Your company’s brand is your mark of distinction; it’s what sets you apart from your competitors. When you setup and adhere to a brand management strategy, your level of commitment reassure consumers, suppliers, and anyone else that your company does business with that they can trust you.
Brand Building and Social Media Go Together
Social Media is an increasingly important brand building tool that businesses of all sizes are using to connecting with their target audience, acquiring new customers and building their branded image online. The key to branding and marketing is to reach your audience with a message, so you need to be in the venues that your audience are occupying. More than 70% of companies are already using social media; many are planning to increase their spending on social media across the coming years. Whether for learning from customers, building their brands or a range of other hoped-for outcomes, companies are clearly diving in.
It’s All About Relationships
Building your brand with social media allows you to develop new (and strengthen existing) relationships, which often leads to everything from brand awareness, loyalty and word-of-mouth marketing. If you want to build your online brand you have to know how all your activities work together. You need consistency and congruence.
Each part of the social media puzzle builds into a picture people have of your brand. If you are approaching social media in a haphazard way, do not be surprised if things do not work out exactly as you hoped or imagined they would.
The best way to approach social media is to choose your venues and connect them in some way to your website that serves as a mashup of a consulting site, a portfolio with proof-of-performance content, and blogs from company leaders packed with relevant key words.
Add social sharing buttons, use SEO, and build your website heavy with links, for starters. You don’t necessarily need to hire an expensive marketing agency (although that would probably help) to achieve a high rate of traffic. All you need is a few tricks up your sleeve, and a commitment to making your website a quality destination for visitors.
Have conversations, share your pictures, guest post and comment. Participate in forums that relate to what you do and your audience. Connect all the profiles back to your website, and where appropriate link out to social media sites. social is all about breaking down barriers; it’s about providing accessibility, and one-on-one communication, that will lead to increased loyalty and stronger consumer relationships.
Fans reward brands for considering them, and that in turn builds earned media potential. This can offset large media buying costs, or dovetail with them to increase efficiencies.
How social media impacts corporate branding?
Social media has one very important perspective to share with brand management – the conversation. Social media, like branding, is all about the conversation and building effective relationships. They are perfectly suited to one another. Social networks give companies advocates for their brand as long as firms engage positively with the public.
A ‘like’ on Facebook or a follower on Twitter, in theory, is an advocate for your brand. In the past, if a customer had a gripe, their recourse would have been to write a letter or call customer service. Now, he can Tweet his concerns for all the world to see, or make use of countless other sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor on which customers rant and rave about their experiences.
A question or complaint left unanswered on any of them has the potential to tarnish a company’s brand and scare away prospective customers.
Take part in the social media conversations about your brand by replying to direct messages from your customers and making regular posts. Don’t just start the conversation. Be an integral and evolving part of it. Develop a digital footprint and also a digital personality. It is this personality that acts as the human interface between the brand and its target consumers.
Your brand’s presence on social media can be a sounding board, a listening post, a growth trigger, or an engagement catalyst if your social interactions have a personal touch to them. Every piece of content you share on social media should be done with a view towards building long lasting relationships rather than marketing products and services.
For someone following your business on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, the brand is human. It’s not that they don’t realize they are interacting with a business entity – it’s that they expect social interactions with the entity to be as natural as possible. Stay on top of what people are saying about you and your brand online.
Monitoring social media is a must for all companies. Social media has shortened the time frame for company responses to complaints or accusations. These days, companies need to acknowledge any issues and control the messaging in a matter of minutes instead of hours or days.
Use tools like Google Alerts, Social Mention and HootSuite to listen into what’s been said about your brand online. It’s a good way to gather business intelligence. Some of these services, including Radian6 and Viralheat, detect whether a post is positive, negative, or neutral, so businesses can easily decide which mentions need the most attention. These features have allowed companies to maintain greater control of their brands.
In addition to helping companies defend themselves, keeping track of online mentions can create new marketing opportunities. It’s no longer enough to have a sleek website, social media presence, and consistent brand aesthetic online.
The new rules of social media branding have a lot less to do with presentation, and a lot more to do with interaction. Whether, it’s your company website, your ranking in search engine optimization, or your Facebook and Twitter pages, you should strive for consistency in image and reputation in managing your brand.
It will save you money and end any confusion about what your brand stands for in the marketplace. Look at your competition. Are their images and positioning strategy different from yours? Do you all blend in – same colors, same slogans, same offers?” If so, you may want to reevaluate your strategy. To stand out, you need to have an understanding of your competitors and peers.
If you are strongly known for something – because you are very clear and consistent with that message – then the people who benefit from your offering will come to you instead of your competitor. Even if you’re entering a flooded marketplace — and online is certainly a very crowded forum — you always have a chance to make your brand and company stand out.
Citing the toothpaste market as an example of a constantly changing product choice that requires vigilance on the part of brand managers, experts say the constantly shifting marketplace creates the need to be creative with your approach. A strong brand is all about trust and relationships. With that goal in mind, there’s no better way to build both than by posting testimonials or listing big-name clients you’ve partnered with. That will lend your business a good amount of credibility.
You might consider incorporating your clients’ logos somewhere on your page as an added visual element. Mentioning awards and recognition your company received, as well as community service work, green initiatives, and interesting facts, will also make your business more appealing. Additionally, timelines, company history, and major milestones are attention-grabbing.
Ultimately, you ought to be ready to develop, check and constantly push your brand message in the marketplace. Keep your message simple and as consistent as possible in every marketing venue you choose to make sure that when people think of your brand that their perception is inline with your perception of your company.
Even if you’re not 100 percent comfortable with social media you should make an effort to learn it. Social media branding strategies have expanded to include smartphones and mobile apps, mobile websites and mobile ads as well as social networks like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.
A good rule of thumb is to apply the 80-20 rule to your social media marketing efforts. Spend no more than 20 percent of your time in self-promotional activities and conversations, and at least 80 percent on non-self-promotional activities. In time, you’ll see your business grow from your efforts.