What does it take to build brand awareness?
In the old days, a steady drumbeat of messaging across a few audience-preferred channels might have done the trick. Today, we have brand mascots faking forbidden romances, sponsored dance challenges and internet beefs over—ironically enough—chicken sandwiches.
Building a memorable brand image takes some big swings, but you have to walk before you can run. To help, we’re breaking down the why and how behind driving and measuring brand awareness.
Table of contents
- What is brand awareness?
- How to measure brand awareness
- 12 proven strategies to increase brand awareness with social media
- Take your brand awareness strategy to the next level
What is brand awareness?
Brand awareness is the extent to which audiences are familiar with your brand’s identity and its product or services. It is the bedrock of your sales funnel. After all, you need to be able to recognize a brand to trust and buy from it.
A high level of brand awareness is the competitive edge that keeps a business top of mind for consumers. Brands with high levels of consumer recognition can even become synonymous with their product. For example, when someone needs to fix a permanent writing mistake, they’re usually not asking for “correction fluid”; they’re asking for Wite-Out.
Of course, achieving that level of brand recognition is a lofty goal. Our advice? Start where you are. Focus on building awareness within targeted audiences and grow from there.
Why is brand awareness important?
Every customer journey begins with the same step. That step is brand awareness.
Jokes aside, your brand awareness strategy will set the tone for a person’s entire experience with your brand. Start things out on the right foot, and you could be sowing the seeds for your next crop of brand advocates.
If that’s not enough, don’t worry—it’s not even the best part.
As your brand awareness strategy matures, you’ll soon find that the most effective awareness drivers don’t come from your official brand channels: they come from your fans. Our research shows that the most effective purchase drivers on social media are recommendations from friends, comments and product reviews and familiarity with a brand.
Brand awareness creates a community that generates word of mouth buzz, ‘I love this product, and I know you will too.’ Your community knows what their friends and family like. Your audience becomes a pipeline to your most relevant customer in the exact moment their friends and family need your product. That is the power of brand awareness.
Social Media and Email Marketing Lead, ServiceMaster Brands
Combine positive brand sentiment with high brand recognition and you get fans. Fans beget more fans. Brand awareness truly is the gift that keeps on giving.
How to measure brand awareness
Connecting brand awareness to ROI can feel like trying to explain how to get from Chicago to San Francisco by foot. Sure, it’s doable but it’s pretty complicated. We’ve simplified this process by creating a brand awareness roi calculator tool to help measure the impact that employee advocacy has on your brand’s awareness.
The classic marketing funnel looks straightforward but in reality, every customer journey is different and some can be much longer than others. Trying to track and assign value to every interaction between awareness and purchase simply isn’t the best use of anyone’s time.
Just because you can’t put an exact dollar value on your awareness efforts doesn’t mean they should go untracked. There are actually quite a few ways to track your efforts as you pilot new awareness strategies. Here are some of our favorites that you can try.
Brand surveys are routine (often biannual) surveys that assess what an audience thinks and feels about your brand. Data from brand surveys can be used to track brand perception over time, providing businesses with the insights needed to shape their brand’s image in the right direction.
Unfortunately, these surveys take weeks (if not months) to design and distribute. If you want more timely data, you’ll want to supplement a brand survey with the following options.
Tracking month-over-month differences in web traffic isn’t an exact measurement of brand awareness. However, it’s much easier to connect web traffic to ROI making it a management-preferred reporting metric.
As you test out new brand awareness tactics, use Google Analytics to see how those changes impact growth in new users. That will give you a rough estimate of how your efforts translated to site traffic.
Every day, people turn to social to rant and rave about the companies they love—and the ones they don’t. The right social listening tool can help you synthesize that chatter into timely, actionable brand insights.
If you use Sprout’s social listening tool, here are just a few of the metrics you can pull to understand how conversations are trending around your brand:
- Total message volume tracks the total amount of messages shared around your brand.
- Sentiment summary measures how people are feeling about your brand and whether or not it’s trending positively.
- Share of voice compares your brand’s market share on social to its top competitors.
12 proven strategies to increase brand awareness with social media
Social is a go-to channel for raising brand awareness. But how do you become a familiar face within your followers’ feeds versus someone they just scroll past?
There’s no one correct answer to that question. The truth is, the options are as limitless as your creativity. If you want to use social media for brand awareness, use these 12 ideas to jumpstart your efforts. From fine-tuning your profile to experimenting with your content, any combination of these tips will help you rise above the noise.
1. Give your social presence some personality
First things first: your social media presence shouldn’t look like everyone else’s.
One of the most persistent social media marketing myths is that only certain industries can have a “fun” social presence. Fast food, retail, sports—those brands can get experimental. Everyone else has to play it safe.
That couldn’t be more wrong.
If you don’t believe me, just take a look at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s social strategy.
Side effects include
-crop and habitat damage
— Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (@OKWildlifeDept) October 13, 2022
It would be easy for them to just share some cute animal pictures every now and then. 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. Maybe that’s why the “man on the street” style interviews are exploding on TikTok.
The social team at Triple Whale took notice of the trend and made it work for their brand. Now, they’ve amassed over 2 million views on TikTok.
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 the basics of your brand, its purpose and its personality.
From social bios to profile images, how you set up your profile determines whether or not people recognize you. For example, check out how Hinge has their Twitter profile set up.
Brands only get a few seconds to grab someone’s attention and tell a quick story. By using their cover photo as a chance to reinforce their purpose and tagline, Hinge gets their message across quickly.
If you can’t sum up your brand ethos in a few characters and 1500×500 pixels, don’t worry. A clean, well-optimized profile and photo are enough to establish your brand with new audiences.
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 Bloom Nutrition makes use of their signature pink and green across a variety of post formats on Instagram.
This visual content strategy reinforces their brand regardless of whether or not a user actually watches their videos in full.
Don’t have 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?
After almost 20 years of #pumpkinspice frenzy, is the trend finally slowing down?
👀 We used Listening to find the answer. https://t.co/Fy7pp3HkhE
— Sprout Social (@SproutSocial) October 4, 2022
Or how brands like Hubspot couple important announcements with graphics instead of just using text?
For the second year in a row, HubSpot is named a Leader in the 2022 Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for B2B Marketing Automation Platforms for its offering, Marketing Hub. 🎉
— HubSpot (@HubSpot) September 21, 2022
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 social media post templates to help you whip up some eye-catching imagery.
4. Collaborate with other brands
You know what they say: Teamwork makes the dream work. When brands collaborate on new releases or campaign ideas, both parties get a chance to introduce themselves to new audiences.
WAKE UP & MAKEUP 🍩💄☕️ e.l.f. runs on @dunkindonuts drops 3/31/22 on our site, exclusively available to our Beauty Squad loyalty program members 🤩
Coming to @ultabeauty 4/3/22 online & in-stores.
— e.l.f. Cosmetics (@elfcosmetics) March 30, 2022
Keep an eye out for strategic partnerships as you watch over your industry’s content landscape. You never know who could be the best fit for your dream team.
5. Harness the power of hashtags
Do hashtags work anymore? According to 72% of our LinkedIn community, the answer is yes.
Every now and then a viral hot take will try to force hashtagging into an early grave. Fret not, my fellow marketers, the hashtag is alive and well. If you’re choosing relevant, brand-applicable hashtags, they’re a surefire way to increase impressions on your posts.
When choosing which hashtags to include in your posts, consider both the network you’re posting on and the trends that are driving conversations at the moment. Take this Halloween-themed TikTok from Heinz, for example:
This video uses two different hashtag strategies. First, they came up with a hashtag campaign (#VegetarianVampire) to introduce their new spooky season character. Then, they used a hashtag that’s almost constantly trending on TikTok (#WhatIEatInADay) to push the video to a wider audience. These hashtags work together to establish and amplify the Heinz brand.
6. Take it to the comments
As more networks experiment with algorithmically ranked comment sections, marketers are gaining new territory to make their brands known.
Take this viral content series from creator Emily Zugay. Her hilarious redesigns of famous logos had brands rushing to her comments for their turn in the spotlight.
The top comments on her most popular post have over a hundred thousand likes each. On top of that, this video has been liked over 6 million times. That’s some seriously valuable brand exposure for every brand that’s secured a top spot in the comment section.
As you scroll through your social feed, keep an eye out for viral posts that relate to your brand or industry. When it comes to brand awareness, there’s no shame in riding on coattails.
7. Repurpose your content
If you’re like most marketers, you’re probably trying to boost brand awareness across multiple networks.
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.
Check out these two posts from You Need a Budget to see what we mean.
Hey Nashville, YNABers! Busy this weekend? 😉 We'd love to see you at our first ever YNAB Gathering!! 🥳We'll have special guests, games, prizes and swag! Oh, and did I mention it's free to attend? 🤩 Tickets are limited so don't wait to claim yours!https://t.co/Y4pZUkd0cZ
— YNAB (@ynab) October 13, 2022
Both posts drive to the same call to action. However, the Tweet is much shorter and to the point. The Facebook post, on the other hand, relies on an eye-catching visual and emojis to stand out in newsfeeds.
It just goes to show that 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 back burner to keep your feed fresh.
8. Share a distinct point of view
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.
How much does it pay??? 🤔
We picked a few popular job titles and looked up their base pay figures on Glassdoor (tips and bonuses aren't included in the total).
— Glassdoor (@Glassdoor) September 26, 2022
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. For example, our social team put their own spin on third-party data from AdWeek by adding a specific call to action for B2B marketers.
If you walk away with one thing, remember that working with creators will only become more important for all brands. We're talking to you too, B2B brands. via @thisiskis, @Adweek https://t.co/cgdLe8wycf
— Sprout Social (@SproutSocial) August 14, 2022
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 social copy
We’ve talked a lot about visuals, but text is yet another opportunity to showcase your brand’s social persona. Use your copy to pique people’s interest and encourage engagement, giving a sort of taste to readers before they click through.
You can look to The Cut for inspiration on this one. Their Tweets always pair perfectly with article link previews, creating a post you can’t help but click.
Fashion month may have finally come to an end this week, but we’ve already got a different sort of street style to look forward to: Carrie Bradshaw and the girls are back https://t.co/NXY5uYpWXr
— The Cut (@TheCut) October 16, 2022
Don’t count out the power of a well-crafted text post. Once you find your brand voice, it can be a prime opportunity for connecting with followers and letting them know exactly who you are.
10. Use social as a teaching tool
Educational and “how-to” content is widely sought after on just about every social network. We surveyed consumers for The Sprout Social Index™ 2023 and found the content they like to see the most from brands are posts that highlight a product or service and real customer demos.
Replying to @mikkelsenkaren YES YOU CAN! ✨ Let @SOFIA TILBURY & @harris_reed show you how! 💎 #CharlotteTilbury
Posting such content regularly positions you both as a positive resource and a thought leader. The more opportunities to show off your brand’s product or know-how, the better.
11. Partner with creators
The creator economy is thriving. A new crop of trendsetters and thought leaders rises up every other week. No matter what industry you work in, there’s probably a social media content creator making waves with your target audience.
That’s probably why marketers rank connecting with new audiences as the second most popular reason for collaborating with creators. When you think about it, it’s kind of like the online equivalent of getting introduced to someone through a mutual friend.
12. Show up consistently
Finally, consider that nobody can truly be aware of your brand if you don’t post consistently.
According to The Sprout Social Index, 74% of consumers think brands should post 1-2 times per day. To help you save time and to make the process of showing up easier, having a scheduling tool such as Sprout on deck can be a 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!
Take your brand awareness strategy to the next level
Building buzz around your brand takes an eye for both experimentation and data. Try new things, report on what works, rinse, repeat.
And when the workload gets too high, try automating some of your routine responsibilities. Sprout’s scheduling and analytics tools can remove bulky, manual processes from your day-to-day so you can focus on creating new brand awareness strategies that gain and retain loyal followers.
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