Social Media Branding 101: Developing a Cross-Channel Strategy

Social media branding strategy illustration with megaphone

One of the greatest opportunities that social media offers is the potential to build brand recognition and the consumer-brand relationship. But if you’re juggling multiple social media channels, it can be a challenge to manage your company’s brand image across platforms. Varying requirements on sizing, image contents, and more can stretch your resources and lead to inconsistencies if not properly maintained. So in this post, we cover the essentials of an effective social media branding strategy. 

First things first. What is social media branding? Simply put, it’s how you manage your company image, brand identity, and market position across digital networks. So how do you create effective content for all these channels? To present a strong, consistent brand across platforms, you’ll need: 

  • A well-defined visual identity (we’ll define what that is in the next section)
  • A clear understanding of your different audiences

Maintain a Consistent Brand Identity

Brand identity illustration including fonts and color palette

More and more social media channels are making a shift to visual content. Think about it. Facebook and Twitter, born with a focus on text-based statuses, are now packed with visual content. Captions take a backseat on image-centric Instagram and Pinterest. LinkedIn allows sharing of images, videos, and infographics. That’s why your brand’s visual identity is so important to your social media branding strategy. It helps create unity and recognition. 

What is a visual identity? It’s a codified system of visual elements that translates your brand into a distinct style. That includes color palette, typography, illustration style, photo treatment, and more. The key here is visual consistency. You want to build cross-channel recognition with your audiences. 

Understand Each Channel’s Core Viewers

Social media branding strategy illustration with eye to represent audience

It’s important to maintain your brand’s visual identity across social media channels. But don’t make the mistake of simply cross-posting the same visual content everywhere. Why? Your LinkedIn followers probably have different interests than your Twitter followers. The demographics of core users may be different, too. So remember to tailor your subject matter and tone to fit each audience. 

Another important factor to think about is that each social channel has a different pace. Your content needs to fit the user’s experience. Should you share something with a memorable visual impact that can be quickly consumed during a scrolling binge? Or a deeper dive for a user who’s on the hunt for specific information? This will help you decide what type of content to create and share on each channel. 

Design With a Specific Platform in Mind

Social media branding strategy across channels and platforms

Your social media branding strategy can take many forms. What type of content will work best for your brand? Well, it all starts with your message. If you have an in-depth story to tell, a motion graphic gives you space to do that. Or, if you want to focus on sharing 1 key data point, a mini-infographic might be the perfect fit. 

Once you’ve chosen the general shape of your message, it’s time to get specific. All your social media channels have different limitations for the type of content that can be posted. A great example of this is video duration. For Instagram, it’s a max of 60 seconds. For Twitter, it’s 140 seconds. And keep in mind that the maximum isn’t always the ideal length. Case in point: LinkedIn allows native video up to 10 minutes long. Most of the time, though, a 90-second video will far outperform a 10-minute video. And if you want to share your motion graphic across channels, it needs to fit the restrictions of all of them. So be strategic with your video marketing.

And what about static content? Ideal dimensions vary across platforms, but simple re-sizing can help with that. More on that in the next section.

Know When to Reuse (And When Not To)

Illustration the strategy of reusing visual content and branding across social media

Brands often make one of these 2 social media mistakes. Some brands don’t have a consistent brand identity. Each channel feels disconnected. Maybe some channels are active while others lay dormant. What’s the result? The channels don’t boost each other, and the overall brand is weakened. 

Other brands have the opposite problem. All their social media channels post the same identical content at the same time. What’s the problem here? It solves the consistency issue. But in doing so, it creates another issue. Your different social media channels are now offering the exact same content, which means they’re not effectively boosting each other. Now they’re in competition. Your audience has no reason to follow your brand on more than one channel. 

Keep in mind that each of your social channels needs to offer something slightly distinct. They need to amplify each other, not clone each other. 

So, is it okay to reuse your visual content? Yes! But be strategic in how you do it. There are many ways you can create efficiencies. 

  • First: lean on your established visual identity. This will make your design process faster and more agile. And of course, it helps to harmonize everything you create. 
  • Next: resize static content to fit the right dimensions for each social channel. It’s a good idea to cross-post some things, particularly static content that drives engagement to a larger piece like a microsite or a motion graphic.
  • Finally: repurpose content by transforming it in some way. For example, if you’ve created a new motion graphic for LinkedIn, create a GIF by looping a scene from the motion graphic and share it on Twitter. 

Building an Effective Social Media Branding Strategy

If your social media channels aren’t performing, it might be time to rethink the building blocks of your branding strategy. Consider working with a brand identity agency, especially if you need help creating a visual strategy or a visual identity. It’s important to build that foundation first. Then, you’ll be able to develop a cross-channel visual approach that’s more engaging than ever before. 

Sheridan Prince

Author Sheridan Prince

Sheridan Prince is a content editor for Killer Visual Strategies. She grew up in Indianola, WA, often exploring the woods with a book in her backpack instead of a map. She has a BA in English Writing, a collection of beloved plants, and a passion for concise, evocative communication in all forms. Before joining Killer, Sheridan worked as a content strategist in the sphere of higher education, and as the editor in chief of a journal for emerging authors and artists in the Chicago area. As part of the Killer team, she believes that the keys to crafting powerful stories and forming strong client relationships are to ask the right questions and listen well. On the weekends, she gets her creative fix from watercolor painting and floristry, and gets her fresh air by gardening, hiking the outdoors and learning about the native flora and fauna of the Pacific Northwest.

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