Social media doesn’t feel very “social” when you’re just another face in the crowd, does it?
And then we look at the likes of GoPro, Wendy’s or Starbucks with their rabid followers and wonder how we can replicate just a fraction of their performance.
The reality, though? If you’re struggling to stand out as a brand, you’re definitely not alone.
Based on data from Sprout’s 2018 Social Index, brand awareness represents social marketers’ top priority right now.
But given how competitive the modern social landscape has become, perhaps this isn’t much of a surprise.
With more and more people taking to social media to research and sound off on brands, getting your target audience’s attention is easier said than done.
So what does an effective brand awareness strategy look like, anyway? How do you become a familiar face within your followers’ feeds versus someone they just scroll past?
We’ve highlighted twelve strategies businesses of all sizes can take to boost their brand awareness. From fine-tuning your profile to experimenting with your content, any combination of these tips are fair game.
And with that, let’s dive right in!
1. Give Your Social Presence Some Personality
First thing’s first: your social media presence shouldn’t look like everyone else’s.
And while this may seem obvious, many brands fall into the trap of becoming robotic.
They play it totally safe. They post a picture or link, tack on a few hashtags and call it a day.
Here’s the deal, though: that’s not how you stand out. Not by a long shot.
Moonpie is a shining example of a seemingly “boring” brand that’s exploded in popularity because of their distinct voice and sense of humor.
Tips for a safe and fun Fourth of July
1. Do not eat any fireworks
2. Eat a MoonPie – the American Classic!
3. Respect the heck out of some bald eagles
4. You may also eat hamburgers and a hotdog
— MoonPie (@MoonPie) July 4, 2018
Sure, it’d be easy for them to post generic promos. However, it’s their off-the-wall personality that’s made them so endearing to followers.
And “personal” is the keyword here. Followers want to see more than promos and links: they want personal, human-centric content. That’s why selfies and story-driven posts typically perform so well.
View this post on Instagram
On this Rio history walk, your host Thais will share the long past of the Afro-Brazilians. She's spent years learning about traditional communities like Quilombos. Get ready for an eye-opening experience, photo opportunities at historical sites like the Pedra do Sal and a new dear friend in Thais. For more #AirbnbExperiences created by locals like Thais, click the link in our bio.
Instagram pages like that of Humans of New York post almost exclusively story-based content. They’ve amassed nearly 8 million followers solely through tugging at the heartstrings of their fans.
View this post on Instagram
“A couple weeks ago we were coming home from visiting my brother in Long Island and we stopped at a burger place off the highway. He had a Junior Whopper. I had a Whopper. We split the fries. And while we were eating, he said: ‘You know what Daddy? You’re a really great Daddy. I love you Daddy.’ And that got me. I almost choked on my burger. Because it wasn’t bedtime. He wasn’t leaving for school. It was just off the cuff.”
Marketers are told time and time again to create “unique” content. It might sound corny, but the person behind your social presence represents a one-of-a-kind voice.
Before you hit “post,” make a point to ask yourself: “Does this sound like something a bot would say?”
2. Fine-Tune Your Profiles
Recognition is a key element of building brand awareness.
When followers glance at your social profiles, they should be able to understand what you’re all about. Likewise, they should recognize that you are, well, you.
From social bios to profile images, how you set up your profile determines whether or not people recognize you. Check out how ThinkGeek has a clean logo and nerdy Facebook cover photo to match…
…while boasting the same logo and branded bio copy on Pinterest.
Spoiler alert: people’s attention spans are microscopic. You only have a few seconds to grab someone’s attention and say “Hey, this is who I am.” A clean, well-optimized profile and photo is key to spelling out your brand to someone who might not know you.
3. Make Your Posts Pop
Here’s a common thread between most of our brand awareness tips: a bit of creativity can score you major brownie points with followers.
For example, check out how oVertone makes bold use of color throughout both their Instagram bio and content.
This sort of content does double-duty of highlighting their brands’ voice and making scrollers stop in their Instagram feeds to drop a “like.”
Not taking eye-popping images featuring your products? No problem. The principle of making your posts pop rings true in content marketing, too.
Notice how Sprout’s blog posts are all coupled with these colorful illustrations instead of generic stock photos?
Pinterest’s users are far-reaching and high spenders. Did you know: 55% of users use the network to shop? Keep this in mind as you plan your next marketing campaign! https://t.co/dW2eAP1YhT
— Sprout Social (@SproutSocial) July 10, 2018
Or how brands like Hubspot couple their Twitter chats with image macros instead of just using text?
— HubSpot (@HubSpot) July 10, 2018
Anything you can do aesthetically to make your posts stand out is a point in your favor. Even if you’re not a design master, there are plenty of image creation tools to help you whip up some eye-catching imagery.
4. Tag Others to Get Them Talking
Tagging (@ mentioning) is a brilliant brand awareness strategy because it only takes about half a second and instantly amplifies your content.
Think about it. Anyone you tag via Twitter or Instagram instantly receives a notification, meaning you win an extra opportunity for engagement. Not only that, but it’s a surefire way to make positive impressions on others players in your industry.
If you have an opportunity to give someone a shoutout, go for it.
So many metrics, so little time. In this nifty list, I broke down some pretty sweet #social monitoring tools including @simplymeasured @BuzzSumo and @Brandwatch (and of course, @SproutSocial !): https://t.co/Z6bC3L4ULC #smm
— Brent Barnhart (@brentwrites) March 5, 2018
5. Harness the Power of Hashtags
In our guide to how to use hashtags, we note that social posts with hashtags receive more engagement than those without them.
While each network has its own best practices, hashtags don’t have to be rocket science. Hashtags instantly make your posts searchable and smaller, niche tags help introduce your brand to dedicated communities of potential fans.
View this post on Instagram
Awesome Dr Strange project by #Repost @billybolt ・・・ Some people asked if I was going to make the green time spell from Doctor Strange. I already made those haha . . . . . #cosplay #cosplayer #drstrange #marvel #craft #marvelcomics #drstrange #mcu #magic #comiccon #green #spell #dnd #anime #fullmetalalchemist #fma #manga #otaku #drfate #zatanna #dc #dccomics #batman #cosplayprop #lit
Also, consider how creating your own hashtag is a smart move from a brand awareness perspective. Smaller, local brands can use their own branded hashtag like bigger brands: it’s all about reinforcing your identity and encouraging others to engage with you.
View this post on Instagram
This is our Elvis doughnut but a filled version. Chocolate Bavarian Cream filling, with banana icing, chopped peanuts and banana chips 🙂 We also have: Fruity Pebz Cotton Candy Caramel choc chip Strawberry Lemonade Passion Fruit Strawberry Blueberry Sprankle Glazed Churro UFO Apple Fritter Don't forget to tag us in your photos! #valkyriedoughnuts #dairyfree #eggfree #notglutenfree #tonsofgluten #orlandogoods
6. Creative Commenting
Not unlike tagging, people receive notifications in real-time for social comments.
Let’s be honest: most social comments aren’t exactly compelling. This spells good news for brands who are willing to put a bit more thought into comments beyond “Nice! or “Cool!”
Posting creative or thoughtful comments is a great way to break through such noise. It’s also another opportunity to show off your brand’s personality to potential followers.
7. Repurpose Your Content
If you’re like most marketers, you’re probably trying to boost brand awareness across multiple networks, right?
In that case, it’s important to repurpose your content to fit in with the best practices of each platform. After all, what works best on Instagram might not be prime for Facebook or Twitter.
For example, let’s say you publish a killer case study. Rather than post a mere link, taking the time to package it into an infographic is a surefire way to score shares and links alike.
— Forbes Asia (@ForbesAsia) July 10, 2018
As such, one-size-fits-all content and captions aren’t going to win your brand much attention.
Photos. Videos. Blogs. Your stuff. Other people’s stuff.
To keep your feed from growing stale, you should always have new social media ideas on the backburner to keep your feed fresh.
8. Break Your Own News
According to Buzzsumo’s current state of content, the best performing pieces on social media are those that people can reference.
Stats. Case studies. Surveys.
If your brand is conducting any sort of original research, it can be a huge authority booster that does wonders for brand awareness, too.
— Sprout Social (@SproutSocial) June 5, 2018
And if you’re not in a position where such research is possible, don’t panic.
Consider how you can comment on industry trends and happenings from your point-of-view. The takeaway here is that you should be contributing to the ongoing conversation of your industry at large versus just sitting on the sidelines.
9. Experiment with Your Captions
Social captions are yet another opportunity to let your brand’s voice be heard.
Again, no big brand or influencer simply drops a link without some sort of commentary. Captions can pique people’s interest and encourage engagement, giving a sort of taste to readers before they click through.
Seattle, we have a serious, insidious problem. https://t.co/oAmOJJGOxN
— Rand Fishkin (@randfish) July 4, 2018
As evidenced by the wealth of creative Instagram hashtags and captions out there, creativity counts. Whether through emojis or cracking jokes, captions are prime real estate for connecting with followers and letting them know exactly who you are.
10. Use Social as a Tool for Teaching
In the marketing world, the brands that tend to stand out are the ones that strive to teach their audiences.
Educational and “how-to” content is widely sought after on just about every social network. Posting such content regularly positions you both as a positive resource and a thought leader.
I've always been a side projects person because it helps me avoid burnout. Do you have a side gig that helps keep you creative? https://t.co/X1nG9RHe96
— Kaleigh Moore (@kaleighf) May 30, 2018
This principle applies to non-marketers, too. The more opportunities to show off your brand’s product or know-how, the better. Just think about how popular tutorials are on Pinterest to see the power of educational content in action.
11. Don’t Be Afraid of Being Opinionated
According to our own data, people want brands to take a stand.
Parroting what everyone is saying might be “safe,” but doesn’t do much in terms of brand awareness. The previously noted Buzzsumo study also highlights that “political and tribal” content performs particularly well these days.
That’s not to say you should go out and alienate your audience, but you should stand by your brands’ principles and beliefs. Wearing them on your sleeve can get people talking and serve as a way to stand out against your competitors.
You almost surely haven’t budgeted time, energy, or dollars for “whatever it takes”. That’s also code for “at all costs,” and when you stop discussing costs, you know they’re going to spiral. #ItDoesntHaveToBeCrazyAtWork
— Jason Fried (@jasonfried) June 25, 2018
Of course, the key here is to tread lightly. The name of the game is being bold for the sake of your brand, not stirring the pot just because you can.
12. Show Up Consistently
Finally, consider that nobody can truly be aware of your brand if you don’t post consistently.
Based on Sprout’s own data on the best times to post on social media, brands are expected to push content out multiple times per day across multiple networks.
And if your brand isn’t, there’s a non-zero chance that someone else in your space is.
To help you save time and to make the process of showing up easier, having a scheduling tool such as a Sprout on deck can be game-changer.
The more ground you and your brand can cover, the better. It all comes down to having a specific strategy which makes the most out of the time you spend on social media.
And with that, we conclude our list!
What Does Your Brand Awareness Strategy Look Like?
Building buzz around your brand might take a bit of experimenting, but having a dedicated awareness strategy remains the number one concern of businesses today.
And by following the principles outlined above, you poise yourself toward becoming a brand that sticks out in the minds of your audience.
We want to hear from you, though. What makes a brand stand out to you on social media? If you’ve been struggling to figure out how to increase brand awareness, what’s been tripping you up? Let us know in the comments below!
What to post on each social channel to stand out from the crowdPublished on April 1, 2021 Reading time 8 minutes
Social Spotlight: How Tim Hortons puts people first in its social strategyPublished on April 1, 2021 Reading time 4 minutes
How to build a B2B social strategy (that isn’t boring)Published on March 22, 2021 Reading time 7 minutes
How to use Slack to keep your remote team productive and engagedPublished on March 17, 2021 Reading time 6 minutes