Bad football puns aside, with the thrill of the AFL Grand Final buzzing this weekend, we at BSO Digital wanted to take the time to highlight some social media branding genius from the AFL. Last week, after much anticipation, the AFL unveiled the new logo for their league – AFL Women’s League.
Designed by PUSH Collective, the logo pays homage to the AFL goal posts and goal square while creating an easily recognisable “W”. Using on-trend, flat design, the logo was designed to work with both online and traditional media. And it is already making waves, with over 18,000 views already on Instagram.
So why is a web design agency covering AFL social media branding?
In our work, we often encounter clients who are daunted by social media. But #aflwomens shows us just how powerful social media, and a social media presence, can be.
Social media is set to play an enormous role in the promotion of the women’s league, with the brand centred on the phrase, “See What We Create”. For these pioneers of the female league, their role isn’t just to play the game but be the game.
And it is already working. The new social media accounts for #aflwomens (Instagram and Twitter) and are already hitting the high thousands and their exhibition match garnered 1.05 million views – the highest rating Saturday Night game prior to the Finals.
A well-researched online presence is important. Being accessible to your customers, in this day and age, is vital and the means embracing social media. A well-managed campaign is easier to pull off than you think. Just like everything behind your business, all it takes is a little research.
When we study the case of #aflwomens, they carefully constructed their campaign based on research into their audience – both online and offline. While there was a focus on being accessible to offline audience and traditional media, the bigger focus was targeting what the online audience wanted.
PUSH Collective examined the target audience for #aflwomens, studying how they interacted online, what they shared, what they liked and disliked, and how other brands sold to them. By putting careful research into their campaign they ensured that the new league would start out swinging! The fun, friendly approach – including letting players take control of the social media accounts during events! – shows how cleverly constructed the campaign is.
And it is really not a difficult thing to do – anyone can create a successful social media branding campaign for themselves, if they are willing to put in a little time and effort. So here are the 10 lessons we can learn from #aflwomens when it comes to social media success!
It might seem obvious, but communication on social media is incredibly important. Regularly engaging and communicating with your followers helps build a loyal audience. But the key is to communicate with your audience and not at them. Be transparent, honest and genuine when responding to customers and followers. Be timely in your responses – try not to leave anyone hanging for more than a day at a time, if not less! This will build trust in you and your brand, giving you a sense of authority.
Be careful not to spam. The internet is incredibly sensitive toward those who are out to “get followers quick”. Post regularly but reasonably. Better yet, give your audience and customers a voice! Let them share their opinions openly and candidly – you never know what you might learn.
Existing and distributing your own content on social media is simply not enough. The clue is in the title – social media. The more you engage with your followers, the more you reblog, retweet or like, the more value you provide to your audience and customers. They feel appreciated and engaged, more likely to then share your brand with others.
Be sure that what you share belongs on your chosen platform – Instagram is no place for a long blog post. By changing up your content across platforms you give your customers a sense that they are having a unique experience – and they are more likely to follow your other social media platforms so they don’t miss out on content there, either.
And don’t forget to share your “wealth”. This doesn’t always mean money. Your social media “wealth” can be any number of things – time, information, knowledge, experience, to name a few. Sharing these is a way to fuel a conversation with your followers.
This is the biggest lesson of all that we can learn from the AFL Women’s campaign. As we discussed above, an enormous amount of research into the potential audience of AFL Women’s occurred before design even began. Learning the shared likes and interests of the audience helped the AFL and PUSH target the right market – a market that was then more likely to share on the campaign.
Analysing your social media branding successes and failures can be daunting. But just like analysing the successes and failures of your business, it can give you one of the most important insights. It isn’t the end, but the beginning of your online success. Find out what is working and continue. Ditch what isn’t working and rework your strategy. The more effort you put in, the greater the reward.
And always make sure that your platforms are well branded and recognisable.
4: Be Creative
Human beings are incredible at remembering visual information. In fact, studies have shown that adding an image to a piece of information can increase memory by up to 65%. This is why Tweets, blogs and sites like Youtube and Instagram are so successful. After all, the two pillars of both social media and design are images and video.
Now is the perfect time to simply let go and create. Engaging images and video are hugely successful ways to draw people to your brand. The idea can be daunting – and you certainly don’t have to leap feet-first into vlogging! – but imagery is really a fantastic way to draw people in. Be the leader in your market and gain a following before the others can catch up!
5: Be Original
True, there is no such thing as a new idea, but you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to put out interesting content. Don’t be afraid to check out your competition and learn from what they are posting. Get a feel for what your industry enjoys and cast your own spin over popular topics. Research a variety of different platforms (including smaller or more obscure social media) to find ideas your competitors might not yet have touched on.
Make sure your content has an authentic voice. You don’t want to sound like a school textbook, you want to sound like yourself. Of course, this also means walking the balance between being personable but still professional – however it is a trick easily learned over time. Locate your audience, listen to them, respond to them and be yourself – you’ll find you grow a wonderful, loyal community very quickly.
Finally, remember to post valuable content. If you only post on social media to promote your brand, then your followers will get bored and fast. No one wants to feel they’re constantly being advertised to. Again, it is all about engaging with others and being social.
Just like any social circle, social media provides you with the chance to build relationships. If these relationships are nurtured, they can evolve into business contacts, connections and more. For many brands, 67% of their customers will reach out to their social media for customer service! That is a pretty huge chunk of any audience.
This brings us back to our earlier points, engaging with your audience and customers. Take advantage of social media tools to listen to audience conversations – what is being said about your brand, what are people saying about a particular topic or product?
Try your best to answer every single question, comment or concern. Be genuine and empathetic – show people there is a person behind the brand, ready to listen to them.
One last thing to remember – there is nothing wrong with self-promotion (so long as you’re not spamming) but your followers will really pick up when you give others a moment in the spotlight. Retweeting and reblogging, giving credit in the digital space, is a huge step toward nurturing your audience.
7: Have or Be the Solution
Like any kind of customer service, offering a solution to your customers over social media is like gold. While you might not always have a solution on hand, reassuring your customers that you will find one is much better than leaving issues to fester. You have so many opportunities, through social media, to reach out to your audience and solve their problems. And if you do this better than your competitors, then you’ve already won!
Before you post online, think about what you’re posting. Is it providing value to your community? Are you adding to the conversation? Are you helping solve a problem? And always be focused – you don’t need to be all the things. People don’t trust a jack-of-all trades these days, especially online.
Rather, focus on what you know about your industry, and build a strong brand and community around that knowledge. If you’re an interior designer, people are more interested in your tips and tricks than they are in your opinions about Kim Kardashian.
8: Be Open
90% of consumers value a brand’s honesty – look at the way Samsung handled their “slightly-too-explode-y” phones. Rather than sweeping the issue under the rug, they communicated openly with their customers and set out their plans to remedy the issue.
Opening up your brand to behind-the-scenes peeks are a great thrill to digital audiences. Having the sensation of seeing what happens behind the curtain is a great way to draw people to your company. When people reach your social media pages they want to get a feel for who you are, who is behind the logos and the products. Don’t be afraid to mix a small amount of “candid” moments into your social media campaign.
Collaboration is often an overlooked – or forgotten – aspect of social media engagement. When researching for your own social media branding campaign, see who else is out in your field or industry. Are there people you can work with instead of trying to muscle them aside? Is there a debate you can calmly step into?
Don’t forget, you need to be accessible. If you simply push your content and then vanish, people are not going to hang around. The digital world is a fickle one and you’ll find yourself quickly un-followed if you simply vanish, or refuse to engage with others.
Remember the old adage “listen and learn”? This is a hugely important thing to remember on the internet, especially when it comes to social media branding. Reading and reflecting on what people are saying – about your brand, your products, your services or your industry – before responding allows you to give a measured response. Getting a sense for the emotions behind certain tweets and posts will enable you to handle a situation without perpetuating the issue.
It is easy to feel attacked online, because we lack the visual cues of normal conversation. A good rule of thumb, before replying to any post that gets your hackles up, is to take a walk or do something that takes you away from the screen for a while. Let yourself reflect on the issue and return to it calmer, and more open. We can often make mountains out of molehills and getting angry at a customer, online, can be a fatal move. Remember, you might delete a post or tweet, but someone out there has already saved it – nothing is ever completely deleted online.
Listen, be patient and respond empathetically. If you can do that, you’re well on your way to social media success.
10: The System of Reciprocity
Again, a huge part of engaging your audience is reciprocation. This can be anything from simple customer service, to joining a social cause, to running free giveaway campaigns. The examples are endless. What is important, at the end of the day, is that you are seen to be engaging with your followers in a meaningful way.
Giveaways, deals or specials for followers are a very powerful way of giving back – if you can afford to do them. Many brands have experienced enormous social growth thanks to even simple giveaways like stickers. Always try to give back a little more than you receive.
Acknowledge people – you wouldn’t ignore someone who tried to talk to you in person, so don’t ignore them online. Don’t be afraid to share content from your followers that you find interesting or exciting. By spotlighting people, you will only create more good will that will help grow your brand.
We all hope that #aflwomens will soon become as much of a household name as the AFL itself. And certainly, with their stellar social media branding campaign, it’s very likely that they will. Remember the ten points we’ve learned from AFL Women’s and don’t be afraid to use it! Go out and make something awesome!
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