Before you post, ask yourself three essential questions.

Social media isn't just a way to pass idle time (or to find inspiration for your next decorating project). It's a valuable tool to tell your business' story and build your brand. As Reena Goodwin, founder and director of Facteur PR, explains, social media gives business owners a direct line to current and potential customers. "By creating and sharing high-quality content and stories, social media opens a door to share a brand's story on a deeper and more direct level," Goodwin says. "When a brand shares its story on social media, that story helps build trust. And because a brand's reputation is ultimately built on trust, it's an important medium for any brand to harness."

young man photographing French breakfast with croissants on the table in sidewalk cafe with smartphone in Paris, France
Credit: Alexander Spatari / Getty Images

What's more, social media can be a free and useful resource for your business. "Its affordability is attractive to business owners," says Goodwin. "The cost to launch a Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram account is free, and your reach is dependent on the amount of resources you pour into it. Furthermore, the rich audience data is so helpful for businesses. By analyzing your followers' behaviors, demographics, and interests, coupled with utilizing the various built-in survey tools, you can start to use the data to drill down audience personas, which can be very helpful when it comes to targeting your ideal client or customer as well as serving the ones you currently have."

Here's how to harness the power of social media to tell your story as well as build your brand.

Have a plan.

Goodwin advises against posting without a plan in place. A social media plan "makes sure that we are supporting the vision of our brand and helps manage expectations and resources," says Goodwin. "It also ensures that we maximize our time strategizing upfront so we can devote our energies to executing our plan thereafter. A lot of social media management is spent reacting; with a plan in place in advance, we can be sure to allocate time and energy to the things that will ultimately help build our brand," such as developing incentive opportunities and filming videos.

Before they post to social media, Natalie Denyse, owner of In Good Company PR, tells clients to ask themselves: "Why does this post matter to my audience? Does this photo show more than just a pretty scene? And, how is this post, both photo and caption, serving my community?" she says. "Feeling confident in those few areas will help crystalize the intention behind your voice."

Respond to feedback.

Comments and messages left on your social media are opportunities to build your brand's reputation, says Kathleen Reidenbach, chief commercial officer of Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants. When you respond in real-time—or as quickly as possible—shows excellent customer service, and gives you unique opportunities to interact with potential and current customers, Reidenbach explains.

For example, when Reidenbach found out through social media that a bride staying at a Kimpton Hotel property for her honeymoon had been stood up at her wedding, "the hotel quickly switched her room around to be more of a 'we're really sorry,' party with chocolate, wine, and comfort food. It made her smile and she [told us] it made such an awful situation that much better and said she had an amazing solo honeymoon with us. That's something that felt right to the hotel team and they acted in the moment, making for an incredible save-the-day story."

Share high-quality content.

"Thanks to the instantaneous nature of social media, it's widely believed that we must be posting content constantly," says Goodwin. But that's not strictly true. "By sacrificing the quality of content for the sake of speed, you could also be sacrificing the first impression your brand has on a potential customer," she warns. High-quality content tells a better brand story, even if it means you post less often. "High-quality content is associated with a high-quality product or service," Goodwin points out, "so it's important to invest in content creation like professional photoshoots. I love batch-creating content to save time and money. You can hire a photographer on a quarterly basis to take updated photos for social media, or invest in a nice camera and snap your own."

Show up on Stories.

Did you know that engagement on Instagram Stories is higher than on its newsfeed? It is—and that's one reason why it's essential to post regularly on Stories. "Stories is ideal for building your brand because in contrast to content on the newsfeed, it's a space for less polished and more down-to-earth storytelling," Goodwin explains. In fact, Denyse recommends to her clients that build their brands by showing the imperfect reality of being in business. "Real and raw video footage of brands actually building their business will continue to trump perfectly styled photos," she says. "Don't be afraid to get candid and show authentic moments of your creative process."


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