Content Marketing Blog

The key role social media plays in raising brand awareness

There’s a reason Sprout Social found 80 per cent of marketers use social media to raise brand awareness. With millions of monthly users even down here in Australasia, it just bloody well works.

But why does it work, and how can you leverage the social platforms your audience loves (especially with so much competition out there)? Today we’re discussing the role social media plays in brand awareness campaigns, and what you can do to get more eyes on your content.

We’ll focus on:

  1. Organic engagement
  2. Hashtags
  3. Repurposed content
  4. Paid amplification
  5. Influencers

The role of social media in brand awareness

1. Organic engagement

Organic social media engagement refers to interactions – likes, shares, comments – that happen without spending money. This can be one of the most powerful ways of reaching a new audience, but also one of the slowest.

Likes, shares and comments are examples of engagement.

Likes, shares and comments are a type of social proof that encourage other people to want to share the post themselves – potentially helping it go viral. But gaining that momentum is difficult. Take a look at these numbers (from Rival IQ):

  • Facebook’s engagement rate, per post, is about 0.16 per cent. So less than a fifth of a percent of your users will engage your posts.
  • Twitter’s engagement rate is even lower at 0.046 per cent. In part, this will be because Twitter posts have such a short shelf life – the median is 18 minutes, says Moz data.
  • Instagram’s engagement rate is the highest at 1.73 per cent.

But there’s good news too: The more people interact with your posts, the more likely those posts are to show up in other people’s feeds. This is highlighted in particular by Facebook – its 2018 algorithm update prioritised ‘meaningful’ engagement (shares, comments, likes) as a ranking factor.

How to use organic reach for yourself

Focus on posting high-quality content that spurs engagement. Ask questions, create talking points, and make users feel things. According to Sprout Social, three of the top things consumers want from brands on social are posts that educate, entertain and inspire.

2. Hashtags

Hashtags are a quick way to find users. They are like hyperlinks that connect different posts together into a single topic. So, if you search #lunch (I think I might be a bit peckish while writing this article) in most social networks you’ll see a variety of posts from an equal variety of users all related to #lunch.

Mmm … lunch.

From a brand awareness perspective…

…as you post, plugging into certain hashtags can show your content to more users, increasing your engagement rates (which, as we know, could help your organic reach). Here’s some data to back up our point:

  • Facebook: A Facebook hashtag could lift engagement rates to 0.2 per cent, according to a Socialbakers test. Not an astounding figure, but better than 0.16 per cent.
  • Twitter: Tweets with hashtags receive two times as many engagements, says Buffer.

  • Instagram: Posts with at least one hashtag could see an 18 per cent engagement rate and 11+ hashtags could get you a 79.5 per cent engagement rate (also Buffer).

How to use hashtags yourself:

  1. Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags, and many professionals recommend using between 10 and 30 (although there’s no correct amount of hashtags to use – experiment to find out what works best for  you).
  2. Don’t use more than one or two hashtags on Twitter or Facebook, as engagement will drop – ‘tis a bit spammy to use too many.
  3. Research hashtags like you would SEO keywords. They must be relevant to your content or they won’t be as effective.

3. Repurposed content

Content and social media go together like greasy kebabs and a night on the town. Content gives your users each of the three things Sprout said they desire – education, entertainment, inspiration – and social media helps more eyes find your content.

Repurposing content to raise brand awareness

If you create a piece of content, post about it once, then move on, I’m sorry but you and the other 34 per cent of marketers who do this are doing it wrong (stat from

Repurposing content – that is, fixing up old posts or creating something new with them (or a part of them) – not only saves you time and money creating new resources, it gives you more to post about on your social feeds. The more quality you post, the more eyes can find your brand.

Get ideas on how to repurpose your best content by reading our guide ‘10 ways to repurpose content for social media’.

  • Bonus tip: Repurposing content is also a great way to turn something that isn’t very social friendly (i.e. a 50-page whitepaper) into something that is (i.e. a video summarising the data).

4. Paid amplification

Paying for social media ads is probably your quickest, surest way to lift brand awareness – but it’ll cost, especially compared to everything we mentioned above.

So exactly how effective are social media ads?

It’s hard to compare them against each other due to a lack of consistent data, but they are all pretty cost-effective. According to, the average cost per mille (cost per 1,000 impressions) across major platforms was:

  • Facebook: $9.06
  • Twitter: $6.70

  • Instagram: $5.76

  • LinkedIn: $6.05

So you see, even the smallest advertising budget could get your content in front of literally thousands of new users. But of course, advertising is either on or off – while you pay, it works. When you don’t, it stops. Compare that to organic reach, which can grow without you paying a cent.

Even the smallest advertising budget can get content in front of thousands of people.

How to use paid advertising for yourself

Before you consider advertising on social media, you must first consider these questions:

  1. Which platform(s) is your audience on?
  2. How much are you willing to spend?
  3. What do you intend to promote?

That last one is particularly important. Make sure you promote only your best, most valuable content – it’ll be people’s first impression of you, after all.

For more information, check out these two articles:

  1. Choose the best social platform for paid campaigns with these 4 smart steps
  2. Increasing ROI from social media advertising

5. Influencers

We could talk all day about influencers! This is a hot topic in marketing, and especially relevant when discussing social media’s role in brand awareness.

In short, influencers are people who hold influence over a dedicated following, typically a large following at that. If they interact with your content, share it, or review it, suddenly your brand is being broadcast to a new audience that is willing to trust the word of their influencer.

And some proof?

  1. 49 per cent of users rely on influencers for purchasing decisions (Annalect/Twitter)
  2. 60 per cent of YouTube subscribers say they would follow advice on what to buy from their favourite creator (Google).

How to use influencer marketing for yourself

  1. Find the right influencers – these are individuals in your industry with dedicated followings (usually denoted by high engagement rates). These folks can be found with tools like BuzzSumo or FollowerWonk.
  2. Establish a relationship by engaging with their content regularly.
  3. After a while, reach out via email or DM to ask them to share a piece of content you think is relevant to their audience.
  4. If you want to sponsor an influencer or have them talk about your brand in their content, you may need to pay.

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Duncan Pacey
Duncan Pacey About the author

Duncan has hands-on experience developing and rolling out many of our bespoke search-optimised writing products, making him the perfect Castleford blogger. When he’s not writing about SEO, lead gen, and the art of entertaining people and Google simultaneously, he crafts prose for clients in hospitality, construction and building, and the software as a service field. Current clients include SAS, Altus, Epson - and of course the Castleford website.

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