What are social media aesthetics? Essentially, it’s everything that makes your brand unique and original. It’s in how often you post and what colors you choose for your visuals. It’s about your fonts and policy for working with comments. It’s in the essence and mood of your brand.
A unique social media aesthetic is crucial to develop in times of rapid change, when brands are allocating large budgets into design and marketing on social media. In this article, we’ll talk about the importance of developing your social media strategy, researching your competitors and target audience, as well as developing your tone of voice and brand kit. All these steps will help you develop your own unique social media aesthetic.
Why is having a social media aesthetic so important?
You’re probably still wondering why you need a distinct aesthetic. Here are some of the benefits:
Your brand becomes recognizable
Once your social media aesthetic is set and recognizable, you can be pretty sure you’ll stand out among your competitors. A well developed and appealing aesthetic adds to increased brand awareness, helping you build a stronger brand online.
You start to stand out from your competitors
With thousands of other businesses playing in your field, you need a distinct social media aesthetic, so your customers understand what sets you apart.
Your social media platforms start looking cohesive
Whether it’s Twitter or Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest, your aesthetic ties your platforms together and helps you stay memorable in the eyes of the consumer.
To give you an example, take a look at the aesthetic developed by G.Bar, a branch of beauty salons:
7 Tips on How to Create a Unique Social Media Aesthetic
So how do you go about building your own, unique social media aesthetic? We’ve prepared seven key tips for that:
1. Start with the strategy
Every great business begins with a strategy. Ideally, it’s your comprehensive plan stating your primary goals, tactics, and values. Strategy is your way of getting from point A to point B. So, to lay down your social media marketing strategy, take your time to answer some of these questions:
- What is your product or service? Why is it better than the one of your competitors? What is your product’s RTB (reasons to believe) — why should people trust you?
- Who are your direct competitors? What should you know about them? Are there any growth tactics you might want to borrow?
- What is the core idea behind your product? What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- Where do you want to be with your product in a year? What’s your plan on how you’re going to get there?
It is also useful to define your goals for each social media channel you run. Say, your Instagram may serve as an online shop, Youtube — as a rich source of how-to videos around your product, while Twitter is aimed at conversations that establish good relationships with your customers. No matter how you decide on this, always keep these goals in mind while forming separate strategies for each channel.
Further Reading: 12 Social Media Strategy Examples to Empower Your Marketing
2. See what your competitors are up to
Alongside developing your strategy, it’s essential to see what your competitors do and learn from them. Get a spreadsheet and ask yourself these questions:
- Who are your direct competitors?
- What is their strategy? What aesthetic have they adapted?
- What colors, fonts, and objects do they use in their social media posts?
- How often do they post and what drives engagement?
- What is their tone of voice?
Next, choose 3-5 profiles you like most and ask yourself — what is unique about them? What are your key takeaways?
In addition to your direct competitors, you can learn from others. Say you’re running a pet care business, why not get inspired by a local grocery store or barbershop?
Further Reading: How to Spy On Your Competitors on Instagram In 4 Steps
3. Do your target audience research
Understanding your target audience is crucial for developing unique social media aesthetics. First, you want to know who you are communicating with clearly. We suggest you develop a solid persona in your mind and try to speak to them directly in all your communications. Answering these questions will help you understand your target audience better:
- Who is at the core of my target audience? What does this person do for a living?
- What goals are most relevant for this person? What are their key habits and interests?
- What values does your audience stick to? Are there any values that correspond to your brand?
As defining your target audience is of major importance for your business, use all the tools available for your research.
- Facebook insights. On your Facebook page, you can explore everything Facebook knows about your target audience. Look up the demographics, such as age, location, and gender. But it’s best to go beyond these metrics. Examine the pages your audience follows — this will give you an understanding of their fundamental interests.
- Google Analytics is yet another great tool that gives you a 360° understanding of what your audience is about. We recommend you focus more on your interests, habits, etc.
- Manual research. You can choose 5-10 client profiles on social media and see what these people are up to, how they spend their time, and their key interests.
- Offline is king. No matter how deep your online research goes, your key insights will likely come from offline observations. Listen to what your audience says in the conversation, how they act, and their key habits.
Here, it’s also crucial that you look for your audience’s insight. In marketing, insights reflect underlying motivations that drive people’s behavior. Insight is truth, sometimes unobvious and uncomfortable, but it can help you better grasp your audience’s feelings and needs.
To find an insight, maintain your observations, ask questions, and try to formulate understanding in these ways:
- I want to X, but I do X;
- When I feel X, I need to do X;
- I know that I need to do X, but instead I do X.
Once you find insight into your audience, you know their fundamental aspirations, values, and pain points — and you can focus on building your communication on that.
4. Develop your unique tone of voice and message box
Now that we know who your target audience is, it’s time to decide on how and what to say to them. Building on your previous research, you can well start defining your tone of voice. For this, it’s great to decide on two points:
- Your message box. This is a set of key messages you want to transmit through all your social media channels. What do you want to say about your product? About your company? About your team? Write this down in a handy spreadsheet. Big brands normally have message boxes for media requests with frequently asked questions — so you can easily follow their suit.
- Your tone of voice. This will help you in writing copy for your social media posts. We recommend you think of your brand as a person here. Is your brand funny or serious? Is there a place for sarcastic or humorous remarks in your copy? What emotions do you want your audience to experience while reading your posts?
Again, think of your brand as a person and try to create its tone of voice answering these questions:
- If your brand was a personality, what would it strive for?
- What would it do daily?
- What would it do for a living?
- Would it be chatty or silent?
- Who would be their friends?
Another great piece of advice is this — speak to your audience in the same language they use amongst themselves. Take Twitter, one of the biggest social media platforms. Twitter is essentially fun, friendly, and a little bit sarcastic, with a tone of self-irony. Twitter is posting like one of your friends — casually, in a relaxed manner.
5. Put together a brand book and brand kit
Your brand book is perhaps one of the most important elements when it comes to your brand aesthetic. If developed correctly, it lays down your mission, values, principles, fonts, colors, and other key elements of your brand’s personality. Take some time to develop it and keep in mind you’re doing it for your target audience.
With colors, mind what emotions they provoke. Tips from Kendra Cherry may come handy in here:
- Black is often described as one of the most powerful colors. It’s traditionally used for luxury brands, projecting a mysterious or even ominous sense.
- White is associated with cleanness, youth, and modernity.
- Yellow is a synonym for happiness.
- Red is associated with power, confidence, and action.
- Blue projects stability and prosperity, as well as trustworthiness.
One study found that the use of color can increase brand recognition by up to 80 percent. Thus, it is especially important to spend some time defining your brand’s true color — and building a whole palette around it.
Below, let’s examine how brands like Emil Heliot and Tigra Tigra play with colors.
For Heliot Emil, we notice a solid black and white aesthetic — and no graphic elements, only photos.
Tigra Tigra, a brand calling itself “handicraft futurism” prefers photos, too, making good use of vivid, rich colors, always with a pinch of red.
For fonts, it’s best you take your time to come up with a good pair of fonts. Say, one font can be used for headings, another — for all other copy on your visuals. Some common mistakes in working with fonts include choosing too many fonts, choosing them out of context, or coming up with a poor color font choice. Here’s some font inspiration from Bolt:
If you still don’t have a brand book, try using VistaCreate’s Brand Kit feature. It helps you develop your brand kit online, ensuring your brand is consistent in colors and fonts.
Other than that, spend some time thinking about these questions:
- Will your brand use emojis?
- Will the copy on your visuals be excessive or scarce?
- What are the absolute don’ts for your brand? This could never be using a particular color, for instance.
- Will your brand use graphics only, or will it combine it with photos?
- Will your brand use stock photos?
Try and organize everything from the abovementioned into a handy mood board, for instance, on Pinterest. Then, share it with your team so that everyone is in line with the aesthetic you plan to project.
Get inspired by how Pitaya, an innovative swimwear brand, combines pictures and fonts in its visual aesthetic:
6. Create pre-made templates for your social media posts
You can now head over to create a set of pre-made templates for your social media. These are important since you want to maintain your distinguished style in every post, regardless of the occasion. The templates are also handy since they save time as you’re posting, so you don’t go around creating new visuals for every publication. Here, you can use some of these tactics:
- Work with your designer to get a ready set of templates. Take your brand book and write a technical assignment for what you need to use on your social media — regular posts, content for Stories, banners, and more. Then, develop 3-5 templates for every occasion. You can shift and change colors in your templates and change texts to look like new ones.
- Create your templates with online platforms. Free design templates are handy as they allow you to create new posts in minutes, and you can do it yourself without help from a designer. Here, you can also prepare a set of templates for every occasion. Take Twitter banners, Instagram posts, or Facebook Stories — everything can be created online.
See how Headspace, a mindfulness app, makes use of different elements, fonts, and colors in their social media aesthetics:
Further Reading: The 17 Best Infographic Maker and Graphics Tools
7. Execute and monitor
How about heading over to the execution part now? You have your strategy, understand your customers, and have your brand book ready — so let’s begin putting some of those plans to life. We suggest you do it in three steps:
- Create your social media schedule. Understand what you post, when, and how often. Structure your content calendar, so that it fits your customers’ needs. Say you’re running a fitness blog, Sunday could be a good time for posting Stories with five tips on morning stretches for weekends. Remember the insights here — you do want to be there for your customers when they need you the most.
- Keep track of analytics. Set a specific period and analyze your page’s performance. This will help you understand how your content performs and how your audience reacts. Here, some tools might come in handy — Buffer, Hootsuite, Facebook/Instagram Insights, and others.
- Go on experimenting! Try something new every day, come up with new types of content, and try to adhere to your aesthetic, but always leave a space for experiments.
Further Reading: 5 Ways to Leverage Social Media Analytics for Your Business
Key takeaways on building a social media aesthetic
Developing your social media aesthetic is a rewarding challenge. If you put enough time and creativity into that, you’re sure to differ from your competitors and build on your online presence to appeal to more clients. Start developing your own unique social media aesthetic in a couple of steps:
- Understand your strategy, your competitors, and your audience.
- Develop your unique tone of voice, message box, and brand book.
- Create pre-made templates for your visuals to be on-brand.
- Execute, monitor — and always experiment.
Good luck to you!
Hero Photo by Camille Brodard on Unsplash
This is a post contributed from one of my marketing partners.