16 ways to build a better social media presence
It’s a fact of life—every brand should be building a social media presence. If you’re not in customers’ social feeds, you’re not in their awareness. What social media buys you is a presence in each customer’s mind, whether they’re consciously consuming or casually browsing.
There is an ever-growing list of social media giants to consider. Think LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube, Twitch and more. Each of these networks has its own demographic, ethos and methodology, and requires a subtly different approach.
Creating a social media presence warrants a strategic and focused approach. So let’s run through some tips and social media strategies that will help you create a competitive and compelling brand presence.
Let’s begin with some definitions.
What is social media presence?
Social media presence is your brand personality expressed in the bite-sized visuals and messages of social media. It’s the face you show to the world, reaching both committed customers and first-time visitors. Building a social media presence increases awareness and helps define what makes your brand unique.
It’s also where you can inject personality and humor through a carefully curated social media feed.
Why does social media presence matter to a brand?
In 2023, it is estimated that there are 4.89 billion social media users worldwide. That presents a phenomenal opportunity to get your brand noticed.
Social media feeds become individually curated reflections of their users’ likes and values. Brands can respond by creating content that resonates with their audience’s interests and values.
In The Sprout Social Index™ 2022, we saw consumers’ preference for brands that align with their values increase 74% between 2021 and 2022. Consumers want to associate with brands that resonate with their individual personalities more and more.
What does this mean for brands building a social media presence? In a word—targeting. Get a social media strategy right and you can achieve virality and take off. Just like Candy Funhouse, whose use of TikTok took the brand from a small brick-and-mortar business to an online celebrity with over 3.3 million followers.
Established brands can hit new heights too. British clothing retailer ASOS achieved a 24% rise in sales during the COVID-19 lockdowns due to its highly responsive social media strategy that leveraged micro-influencers and focused on popular lockdown fashions in leisurewear and activewear.
A popular presence doesn’t happen by chance—it is strategically planned. Virality won’t sustain a brand if it can’t ride that initial wave of interest with engaging content and messaging. Consistency is key to an enduring presence.
With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of 16 best practices for success in building a social media presence to grow your brand
16 tips for building a social media presence
1. Set SMART goals
This means your objectives should be:
- Specific: Give concrete targets (followers, views, shares).
- Measurable: How will you know you’ve succeeded?
- Achievable: Are your targets realistic?
- Relevant: Do your KPIs (key performance indicators) measure engagement?
- Time-bound: Set a fixed point for assessing campaign success.
Take a tip from creators and influencers. They are often explicit with their goals and targets (i.e., “Help me reach 100,000 followers!”). This will help you define a strategy that is focused on the growth you want to achieve.
2. Identify your audience
Social media is all about segmentation. Are you targeting younger users? Then use TikTok or Twitch. Older customers might prefer Facebook or Instagram, whereas B2B sales require a presence on LinkedIn. Identify who your typical users are and zero in on those you want to target.
This way you’ll reach a segment that’s best suited to your business. By using tools like Sprout Social’s audience targeting you can choose criteria like location, age, gender, interests and more to target your ideal customers.
3. Be human
With every share, like, hashtag, comment or follow, social media users are actively engaging with your content. To maximize this, be yourself. Be approachable, honest and real. Talk directly and honestly to your customers and they’ll reward you with their loyalty.
For example, Innocent Drinks uses a conversational tone to connect with their audience. Their Twitter profile, in particular, consistently features their quirky humor, which has garnered them almost 300,000 followers.
4. Seek relationships, not just followers
Social media marketing best practice requires you to build a two-way relationship between you and the consumer.
Relationship building is more than just about selling. It’s about actively engaging in social listening, and demonstrating values your customers appreciate while providing excellent customer service.
For example, Red Bull builds relationships with followers not only through great content aimed at converting extreme sports fans into their fans, but also actively engaging with them on social channels.
A look at their Twitter handle shows how they invest in responding to almost every comment, thereby giving personal attention to every follower.
5. Create an editorial calendar
A social media content calendar helps you manage your content and posting schedule. Keep track of content themes and campaigns, and get a mile-high view of your posting frequency to make sure you’re meeting your audience when and where they are on a social network.
Calendar tools like Sprout’s help you streamline your social posts, from planning to posting, across channels in one place.
Use this guide to get a complete view of how you can create and leverage a social media calendar.
6. Automate the right way
Use automation to prepare batches of posts, simplify your schedule and ensure you post at the optimum time. Sprout’s social media management tools enable you to schedule posts during times when your audience is most engaged.
If you have a multi-location presence, automated scheduling and posting can help you deliver content to customers across different time zones. For example, Facebook’s global reach means a weekday 3 am slot may be one of the best times to engage with your global audience.
Automated replies can improve your customer care by immediately acknowledging a comment or direct message, and even answering frequently asked questions.
Similarly, automate your reporting and other admin tasks, so you can dig into audience data and focus your time on building connections with your following.
7. Focus on helping over selling
The hard sell doesn’t usually work on social media.
Instead, assist your customers with their inquiries and offer added value. For instance, if you’re a clothing brand, you might offer styling tips, potentially working with a popular influencer. Or sponsor an ever-popular clothing haul, like Roxxsaurus’s for Shein.
Experiment with different types of content, like short tutorials on topics related to your product, or launch competitions and fun challenges. Focus on content that builds engagement and your bottom line.
Use social media to respond to queries and customer complaints. A well-handled complaint can raise the profile of a business, completely turning around what might seem like a negative event.
By doing so, you’re making your brand synonymous with helpfulness and responsiveness. Customers expect speedier, more direct interactions with brands. Our Index found that 35% of consumers expect a reply within two hours. When they mention your handle in their comments, it’s a good idea to respond.
8. When in doubt, get visual
Visual elements like image carousels, slideshows, animation, video content and GIFs draw the eye and create a point of interest. Infographics provider Venngage found that 73% of marketers consider visual content, whether photos, videos or graphics, a top priority in 2022.
Check out this eye-catching visual from Lyft’s YouTube page.
Whether it’s exquisitely styled food photography, startling informatics or celebrity endorsements, visuals are usually more satisfying than blocks of text.
9. Make your presence known
Make your social media presence known in a manner that suits your brand. Promote your presence across channels and create unique content that aligns with your brand and captures your audience’s attention such as special discounts or exclusive behind-the-scenes content. Lead with your strongest, most dramatic content.
Don’t forget music. Use trending sounds or license-free music. If you can’t get permission for it, then enlist creators to create earworms that listeners find hard to shake.
10. Stay active
Remember to use that calendar function to maintain a regular posting schedule. Experiment with frequency and times to find out how often to post and when.
It’s not just about posting. An active presence also requires replying to comments and direct messages. Allow open direct messaging (so long as you respond) and keep a library of saved responses for FAQs.
Social listening tools will ensure you don’t miss any trends in consumer sentiment. Use it for crisis management by catching conversations you’re not tagged in or identifying potential problems before they blow up.
11. Piggyback on what’s trending
It’s worth following trends and joining in, where appropriate.
For example, when the Netflix show “Wednesday” was trending, we referenced the character “Thing” while still focusing on our messaging in this Instagram reel.
Influencers often lead the way in trend-spotting and opinion shaping, so it’s worth following the key personalities in your sector to keep up to date. When you piggyback on a trend, make sure you’re sincere. In other words, only follow trends that align with your values. Consumers will sense insincerity and be turned off by it.
12. Don’t be afraid to pay
While social media profiles can build organically, there’s no harm in paying for advertising or marketing to provide an early boost.
A combination of paid marketing and organic growth is the best way to build a social media brand. Use social ads, sponsored content or boosted posts to improve reach. As a rule of thumb, social media budgets have averaged around 14% to 15% of marketing spend since 2021.
Plus, partner with influencers to tap into their engaged followings and create unique content that positions your brand alongside trusted personalities.
Genuine first-person endorsements count for a lot on social media. It’s not about selling a specific product or service or even imprinting a brand identity on viewers. It’s about developing a direct relationship with customers.
From a 9.7 billion USD market value in 2020, influencer marketing grew to 16.4 billion USD in 2022. Even without explicit endorsement, a brand sponsor can insinuate itself into the consciousness of viewers with the right kind of social media placement.
Influencers and creators come in all shapes and sizes, so it’s about finding the right one that aligns with your brand and target audience.
13. Monitor your engagement and strategy
Regularly assess your metrics and find out what content and which platforms are delivering the best results. Are GIFs popular with your customers or do they prefer video content? Are you getting engagement from your target audience, and are you hitting your SMART objectives?
Most social media platforms offer built-in analytics to monitor your post performance and social media campaigns. These include impressions, clicks, shares, likes and comments, all of which can also provide audience insights.
Sprout’s social analytics tools enable you to dig deeper into the engagement data from your profiles, including post-performance, and competitor and sentiment analysis. Gain insights into trends and patterns that will inform future strategy and timely optimizations. Plus, gather data that helps prove your social strategy’s ROI.
14. Create content people want to see
By looking at what people like, share and comment on, you can find out what resonates with your customers. Of course, this will alter, and you’ll have to change direction with it. What memes are they sharing? Are short-form videos beating longer content? Is informatic content trending?
Align your messaging with what entertains, educates, moves and stimulates. This way you meet your customers’ preferences while infusing your brand values into the content.
15. Don’t be afraid to experiment
Bold, brave approaches can sometimes achieve breakthroughs. Embrace and experiment with each platform’s content types while using your audience’s taste and your brand values as guide rails for experimentation.
For example, Pringles’ #playwithpringles campaign leaned into TikTok’s hashtag challenge culture to create engaging and interactive content that leverages the platform’s strengths and their Gen-Z audience’s content preferences.
The snack giant increased brand awareness across a range of territories by encouraging users to film fun TikTok videos using the iconic Pringles tube. The strategy worked, generating over 4.6 billion views. More importantly, it revitalized the brand voice for a new audience of consumers.
For some more standout social media campaigns, check out this article.
Companies with the best social media presence
Need more inspiration? Here are three more companies with the best social media presence.
Boasting over 21 million followers, the beauty brand’s Instagram page showcases products and offers helpful makeup tips. Longer tutorials are available on their YouTube channel (1.36 million subscribers).
They’ve expanded on this content with “stories of belonging,” which feature the inspiring stories of LGBTQI+ and BIPOC influencers. Seamlessly connecting their products with their’s and customers’ values, this approach positions the brand as inclusive while building awareness and welcoming everyone in.
Japanese sweets, like ice-cream-filled mochi, became a big deal on TikTok in 2022. Little Moons achieved a 2000% increase in sales in the UK within a few weeks due to their superlative use of social media. Their videos pair the bold colors and tastes of their products with popular sounds and stickers to make their brand a part of the conversation.
As the brand expands its podcast offering and marshals a recruitment drive, its presence on LinkedIn has grown.
Spotify’s regular short posts link to its podcast, job opportunities and charitable outreach, but centers their messaging around socially conscious work from the brand. This brings to the forefront their mission and commitment to their values, which has earned them over 3.28 million followers on LinkedIn.
Social media presence brings you closer to your customers
Building a social media presence isn’t just something businesses do to keep up with the competition. It’s a marketing strategy that helps you build connections with your users.
More than that, social media lets you tap into niche audiences and grow your brand at scale. It also provides invaluable insights into how consumers view your product that can provide a competitive edge.
To achieve all that, of course, you need to be systematic. You need a plan.
Check out this 30-day social media plan we’ve created to help brands consider, design and implement an effective social media presence in just one month.
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