It is easy to forget there, there are generations for whom social media is a foreign concept, not something they were born into understanding. When you barely understand and rarely if ever use social media, appreciating the value it can bring to your business can be difficult to comprehend. This article is for those of you out there, who I meet daily, who want to get their head around this idea of social media benefits; including why it might be an important marketing asset to invest in for your business brand.
There has never been an era where humans have been more connected to one another; it’s why we call this ‘The Digital Age’.Ever since computers, mobile phones and the Internet were invented, people from around the world have enjoyed the luxury of contacting each other instantaneously. Pigeon carriers and snail mails were replaced by these modern, more efficient, means of communication.
These advancements prompted developers and programmers to envision a platform where people could connect with each other. A place where they could share, comment and strike up a conversation with anyone in the World Wide Web. As a result, social media channels were created and has been used ever since.
But what exactly is social media and how does one use it for online branding?
Introducing Social Media
Social media was designed first and foremost as a place for ‘social interaction’. It has developed into a platform where people can post words, photos, videos, audio files, documents, etc. Enabling people to freely post almost anything, as long as they're not violating the rules and guidelines, gives everyone the chance to build camaraderie and find those with similar interests. What changed for the initial intent was moving from connecting with people who you were at least acquainted with in the flesh to linking anybody based on a shared interest. The minute you have an emotional bond between people over a shared interest, you have a place for business to target.
There are a large number of social media platforms, but the most prominent examples are Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.
Using Social Media for Online Branding 101
Establishing your brand online is critical today, because it is the modern version of your reception area combined with a telephone directory and all the brochures you could produce. It is where people go first to find out about your business.
A more visible and relevant online presence means more visitors, more viewers and more prospects. Most, if not all, businesses, celebrities, musicians, artists, etc., have been using social media for their marketing needs. The simple reason why is, building an emotional bond with your audience is a fundamental concept in marketing. You may not need something, but the goal of marketing is to make you want it. What we know of marketing is 90% of our decision making is emotionally based and the remaining 10% is to justify the emotion. Just think about any purchase you have made and why you have chosen one brand over another.
The key to maintaining a relevant online presence is no different to you meeting up with people for coffee. If you stop talking, you are not bonding. If your conversation is not of interest to the people, you are pushing them away. Ever tried to go to a dinner party or a BBQ with mates and not say a word the entire time? It’s hardly a recipe to get you invited back.
Social media is no different. It is like a non-stop never ending series of conversations. If you don’t speak people forget you are there and don’t invite you into their line of site again. Once you have their attention, you need to be involved in the topic or share something they will be interested in, or you become isolated very quickly.
In simple terms, if you want your brand to reach a growing audience - then you need to be on social media. You need to think of it as your business presenting and listening then responding to people. This is where you will begin to realise the social media benefits to your business.
Take note, you need to stay on brand, the same as you would if you were in front of a group of people in the room now. That means, both the words and the visuals must be on brand.
Basic online social media branding tips
Here are some some simple techniques you can use:
- Discover the Right Community- Social media is a vast space, containing all sorts of groups and communities. Find one that matches your expertise and establish a connection with the people there.
- A Consistent Image- You won't be able to effectively market your brand with an inconsistent image. Choose a style which is in keeping with your brand and stick with it, making use of a professional resource as you would if you were designing a brochure.
- Engage Frequently- Be sure to be active on social media channels. Frequently engaging in them lets people know that you are very involved and proactively providing content for your brand.
- Build Variety- Be sure to build various type of contents for your online brand. Putting out the same type of posts everyday would only bore your viewers and visitors in time. Change it up and put different types of articles, or share other works from other people.
- Learn From Influencers- Influencers are people who make relationships for you. Learn from and strengthen your bond with them, so you could gain their insights.
Before you get started with your business
If you have never seriously delved into one of the main social media platforms, you need to experiment with it first. It may not be necessary for you to maintain it on a personal level (because you can employ resources to do this for you), but for the sake of your business you should have a first hand understanding of it.
Choose one platform today and open an account. Commit to connecting with a few people initially. Make sure you add in an image of yourself and a few basic facts, including some interests. Spend a couple of days of observing then commit to two weeks of posting daily. Give it a real go for this period then decide whether it is for you personally or not. However, don’t let you personal judgement cloud your opinion as to whether you need social media for your business. Social media is not right for every business, but if your audience is there, then you should be as well.
Things to Remember
A couple of things that you should also remember:
- Always try go the extra mile. Your viewers, visitors and customers will appreciate it if you connect with them on a personal level. Respond to their posts.The bread and butter of most business is referrals. On social media, the opportunities for referrals is much higher, because people will easily share their experiences with hundreds of friends, where in a face to face scenario, they may or may not tell only a handful of people.
- Be willing to jump into discussions. Remember that only those who raise their voices can be heard. Being a lurker will get your brand nowhere and you'll simply be wasting your brand's, and your own, valuable time.
3. GIve it time. Social media benefits can only be realised over a sustained period. It is a long-term strategy around brand awareness. For most businesses, it is rarely about quick sales.
Social media is where your business can talk to the world. The best piece of advice to give you is, you need to make sure you have the foundations of your brand in order first. Uncovering information about your audience and your business will help determine if and which social media channel is right for you. Contact Commtogether for your free assessment.