What does the word “brand” mean to you and your business? Is it represented by a logo, a slogan, a set of core values or a value proposition to your clients? If you were to ask your target audience about your brand, would they identify you correctly? Would they even have any idea what your business is all about aside from what it sells?
That’s the challenge of marketers worldwide: to develop a clear brand and make it recognizable. The truth is that the world’s top global brands are the composite of many things, particularly core values and corporate citizenship. Your company is as it behaves at many different levels from customer service to philanthropy.
Our challenge as web marketers is to spread the message in such a way that people can identify your organization precisely the way you’d like them to. Here are six ways to bolster your branding efforts online with an emphasis on social media.
1. Centralize your Core Values
If you try to be everything to everybody, you’ll end up being nothing. It is important to identify your company’s core values internally to have any hope in communicating them externally. While it seems obvious, that means you have to know what your organization is all about and put it to paper.
Spread the word to internal stakeholders and ingrain it in them. Add core values to wallet-sized cards and hand them out to employees and clients. Make sure the company’s core values are easy to find on the corporate website.
Everything you’ll do online to boost your brand recognition will have these values in mind.
2. Develop Content with your Brand in Mind
You’ve likely read it time and again that contributing useful, enjoyable, in-demand content is a great way to build traffic referrals back to a corporate website and to establish the writer as an expert in his or her field. It’s true. But it’s also a major opportunity to develop and enhance brand recognition. When content marketing efforts are focused with the company’s core values in mind, marketing efforts are much more effective.
Every blog post, news article, Facebook thread, or tweet should somehow tie into or reflect the organization’s core values.
3. Use Facebook and Twitter Consistently
Social media presents an opportunity to build affinity from your audience and to engage them at a personal level. You’d be correct in surmising that Facebook and Twitter provide an opportunity for brand recognition, too, but it’s important for companies to make a decision about these social media. If the decision is to utilize them, then do it right or risk devaluing your brand. Post often, communicate with fans and followers, and stay true to the brand.
4. Look for Niche Social Media
Limiting social media efforts to Facebook and Twitter is too broad. For brand recognition to come alive, it needs to be visible to a target audience, and one way to market to that is by looking beyond Facebook and Twitter. For example, CafeMom is a social network for parents. Best Of All Worlds is a social network built around top achievers in a wide variety of fields such as media and politics. Meetup is a social network focused on local events and on planning them.
The quest for you is to identify a target audience and to look for niche social media that fits. These more focused networks allow you to communicate your brand message to a willing audience.
5. Forget the Sales Pitch
This is a “yes” and “no” proposition. Yes, it is poor form to aggressively pitch products and services on social media as a sole means of communication. However, make no mistake: You are selling. When you communicate to a target audience on your website or social media, you are selling your brand, your people, and an opportunity for engagement and interaction with you.
The idea is to cause people to communicate with you. Visit your website. Retweet your tweet. Like the photo you uploaded to Facebook. As part of that process, people should come to understand your brand and develop an affinity for you. Yes, it’s important to be liked online. But you also need to be understood. Visitors need to recognize your brand and, through that, like you. Using the web merely as a way to sell products and services tells visitors that your primary motivation is to make a buck.
6. Provide Customer Service
Any chance to engage customers online is an opportunity to provide customer service. Whether it’s a question or a remark, how you respond and whether you respond will affect how people see you. If that experience is positive, people will be more likely to accept your brand message.
That brings up an important point. Your brand message needs to be clear, backed up by corporate behavior and citizenship, and it also has to be accepted by those who receive it. If people like your organization, they are more likely to agree with what you’re telling them. Providing great customer service online in the form of help and communication is likely to be one of your company’s core values. Even if it wasn’t, doing so increases the likelihood that your brand message will be well received.