The year 2020 will mark sixteen years since the birth of Facebook, now totaled at approximately 2.4 billion users.

2020 will also indicate almost fifteen years since Twitter, ten years since Instagram, and nine years since Snapchat. TikTok’s popularity has emerged profoundly this year.

Consumer preference for various forms of social media, compared to traditional media, has climbed at an unfathomable rate. Social media platforms are used by one in three people globally, and more than two-thirds of all internet users. Regardless of which platforms consumers gravitate towards, they’re wrapped up in more content than ever before.

Social media has the unique power to spark curiosity and even change perceptions about a brand and their services. Now is an important time to reflect on consumers’ absorption of content through these channels. In order to become (and remain) memorable, brands need to take calculated steps to refine their image and curate relevant content on social media that complements overall user experience. Here are some ways to do it.

Pinpoint Target Audience

Before a brand is able to make a profound impact on a consumer’s propensity to consider them, it’s necessary to first have a grasp on channels in which the target audience lives. While Instagram and Facebook can be effective mediums for content-laden promotions or broad visibility/awareness, simply because of volume of users within these channels, Twitter can be a more favorable medium for release of breaking news and monitoring trends (via hashtags) that relate to a particular industry or topic. LinkedIn may be more suitable for establishing a professional brand theme and capturing untapped business audiences that covet basic information about a brand. YouTube has proven to be practical for video series as well as step-by-step instructional/tutorial content for brands.

In terms of tracking unique visitors and swings in user flow to a brand’s social media page, these platforms (and their respective Marketing Solutions experts) are able to conglomerate statistics and offer insights that help brands construct a social media strategy truly geared towards a target audience that will listen. Additionally, Google Analytics & SEM Rush can summarize demographic, geographic, and website referral traffic information, amongst plenty other metrics, to accompany findings from the social media advertising platforms.

Voice Personality

Whichever social media platforms are most logical for accomplishing business objectives, it’s critical for brands to unify their target audience through a distinct personality and messaging style that stays consistent amongst platforms deployed by the brand. Voice and tone are what define a brand’s personality and make an impression on new or existing users. Each time a brand interacts with users on a social media channel, whether it’s responding to complaints on Twitter or answering questions about a promotion on Instagram, it is exercising voice. Powerful voice can be achieved when a brand conveys their message in a way that users will relate to (i.e. when a brand puts itself “in the shoes” of its target audience).

“Friendly” is often a personality type chosen by airline brands to attract and reason with customers in an era where they’re difficult to retain because of bad experiences that are rather common. United Airlines even incorporated this personality into their slogan and marketing materials (“Fly the Friendly Skies”).

Furthermore, Southwest Airlines, on the heels of backlash from faulty in-flight Wi-Fi, went above-and-beyond to mitigate a consumer’s negative reaction to their brand by reflecting this friendly personality on Twitter and becoming an ally that was there to alleviate frustration with the brand. Because of this personality in-action, positive perceptions of the Southwest Airlines brand were maintained, negative word-of-mouth buzz was limited, and a user was perhaps retained when it wouldn’t have been likely otherwise.

Today’s consumers are smart enough to detect authentic brand personality, and they’ll choose to associate with brands that most closely correlate with the impression they’re seeking.

Stir the Pot with Engaging Visual Content

By harnessing a strong understanding of the target audience and displaying a likable personality through social media, brands can ignite consumer curiosity and even change perceptions about their reputation & services. Color scheme, logo design, font type and slogans are several elements that can assist brands in shaping a dynamic identity. Once these characteristics are solidified and there’s a clear path to understanding user journeys and how an audience associates with your brand, it’s imperative to capitalize on their dedicated attention with visual content that sustains relevance on social media.

Take the International House of Pancakes (IHOP) for example. In June 2018, the brand teased its target audience on social media about a future name change to IHOb. The surprise announcement, supported by an altered logo with a playful caption, referenced an official statement about the name change that would take place in the coming days thereafter. After generating significant buzz with several-thousand “re-tweets” and guesses as to what the ‘b’ in IHOb stood for, it was uncovered that the all-day breakfast chain was hinting at a more traditional lunch and dinner fare through the addition of burgers to their menu. IHOp Chief Marketing Officer Brad Haley later revealed that the social media stunt helped revive the brand from over two years of traffic decline and sell four times more burgers after the campaign.

So, while strong visual content can hook a target audience and catch their attention, it can also refresh a brand’s positioning in the marketplace and drive sales if executed well enough.

As 2020 approaches, the new decade should serve as another reminder that the explosion of social media (and how it captures consumers) has taken on a life of its own in comparison to traditional channels. These days, on social media, there’s no substitute for a connected target audience, authentic personality, and compelling visual content, all of which enable brands to become more relevant to consumers.