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Social Media Guideline

9 Easy Steps to Build a Sustainable Brand on Social Media

Photograph taken and edited by  @sksquared

Photograph taken and edited by @sksquared

As brands begin to leverage social media to engage and interact with their targeted communities, it is extremely important to take a systematic approach to social media marketing, content development and engaging with your community in order to become efficient, prevent overspending, save time, and obtain a competitive advantage and differentiate in the market. At Reach Agency, we have streamlined the process of building a brand on social media into nine (9) simple steps neatly broken down for you below:

1.     Build a Brand Strategy
a.     Mission Statement
b.     Business Objectives, Goals and Action Plans
c.     Brand tone, Identity, Guidelines

2.     Develop Ideal Customer Profiles
a.     Determine who you want to target and why?

3.     Align Content Strategy to your Sales Process
a.     Outline how you will engage with your target audience

4.     Curate existing content

5.     Set up Social Platforms
a.     Determine which platform makes the most sense for you and your brand

6.    Produce new content
a.     What are your options?
b.     What to look for in photographers
c.     Influencer Marketing

7.     Implement Content Calendars and Manage Feeds
a.     Plan and scale
b.     How to scale and deploy

8.     Manage Feeds and Analyze Metrics
a.     Maintain and sustain
b.     Track analytics to determine ROI

9.     Continue to Innovate, Identify Market Advantages, and build your Brand
 

STEP 1: Build a Brand Strategy

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Building your brand strategy, whether personal or professional, is very extremely important because it is your most valued asset. Developing a strong brand involves outlining your brand’s values, identity, tone, and how you will approach the market. To build a clear brand strategy, it’s important to start with 3 specific action items:

a.     Developing a Mission Statement
b.     Identifying Brand Values and Business Objectives
c.     Outlining Brand Guidelines and Building a Brand Tone and Identity

A. Developing a Mission Statement

What is a Mission Statement and why is it important? A Mission Statement is a formal summary of the goals and values of a company, organization, or individual. In short, a Mission Statement aims to provide a set of core values of what your brand represents and stands for. Below is a list of Mission Statements from some of the most disruptive brands in the world:

1.     “To live in this world where one day you can feel like you're home anywhere and not in a home, but truly home, where you belong. 2. Be a Host. To live in this world where you can be home, you have to provide hospitality and hosts provide hospitality.” - Airbnb
2.     "Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store.” - Apple
3.     "To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world." - Nike
4.     “To is to be our customers' favorite place and way to eat and drink. Our worldwide operations are aligned around a global strategy called the Plan to Win, which center on an exceptional customer experience – People, Products, Place, Price and Promotion. We are committed to continuously improving our operations and enhancing our customers' experience.” - McDonalds
5.     "Our mission: to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time." – Starbucks
6.     Our goal when we created Tesla a decade ago was the same as it is today: to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by bringing compelling mass market electric cars to market as soon as possible. – Tesla
7.     “Transportation as reliable as running water, everywhere for everyone,” he will make that happen.” –
Uber

These brands have one thing in common - an overarching value. This means that no matter what happens to their business and their industry, they promise to deliver a very specific responsibility. A brand’s mission is ultimately their intended impact on society and building a strong mission statement is imperative for brands to connect with customers on a very human level. Humans are emotional creatures and make decisions based on emotion, therefore it’s extremely important to customers understand what a brand stands for and represent.  

WORDS OF WISDOM: Put a concerted effort into building your Mission Statement. Your mission should be able to connect with your target audience and emit all sorts of emotions. Remember, people ultimately make decisions based on emotions so your mission should clearly lead to a specific type of feeling. Be smart, be concise and do not screw this up! Here’s a link to a piece on Emotional Marketing that touches on the importance of a Mission Statement. 

B. Defining Business Objectives and Action Plans

Now that you have your Mission Statement and core values clearly outlined, you’re ready to define your brand’s objectives. A brand’s objectives are part of the planning process and describe what a company expects to accomplish throughout the year, the goals they are striving towards, and a detailed plan to achieving these goals.

Below are examples of objectives of brands:

1.     Increase revenue
2.     Increase brand awareness
3.     Diversify and grow revenue streams

To achieve these goals, most brands create Action Plans. Action Plans are sequential action items that organizations create to provide structure in helping brands achieve their objectives and goals. Similar to a work back schedule, an action plan is very detailed, structured, and clearly outlines action steps, who is responsible, and key dates involved to achieve a goal. Attached below is a template of an action plan:

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By establishing strong objectives, your brand will have an overarching message that will guide your entire content strategy from ideation to execution.

C. Brand guidelines – Tone and identity

Now that we’ve completed the first two (2) steps, the last step is ultimately establishing a clear tone and identity of your brand. A brand’s identity sets guidelines and consistency. Whether the product is a person, image, or an item, consistency exhibits product leadership, marketing, support, and operation. Consistency in identity projects the corporate culture that surrounds the product. A brand’s tone consists of the colours, fonts, and overall aesthetic feel that the brand would like to project to its audience and market. A brand’s tone and identity can be easily shared throughout an entire organization through a compilation of brand guidelines.

Spotify has an extremely detailed set of brand guidelines that is compiled by their entire organization (example screenshots below):

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STEP 2: Develop Ideal Customer Profiles (ICPs)

An example of an Ideal Customer Profile

An example of an Ideal Customer Profile

Now that we have solidified an overall brand strategy, the next step is to determine the type of customers you would like to target, also known as your ideal customer profiles (ICPs). An ideal customer profile is a description of the individuals who are a perfect fit for the solution (content) you create. Your ICP should focus on relevant characteristics of your target audience, such as age, location, profession, income level, etc. Although your customers are diverse, it is important to structure the content you create to cater towards your most intended audience.

Attached below is an example of an ideal customer profile created for The Toe Bro:

“Our ideal customer is a woman, aged 35-50, based out of North America that has an interest in foot health and surgeries. The ideal customer understands how to navigate across platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook and spends 1-2 hours per day in total on these platforms.”

Creating ICPs will shift your content to become more customer focused. This will provide a clear direction on the type of content you will create. It will also enable you to think about how your content will be perceived by your intended audience and anticipate the value they will obtain from consuming the content you provide.
 

Step 3: Outline a Content Plan to Support Customers throughout the Buyer’s Journey

In today’s market, customers complete over 70% of their decision-making process before engaging with a vendor. With the type of information available to the public, it is simple and easy for consumers to conduct research and formulate their own opinions. This can be done by gathering intel across various social platforms (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc.), reading online reviews, and speaking with friends in their network.

With the amount of research conducted by customers, it is important to create and share content that is educational, engaging and valuable. Content that is created must be easy to digest and align to support customers throughout their entire buying cycle.

The three stages can be bucketed into the following:

1.     Brand Awareness

2.     Consideration

3.     Purchase

From there, you can support customers with content that will help them throughout their customer journey:

Initial Awareness and Research

Examples of content to share: Educational easy to digest content, infographics, The Brand’s Story

Consideration and Evaluation

Examples of content to share: ROI Case Studies, Product/Service Differentiation Studies, Competitive Comparisons

Purchase & Continued Success

Examples of content to share: In-depth Success Stories, Future Product or Service Launches

Step 4: Set up Social Platforms

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Facebook

Did you know that more than two billion people use Facebook every month?

With more than 30% of the world's population on Facebook, it is more important than ever for your brand to have a presence on Facebook.  Facebook has developed into a large digital marketplace, with over 70 million brand pages created on the site. It can be expensive to build and host a website or to create apps for your business. Facebook and Instagram both provide a free presence on social, where people are already spending a lot of their time.

Facebook enables you to create various types of posts to discover, engage, and market to your intended audience. With Facebook, everything is logged and recored in real-time giving your prospects the opportunity to engage with customers instantly. This is why it is important to nurture a strong and engaged community of brand evangelists as they can help each other in troubleshooting and advocate for your business to prospective customers.

Business Pages on Facebook enable brands to create organic brand awareness. It also allows: 

  • Direct messaging with customers

  • Share company branded content

  • Build lead pages

  • Provide direct access to your company store

  • API integration to your company store

  • In-depth audience analytics

  • Build a community of brand loyalists

For any serious business, incorporating Facebook for Business should be a pillar in your marketing strategy as it will give you access to the largest social platform in the world, connect you directly with your audience and build a strong customer community.


Instagram

Like their parent company (Facebook), Instagram offers similar opportunities for businesses to interact with their audience. Instagram is a visual storytelling app that enables brands to tell their stories with photos and short videos. From the epic to the everyday moments, Instagram is the place for people and businesses to bring their stories to life. Instagram has always been the place where people share their important highlights. Today, more than 800 million Instagram accounts worldwide are active every single month and over 500 million accounts are active every day. Today, more than 300 million accounts use Instagram Stories every day. [1]

Screenshot taken from Instagram

Screenshot taken from Instagram


As a brand, Instagram Stories let you connect with your audience and inspire people with full-screen photos or videos. You can bring your stories to life with filters, text, and drawings. Businesses can use this format and include photos or videos that appear as full-screen stories, and creatively bring them to life by adding filters, text, and drawings. [2]

Like Facebook, Instagram has a feature that enables you to create a business page. Besides creating organic brand awareness, this page allows you to:

  • Share storytelling photos

  • Share videos shorter than 1min

  • API integration to your company store

  • Access in-depth audience analytics (reach, impressions, profile visits, website clicks, email clicks, gender breakdown, age range, top locations of audience, etc.)

  • Direct message with customers

  • Build a community of brand loyalists


YouTube

Using YouTube to market your business will provide you a platform to create engaging and educational videos. It is worth noting that while social platforms like Facebook lend themselves to creating, posting, and sharing a variety of types of content (short videos, live videos images, short-form text posts, long-form text posts, short updates, etc.), creating content on YouTube means you will be investing your time in video production and video production only.

This is not meant to dissuade you but rather to point out that a strong interest in creating video content is necessary before jumping into YouTube. I would suggest against creating a YouTube channel if your goal is only to take advantage of all possible forms of social media marketing. Instead, only invest in YouTube if there will be a concerted effort or interest to create videos for your community. The process of creating videos is time-consuming and has a bit of a learning curve, so make sure that this platform is one you really have time for and interest in.

Creating a YouTube channel enables you to interact with your customers with long-form videos. Providing videos scales customer engagement and fosters a community of followers and advocates who will be able to interact with each other in an open forum.

SIDE NOTE: Most the Toe Bro Success is due to the viral success of the brand's YouTube channel. The nature of the videos (shell-shocking yet educational) fosters binge-watching from his collective audience. One of the biggest advantages of The Toe Bro YouTube channel is the comment section that allows subscribers to engage and interact with each other, ultimately creating social proof for prospective customers. 


Twitter

Twitter is a social networking company where people connect with their passions, share their opinions, and find out what is happening in the world. Because people are in a discovery mindset when they are on Twitter, most are open to interacting with new businesses and new people. With over 500m tweets being sent out each day, Twitter is one of the most active platforms to put a thought out in the universe, as long as it’s under 280 characters.

In short, Twitter allows you to do the following:

  • Discover what’s happening right now: Twitter gives you access to what’s going on in your industry, community, and around the world at that very moment. Use Twitter search to listen to the relevant conversations that are happening and jump in where you can add value.

  • Grow your brand awareness: increase your impact by using Twitter to regularly communicate with your followers and attract new followers. Extend your reach even further with Twitter Ads.

  • Provide timely customer service: people often talk about the products they use on Twitter, so it’s a natural place to provide customer service. In fact, 85% of SMB Twitter users said that it's important that businesses provide customer support on Twitter. Use Twitter's customer service features to quickly and easily respond to people. That will help you develop a good reputation and strong relationships with customers.

  • Connect with potential customers, brand advocates, and influencers: Twitter allows you to follow and interact with people outside of your personal network and discover new circles that you never knew existed. Use Twitter to join, or even start, discussions with influencers and industry experts to raise your profile and build valuable connections. [2]

In all, Twitter is best utilized by providing announcements (product launches, events) and addressing customer concerns and feedback. The power of Twitter creates urgency from both the brand and customer side, so use it form a stronger bond.

Below is a quick summary of the platforms we have evaluated:

Facebook

Ideal for: connecting and engaging directly with your customers, sharing photos, videos, and products

End goal: Community Building

Instagram

Ideal for: sharing engaging photos or short videos (>1min), providing links to product purchases

End goal: Community Building

YouTube

Ideal for: sharing educational or lifestyle videos longer than 1min

End goal: Community Building, Ad Revenue, Organic brand awareness

Twitter

Ideal for: Sharing ideas under 280 characters and providing links

End goal: Community Building, Organic brand awareness

So, there you have it! In all, I recommend creating as many socials channels for your brand as you can with the focus on establishing a consistent presence on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. Play to your strengths, be open to making changes and listen to your audience so you can give them exactly what they need.
 

Step 5: Curate Existing Content and Build Tech Stack


Now that you have built your brand strategy, developed ICPs and aligned your content strategy to your sales process, you are finally at a stage where you can implement your strategy. For those that have an existing social presence, this is a great opportunity to curate your existing feeds and plug in the necessary solutions to help you save time and energy when building your brand on social. Technology really enables you to scale your approach and minimize the amount of grunt work typical when posting content.

Below is our recommended tech stack and their core functionality:

  1. Planoly: Enables users to pre-plan their content before deployment

  2. Repost: Enables users to repost content from other feeds

  3. Canva: User-friendly graphic design software that offers templates, design elements and a drag-and-drop interface that streamlines the entire process

  4. Bitly: Shortens your links and provides you with a way to track click-through rates

  5. Archie: Enables users to define and target customers, similar accounts and hashtags, and automate engagement (likes + comments)

  6. VSCO: Allows users to edit your photos directly from a smartphone

  7. Dropbox: Enables users to save, access, share and edit files directly from a smartphone, desktop or laptop

Building an efficient tech stack is imperative to streamlining your social strategy. Every step (creation, editing, deployment, analytics) is easily connected allowing you to reduce the amount of time and effort in building and managing your social feeds.

Step 6: Produce Engaging Content

Photograph taken and edited by  @erickhercules  for  @underarmour

Photograph taken and edited by @erickhercules for @underarmour

Now that you have created a solid foundation, built a complementary tech stack, and chosen the right social media platforms, the next step is to create content.

There are two options for you to create content:

1.     Create content on your own
2.     Work with a content creator (photographer or videographer)

1.     Create content on your own

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Creating content on your own is the most cost-effective approach for obvious reasons and with the types of equipment available either through the latest smartphones or various models of professional cameras. I would recommend this for organization, brands, and personas that are just starting out and do not have a strong budget to allocate towards marketing.

2. work with a professional content creator (photographer or videographer)

Photograph taken and edited by  @erickhercules  for Palladium Boots

Photograph taken and edited by @erickhercules for Palladium Boots

At the end of the day, creating visually, storytelling content is extremely difficult to do and can only be done by a small percentage of people in the world. For brands and businesses that have the capital to invest in hiring a content creator (photographer or videographer). There’s a reason why hiring content creators makes sense. Content creators have experience utilizing light and composition, own top of the line equipment, have scouted the best locations, have access to incredible editing tools, and are continuously working to hone their craft. They do this for a living and have the experience of completing a portfolio of photoshoots. I’ve personally worked with some of the best photographers in the world like @erickhercules, @connorsurdi, @skquared, and @ori.ginals. Bringing in seasoned photographers allows you to accelerate your timelines and create visual, engaging storytelling content that you most likely wouldn’t have been able to create on my own. In all, working with content creators saves you time, money, and frustration.

When selecting a content creator to work with, consider the following:

  • Past collaborations: brands or campaigns they’ve worked with in the past

  • Expertise: portrait, landscape, city shots, aerial photos, etc.

  • Their equipment

  • Their overall process

  • Timeline of deliverables

  • How they charge (by day, by photo)

  • Additional costs (licensing rights)

So, there you have it. When creating content, I’d recommend first starting out on your own to save money and as you grow and gain capital transition to hiring a content creator that is right for your brand.
 

Step 7: Implement Content Calendars and Manage Feeds

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Now that you have created content, you can start utilizing content calendars to manage your feed and deploy content. At Reach Agency, we use UNUM, an app which gives users the ability to preview content prior to launching on Instagram. The app allows you to drag and drop photos, attach captions, schedule future posts, collaborate within a team, and analyze metrics to better understand your audience. To minimize your time spent on deploying content, re-share the content shared on Instagram to platforms like Twitters and Facebook. Content planning is extremely important as it enables you to anticipate how your audience’s needs. This will ultimately help you build out better content faster while fostering stronger relationships with your audience.
 

Step 8: Analyze Metrics

Deploying content on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram allow brands to easily measure the effectiveness of their marketing campaign. The metrics provided give you a thorough understanding of your audience (gender, age, location), what content they enjoy (profile visits, website clicks, etc.). More importantly, businesses are able to define clear return on investment social media and measure its contributions to a business’s overall KPIs. Below are a list of metrics that each social media platform provides and what businesses can learn about each metric about their audience:

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Instagram
 

  1. Gender: the percentage breakdown of your following by male, female or undefined

  2. Age demographic: The age group of your following broken down by intervals of ten (ie. 25-34, 35-45, etc.)

  3. Top cities: where your following is located based on major cities

  4. Top countries: where your following located based on countries

  5. Most engaging hours: the hours your following most frequently engages with your brand page

  6. Most engaging days: the days your following most frequently engages with your brand page

  7. Email clicks: the amount of email clicks generated from each social media post

  8. Website clicks: the amount of email clicks generated from each social media post

  9. Profile visits: the amount of profile visits generated from each social media post

  10. Reach: The amount of accounts each social media post reaches

  11. Impressions: the amount of views each social media posts generates

  12. Saved posts: the total amount that instagram users save/bookmark your post

  13. Dark Social: the total amount that instagram users either direct messaged your post to another user or shares your post on their instagram stories


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Facebook

  1. Gender: the percentage breakdown of your following by male, female or undefined

  2. Age demographic: The age group of your following broken down by intervals of ten (ie. 25-34, 35-45, etc.)

  3. Top cities: where your following is located based on major cities

  4. Top countries: where your following located based on countries

  5. Most engaging days: the days your following most frequently engages with your brand page

  6. Website clicks: the amount of email clicks generated from each social media post

  7. Reach: The amount of accounts each social media post reaches

  8. Impressions: the amount of views each social media posts generates

  9. Video Views: the amount of views your video posts generate


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YouTube

  1. Gender: the percentage breakdown of your following by male, female or undefined

  2. Age demographic: The age group of your following broken down by intervals of ten (ie. 25-34, 35-45, etc.)

  3. Top cities: where your following is located based on major cities

  4. Top countries: where your following located based on countries

  5. Watch time: The total amount of time in hours and minutes that your video is viewed

  6. Total likes: the amount of likes your video post generates

  7. Subscriber growth: the growth of your subscribers

  8. Total comments: The amount of comments your video post generates

  9. Traffic sources: Websites that are directing traffic to watch your videos


The metrics available allow you to analyze the return of investment of each platform and determine which social media platforms make the most sense for your business. Every business is different so it’s important to customize your approach to social depending on how your customers consume data.

The cost of paid media (ie. google ads, billboards, facebook ads) continues to increase while its effectiveness decreases as consumers are in more control than ever on what is advertised to them. Therefore, it is extremely important for brands to focus on earned media like building social media brand pages and generating authentic advocacy. Earned media is gaining the trust of your followers and forming a community around your products and service. People who subscribe or follow you are invaluable because they voluntarily choose to follow your brand, align with your values and lifestyle and most importantly, advocate for your brand on your behalf to their community.

Step 9: Continue to Innovate and Disrupt your Market

Technology is changing at such a rapid pace that it is inevitable for a new platform, technology, or app to consume the market. As a business, it is important to stay in touch and be open-minded on future technology that will help you better engage with your customer community. Based on industry trends, the future of content will involve and evolve from Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Artificial Intelligence, especially as our over-reliance on technologies and appetite for innovation increases. Therefore, it is important to favour innovation and identify platforms that will help you differentiate and disrupt your market.

If you have any feedback or questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at info@reachagency.ca. #letsgettowork

[1] Statistic taken from Instagram.com 
[2] Point taken from Twitter.com