Ah, branding in the good ol’ days was so much simpler for companies. You hired a top rate graphic designer, created a killer logo and plastered it on your packaging (and as much advertising as you could afford). And if you were really savvy, you would create and orchestrate a media relations program that built awareness of your brand in your key trade publications and maybe broad business-focused newspapers and magazines.
It’s no secret that the world is much more complicated these days. Now, it’s not only companies and products looking to establish their brand – but now there is an emphasis to build and manage your personal brand too!
The rise of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin has created new channels and opportunities for companies (and individuals) to directly connect and interact with audiences in ways never before possible. It wasn’t long ago that if you want to reach audiences of any size, you were dependent on one of the established media channels.
So how can you use social media platforms to better build your brand? Follow these key tips and you’ll be on your way!
1) Consistency is key.
You want your brand to be easily identifiable on all platforms – so make sure the image is consistent. Use your logo and a professional image of yourself in your profile. Remember that all types of people – potential clients, employers (dates?) have access to your accounts and profiles – what kind of image do you want to project? Also make sure the information in profile sections are consistent. Speaking of consistency, also make sure you select the same user name for each account (preferably one with your brand in it!).
2) Make sure you create links back to your site(s)
It sounds painfully obvious but too many forget to include links to their websites and/or blogs in their profiles (or company pages). If someone is interested enough to check out your profile, chances are they’ll be curious enough to check out your site or blog. Don’t miss this opportunity potentially gain a new fan or customer.
3) Choose your spots (and networks) wisely
Unless you have a large staff or access to additional resources, you’re going to want to focus your social media branding programs into 2-3 of the key platforms. Facebook and Twitter tend to be the most obvious (and relatively easiest) platforms to use when building your brand. After that it really depends on your target audience. If you’re a B2B marketer, Linkedin may make the most sense. If you’re an individual or consultant, a forum such as Quorum might be best. And don’t forget about YouTube! Speaking of video…
4) Don’t be shy creating and sharing video and other multimedia content.
People tend to relate best to brands when they can associate a face and personality to that brand. Look at the explosion of YouTube over the years to understand the power of videos – our society is now a video-conditioned. Most people would rather watch a 1-2 minute video that demonstrates how your products work than read 1-2 pages of text. You can also leverage sites such as Slideshare – which allows you to upload and share presentations you’ve created. Videos and presentations are extremely powerful tools to demonstrate your industry expertise and knowledge.
5) Connect each of your social media sites as much as possible
It’s now pretty easy to link your various accounts together so that you can ensure the same message is being spread across all platforms. You can use tools such as Hubspot or Hootsuite to post simultaneously to your Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin pages and you can also easily install widgets or tools that auto post blog posts to your Twitter or Facebook pages. Regardless of the method, you want to make sure all accounts are connected and projecting the same message.
6) Share Good Information!
Most people who participate in social media do so because they have an interest in various topics and are eager to expand their knowledge. Do your part by finding and sharing useful content. There are a number of resources available to discover fresh content: aggregation sites such as Topix or Alltop – as well as Google Reader (our favorite). What’s important though is to make sure the information you share is not only interesting and useful – but also relevant to your brand. If you’re a pet food store you don’t want to be Tweeting about the Real Housewives of New Jersey!
7) Build relationships!
Social Media success in requires useful and developing relationships. People (or brands) that spend all of their time promoting themselves will not build an audience. Social Media is not a short-term tactic – rather its a long-term strategy and commitment that can deliver sustainable, organic growth and brand-building through ongoing, consistent participation.
Obviously there are many more steps you can take to help build your brand using social media platforms but if you focus on these 7 initially, we’re confident you’ll find social media to be a very useful tool in your communication efforts.