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Ever had a cake that was so beautiful you didn’t want to eat it? And yet, you definitely wanted to eat it? Nadia Cakes in Wisconsin made one such cake back in 2018, and unfortunately, the person who ordered the beautiful, custom geode cake, never picked it up. As any business owner would do, they posted the cake on Facebook to see who might need a last-minute dessert, since the cake could not be refrigerated. When their creation unexpectedly went viral for its…ahem unique resemblance to female anatomy, they didn’t crumble. Instead, they frosted the situation with humour and engagement. That, dear reader, is how Nadia Cakes will go down in social media history as an unbelievably great example of using what’s in your “pantry” to build brand awareness, just one of the 15 essential objectives for social media when you’re a small business.
Defining Brand Awareness:
In the bustling bazaar of social media, brand awareness is your neon sign. It’s not just about being seen; it’s about being remembered, discussed over brunch, and even turned into memes. It’s becoming THE PLACE to go for coffee on the weekend, or the new place to workout.
But there’s more to it than just recognition. Brand awareness is also about the feelings and associations consumers have towards your brand. It’s the emotional and psychological relationship your customers have with your business. Think of it as the difference between recognizing a face in a crowd and knowing that person’s story, quirks, and favorite cake flavor.
Two primary levels define brand awareness:
- Brand Recognition: This is the basic level. Can consumers recognize your brand when they see it? When I see realistic flower cupcakes I immediately think of my favourite cupcakerie, Odebs Cakes.
- Brand Recall: This is the next level up. Can consumers recall your brand without seeing it, just from a product category or description? It’s like craving a specific cake and knowing exactly where to get it.
Brand awareness also encompasses how often your audience sees your brand online. Are you popping up in their social media feeds? Are influencers or their friends talking about you? Every mention, share, or like increases the familiarity of your brand, making it more likely for consumers to choose you over competitors.
In essence, brand awareness is the foundation of your brand’s reputation. It’s the first step in the customer’s journey, leading to brand preference, loyalty, and advocacy. So, whether you’re a startup bakery or a tech giant, brand awareness is the yeast that makes your brand rise in the crowded marketplace of consumer consciousness.
The Importance of Brand Awareness for Small Business:
If your brand was a song, brand awareness makes it the catchy tune everyone’s humming. Did you know that brands recognized on social media have a higher chance of turning window shoppers into buyers? Small businesses with brand awareness have:
- Better customer loyalty
- Higher levels of trust and credibility
- Increased levels of word-of-mouth
- More effective product launches
- Higher sales and revenue
Choosing the Right Social Media Platforms:
Choosing the right platform for your brand is akin to a baker selecting the perfect oven for their signature cake. Each platform has its unique audience, culture, and content style, and your choice can make or break your brand awareness:
- Audience Demographics: Each platform attracts a different demographic. While Instagram might be bustling with millennials and Gen Z looking for visually appealing content, LinkedIn caters to professionals seeking industry insights and looking to network on social media. Knowing where your target audience hangs out is half the battle won.
- Content Format: TikTok thrives on short, catchy videos, while Twitter is the realm of witty, concise text. Choosing a platform that aligns with your content strengths can amplify your brand’s voice.
- Engagement Levels: Platforms like Instagram and TikTok are known for high engagement rates, making them ideal for brands looking to foster community and interaction. Joining the wrong platform and ghosting your followers who are expecting lots of engagement is not a good look.
- Brand Personality: A quirky brand might find a community on TikTok, while a more serious, informative brand might resonate better on LinkedIn or Twitter. Aligning your brand’s personality with the platform’s vibe can boost relatability and recall.
- Trends and Virality: Platforms like TikTok and Twitter are known for their trending challenges and hashtags. Brands that can cleverly leverage these trends can see a sudden spike in awareness.
- Longevity of Content: While a tweet might have a short lifespan, a well-optimized YouTube video or Pinterest pin can drive traffic for years. Understanding the longevity of your content on each platform is essential.
The platform you choose molds the perception of your brand. It’s not just about being present everywhere, but about shining where it matters most. It’s the difference between baking a cake in a microwave versus a specialized convection oven. Both have their merits; the key is knowing which one will make your cake rise to perfection.
Optimizing Profiles for Brand Consistency:
Imagine a bakery that suddenly had three different logos, one on each of their social profiles. Confusing, right? How would you know it was the same place you were looking for? Keep your branding consistent. It’s the recipe for recognition.
- Visuals: Ensure your cover photos and profile avatars are consistent with your website, logo and/or other platforms. You want to ensure it’s easy for people to recognize you in a sea of profiles.
- Consistent Brand Voice and Bio: Whether your brand voice is professional, quirky, or casual, it should remain consistent across platforms.
- Regular and Relevant Posting: Maintain a content calendar that ensures regular posting across platforms. Consistency in posting frequency keeps your brand top-of-mind, but do remember quality is always better than quantity.
Creating Compelling Visual Content:
A drool-worthy picture of a cake can cause more cravings than the cake itself. Visuals are your secret ingredient. And no, you don’t need a Michelin-star setup. A smartphone and access to a DIY graphic design program will suffice.
In the world of social media, a picture isn’t just worth a thousand words; it’s worth thousands of likes, shares, and comments. Here’s how to make your visuals stand out:
- Storytelling Through Imagery: Every image or video should tell a story. Whether it’s the journey of creating your product, a behind-the-scenes glimpse, or showcasing a satisfied customer, your visuals should resonate emotionally with your audience.
- Quality Over Quantity: Blurry or pixelated images can harm your brand’s perception. Invest in good quality photography. With the advancements in smartphone cameras, you don’t always need a professional setup. Sometimes, good lighting and a steady hand are all you need. But be honest with yourself. If your photos aren’t great, it’s time to call in a pro.
- Consistent Aesthetics: Maintain a consistent filter or color scheme for your images, especially on platforms like Instagram. It creates a cohesive look for your profile, making it more appealing to potential followers. However, being #Flawsome is more important than being perfect. The cohesive colour profile is nice, but not 100% necessary.
Engagement and Community Building:
Remember our bakery’s witty comebacks? That’s engagement gold. Social media is a two-way street. Drive conversations, not monologues.
Engagement isn’t just about talking; it’s about listening. Pay attention to comments, feedback, and direct messages. Understand the sentiments behind them and respond genuinely. Remember complaints are an opportunity to learn and improve, so be professional responding to them.
In the age of instant gratification, a timely response can make all the difference. Whether it’s a query, a compliment, or even criticism, acknowledging it promptly shows your audience that you care.
Create Inclusive and Relatable Content:
Feature stories or testimonials from your community. It could be a satisfied customer, a behind-the-scenes look at an employee, or even user-generated content. Use polls, quizzes, Q&A sessions, or challenges to involve your audience actively. It not only boosts engagement but also provides valuable insights into your audience’s preferences and opinions. Webinars, live sessions, or virtual meet-ups provide a platform for your community to interact not just with you, but with each other, strengthening the bond.
Leveraging User-Generated Content (UGC):
UGC is like those customer reviews that say, “Best. Cake. Ever.” It’s genuine, relatable, and the cherry on top of your brand awareness efforts.
- Encourage your customers to tag you in photos. Mention it in your videos, posts and bios, but also put signs up at the cash or on tables or in dressing rooms to remind them what your handles are.
- Reshare the photos, videos and reviews your customers leave. Show appreciation by leaving a thoughtful comment.
Our geode cake bakery? Their viral moment wasn’t just about the laughs. It led to increased sales, brand recognition, and a masterclass in handling trolls and unexpected fame.
Brand awareness is part art and part science, with a little dash of technology thrown in. It’s about baking the perfect layer cake to showcase your creativity and skills. And it might, in reality, be the best choice for your small business social media efforts.