7 charts on how small brands can go big on social


By   |   June 15th, 2017   |   Reading time: 6 minutes Brands, Digital Journalism

social media monitoring, audience development, community building

Social media wins aren’t just for big brands. Small brands can leverage social to create authentic experiences and thriving communities. 

How can brands thrive on social media, if they’re not wielding a Pepsi or Apple-sized budget?

A recent survey by Clutch found that 24 percent of small businesses in the U.S. haven’t used social media for their business. Social media offers an authentic way to reach consumers, build brand awareness, and to solicit genuine feedback. So why are these companies missing out on an opportunity to grow their audience?

It can be daunting to know where to start. We looked at the best practices from brands on social media right now, and the small brands that are already raising the bar.

For each of these brands, we looked into their most engaging content and historical wins, thanks to the data from NewsWhip Analytics. Get inspired by these data-driven best practices.

1. Go beyond your brand

What does Red Bull have to do with extreme sports? As an energy drink, maybe not so much. But the brand has built a formidable media powerhouse, by producing stories of thrilling feats and adventures.

We looked at Red Bull’s main Facebook performance against a selection of similar food and drink brands in NewsWhip Analytics.

The data shows Red Bull has gone beyond its products, and created a brand that people want to interact with.

Consider your audience. What would you want to see on your social media feed? What value would it add to your day — something fun and entertaining, something inspirational, something educational or informative?

Beauty brand Glossier started out as a blog, so the brand is already thinking like a publisher, with a defined tone and clear value to its readers. Articles like this provide readers with something beyond an advertisement.

Meanwhile, Casper has made a name for itself as an innovative mattress company. Its posts regularly drive engagements for being fun and out of the ordinary, and teaching a little something about the science of sleep.

2. Embrace the native channels

Once you know what your audience would want to see, you have to go to where they are. NASA has over 500 distinct social media accounts, and strategy varies across each platform. Gifs may work on Tumblr, while scientific explanations will pique attention on LinkedIn.

Different platforms, different audiences. Successful brands have learned which formats and tones work on which platforms. Using NewsWhip Analytics, we looked at the content output of Red Bull and the other brands from above in May 2017.

Red Bull clearly has been creating the bulk of video, compared to these four other brands.

Again, think of your end user. What is your video going to accomplish? The video content shouldn’t necessarily be an advertisement. You can share information, be entertaining, or inspire your viewers.

Ipsy’s videos show followers what’s possible with the beauty products that the brand sends in its subscription boxes.

3. Get a good camera

National Geographic is one of the most engaging brands on Instagram and its extraordinary visuals helped place it predominantly on the platform. Again, we turned to NewsWhip Analytics to analyze some of the biggest brands on Instagram, where we saw that National Geographic’s virality is unmistakeable. 

With over 123.4 million Instagram engagements in May 2017 alone, National Geographic continues to wow users on social.

Having striking visuals can help brands stand out, and catch users’ eyes. There is ample opportunity for brands to creatively tell their story on social media, and sharp, compelling images can do just that.

postmates instagram strategy social media monitoring

Postmates gets its audience’s imagination going (and stomachs rumbling!) with all the options that can be delivered via the service. The posts all provide a burst of color that stands out.

4. Build a community

Organic, peer-to-peer sharing has become favored by social media algorithms as a way to surface content that users will have a genuine interest in. Posts from a user’s friends and family are more likely to appear than posts from a brand.

We’ve noted Nissan has one of the best auto brands on Facebook, again and again. Part of this has come from building up a tremendous community of fans. 

These have been Nissan USA’s top Facebook posts from January through May of this year. The posts all are sourced from passionate auto-enthusiasts, and Nissan’s followers often jump into the comments to share photos of their own cars.

Small brands can build up communities too, especially by recognizing their followers.

Michel et Augustin is transparent with its cookie-loving content. The brand regularly shows its employees, its behind-the-scenes, and welcomes its audience in joining in its grass roots mission of sharing kooky cookies.

Meanwhile, LootCrate asks followers the hard-hitting questions on topics that its target audience is passionate about.

5. Partner up

How can you amplify your message? It goes without saying that influencers and partnering up with publications and brand advocates can have a significant impact. 

Halo Top Partnered Branded Native Advertising Owned Facebook

Halo Top’s top partnered post with BuzzFeed Tasty drove over 145,000 engagements. Compare this to the Halo Top Facebook Page’s own average of 1,627 engagements for March through May 2017. While not every brand can be lucky enough to get on Tasty’s radar, the effects of such partnerships can be exponential.

User-generated content can be a more grassroots way of doing this, and a way to bolster your community. Encourage your audience to share content related to your brand — whether through photos, videos, anecdotes, or other creative contributions. 

Buffer shows off its community’s creative skills on social media, by using photos from where its users live and work.

6. Get personal and stay human

What does your audience care about? Recently we’ve seen more and more brands taking a stance on political and social issues. Reebok had a recent marketing win when they created a “Nevertheless She Persisted” t-shirt around a political moment. 

If politics are a step too far, even working with charities can help show your readers that you have the same causes on your mind as they do.

Many of these steps factor into showing that your brand is human, that there are actual people involved and not just a faceless corporation. Adding human elements into your content can help make your brand much more personable.

7. Start experimenting

There’s only so much you can strategize. Now it’s time to start creating. With any content strategy, keep testing and keep a pulse on the best practices on each platform. Take a look into your competitive set. Who’s performing the best?

NewsWhip Analytics allows users to track their competitive set historically on social media, across web, Facebook, Instagram, and more.

What are their recent wins and fails? What are the conversations on social media right now that could be relevant to your brand?

NewsWhip Spike offers an eye into the world’s trending topics, predicting stories before they go viral across every niche, region, and social platform.

Having flexibility and genuine enthusiasm to reaching your audience on social is key to success.

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