Brand Building: How to Leverage Social Media
If you’ve followed along with any of my posts, such as how to start an ecommerce business, or how to become your own boss, then you are likely already on the path toward entrepreneurship. Congratulations! However, you’ve only taken the first few steps on the long road to ultimate success. In order to really achieve your dreams of financial independence, you’ll need to learn how to use all the tools available to you. Increasingly, that means social media, which is particularly important for building your brand.
What Is Your Brand?
Before we delve into how to use social media to build your brand, we need to explore a few things first. One of those is what brand actually is? What is your brand? Whether you’re a solopreneur, a serial entrepreneur, or a traditional small business owner, your brand is the same: it’s what other people say about your company.
Too many people equate brand with what a company does. It’s easy to see past that with the right examples, though. Look at Apple. Ostensibly, it's a tech company. However, if you really look deeper, Apple’s brand is refined performance and power, coupled with a higher-end lifestyle. It’s perfectly polished fit and reliable function with a premium price tag.
Take Nike as another example. Sure, they make athletic shoes. However, their brand is personal performance – going the distance and committing to achieving your goals. Their slogan, “just do it” sums up their brand perfectly.
The same is true for your business. Your brand is what your customers are saying about your company, your products, and your services, coupled with the values and focus of the business.
Now that we have that out of the way, we can move on to the discussion of how to use social media to build your brand.
The Right Networks Matter
Read any guide on social media marketing and you’ll find recommendations that you choose the right networks. The reason given is that every business has a different audience, and different people spend time on different networks. That’s an important part, yes. You need to be active where your target audience lives online. However, it’s just as important that the social network you use reflects your desired brand image.
For instance, if you’re a young, hip tech company, then Snapchat might be a great place to hang out. If you’re a photographer, then Instagram is a no-brainer. If you’re running a political nonprofit, then Twitter is where you need to be. If you operate a B2B company, then LinkedIn is where you need to focus. Of course, there are a few social networks that every business needs to utilize, such as Facebook. FB’s user base is simply too large to ignore.
So, take inventory of the social networks and apps out there. Evaluate their orientation, if any, and estimate the number of users who are in your target audience. Then choose the networks that fit your brand image best while also providing you with exposure to your ideal customers.
Take Time to Join Groups
In some instances, signing up for a social network is only part of what you need to do. You’ll find groups available on both Facebook and LinkedIn, and these can be an invaluable way to home in on your ideal audience. Groups are nothing more than collections of social media users who share a common interest. For example, you’ll find groups on Facebook dedicated to gardening, but separate groups dedicated to specific types of gardening.
Find groups that tie in with your area of expertise, as well as your brand image. You can also go so far as to join groups that reflect your business values. For instance, if your business regularly supports other local business, then joining local business promotion groups is a good idea. If your business focuses on reducing its environmental impact, then groups focusing on the use of alternative energy, pollution reduction, or even combatting climate change may be good to use.
Engage, Engage, Engage
If you read any social media marketing content, you’ll find that you’re urged to engage with your audience. My post is no different. That’s actually the crux of social media – if you’re not engaging and being social, then you’re using these platforms incorrectly. Engage with your audience in every single way that you can. How might you do that?
Content – First, be sure to post relevant content. This should run the gamut from informational to humorous, but it should always offer some value to your audience. The content you share doesn’t need to be branded marketing material all the time, either. Don’t be afraid to share content from thought leaders within your industry or related verticals.
Ask Questions – Your audience expects to have a conversation with your brand. That cannot happen if you do nothing but post content. Instead, show your audience that you’re interested in what they think and feel by asking them questions.
Reply to Comments – If your audience leaves comments or asks questions and your brand never replies, you’ll quickly develop a negative reputation. Make sure to take time to reply to comments on your page. Even negative comments should be replied to. Make sure to be professional and ensure that your responses always embody your brand’s values and ethos.
A Caveat to Engagement
While engagement is absolutely essential, you need to ensure that you’re doing it in the right way. You need to take the time to develop a “voice” for your business. Whether your audience is interacting with you on Twitter, or reading a post on Facebook, the tone and voice of the content should be the same. Think of it as a personality for your company based on your brand.
This will affect a tremendous range of factors. For instance, a young tech company would write very differently from a company with a 100-year history in fountain pen manufacturing. Even in the same industry, brand voices are different. Look at how different Ford and BMW are in their tone and voice, or Harley-Davidson and Yamaha.
Take the time necessary to determine what personality your business should have, and then create content in the right voice. Ensure that the same voice is used on all social channels and in all interactions with your audience, as well.
Pay Attention to Visual Branding
While your interactions with your audience are important, you cannot take shortcuts when it comes to building your brand’s presence online. Completing your profile on each network is important, but it’s just as important to have the right visuals. Your profile picture, background picture and other graphical elements should all tie in with your overall brand image and connect to the imagery, colors, and even fonts used on your website and on your business cards and signage.
Not only should you create cohesion between your website and your social media accounts, but you need to make sure that each social media account uses the same imagery. It’s about establishing a visible identity and removing hurdles to your audience being able to immediately identify your brand.
Of course, this can be problematic, because no two social networks are the same. You’ll need to make sure that you’re using high-quality imagery and the right fonts/colors, but also that your pictures are sized correctly for each network.
Today’s consumer has a very short attention span. What that means for your business is that if you aren’t visible, then you’ll be forgotten in a surprisingly short time. You need to make sure that you are interacting with your audience on a regular basis. How regularly? That will depend on several factors.
One factor is the platform we’re talking about. For instance, if you were using Twitter, then you could interact multiple times per day and not overdo it. However, on Facebook, you might only post new content a few times per week (while ensuring that you are able to interact and engage through comments regularly).
Your audience preferences will also play a role here. If your customers expect to hear from you daily, then posting once per month is going to do you little good.
Balance your ability to post regularly with audience preferences as well as your ability to be involved in the conversation. This will limit the number of social networks that you’re able to use effectively. Don’t overdo it. It’s always better to be active on fewer networks than have inactive presences on lots of sites.
Learn What You Can from Influencers
No matter what industry you might be in, there’s always someone with more influence than you. Learn from these individuals. Take notes on what they’re doing, how they’re engaging, the types of content they post, and how they interact with their audience, and then follow their example. That doesn’t mean you need to copy what someone else is doing, but be able to learn from those who lead your industry.
Leveraging social media to build your brand can be a challenge, but it is a surmountable one. With the right steps, and a little bit of knowledge, you can build your brand and boost profitability. Also, I would like to invite you to sign up for my new 'Six Figure Sunday' course (click here to sign up) to learn how to earn six figures while working just one day per week. I promise you, this course will literally transform your life. Simply click the link above, or click the button below.