How to build your brand in a social world
How to build your brand in a social world
As business owners and brand creators, we are all familiar with the incredible marketing capabilities of social media. But will any of us ever be able to say we’ve truly nailed it?
On Tuesday 14th March, Workspace hosted a Breakfast Discussion on Brand Building in a Social World at the Metal Box Factory on London’s South Bank. The panel of Workspace customers and employees have all successfully used a social media strategy to grow their business.
Host Grace Beverley, CEO of fitness lifestyle brands Tala and Shreddy, was joined by Henry Milroy, founder of ice cream sensation Pan-n-Ice, Kierra Campbell, co-founder of luxury wallpaper maker Poodle & Blonde, Lauren McFarland, Influencer Marketing Director of performance brand agency Journey Further and Emily Perriss, Social Media Manager at Workspace.
If your social media strategy is keeping you up at night, you’re not alone.
Algorithms, content performance, trends. Micro trends, going viral. The social media landscape is in a continual state of flux.
“There are so many changes happening at the same time, you can no longer rely on one thing, you’ve got to constantly be innovative,” says Henry Milroy.
Henry’s brand was built on social. “There’s no way we would be where we are today without it.” From the moment he got a big break with a chance viral post from influencer Steven Bartlett, he hasn’t looked back. Now, his quirky ice cream rolls span three businesses and you can find them in Selfridges and Westfield. Proof of the power of a decent social presence.
Henry’s viral experience was one of those moments most brand owners dream of, when your creation suddenly blows up across social and the orders start rolling in. But the panel agreed that it’s no easy task to go viral, and there’s no point in chasing it.
“Viral is not our main focus,” Henry adds. “I think that’s a bad mentality to have because you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. If you think too much about going viral, you over engineer things. If you spend ages making the perfect video it always does the worst.”
Emily explained that Social today is more about spontaneity, and we have Tik Tok to thank for that. Glamorous influencer accounts don’t get so much traction on there; it is more about being real and that is now beginning to filter across to other platforms.
“Tik Tok is such an incredible platform for us and allows us to show off our team, the people behind Workspace and who we are. I think it is so transparent and authentic.”
This transparency is becoming more of a thing among audiences. Content that does well these days takes the viewer behind the scenes, almost fan-based content, to give them an insider’s glimpse of the brand they love.
“One of the changes that social media has brought about is reaching people who are maybe aspirational themselves and creating that pathway is really valuable,” says Grace. “If you think of social as entirely going viral or generating sales, then we’re only ever going to be serving that one area, whereas creating a brand [which is also] the influencer is so valuable and often overlooked.”
On the subject of trends and, as Grace puts it, the “silver bullet mentality” where people expect to instantly go viral, Lauren has a word of caution.
Trends work if they align with your brand and if you have the ability to react to them in a timely manner. That can be very difficult and you have to decide whether that is an efficient use of your time.
“I do think trends should be part of your strategy, it’s just not the whole focus of your strategy.”
But social is moving away from going viral and trends anyway and community is far more relevant to social media today. For Kierra, this plays into Poodle & Blonde’s strategy, but doesn’t always translate to customers.
“The community that engages with us on social is a lot younger than those who actually shop with us. The customer who can afford to decorate their home is not necessarily active on Instagram so there’s this whole thing that we have this engagement but does that convert to sales? It has been a bit of a balancing act but I truly believe that if we didn’t have a community, we wouldn’t have been so successful."
“People like to see the process, whether that is how you design your prints or decorate a room, and being really transparent with the reality of it all behind the scenes creates a kind of loyalty.”
This shift towards content that people connect with is something Kierra believes will only grow as social evolves.
Grace agrees: “We have seen this huge move from influencer-creator to normal person. You have got to appear more relatable, more normal. We have seen the rise of being real, with Tik Tok, where people want to see regular people and it will continue in that direction. We have had years and years of aspiration and we’re seeing more de-influencing and looking at more real rather than polished content now.”
A move in the right direction, perhaps. As for the platforms themselves, they’re certain to keep us on our toes. Some things will probably never change.
Our top five brand growth tips from the experts
- Don’t chase going viral: you can’t force it
- Spend a week creating content and experimenting
- Trends should not be the focus of your strategy
- Create more pathways for people to be interested in you
- Define your brand values