thankfully, each social site is a search engine in and of itself, which makes it easy to find conversations about your industry, products and services. Use search to find the conversations and prove people's propensity to discuss your chosen topics on a given platform, before you start reaching out.
Make it Manageable
If you've researched the conversations well enough, you'll likely find that there's no need to be maintaining a profile on every social media site available. I'm going to make the assumption that you've enough to do in your business, not to be spending hours on end composing status updates, sourcing images, and generally being interesting on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, AND many others. Making your efforts sustainable and consistent is more important than trying to be everywhere at once. Choose a few outposts, and focus on the quality of your connections thereon.
Getting your content noticed in the noisy world of social media requires eye-catching subject matter. That means photos and video. Grabbing the attention of your target audience is made all the more easier when you attach images to your updates, regardless of the platform. Just scan your own news feed on Facebook to see which posts make you stop and take notice. Odds are that more often than not, it's an image or video thumbnail that caught the eye.
Recognise the fact that people on Facebook aren't all on Twitter, and vice versa. As such, PLEASE try to avoid the all-too-common mistake of auto-posting all your Tweets to your Facebook timeline. Twitter may force you to restrict the length of your message to 140 characters, but Facebook doesn't. Similarly, hashtags really haven't made a successful transition, despite Facebook's best efforts. Similarly, there's no place for stock images and text overlay on your Instagram feed. Consider the audience as being unique to any one platform, and provide content that suits the audience and the platform, for better engagement and better results.
There are enough businesses on social media in broadcast mode. Try posting nothing but outbound messages for a while, and see what level of engagement you get. What followers you do attract will soon be turned off by the omni-directional nature of your messages. Instead, strike up conversations with others, mention them, and turn the spotlight elsewhere once in a while. You'll get far better engagement, more followers, and greater clickthroughs, when required.
Get the Right Mix of Engagement and Action
To that end, getting the mix of engagement and action is critical. Engagement posts can be just for the hell of it - a funny or topical post, just to provoke thought, or to get a positive reaction. Every now and then, however, our business head must take over, and a call-to-action shared. A link to an article on our own blog would be a prime example - something to get prospects off our social profiles and onto our website. There's no magic formula or ratio. Try mixing it up in different ways, and seeing what reaction you get from your unique audience.
Across networks, there's always some form of topic or news story doing the rounds. The trending topics we now see on Twitter and Facebook are an opportunity to link your own content to a subject that has heightened interest. This is known (in the trade) as "Newsjacking". For a great example, check out the story of the Australian insurance firm that decided to insure US President Barack Obama against death by crocodile, during a state visit, which gained the firm thousands of media mentions on the day the news broke. You don't need a visiting dignitary to attach your own story to something "of the moment", but do ensure that it's done seamlessly, and in good taste!
Connect with Influencers
Building your own following from scratch can be a very time-consuming and laborious task. Luckily, the tops social sites have been around long enough for a great many people to have built up an audience of your target buyers, already. The trick is to connect with those non-competing "influencers" in a way that benefits you both, and forge joint venture partnerships that at their simplest mean an exchange of content, and at their most complicated involve commercial deals or affiliate fees. Regardless, find those who speak to your target audience, and start engaging today.
It's a bit too much to expect that others will like and share your content, if you're not doing the same. Better than expecting engagement, consider sharing and liking the content of others, free from the expectation of anything in return. If you promote a culture of engagement, then others will surely find their way to doing the same for you.
Growing awareness of your brand can only really be proven if you're measuring what matters. Many platforms will provide engagement statistics - Facebook Page Insights will show the likes and shares your content enjoys, for example. In addition, though, consider using tracking links in your posts, using a URL shortener such as bit.ly which will then show you the number of click-throughs on those links. Take a look at your web analytics, too, to see which platforms and other sites provide the most referral traffic. Using these insights, you can learn what works and what doesn't, and respond with appropriate action to continually optimise your approach.
There you go! Which of those are you already using, and which tips will you be using to grow your brand awareness in future?