I was a lazy natural for most of my life. I had natural hair but I never took care of it in the way I should have.
I slicked it back in tight – albeit very cute – top buns, laid down my edges and kept it moving.
Then, I discovered a natural hair stylist on Instagram who changed my outlook. She was active on the platform every day, often giving hair care advice, and spoke directly to my concerns. Within a few weeks, I was sold and ready to book an appointment.
Not every social media interaction is like that, but it's what every brand wants. To draw its target audience in, create content that resonates with them and build a connection, i.e.: social media presence.
Let's dive into what social media presence is and how to build it.
What is social media presence?
Social media presence refers to the visibility a brand has on social media platforms and the connection it builds with its community. The stronger your presence, the more trust you can build with your audience before developing a direct relationship beyond this marketing channel.
For brands, there's no single metric tied to social media presence. However, it can translate to a high engagement rate, a growing brand awareness, and a positive brand perception.
Krystal Wu, social media community manager at HubSpot, highlights that visibility and presence are different.
"A social media channel has no presence if there is no audience who values it. Use social media to listen, monitor, and analyze your audience behavior," said Wu. "That information will allow you to gain consumer feedback, improve new or existing relationships, and expand your brand's social presence."
So, while visibility comes with having a strong presence, it's not the measure of success – resonance is.
Importance of Social Media Presence
Having a social media presence goes beyond having a profile with content. It means creating content tailored to the interests and needs of your target audience.
Doing so builds trust, and once you have that, you're one step closer to earning your audience's business.
Having a strong social media presence also allows you to better understand your audience.
"While there are a ton of growth 'hacks' to boost a brand's social presence, I think the greatest value goes back to knowing your audience," said Ariel Boswell, social media analyst at HubSpot. "The ability to know your audience so deeply to where you understand what captivates their attention and pair that with content that provides value in that moment is a recipe for success."
Connecting with your community on this level helps you get to the core of their needs so you can better serve them with your product or service.
How To Increase Social Media Presence
1. Engage your audience.
Social media is arguably the closest contact you have with consumers on a regular basis. Within a few hours after publishing, you can gauge your audience's response and learn something new with every post.
Take it one step further by creating opportunities for your followers to connect with your brand on a deeper level. This can be inviting them to participate in discussions in the comment section, answering fun "This or That" quizzes, creating polls, answering Q&As and doing live videos.
You can gain invaluable insight into your audience's likes, dislikes, challenges and concerns through these activities. This will then arm you to create targeted campaigns that convert.
2. Manage your community.
Having a social media account without community management is like having a car that is always nearing empty (a.k.a my car in college). You won't make it very far.
Community management is a major driver in building your social media presence. In fact, Wu says it's fundamental to a brand's growth, its image, and social success.
"Being proactive by reaching out to other brands, fans, customers and followers in similar industries really helps build that community around your brand," said Wu. "People start to recognize the name, the types of conversations that brand is having and its level of knowledge in that specific market."
This aspect of social media management requires brands to be proactive and seek out conversations that will draw audiences in.
Think of it like going to a party. You showed up, but now you'll have to talk to a few people and start making some friends.
"Without doing these proactive pushes, just putting a brand on social and not tying in the community efforts won't get it very far," Wu added. "Community management is the center of the customer journey, like the flywheel model, crafting the relationship between the brand and customer."
3. Stay active and be consistent.
Have you ever scrolled past a brand and done a double take, and thought "Oh you! I forgot you even existed." No brand wants that kind of reaction.
Social media is a game of visibility and with brands. It's often out of sight, out of mind, so it's crucial that you are active on your social media platforms and post consistently.
Many brands start off strong, posting everyday and then less and less until they're only posting once in a while.
"Success doesn't usually happen on your first, second or even third try. Social media is playing the long game and once brands realize that it doesn't usually blow up overnight, that's when consistency comes into play," said Wu. "In social, you need to test, experiment, analyze, and even take risks to learn what strategy your brand should move forward with to connect and build an audience."
If you find yourself running out of content or ideas, start with a lower posting cadence and limit the platforms on which you are active. It's also helpful to plan out your content at least a month ahead of time and have your creative assets ready so that you're never left scrambling.
4. Understand that it's a long game.
A lot of the mistakes brands make on social media stem from a desire to grow quickly.
You get impatient and want to generate results fast. So, you might try the social version of get-rich-quick schemes to build your following. However, those strategies are only valuable on the surface.
But you soon realize that they don't actually bring you closer to meeting your goals and connecting with your audience.
"Don't take the 'easy' way out by paying for views and followers," Wu said, "because you'll eventually run into a wall where you have this audience but no engagement, no one converting or signing up for your content."
Organic growth is the most authentic and effective way of building a sustainable presence. Why? Because you'll be getting real data from your target audience and that will help you tailor your approach to serve them better.
5. Stick to your brand voice and aesthetic.
Consistency isn't only about your posting schedule, it also encompasses your brand as a whole.
Your brand identity should be the same across all marketing channels. It can be confusing for consumers to understand your brand if its messaging and identity seems to switch from one day to the next. How can your audience connect to something they can't figure out?
So, once you design your brand strategy, make sure it aligns with your social media strategy.
6. Track your competitors.
Your competitors are like your neighbors. It's fine to be a little nosy and see what they're up to from time to time.
"When I think of conducting a competitive analysis I go in with the expectation to be both challenged and inspired," said Boswell. "The biggest thing you should look for when evaluating a competitor's social media presence is how they are positioning themselves in the market and how shared or overlapped audiences are perceiving their efforts."
While it's good to be aware of your competitive landscape, Boswell emphasizes that it shouldn't influence your entire social strategy. What works well for one brand may not be suitable for yours, so be selective about what ideas you're adapting.
7. Leverage trends and buzzy content.
Trends make social media go round.
Every few weeks or even days, there's a new trend making its way around platforms like Twitter and TikTok. Brands often ask themselves two questions: "Should we join in on this? " and "How do we make this our own? "
Trends can boost your brand awareness and help you generate bursts of traffic. It's an opportunity to think outside of the box and join in on something you already know your audience will enjoy.
When in doubt, always refer back to your brand strategy. Is this in alignment with your overall brand identity and messaging? If not, treat it like a school dance you're chaperoning and sit it out.
8. Adjust your posts based on current events.
These days, consumers hold brands to a higher standard.
Companies are expected to be more vocal about social issues and be more transparent on their stance. This approach should also be reflected in your social media strategy during times of social unrest, cultural events and news.
Sometimes, it can be as simple as not posting anything for the day and pausing paid social ads. In other cases, it can require releasing a statement.
In any case, you have to be flexible and work quickly to determine how to proceed.
9. Invest in high-quality creative assets.
Social media is one of the main sources of brand discovery.
Your target persona is scrolling through Instagram, your post shows up and it garners their interest. What's one of the first things they'll do? Visit your profile.
You often only have a few seconds to make an impression on a potential customer and you don't want them turned away because of bad content. This can include low-quality images, copy with grammar mistakes and use of non branded content.
Your social media profile tells a story, so make sure it's the one you want to tell.
10. Listen to your audience and adjust as needed.
Social monitoring and listening can be your cheat sheet to success on social media.
They give you insight into not only your industry and competitors but also how your audience is perceiving your brand. Using that as leverage to inform your brand strategy can make you stand out among your competitors.
"Where we once used to live in the marketing age of brand innovation, we now live in a consumer first era. This is an exciting time, particularly on social media where brands have a direct line of communication with their audience," said Boswell. "Brands that not only actively engage with but seek to deeply understand their audience are winning at social."
Not sure where to start? Begin by searching topics relating to your brand and seeing how audiences are responding to it. Then, search your company name and see what's the general sentiment surrounding your brand.
11. Optimize your profiles for SEO.
As mentioned before, social media has made it easier than ever to discover new brands. But just because it's easier, doesn't mean there's no work to do on your end.
When thinking of SEO, it's easy to assume it's website optimization. However, you'll also want to optimize your social profiles to make it easier for your target audience to find you.
One of the easiest ways to optimize your posts is with hashtags. Beyond that, you'll also want to optimize your bio page in a few ways:
- Include a few keywords (identified through social media tools) in your company description bio.
- Have working links that lead your followers to other channels, like your website or YouTube channel.
- Use the same profile image and handle on all social media platforms.
12. Own your mistakes.
If you're posting regularly on social media, you're bound to make a mistake. Not to mention, the landscape itself is always changing and evolving.
Whether it's trying a strategy that didn't quite work out or writing copy that was misunderstood by your audience, it's a normal part of growing your social media presence. Wu says that it's an opportunity to discover areas for improvement.
"Strategies in social are built by experimentation and taking chances to find what fits and what doesn't. If you found out that you've made a mistake, own up to it, learn from it and evolve into something better."
It's OK to make mistakes, as long as you take note of the experience and use that to inform your next course of action.
13. Treat each platform as its own.
What works on one platform won't necessarily work on another.
One thing you may be tempted to do with social media is duplicate your own content. There's an important difference to note between repurposing and duplicating.
The former refreshes the content to extend its value while the latter keeps it the same, simply transferring it to another platform.
When duplicating your content, you run the risk of missing the mark with your audience. While they may love your videos on YouTube, they may not like them on TikTok, as the context is different.
With this in mind, be sure to customize your approach to the platform you're posting on.
14. Balance promotion and adding value.
There's a time to promote your product or service, and a time to add value. Find the right balance and you're golden.
Most users don't go on social media to see ads. Social media is usually a place to be entertained, whether that's through funny videos or informative threads.
While a certain amount of promotion is expected, you'll quickly lose your audience if the only thing you push is product. You'll have to balance this with content they can relate to.
Once you've earned their trust and gained credibility, they'll be more open to trying your product or service.
15.Use tools to publish, monitor and track posts.
Social media is not a set-it-and-forget-it marketing play – it requires constant monitoring.
This is where social media tools come in handy. Software like Content Studio and Later allow you to schedule your posts on various platforms, track your analytics and competitors, conduct audits, and get data-driven recommendations for future posts.
Social media tools become indispensable when building a sustainable presence, especially as you scale your business.
16. Prioritize accessibility.
When it comes to accessibility online, the progress on social media is slow moving.
Things like captions and alt text may seem superfluous, but they actually hold more weight than you may think. Accessible social content:
- Makes it easier for deaf, hard of hearing and visually impaired people to engage with your content.
- Helps you reach audiences who may not be native speakers of your language.
As you reach users who may have otherwise not had access to your content, you can grow your brand awareness and generate more engagement.
17. Let the data guide you.
Analytics aren't just there to tell you how your posts are currently forming, they're also meant to inform your future ones.
To grow your social presence, you'll have to understand not only what is performing well but also why.
"Seek to understand what captivates and engages your audience depending on where they are in their lifecycle," said Boswell. "This can be auditing historic posts to establish quantitative performance benchmarks or looking at qualitative data to understand what types of content, topics, or media formats resonate best."
You can start finding those answers in your analytics dashboard. As you track your posts' performance, you will start to notice trends and can use them to guide your strategy.
18. Invest in the right platforms.
It's easy to assume that you should be visible everywhere to increase your social media presence. However, if your audience doesn't live on certain platforms, it's a waste of time and resources.
That's why you should do some research to narrow down exactly where your audience is, so you can meet them where they are. You can find this information through surveys, interviews, competitors, and perusing the platforms.
19. Leverage user-generated content (UGC).
Your own content can only take you so far on social media. The great thing is, you can reach audiences beyond your community through influencers, partners and your own followers.
Influencer marketing is one of the best ways to attract an audience that falls within your target market but may be currently out of reach.
What's more, influencers and UGC come with social proof, which sets up a solid foundation on which to build your relationship with newcomers. It's like your friend introducing you to their friend. You already trust them so naturally, there's some built-in trust with the person they're introducing you to.
20. Promote your social accounts on other platforms.
You've got awesome social media accounts. So, you'll want to make sure your audience can find them.
For instance, you might have a dedicated list of subscribers who may not yet follow you on social media. As such, be sure to include links to your social platforms across all channels – both digital and offline.
This includes the following:
- Business cards
- YouTube videos and your channel homepage
21. Embrace new features.
In recent months, Twitter introduced "Twitter Spaces," YouTube released a new feature called "Shorts" and Instagram launched "Guides."
Social media platforms come out with new features all the time, and brands are often apprehensive to try them. However, don't be afraid to be an early adopter.
"Social media is an ever changing space, every few months there's a new feature, placement, or algorithm change," said Boswell. "Always test assumptions and keep an eye on your performance metrics to see how these changes impact your strategy and be prepared to pivot."
Boswell adds that you should be open to these new additions while still investing in strategies your audience already responds well to.
Companies With the Best Social Media Presence
There are countless companies who are building strong communities on social media – here are a few of them.
1. Night Owl Cookies
This local Miami cookie shop has audience engagement on lock.
Given the nature of the industry, visual content is crucial to this brand's success on social media. As such, they deliver high-quality images that definitely catch your attention.
Night Owl Cookies is mostly active on Instagram, posting almost everyday. The brand engages its audience with delicious pictures of fresh cookies, funny memes, and fun copy. They also host giveaways on a regular basis, which is a great way to expand their reach.
2. Fanm Djanm
Fanm Djanm is a lifestyle brand whose identity is rooted in the concept of strength, femininity and self-love. The brand keeps this messaging consistent in every post and on every social platform.
Despite having a strong base on Instagram, the brand is also highly active on Twitter as well as Pinterest where they garner 2.5 million monthly views.
3. Robert Half
Being a staffing firm, Robert Half targets both businesses and job-seeking individuals.
The brand's social team has struck the right balance by creating valuable content for both audiences.
Job seekers can find discussions surrounding pressing topics like salary negotiation and interview prep. Hiring managers can learn about everything from employee retention to hiring mistakes.
On top of that, the brand is constantly engaging its audience with thoughtful questions and polls that give them an insight into their needs, interests and pain points.
4. Valence Community
As we've covered in the previous section, social media requires businesses to pinpoint what content their audiences want and deliver it. Constantly promoting products or services just won't work – Valence Community gets that.
The brand's social platform reflects the audience it wants to reach. Valence Community also tailors its content to match the platform. While its Instagram page is filled with inspirational and motivational content, its Twitter page highlights its added value resources, like events and webinars.
Building your social media presence is always a work in progress but at the root of it, it's all about staying in tune with your audience.
Originally published Mar 29, 2021 7:00:00 AM, updated March 29 2021