Design right to hook followers: Branding on Social Media

by aishyza

We shall start 2013 with a special topic on personal branding. Partly an insight post from the photo series 2012 takeaway done last week to close 2012. Indeed a surprising learning experience :) I asked followers; which is your favourite and why. It seemed to me that although they liked the series in general, each follower had a different favourite – based on the content that resonated with them the most.

So what does it take for one to ‘like’ your content, re-tweet your post, and even write about your ideas? In short, what is the motivation for sharing?

Confused, I decided to consult the expert of human needs, Maslow.


My initial assumption was that people feel good writing and sharing as it boosts their self esteem, but I realised it starts even below that level of the pyramid – love and belonging.

A wise lad once told me;

Branding at a producer point of view is about creating an opportunity for consumers to feel belonged to a brand.

Let’s face it, you can’t please everyone. Where there are in-groups, there are bound to be out-groups. Like how Apple and Android is one or another. It boils down to how big your group is or rather, how many you can influence to subscribe to the group.

3 design tips in creating a sense of belonging.

Golden rule: Consistency is key in social media, in all aspects.

1. Consistency in content: Plan and re-plan your post

set boundaries on the scope of your content and be disciplined enough to stick to it

The worst mistake a communicator can make is to confuse his audience with clutter. Nobody is interested in your everyday ranting or discovery. Be selective and stay focused on what is relevant to the audience. This becomes especially strategic for businesses with a fixed audience. @JasonHJH wrote about customers responding to social marketing efforts highlighting the importance of providing the right content to targeted customers and quoting Seth Godin;

You don’t find customers for your product, you find product for your customers.

Be sure to do enough research before you write. Draft out a flow-chart of ideas and insights on a paper. More importantly, find a strong story angle – one that is unique so you don’t sound like a parrot. This thinking process takes a while, sometimes weeks, so a good habit is to bookmark interesting information you find online to get a good grasp of a topic. Be patient. Good stories are not made overnight.

2. Consistency in timing: Make them anticipate

figure out the optimal frequency to engage your audience

Timing and expectation is tricky business. Some common mistakes made would be to irritate your audience with too many posts or disappoint them with too little. As much as you can prepare before-hand, it takes quite a bit of effort to deliver good content say, every week. So be aware of your commitment level and pace your posts wisely. This will give your audience the right signals as to what they can expect from you. As long as it is quality consistent, you mitigate the risk of disappointing followers.

3. Consistency in style: Stick to your lingo

don’t try to be someone else, people follow you because they like you

Package content to express what is uniquely you, what your audience like about you. Looking at user types, there is utilitarian and hedonistic on each end of the spectrum. Pick the right position somewhere in between and centre your design system around it. I’m talking about writing style (I like David Ogilvy’s) , use of visuals, choice of quotes, references, etc. And of course, stick to it!


Credibility in a brand can only be built over time, given that the messages communicated are designed in unison. This also teaches us that in creating a brand, one has to keep in mind that it has to be timeless, else it will end up being short-lived. And of course, it is viable to pivot and re-brand yourself if the current identity is diluting with declining followers. It’s never too late to push up your brand equity with a solid design system!

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