Almost half of the world’s population is already on social media, and there’s no indication that this trend will subside anytime soon. Back track a few years ago, when brands are questioning the viability of social media as an effective communication platform – and then compare it to now, where a brand isn’t “considered legit” if they don’t have at least one social media account. Such a stark contrast, right? That’s why brands – big or small – are scrambling to get their social media act together. And while they’re not necessarily wrong to build up their social media presence, a common mistake that brands often make in this endeavor is trying to do too much by being all over the place.

Creating a social media account just for the sake of being present in that network makes you spread yourself thin and be frustrated because you’re not seeing the results that you were hoping for. Which sometimes leads to taking shortcuts like just using one piece of content and mirror it across all your social media platforms – specs, format, and audience be damned. It’s obviously a waste of resources if you can’t properly sustain your social media accounts, and what’s worse is that consumers think that 60% of content that brands produce are lackluster – whether in quality, relevance, and effectiveness. In short, clutter.

So how do you become a brand on social that matters to your customer? Here are a few tips on upping your social media game (or jumpstarting it, if you haven’t yet).


  1. Know your purpose – Remember that quote from Sun Tzu in Art of War about knowing yourself as the key to victory? Of course, you do, since that has been cross-referenced for marketing on numerous occasions. That same principle applies on building your social media persona. You should be able to nail down who you are as a brand, what you represent, and what you stand for to be a brand that can provide something meaningful to your customer. According to the Meaningful Brands study, a large majority of people expect brands to be a contributor to wellbeing and quality of life, but only a handful of brands are meeting such lofty expectations.

Being able to determine why you want to be on social media is a good place to start. Think of social media beyond just being a repository of your posters and TVCs because it has the power and the potential to be more than that. What’s your own unique story that you can share with your customers? Why even bother putting up a social media page and producing content if you’re not even sure why you’re doing it? If you want your customers to engage and appreciate your brand on social, you need to establish a clear identity and a focused message. And knowing your purpose can act like a compass that can help you navigate the rocky waves of social media with relative ease.


  1. Study the battlefield – Yes, I’m still using the Sun Tzu anecdote. You should also be aware of who your target market is and where they are on social. The beauty of digital is being able to talk to a specific audience, so just blasting your message everywhere and hoping it reaches your market is wasting the power you have on your fingertips. Take the effort to discover how your target market behaves on social – what types of content do they like? How do they usually engage with brands? Match those learnings with the benefits your brand can offer so you can give your customers just the right kind of content that they’re looking for.


It also pays to take heed of how other brands are communicating with their consumers. The instant reaction is to check your competitors, which of course is essential, but looking for ideas from brands that are not in your direct category can also serve you well. The tendency is for brands in the same space to have a similar tone or messaging, so being able to spruce up your content by looking at unlikely sources of inspiration can be the difference maker that can make you stand out. Check out this list, for starters.


Of course, doing all these is a bit tedious whether you’re an SME or a multi-national company so it’s always a good idea to get in touch with experts who can do the dirty work for you, so you can focus on other things that can help you win the battle.


  1. Where can you best tell your story? – Here comes the juicy part. Each social media platform has its own strengths that your brand can play up to. Let’s look at the top 5 social media platforms with the most active users.


Facebook – Being the second most-visited website and having the most active users, Facebook is technically a necessity to any social media strategy thanks to its well-developed ecosystem and diverse content formats that makes it easy for brands to run various types of campaigns.


This simple idea by Qantas leveraged an existing consumer behavior and turned it into something that contributes value for both the customer and the brand.


YouTube – If you have video assets, it’s almost always a good idea to upload it on your own YouTube channel. This social media platform is ideal for brands that are looking for a space where they can do more vivid storytelling. It also boasts relatively higher video completion rates, given that the audience is there to watch video content in the first place. It’s also the second-most popular search engine, which certainly helps your content to be more discoverable.


Looking at this video from Whiskas, creative use of data can help create meaningful content.


Instagram – It used to be that Instagram was just a “highly visual platform”, but now it has become more of a playground where brands can let loose and try out different content types. It’s also a highly engaged community, making it a great channel to connect with specific interest groups.


Just look at how quirky Old Spice’s feed is, and you’ll get how fun you can be on this platform.


Twitter – It’s either some brands don’t understand Twitter, or they’re really good at it. The vitriolic nature of the platform makes some brands shy away from Twitter, but others embrace it. If you’re a brand that must and can churn out content at a fast pace, or if you want to be even more experimental than you are with Instagram, then this social media platform is for you.


One of my personal favorite brand accounts on Twitter is Wendy’s. Not everyone can pull this off, but they are a prime example of knowing who you want to be on social and sticking with it.


LinkedIn – So far, LinkedIn has been working out well as a social media platform for corporate communications. It’s also a good place to establish credibility and thought leadership on the B2B side.


But that doesn’t mean your content has to be boring. Look at how BlackRock promotes their expertise in an engaging manner.


  1. Amplify your message – In this day and age where content can spread like wildfire within hours, it has never been more important to capitalize on the power of leverage. Enlisting media publishers and social influencers, who also have their own content capabilities and captive audience, can help you reinforce a message or tell your story from a different perspective. However, audiences are now warier of these kinds of collaborations. It’s not that they shun these types of content, it’s just that they’re smart enough now to spot a bad branded content when they see one.


This piece from Samsung in partnership with Vimeo talks about how technology is seamlessly integrated to human lives. But since the brand tapped a partner to tell the story, it feels more authentic – which may not have been achieved had the brand decided to go at it by themselves.


  1. Determine what success looks like – Speaking of winning the battle, you need to know what the top of the mountain looks like for you. This links well with the previous points that we have established, and one of the easier ways to understand this is by giving a scenario.


Let’s say you’re the owner of a humble farm-to-market store called Jasper’s Market (yes, the ad sample from Facebook). Being a distributor of fresh produce, you figured that you want to use social media as a platform to promote the importance of food preparation in maintaining a healthy diet. After some research, you found out that your customers like watching quick recipe videos and likes to post photos of food that they cooked. However, they also like to know more about the nutritional benefits of the ingredients that they use but find it hard to learn about this because information is scattered. A logical move would be to create easy-to-prepare recipe videos using your own products, then talk about the health benefits they can get in the videos. Given these parameters it would be wise to aim for video views as your primary success measure, and then engagements and user-generated conversations and content later down the road.

What matters here is that you set your KPIs realistically based on substantiated data, and then you stick with it. Be careful not to fall into the trap of shifting between different KPIs just because you’re not seeing results as fast as you want to. Let your efforts settle in and simmer before you pull the plug, especially if you’re gunning for a long-term game. However, under the same vein you should not be complacent when you see good stats. It’s all about studying the numbers and making the right adjustments at the right time.


Like any other business asset, social media needs time, effort, investment, and dependable partners to be successful. Being purposeful lets you break away from the clutter. Knowing whom to communicate with and where to engage them makes your efforts more focused. Sometimes, others are better at telling your story. And finally, know and stick to your end goal. – X