How to make your brand stand out from the social media crowd

Australian ethically made clothing brand, Yoli & Otis 

Australian ethically made clothing brand, Yoli & Otis 

Just when we all got up to speed on how important social media was for brand awareness, social media realized just how much we needed it and adapted. Great.

Now, algorithms you don’t understand could rule you out of the race, fake followings are penalized, and the slightest #fail could bring massive backlash. Plus, the more big brands join sites like Facebook and Instagram, the harder it is to get a look-in.

Instagram, in particular, is a crowded space for companies, with plenty of high achievers already kicking goals. Luca Solca, head of luxury goods at Exane BNP Paribas, described it “the social media boxing ring” in an interview with Business of Fashion.  

But the potential for exposure is so great it’s worth copping a few punches. As Instagram’s head of fashion partnerships, Eva Chen, said: “A picture is worth a thousand words, and now a picture can speak to millions of people.”

The good news is that being a success on social media actually involves very little effort. Trying hard isn’t cool. Being authentic is. Here are five ways to stand out for the right reasons.

1. Act like a human being

Simple, right? The gist of it is this: you know that frustrated feeling you get when you receive a call from an unknown number and there’s a robot telemarketer on the other end? That’s how people feel when they see a social media post that’s forced, exaggerated or disingenuous.

“Authenticity is something that consumers can spot,” Brit McCorquodale, marketing and communications director at Tribe Dynamics, told Business of Fashion. “If it’s not authentic, it’s going to be really easy to be called out.”

This means having a personality and a voice for your brand is a good thing, but make sure it’s organic and easily maintained.

2. Foster your relationships

Only celebrities with millions of followers can get away with not replying to fan mail. Until you get to that point, in the words of Kendrick Lamar, “be humble”. Reply to comments, follow back, actively ask for feedback and engage with your consumers until your thumbs get repetitive strain injury from typing (just kidding, keep those thumbs limber). Oh, and it goes without saying: always play nice.

3. Focus on what you do well

Digital consultant John Boitnott wrote in his piece for Inc: “Do you think you have an utterly unique product? Here’s the truth; you probably don't, and that’s not a bad thing. Some of today's most successful products aren’t all that new, original, or unique. True, you need to be innovative and flexible to succeed, but you don't have to reinvent the wheel.”

He’s absolutely right. Take Aussie skincare brand Aesop – if they’d taken the number of other companies pushing hand cream as evidence they’d fail, we wouldn’t have their dreamy, minimalist aesthetic and fragrant balms on every block (an exaggeration, but their dominance is pretty impressive).   

Be realistic about your goals and know your strengths. They’re your point of difference.

4. Presentation is key

Particularly when using a visual platform like Instagram, it pays to have an overarching aesthetic to your posts that’s recognisable. Don’t be too rigid about it, but focus on posting interesting images that have a colour scheme, visual theme, subject, or even just a filter, in common.

5. Do your homework

As with most things in life, social media moves with trends. While we’re not recommending you become a blind follower of every new craze, it helps to know what people are talking about, the language they’re using and the imagery that’s resonating with your target market

A good example of trend utilisation is the Huji app, which makes images look like photos developed from a disposable camera. The app was adopted early by super-cool models, bloggers and influencers, but then lost its currency when it was downloaded by absolutely everyone and overplayed like a Justin Bieber song on FM radio. People using it late in the game looked a little, well, lame (sorry). Don’t be a late adopter.

So there you have it: social media success is essentially a matter of knowing who you are and what you stand for and sharing it with the world. Who knew it could be so easy? Now, go forth and conquer. And chuck a few likes our way while you’re at it.