Social media branding is more important to publishers than to any other business. Social platforms are the go-to source of news and information for a majority of the population worldwide. This makes the newsfeed the quickest and easiest way for a publication to reach its audience and put its content on their radar.
However, social media is flooded with fake news, sensational clickbait, and low-quality journalism. People find it hard to know what to trust and are reluctant to start following new information outlets unless they are given a reason to. In fact, to win the reader’s trust and loyalty, a publisher should show their brand as a reliable, credible, and authoritative source of information.
In this article, we’ll provide an efficient social media branding strategy and online reputation know-how for digital media publications. Read on and take notes!
What Is Social Media Branding?
Social media branding is the process of building a recognizable image for a company on social media networks. The content that a business publishes on its profiles and accounts should also follow a consistent approach and be easy to distinguish in the user’s newsfeed. This can be accomplished by:
- Post formatting style
- A set posting schedule
- Content-type consistency
- Visual branding
- Communication protocols
- Brand voice and identity
A dedicated social media manager should create and execute a social media branding strategy, or implement one provided by the brand manager. In addition, they should be trained to comply with the company’s brand guidelines and oversee that those regulations are followed in accordance with each platform’s standards.
If the company can’t afford to hire a professional social media manager, it should train all employees who post on company profiles to follow a consistent approach.
Social Media and News
Over the years, social media has become the primary source of news for many people around the world. According to a recent Pew Research Center study, more than 53% of American adults look for news on social networks.
Moreover, the internet offers a stage for practically anyone to create a news and information outlet and publish whatever they want, without strict regulations to constrain them or oblige them to be truthful.
This created a sensitive situation that seemingly puts social media and news on the two opposite sides of the truth. While there still are people who trust everything they see in their feed, there is a majority that feels exactly the opposite way.
For digital publishers, this means that building a brand on social media and inspiring trust in their followers requires a calculated effort and rock-solid strategy.
Social Media Branding Strategy for Digital Publishers
As with any other business and marketing strategy, knowing your audience is a prerequisite for success.
To create social branding that resonates with your readers, you should invest time and effort in understanding them, identifying their needs, and learning their online browsing habits. Furthermore, you should find out how they search for content (voice, mobile, or desktop), and which one is their preferred format and method of consuming it.
For example, your customers may prefer to read articles when they deliberately look for information but opt for videos on social media. Or they may love to listen to your podcasts when driving to work, but find transcripts more convenient when they scroll down their newsfeed before going to bed.
Conducting market research will provide invaluable information you can use when planning your strategy and building your brand on social media. The data you collect will point you in the right direction and help you make informed choices.
1. Research the Requirements of Each Social Network
Each social network follows different content requirements, hosts diverse audiences, and provides unique promotional opportunities. Analyzing how these align with your branding goals may help you distribute your efforts properly in order to achieve your list of objectives.
Furthermore, when creating a strategy, you should first research where your customers hang out the most and focus on building your presence on their favorite social platform.
For example, there is no need to waste time and resources on TikTok, if your readers are mature businesspeople. Unless, of course, you are pursuing a different market. In this case, you’d need to first research the new segment and build an individual strategy for them.
Whatever the case, each social network is a stand-alone environment and requires an individual approach.
2. Work on Your E-A-T Status
In publishing, reputation is everything. It defines people’s attitude towards your content, what they expect, what kind of information they trust you on. Online, this importance goes even deeper and can affect your visibility in organic search, and your whole online presence.
While Google’s E-A-T regulations don’t directly influence your social media branding, they can easily be used as guidelines for improving your image as a reliable brand.
As mentioned, being trustworthy, providing credible information, and being an authority in a field is, in a nutshell, what people want in a publisher.
Here are some actionable tips on how to achieve this:
- Publish only verified information.
- Add credentials to articles.
- Provide clear and accessible contact information.
- Create an “About Us” page with your story.
- Invite experts to share opinions on important topics.
- Abstain from being biased when covering sensitive topics.
- Base your content on facts and statistics.
- Stay away from topics you are not competent in.
- Educate your readers on digital critical thinking.
3. Build Brand Awareness
People trust brands they know. Boosting brand awareness on social media may make you a household name and increase your fan base. New readers are more likely to click on your content if they see you have a large following and are a trusted publication.
Furthermore, having more followers means more shares, discussions, and engagement. These create a buzz around your content and signal social media algorithms to show it to even more people.
Here are a few proven ways to make your publications more popular:
- Mentions. The best way to increase awareness on a social network is through mentions. This is when people tag you in their post when they are saying something related to your brand. However, not everyone is in the habit of doing it.
Whenever you publish a topic about a popular person, brand, or institution, or do an interview with an interesting interlocutor, consider inviting them to reshare your post and tag you. This will make your brand known to their followers and will encourage people to follow your page as well.
- Sponsorship. Consider sponsoring events relevant to your industry and your audience’s interests. When the hosts announce you as a media partner on their profiles, their audience may follow you for event updates and exclusive content. If you meet their expectations of quality, they may stay with your brand and become loyal readers.
- Advertising. Social media ads provide a variety of audience segmentation settings that enable you to reach users, based on their interests, demographics, location, etc. In addition, you may select a list of your most loyal followers’ profiles and create a lookalike audience to target with selected content.
Page likes are often considered a vanity metric because they don’t guarantee you purchases and newsletter subscriptions. Nevertheless, they are a great way to increase brand awareness and reach new readers.
4. Follow a Consistent Approach
Consistency improves recognition on social media and may increase people’s trust in you. When users see your posts regularly and associate them with your brand, you create a familiarity pattern. If the person likes what they see, they accept you as an authoritative and reliable name.
However, digital publishers more often than not neglect branding and design in their posts, and as a result, their content fails to stand out. Thus, people become less likely to spot their content and may give them less credit for their work.
Creating brand guidelines and a brand identity that should be strictly followed throughout any social media activity makes your publication more recognizable. This can be done by, amongst other things, following a consistent communication voice, and making sure that your posts comply with formatting templates that clearly set them apart.
By designing a style for every major topic group in your publication, you are creating a pattern that people can easily recognize in their newsfeed.
For example, you may have a template for breaking news that features a standardized photo, a short overview of the topic, and a link to the page where people can follow the development of the story.
5. Provide Quality Journalism
Quality journalism is a rare thing nowadays, especially on social media, and that’s why people cherish it even more. Building a brand around the outstanding value you provide may help you stand out and consolidate an image as reliable and trustworthy.
We’ve already covered the basics such as checking your sources and sticking to the facts. However, quality journalism is not only about telling the truth – it’s about telling the story.
What sets apart highly shareable media content is that it paints a picture, captures an emotion, and keeps the reader’s attention.
To do this, you should rely on professional writers and reporters, and on strict editorial guidelines.
6. Hire Popular Names
Another viable approach to social media branding is to associate yourself with names that are already well-known by your audience and have a large following.
In case you can’t afford to hire a popular and well-respected professional, consider inviting them to create a guest piece. If they are willing to cooperate further, you might also consider offering them their own segment with your publication where they deliver content on a weekly or monthly basis.
This will give you access to their audience and may help you build brand awareness. Furthermore, their good reputation will serve as a validation of the quality of your brand.
However, make sure to negotiate with any guest contributors that when they share the content on their personal channels, they should always mention that it was created for your brand. In addition, note that they should also stay in line with your brand guidelines.
7. Encourage Positive Word-of-Mouth
Word-of-mouth (WoM) is one of the greatest powers of social media. When people’s friends and family talk about something interesting, they often want to join in on the conversion. By making your brand and your content the center of their attention, you can boost your social presence, and create engagement.
Some of the ways to harness the potential of WoM on social media platforms are:
- Live streaming.
- Video content.
- Expert roundups.
- Breaking news.
- Q&As with journalists.
- User-generated content.
8. Utilize Social Listening
Leveraging modern social listening tools, you are able to stay in touch with all your tagged and untagged mentions and track your brand’s reputation. This allows you to better engage your readers, clear up any potential misunderstandings, and, ultimately, stay in the loop.
In addition, setting up alerts for topics that you cover will enable you to be the first to know about new developments. If the news is worth it, you may assign a journalist to investigate further and create content about it.
However, make sure that when you are using social listening tools, you are complying with online privacy regulations that apply to your country.
Building a brand and standing out on social media is tough for any company, and it is even more complex for digital publishers. People are wary of fake news and poor-quality content, and so winning their trust is harder than ever.
However, publishers can boost recognition and increase loyalty, by working on their online reputation, providing high-quality journalism, and following a consistent branding approach.