One of the most important marketing tools you have at your disposal is social media. Eighty-one percent of the U.S. population has a social media profile. And, using social media is free (for the most part). Why wouldn’t you want to sign your business up for as many social media channels as you could?

Using social media is a great way to brand your business. As a small business owner, you should create social media profiles for different channels. But, how do you brand your company across channels as different as LinkedIn (a professional networking site) and Instagram (a photo sharing site)?

You need to develop a social media branding strategy.

What is social media branding?

When you brand your business, you create things that highlight the uniqueness of your company (e.g., logos, names, etc.). Your brand helps consumers recognize and connect with your business.

Social media branding is how your business comes across to social media users. Use visuals and text to begin building your brand through social media.

Your business might receive a high return on investment (ROI) when using social media. For little to no money, you can bring in new customers, maintain current customer loyalty, and make more sales.

Social media branding tips

Using social media to build a brand is a necessary part of your marketing plan. But, social media can get confusing. Follow these social media branding tips to get started.

1. Choose your social media sites

There are tons of channels people all over the world use. Determining which ones to create profiles for can be difficult.

You can base your social media choices on a few different things: popularity, target audience, and ease of use.
Popularity of social media channels
For popularity, take a look at statistics from the Pew Research Center:

  • 68% of U.S. adults (ages 18-65+) use Facebook
  • 28% use Instagram
  • 26% use Pinterest
  • 25% use LinkedIn
  • 21% use Twitter

The majority of U.S. adults are on Facebook. The least number of adults use Twitter. If you are present on Facebook, you have a higher chance of reaching more people. But, you can’t base your decision on popularity alone. You also need to consider your target audience.
Relevance of social media channels
If you create social media pages based on people in your target audience, you need to know which channels they are using.

With Facebook, users create a profile and have access to events, groups, and more. LinkedIn is a professional networking site that businesses and people rely on for things like jobs and career development. Instagram lets users post photographs.

For example, if your company provides recruiting solutions and are trying to find clients, you might consider LinkedIn since it is a site that connects professionals.

Or, maybe you own a boutique that sells clothing. Because you want customers to see pictures of your clothes, you might consider an Instagram account. With this channel, you can show photos of your merchandise to users.

Easy-of-use of social media channels

If you aren’t comfortable with juggling multiple social media channels, consider ease of use. It’s better to stick with a few social channels that you regularly use (and use well) than to have many profiles that get no attention.

Use the social channels that make sense to you. Take time to create a strong profile for each social media page you have.

2. Keep your brand consistent across pages

So, should businesses brand themselves differently across social media? Put simply— no.

You should keep your social media brand image consistent across pages. Your brand includes aspects like your name, profile picture, bio, and theme.

Reserve your business name on all social media sites at one time, even if you don’t plan on using one immediately. This will make sure nobody else can take your name on that social media channel.

You can use your company’s mission statement as your bio. And, your profile picture can be your logo or even a photo of your business.

Keeping a consistent brand doesn’t mean the content you post should be the same on each channel. Content should fit the audience. Keep your brand the same, but change the content to reflect the site. Learning how to promote your brand on social media consistently and in a relevant manner for each different platform will take practice.

If you have a small business website (which you should), it should resemble your social media pages. Include links to your social media sites on your website. And, keep your website and social media pages consistent with any other marketing materials you send out to customers, including emails and flyers.

3. Don’t neglect social media pages

Again, make sure you don’t forget to post content on your social media sites regularly. You could lose followers if you don’t consistently post content. And, remember to interact with your followers whenever they mention your company.

Create a posting plan. A schedule will help you stay organized and avoid posting too much or too little. How often you post on each social media site might depend on the channel.

For example, you could make a schedule that looks like this:

  • Facebook: 1x per day (8 AM)
    Twitter: 3x per day (9 AM, 12 PM, 3 PM)
    LinkedIn: 1x per day (8 AM)

Experiment a little. Determine when your audience is most active and engaged with your content.

You can also add more detail to your schedule. Maybe you want to post blog entries on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. You can share promotions on Tuesday. Thursday you share fun facts. Find out what works for your company.

You can use applications like Buffer to help. With Buffer, you can schedule posts ahead of time into different social networking channels. Buffer will post your content at your selected time and date.

4. Be interesting on social media

Social media users don’t only want to see you advertising your business every day. They want information that they find interesting and can use.

To consistently post different content, create a business blog, and share your articles on your social pages. Share useful content related to your business. For example, if you own an accounting firm, you could post about changes to taxable wage bases.

Post information about promotions at your business. But, mix it in with other content.

Using social media to build your brand

When you use social media for your small business, you have instant access to build your brand. Use social media to keep in contact with current and future customers. Find the social media channels that add to your company’s bottom line and keep your target audience engaged.

Take advantage of social media branding, and come up with a system that works for your business.