A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about Social Media Communication Traps for eCommerce Brands in which I touched on why brands shouldn’t turn their social media covers into billboards. Even though eCommerce brands are among the worst offenders, they’re not the only ones who either publish one cover and never give it a second thought or use it as ad space way too much. So if neither is an option, how do we make the most of our social media covers?
Why you should get creative
Much like real life, when people first meet you online, they form an opinion within the first few seconds. Unlike real life, where those first few seconds are followed by a conversation, giving you the chance to influence their opinion, when people make snap decisions about your social media profile and they’re not in your favour, 9 times out of 10 you’ve lost them completely.
Imagine handing someone your business card without having exchanged a single word. Now imagine hundreds of thousands of people doing the same thing, at the same time. That’s your playing field when you’re trying to use social media for business.
Your social media profile is your online business card and, whether you’re a brand or an individual, it has to stand out or people will move on in seconds. Because they’re considerably larger than your regular posts and are among the first things you see when accessing someone’s profile, covers are a great way to showcase your brand. Yes, that includes personal brands.
How you use your social media covers and how effective it’s going to be has a lot to do with what you’re trying to achieve online. That means that whatever you do, has to be aligned with your or your brand’s broader marketing strategy.
You in a nutshell
If your brand’s current strategy is geared towards building awareness, then your covers can become a clever way of showcasing your brand’s values, personality, what you do, etc. Think about the things you’d tell someone if they’d never heard of you or your brand before – those are the things that go on your cover when trying to build or consolidate brand awareness.
Elespacio uses a combination of solid colours and iconography to quickly and effectively let users know who they are and what they do.
Because it relies heavily on highlighting the elements that are essential for a business, the you in a nutshell approach works well even if you’re an established brand.
Apple Music uses a simple but very powerful photo that, even though it doesn’t not say Apple off the bat, definitely says music. The cover isn’t just great on its own, it also works perfectly with the logo to create a single branding element.
Branding means helping people understand what you do and why you do it so well, while creating a sustainable visual style they’ll recognize no matter where they’re exposed to your content.
Using covers to improve brand awareness is a great way to leverage your social media profile, as it will help you visually define your brand further and provide you with a solid starting point for more complex marketing strategies, but it all begins with branding.
Show off your stuff
Where businesses focused on services might struggle to find ways of offering visual cues as to what they do, companies that offer software solutions and tangible products have it considerably easier. That’s not to say branding is easy if you’re a retailer but you have more content options to play with, whereas a company offering services will have to find ways of refreshing more abstract content.
SproutSocial uses captures of its own platform to give users a glimpse of what the interface looks like. While it won’t give you an idea about its capabilities, it does tell you that it’s user friendly and works across multiple devices, and all that without a single line of text.
Microsoft Lumia takes a slightly similar approach, showcasing its product but this time using a tagline to convey why said product can become a valuable tool for consumers.
While you should never use your social media covers as ad space, you can and should use them to highlight important moments in your brand’s story.
The Webby Awards makes its Twitter cover about the show itself and, at the same time, letting the audience know when they can begin voting, sorting out both branding and brand updates in one fell swoop.
Using delicious shots of their toasties topped off with a tagline, Costa Coffee leverages their Facebook cover to let their fans know they’ve got a new, mouthwatering product. What’s really noteworthy here is that, unlike smaller brands, Costa hasn’t mentioned prices or special offers even once. For the record, that’s a good thing.
In a mix of both product show off and branding, Desigual cleverly combines brand updates with brand awareness, using a Twitter cover that showcases the brand celebrating diversity and raising awareness about their product lines.
The difference between the way The Webby Awards, Costa and Desigual are promoting their products through social media covers and brands just slamming percentages on a background that hasn’t even been branded is that the former is a non-intrusive branding exercise that’s geared towards conversions while the latter is the equivalent of shouting discounts off the top of your lungs hoping that being louder will make you recognizable.
Boost your brand
One thing that’s being ignored way too much when it comes to social media covers is how valuable they are as a brand endorsement opportunity when used by your employees. When the people who work for you believe in your brand so much that they’re willing to publicly associate themselves in something so visible as their social media covers, that’s a real sign of a strong company culture. Whatever your strategy, both potential customers and hires will take notice.
It’s always worth investing in custom social media covers for your employees or, at the very least, your customer facing and lead generation teams but if, for whatever reason, you can’t come up with social media covers for them, just encourage them to use whatever covers you’re using for your brand accounts.
The Bottom Line
Social media covers can become a valuable asset for your marketing efforts, as long as you brand them well, refresh them to tell your brand story, leverage them to showcase your brand’s personality and creatively inspire your teams to use them.