social media how toDo you want to increase awareness of your brand online?

Are you ready to take the plunge and use content to connect with your audience on social media?

If you shift your thinking and perception about what makes your brand successful, you can tease out great content that will undoubtedly catch the attention of potential customers.

In this article, I’ll show you how to start building an engaging presence on social media in four easy steps.

#1: Build a Targeted Community

The first step is to build a community of people who care about what your brand has to offer.

It doesn’t matter if you have a Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+ page or all of the above. As long as you have a starting point, you can start building your audience on social media.

Haphazardly trying to build a large community won’t be very helpful. Your best bet will be to build a targeted community. How do you build targeted communities? Generally speaking, there are two ways.

Organic Community-Building

To build a community through organic means, you must provide share-worthy and useful content that’s relevant specifically to the audience you want to reach. The more your content (on any social network) gets shared, the more eyes see it.

whole foods recipe

Whole Foods shares recipes that its food-based community will enjoy and then share with others.

If you consistently produce enough great content, people naturally gravitate toward your brand. Be sure to leverage hashtags when appropriate so your content is categorized correctly and easy to find.

While it might sound cliché, content aimed at your specific intended audience will help lay the groundwork for organically building a loyal community.

Paid Community-Building 

Paid community-building is traditionally much faster than its organic counterpart.

By leveraging the paid advertising options of social media channels, you can supercharge the growth of your community by hyper-targeting the people who are most likely to want to connect with you.

While most of the major social networks currently offer paid advertising options, I highly recommend leveraging Facebook ads to help build a targeted community.

paid social ad

Use targeting to put your paid social ads in front of the right people.

Facebook ads can be extremely useful when you’re trying to get in front of a particular group of people. The targeting options within Facebook ads are so granular that you can target users by interest, age, gender, language, education level and location.

If you’re an insurance company looking to build an audience, you should consider targeting people with interests relating to insurance, risk management, financial services and other interests that might be in the same arena.

With the right strategy, it’s entirely possible to acquire hyper-targeted fans for as little as $0.25 per fan. It doesn’t take a huge budget to make a big impact.

targeting paid reach

No matter what interest is related to your brand, there’s an audience for it on Facebook.

If you decide another social media network is a better fit for your brand, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ all offer opportunities for paid social ads.

#2: Leverage Unused Brand Assets

The next step is to perform a complete audit of your brand assets to identify unused or underutilized content. This process may be time-consuming; however, you can discover valuable pieces of content that have been previously overlooked.

Content Inventory

There are a few ways to do an audit of your brand assets. I recommend you start by asking a series of questions:

  • What is your mission statement?
  • What idea or concept created the brand originally?
  • How many blogs do you have?
  • How many images?
  • What content are you not using for promotion?

These questions are meant to make you think less about what you are doing and more about what you aren’t doing.

Many brands have an extremely compelling story to tell and they don’t even realize it.

You know that feeling when you look under the bed to find that long-lost favorite t-shirt? That’s exactly the goal of searching for unused brand assets. You never know what you’ll find unless you look!

#3: Identify Indirect Content Opportunities

Now that you’ve rediscovered valuable brand assets, it’s time to map out your content strategy.

To draft a social media content plan, brands usually rely on concepts that are directly related to what they sell or do. This is a tad shortsighted, in my opinion. There are many other opportunities available when you take a step back and identify all of the concepts that are indirectly related to your brand.

For instance, if you are a real estate company, your social channels are probably filled with listings, employee information and maybe even home-buying blogs. Why not mix in some home decorating tips or famous homes from movies? This type of content will spark engagement and support your future “normal” content.

toms retweet of stone+cloth

TOMS retweeted content from another brand that shares its values and will appeal to its followers.

Everything you post doesn’t have to be about what you offer, nor do you want to publish content that has nothing at all to do with your brand. Find a middle ground where you leverage content that isn’t exactly about your product or service, but is related to it.

Coca-Cola does a great job here leveraging National Pi Day.

toms retweet of stone+cloth

Pi has nothing to do with Coke; however, people drink Coke while eating pie… and pie sounds like Pi so this works.

#4: Listen to Your Community

The last part of this puzzle is to utilize content that comes from your social community. User-generated content (UGC) is the holy grail in social media. Everyone is looking for it! However, sometimes UGC isn’t as obvious as you’d think it would be. Most of the time, the good stuff is right in front of you and you don’t even see it.

When users reply to content on social sites, they’re basically telling you what they want. Pay special attention to the Comments section. This is where you’ll find ideas that you can turn into solid content campaigns.

We all know that listening is a huge part of social media; however, we have to know how to listen and what to listen for. It’s not just simply monitoring the conversation to make sure your community is happy. Truly listening to what they have to say can produce amazing content that you might not come up with on your own!

Warsteiner USA posted a plain text update asking a question about Thanksgiving recipes and received a reply that would make a great graphic or video.

content idea in comment

Look to your comments and replies to find great content ideas from your community.

Ask your audience questions. Then find ways to turn their ideas into your engaging content.

Over to You

Developing a presence for your brand on social media doesn’t have to be an overly drawn-out process. Follow these four steps and you’ll be engaging on social media in no time.

What do you think? How have you used social media for your brand? What other tips can you share? Leave your questions and comments in the box below.

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  • Very useful article. I think – constancy is another must have. I’m trying to find my way, I want to be constance too, but you know? I have a block on writing. This big thing about “Content is the king” makes me shy, I always am afraid to create content that is not so good. That’s the reason I stop for too much, and that is not a good thing.

  • Don’t forget to stay in touch! I keep seeing small businesses making an attempt, but they aren’t making sure they stay in touch or respond to interactions online. Maybe they post great content that has people commenting, but they don’t come around to build the community and reply to comments or respond to Tweets.

  • Consistency is also very important. For your block on writing, what about starting with a simple process that you can teach such as “7 steps to…” or similar?

    Once you get comfortable writing those, then you’ll start opening up to different content types. Remember, don’t let not having a long enough or perfect posts keep you from helping others and getting content out there.

  • Ok, I’ll try this way. Thanks 🙂

  • For me I guess the hardest part sometimes is finding the right audience. It’s hard to tell on some social channels if they are your targeted audience.

  • Great article! What are your thoughts about ‘leveraging hashtags’ on Facebook though? For organic community building I feel hashtags are great on Twitter, but on Facebook they don’t seem to achieve much in terms of increasing reach or improving searchability.

  • True! I’m trying to find my niche, and I must confess it’s very very difficult!

  • Nathan Mendenhall

    Hashtags have been extremely underwhelming for me on Facebook. They seem to have their place as a novelty but I haven’t found any studies showing that using them increases engagement. #HashtagFail

  • Good article. I would also consider retargeting techniques, such as Facebook Custom Audiences and Website Custom Audiences, as these will likely provide you with a highly engaged group of quality followers. But in general very good tips. Thank you

  • Excellent comment Matt. As marketers we should always remember there’s people behind Social Media accounts…

  • The problem of Hashtags is Facebook has not implemented a strategy or set of rules around them. For example: it’s so easy to include one, but how many people know how to search for a hashtagged topic? Why there’s no limit in the number of hashtags that can be included, allowing for some bad techniques? In theory they are a great tool, but unless Facebook regulates their use a bit more, I agree they are a fail.

  • Jitendra Padmashali

    Nice post Nathan…
    There are many benefits to getting on board with social media, Finding and growing the right relationships is the key to business growth. Many e-consumers segregate their online shopping and social habits.An ideal client may not be ready to go all in with you, but if you’re consistently visible and accessible to them, it can spark a relevant dialogue that can lead to a relationship!

  • There is just so many people online! Haha I guess that is a good thing though!

  • joanna@xposureuae

    I think the point you make about listening to your audience is so important. I have a rule of running 2080 post ratio of promotional to high engagement interest posts. This seems to be a good balance in terms of maintaining an active audience. Clients often question it because they veer towards a more direct commercial approach. Convincing them that engagement in good only because of the broad content is not always easy!

  • guptaabhijit318

    Great insights and valuable information you got here. This article is very helpful and clearly explained. Thanks for Sharing this useful tips.

  • Ryan McKenzie

    If you are having writers block, there is no shame in curating amazing content. It shows your readers that you care about them when you don’t restrict them to content that benefits you.

  • I have to put away all my doubts, and begin to writing. My firts article is already done! 🙂 And now I’ll translate in in English too 🙂 Thanks for your advice 🙂

  • You’re completely right! Facebook implemented hashtags with no real game plan. It’s as if they just implemented them just for the sake of saying, “We now support hashtags.”

  • Madhava Verma Dantuluri

    Much good article.

  • Tracy

    What about for those companies who do not receive comments? How then do you get the conversation flowing? We have tried asking questions and rarely get responses…