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Digital Media

Social media climbing: Harness the power of the most impactful platforms

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How to win followers, boost brand awareness and kick your social media plan into high gear.

STILL THINK SOCIAL MEDIA IS JUST FOR YOUR COLLEGE-AGED NIECE? Think again. Developing a social media strategy is vital, allowing brands to foster a deeper relationship with existing and potential customers.

But before you dive into ramping up your social media program, set a clear intention. “You have to decide early on your goals with each platform,” says Charlie Lozner, director of integrated services at Backbone Media. “For one brand, social media may be all about engagement and trying to get likes, comments and shares to grow their audience. Another brand may live and die by e-commerce, and social is more about getting people on their site to purchase their products.”

Another consideration: Appoint someone at your company (or consider hiring someone) to manage social media. Especially if your plan includes content creation (and it should), “Ultimately, somebody needs to be in the driver’s seat,” says Lozner.

Here are four companies who are cultivating highly engaged followers with their innovative strategies, plus expert advice on managing your own platforms.


With 500 million tweets per day, Twitter hosts a massive amount of fast-moving, of-the-minute content: It’s vital to position your posts so they engage people rather than get lost. Nuun optimizes engagement with posts that educate followers on using the brand’s electrolyte tablets (such as Nuun-infused smoothie recipes), giveaways that require a retweet to enter, running tips and product news.


“Photos really help with ‘stickiness’,” adds Emily Smith, community marketing manager. “Research says that tweets have an average life of 20 minutes. If there’s no photo, or there’s a low-quality photo, posts get lost.” Smith says she also capitalizes on industry “holidays” to excite followers. “We get a lot of retweets by straight-up asking people to retweet, for example, if they are lacing up on National Running Day.”

Tweet better

Make your tweeting more efficient by scheduling posts with a management program (such as Hootsuite;

– Because Twitter’s feed moves so fast, a high volume of posts doesn’t turn off audiences like it does on, say, Facebook. Smith recommends posting a minimum of 5 tweets per day, and that “you really can’t tweet enough.”

– Tweet after hours. While the most popular time to tweet is from noon to 1 p.m., research shows tweets get the most engagement after work. Schedule extra posts for 7 to 11 p.m.

United by Blue

Sustainable apparel brand United By Blue studies the ins and outs of the algorithm that determines which posts are pushed to their follower’s feeds. “[Facebook] strongly discourages brands from posting content that is product- or advertising-driven,” says Kelly Smith, photographer/social media manager. “We’ve found that Facebook is our best platform for talking about our mission,” which centers on ocean protection. Smith often posts images from United By Blue-organized ocean cleanups, plus news about water conservation.


‘Book better

– Consider using Facebook’s paid promotion options for posts about contests, product launches and giveaways. It’s an inexpensive (from $5/day) way to improve impressions.

– Host giveaways on Facebook that require contestants to engage with your brand in a meaningful manner, like taking a survey for marketing insights or prompting followers to post comments. Remember: Everyone loves free gear.



Instagram is a prime platform to showcase product glamour shots. Sustainable skateboard and sunglasses manufacturer Bureo also uses it to educate consumers on how their products are made (by collecting fishing nets that would otherwise end up as ocean pollution) and to garner enthusiasm for the laid-back, surfer/skateboarder lifestyle. “We use Instagram to tell our story,” says Bureo co-founder David Stover. Bureo also posts tongue-in-cheek shots for an emotional connection with their audience: a dog wearing shades or a photo taken through a sunglass lens.

‘Gram better

– Target your images to what your customers care about. Because Bureo’s consumers are eco-conscious, the brand posts nature shots and info about environmental activism.

– Use filters that enhance the brightness and contrast in your photos. Research shows that bright, warm-toned filters like Ludwig or Hefe garner more likes than dulling, cooling filters like Amaro or Reyes.



Not just for grandma’s recipes and DIY art projects, Seattle’s e-retailer Evo employs Pinterest for optimal online sales. The ski, snowboard, skate, bike and watersports shop curates “boards” as buying guides that include new product descriptions, bike maintenance videos and more. “For us, [Pinterest has] been a really cool way to showcase product people are searching for around bike gear, with some of our richer how-to, staff picks, blog inspiration and other deeper content on the site,” says Graham Gephart, director of marketing. “It’s best to find what people are searching for and participate in that naturally, with useful content, rather than to try to push product.”

Pin better

– Develop boards strategically. Gift guides for holidays like Valentine’s Day and Christmas are especially effective in showcasing gear and clothing.

– Always link every post back to your website for improved traffic and product sales.

– More than on other platforms, Pinterest users are especially seeking instruction. Include how-to infographics, videos or actionable tips relating to your brand.