7 Social Branding Dos and Don’ts

The key to effective social branding goes beyond simply creating accounts on social media and “interacting.” There are things you have to do, and there are things you mustn’t do.

According to a recent study by Pardot, 80 percent of consumers are more likely to evaluate solutions from the brands they follow on social channels. It’s also been revealed that 67 percent of people are more likely to buy from brands they follow on Twitter, and that 79 percent of people will recommend brands they follow.

With more than 2.3 billion active social media users, social branding is a growing trend that your brand must learn to understand. The key to effective social branding, though, goes beyond simply creating accounts on social media and “interacting.” There are things you have to do, and there are things you mustn’t do. Thankfully, there’s ample research to show us what really works and what to avoid when building a social brand. Here are seven tips:

Be quick and responsive

Besides the fact that we’re suffering from declining attention spans (thanks to technology), research shows that most people do not just expect a response when they reach out to you on social media, they expect it to be quick and professional. Delayed or clumsy response is enough to kill your brand.

A notable example of a brand at the receiving end of the consequences of delayed social response is British Airways. After losing the luggage of Hassan Syed’s father—a British Airways customer—Syed created a social media campaign to create awareness about the airline’s lack of responsiveness toward helping find the missing luggage. When he got no response, Syed decided to pay to promote his tweets to create more awareness about the issue. The result was more than 25,000 impressions for his tweets about the airline in six hours, with other British Airways users rallying around Syed and also sharing their bad experiences with the airline.

At one point, Syed tweeted:

7 Hours & counting with no response from @British_Airways. Guess they don’t care about customer service or Twitter, LOL.

Syed’s tweet goes to show the importance of being quick and responsive. British Airways later fixed the issue, but the damage had been done.

A simple reply to your social media interactions from people–on time–can go a long way to boost your brand image. Research shows that 77 percent of people feel more positive about a brand if the brand responds to their tweet.

Don’t ignore users: Involve them

Right now more than ever, the power to make or mar a brand is in the hands of users. A single tweet, post or social media update–as seen in the British Airways example earlier referenced- can have a huge impact on a brand. Ignoring users can be fatal for your brand, but involving them can be immensely beneficial. Some good case studies:

In 2014, Starbucks invited users to decorate one of its cups with customized art and post a photo of it on Twitter with the hashtag #WhiteCupContest. The result was more than 4,000 entries in three weeks and a lot of social media activity that created positive awareness for Starbucks.

In perhaps one of the most effective examples of involving users to create social awareness, Tourism Queensland invited people to apply to be a caretaker of a tropical island in the Great Barrier Reef. All they had to do was create a video application and post it online. The public then voted for the best videos. A whopping 35,000-plus video apps were created, resulting in more than $368 million in earned media coverage and 55 million page views. As you can guess, many more people instantly became aware of the Tourism Queensland brand.

It will be difficult to end this list without including the popular Coca-Cola “Share a Coke” campaign. The company printed customers’ names on bottle labels and then asked them to share pictures of their personalized Coca-Cola bottles on social media. The result was massive social media interaction and engagement, as well as a 2 percent increase in U.S. sales for Coca-Cola after more than one decade of declining revenues.

Be real

The obsession with reality TV shows has found its place into social media, and it is essential that your brand adapt if you want to survive on social media.

Research shows that 80 percent of consumers say that “authenticity of content” is the most important factor when considering brands to follow. Yes, we know that you’re an organization, and business is what you do, but people want “realness” now more than ever. It’s the same reason why major brands easily have relatable celebrities be the face of their brand, and you can achieve this without having to break the bank. Let your employees, users and the people behind your brand regularly come online to be themselves, and you’ll be amazed at the kind of support and loyalty you will get from users.

Don’t be excessive with your self-promotion

Ultimately, your brand has to generate results—in the form of profits, sales and increased engagement—which is probably why you’re on social media in the first place. You have to promote yourself. However, too much self-promotion can do more harm than good. According to a study by BuzzStream and Fractl, 45 percent of people will unfollow a brand on social media due to excessive self-promotion.

It goes without saying, too, that you should be careful about automating your social media efforts in an attempt to get more people to notice your brand. If not done well, this can backfire.

Let brand name be consistent across channels

According to a study by SDL based on a survey of 1,800 millennials aged 18 through 36, brand consistency is the most important consideration people have when interacting with brands: it was revealed that 60 percent of people expect a consistent experience from brands. According to the study, when connecting with brands online, most people don’t care about the channel or device being used, but they don’t want to be confused about what brand they are interacting with.

Imagine trying to find your favorite brand on Twitter, only to find out that their name on Twitter is different from what they use for their website, as well as what they use for Facebook. That’s a recipe for disaster, according to Margot Bushnaq, CEO of BrandBucket:

No matter what your business name is, someone will hear it and immediately think to type in YourName.com and search for this name on social channels, as well. If you end up with different names on different channels, you will miss out on direct-typed traffic, and you risk looking unprofessional or not “big” enough to nail the exact name. The longer you wait and use different names, the harder and more expensive it would be for you to change this later. Invest in these early to make sure you never fall into this trap.

Use consistent brand colors across channels

Just as brand name is important, brand color is important, too. It’s one of those “little details” brands–even major ones–tend to ignore. However, it makes a great deal of difference. A University of Loyola study found that the right usage of color increases brand recognition by up to 80 percent. This is especially important when using social media. One of the social media no-nos you want to avoid is using conflicting colors; let your social media color usage be consistent with that of your brand everywhere else.

Promote the right offers

There’s light at the end of the tunnel. Who says being on social media can’t be profitable for brands? Well, it can. According to a recent Microsoft study, 48 percent of people expect brands to know them and help them discover products and services that fit their needs.

A good portion of people who follow you not only expect you to sell to them, but they actually want you to do so. However, the key word here is promoting products “that fit their needs.” It is important to regularly interact with your followers and even occasionally survey them to find out what they need. Use your social media platform to give them just this.

James Jorner is a content strategist and marketer at Effective Inbound Marketing. His company specializes in online branding and digital marketing for businesses.