As a brand, it’s easy to fall into a familiar marketing rhythm: create a Facebook page, post about the product, share an article or two, highlight pictures of the “talented and collaborative” staff, and call it a day. Due to its accessible and (mostly) free nature, social media makes this cadence quite simple. But, in a market where 91% of retail brands use two or more social media channels, differentiation is key.

It’s no longer effective to post generic product imagery across social platforms and expect fans to engage. There is too much unique content out there, already vying for their eyes. Instead, brands must create a fully-fledged content strategy. This includes identifying a target audience, customizing content to each platform, producing content with a point of view, and engaging constantly. Only with these elements in place will a brand be able to ultimately turn social followers into customers and raving online fans.

Though by no means a comprehensive guide, we do have a few tips for new companies getting started in the space, established companies revamping their social approaches, and everyone in between.

Brands must create a fully-fledged content strategy.

Build a blueprint

We recommend that brands create a social playbook before establishing a social presence. The playbook provides a foundational guide on how the brand exists and acts across all social media channels. Furthermore, it ensures consistency in strategy, content, and execution—no matter who is posting. Take Jack Daniels, for example. The 150-year old brand has stayed true to its “folksy, American feel” through a brand manifesto that’s been around for 50+ years, and subsequent versions of social media playbooks. Despite surely multiple staff turnovers the messaging, voice, and story remain consistent.

Aim for engagement, not reach

With the never-ending influx of new content on social media plus algorithms that work against companies, it’s a wonder that any brand’s unpaid post gets viewed. The “one-to-many” post strategy may have worked in the past for brands, but mass social adoption has left them with content that reaches 350 people yet receives 5 likes.

One way around this social reach dilemma is to put a significant amount of money behind each of your social posts. Another (and in our minds, a more effective) way is to focus on a new metric entirely: relationship-building. According to Forbes, 62% of millennials say if a brand engages with them on social media, they are more likely to become a local customer. This includes recognizing, appreciating, and celebrating your existing audience via surprise and delights, new usage ideas, and new products. This is something online clothing retailer Everlane has done very well since their inception in 2010. According to Glossy, “Customer engagement has always been the sole metric that Everlane tracks on social.” Based on a customer-desire to feel exclusive and have a hand in product development, Everlane launched a private Instagram account, devoted solely to showing sneak peeks of new products and receiving fan feedback on upcoming products. Everlane has also been known to surprise and delight their repeat customers, inviting them to private factory tours and dinners.

Provide a peek behind the curtain

For millennials, brand authenticity is the second-most-important factor when choosing a company to support. This sense of authenticity can come from a number of different factors, including perceived company transparency and causes supported by the company. When it comes to social, no brand does this better than Warby Parker. The brand posts regularly about their employees’ random interests, highlights their “Buy a Pair, Give a Pair” global program, and generates interactive Annual Reports. When it comes to customer service, the brand also goes above and beyond, filming custom videos of their employees answering consumer questions.

Brand authenticity is the second-most-important factor when choosing a company to support.

No matter your company’s size or age, remaining consistent, authentic, and engaged with your audience will set you up for success. After all, if differentiation is key, strategic content is king.

Lauren Sweeney

About the Author

Lauren Sweeney

In 2013, Lauren Sweeney founded Dotted Line Collaborations — a modern agency built on partnership, creativity, and results. Rather than the traditional client-agency relationship, Lauren insists on open and frequent conversations, thoughtful insights, and cost-effective implementation. And just like the clients it guides on a daily basis, DLC continues to grow and thrive thanks to Lauren’s strategic direction. A native of Richmond, Virginia Lauren is active in the philanthropic communities and believes in the importance of leveraging your talents to give back to the community. She serves on the Junior Board for the Children’s Hospital of Richmond Foundation, is a member of the Junior League of Richmond, and is an active mentor for UnBoundRVA. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) Richmond Chapter.