Since we’re all in the branding business, you know how vital brand recognition can be to your shop. Getting really clear on your shop’s identity, values and uniqueness allows creation of a brand that defines your company—and in turn, a brand your clients identify with (and love).
“Establishing your brand online is an important aspect of your company’s success,” says Brooke Banta, co-founder of branding agency Bea + Elle. “Regardless of the social media platform, your brand should be recognizable and authentic to its values.”
Generating that level of recognition takes time and work. Start building your brand on social media today in 5 steps.
1. COVER YOUR BASICS
Before creating your social media accounts, you need to have all your brand ducks in a row. For starters, do you have an established and consistent logo, fonts, color palette, phraseology and voice?
“We follow a set of brand identity guidelines for consistency reasons,” says Nancy Mini, senior marketing coordinator at Madeira USA, “but more importantly we want the experience others have with the company to be exceptional.”
Banta points out that it’s extremely hard to stay on brand if there are no rules to guide brand presentation. “Create a brand guide that lays out all the aspects like a color palette, fonts, tone of voice and more,” she says. “Once you’ve got that set, it’s easy to have the guidelines accessible for your whole team. You can effectively communicate the do’s and don’ts of your brand to your staff.”
Next, If you already have a social media presence, it’s time to audit your accounts. This means your logo and banners need to be the same regardless of social platform. Create a consistent posting cadence, with the number and length of your posts across platforms. Consumers crave that kind of consistency.
2. CREATE YOUR CONTENT
Next, start planning out exactly what you’re going to post on the platforms you’ll use.
Your first instinct might be to get all your content onto every platform possible, but this might be overextending yourself. Instead, pick two or three (at most) platforms and focus on consistently managing those accounts well. For example, Madeira posts weekly to Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.
Consider also that your content will drive the type of social media platform you want to use. If you plan to create videos that show your business in action, you might want to focus on a video-based platform, such as Facebook or YouTube. Plan to include the following content types:
- Videos of your products being decorated and/or used;
- Photos of your finished products and your products being used or worn;
- Customer-created content including reviews, testimonials, and pictures of customers wearing or using your products; and
- Inspiration for new product customizations.
“Learn what type of content your ideal clients want to see,” Banta says. “Check out where your ideal clients hang out. What other accounts do they follow? What content do they engage the most with?”
You can turn that type of knowledge into your own content strategy. For example, April Forshee, owner of Marietta Monograms & Embroidery, knows her audience responds to Instagram stories about how she decorates. “Most of the general public doesn’t understand how embroidery works,” she says, “so they love seeing behind-the-scenes photos and videos about everything from setup to color matching to testing.”
Forshee also knows her audience likes when she introduces new products. She often uses videos to show off the full dimensionality of unique products that don’t always translate into photos. “Recently, I posted a video of a cork zippered pouch that has gold accents,” she says. “The photos don’t show the gold accents very well, but the video showed them so well! This really helps a buyer to know what they’re purchasing.”
3. POST INTERESTING CONTENT CONSISTENTLY
It’s important to build out a content schedule. “Every post should have a purpose and a desired measurable result,” Banta says. “Create a social media strategy that aligns with your company’s needs and goals. This will ensure that all of your assets are unified in the message they convey to your target audience. Creating a content calendar is a fabulous way to help you get things in line.”
Banta recommends posting daily on your favored platforms. It’s important to know where and how often you’ll post so you can plan out your content. “Focus on where your audience lives online so you’re posting most time-effectively,” she says. Forshee does this, posting daily photo-based posts just to Instagram and Facebook. She also creates multiple Instagram stories a day.
“If a photo is worth 1,000 words, then there’s an exponential value to video,” says Sam Young, Madeira’s vice president of sales and marketing. “Seeing a product in action combined with educational comments brings the story to life.” Madeira posts video content often, with a goal to help decorators problem solve using products and techniques.
Create a calendar to stay organized. You can map out a month or so ahead of time exactly what you plan to talk about and promote. Leave some room for things that may crop up. A calendar will prevent you from posting multiple content types back to back. Conversely, if you want to promote WFH kits or a seasonal offer, you can work out a cadence that’s consistent, but not overwhelming.
There are a lot of different types of calendar apps and templates available. Look over info about each app or template and try a few to find the one that is the best fit for you and your business’s needs.
4. SCHEDULE YOUR POSTS
If you want to engage and interact with your customers and prospects, they need to know where and when they can find you online.
For Madeira, timing is primarily driven by the opportunity to share a design type, a product note or a savings story for customers. A great example of this is Madeira’s new Facebook Live series, featuring Mini, covering four common fabric types and a set of embroidery solutions to achieve the best results.
Choose a social media scheduler. For example, Forshee likes Later.com. Other popular tools include Hootsuite and SproutSocial. The best ones tell you when you should post for maximum reach. If you’re not familiar with these, start by using a free scheduler app. Eventually, you’ll want to move up to one with notification and analytics.
When you’re posting (especially on Instagram), choose hashtags that will help your target audience find you. These are important for growth and branding and attract the audience that you want to reach. There are lots of great hashtag generator tools you can use.
5. CONNECT WITH YOUR AUDIENCE
Remember, there are billions of people using social media. There are also hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of businesses online trying to gain the attention of those potential customers. To be visible, you need to set yourself apart from the pack.
Connect with your audience by interacting with them. If a customer makes a comment, tags you in a post or DMs you, engage with them. This conversation shows your company is personable, and not a faceless shop.
Similarly, if someone posts a negative review of your business, try reaching out to them. This isn’t just important for keeping them as a customer. It’ll give other customers reading your response an opportunity to see how you handle issues and mistakes. Interacting through comments and customer service will help you make personal connections with your followers, showing that you care.
It’s a Social Media World. Build Your Brand to Reach Your Customers.
Social media is no longer an option—it’s a must-have. If you want to set yourself apart from others in the decorated-apparel space, you need to be social. This will help build your brand in the minds of your customers and allow them to connect with it on a deeper level.
And of course, don’t forget to audit your brand regularly. “Similar to humans, your brand’s needs and wants may change,” Banta says. “Look at your social media profiles to make sure they still match your brand’s look, feel, values and tone of voice. Every now and again, you might need to purge content that no longer feels in line with your brand.”