How to create an online brand presence
Have you ever been followed on Instagram by a random business that’s completely unrelated to your interests or your location? To the business, it’s an effort to get the word out. But to you, it’s a totally unwanted communication from a company that you don’t care about. That’s a business that’s completely grasping at straws, hoping to get attention but ultimately failing. And unfortunately, that’s the situation in which many businesses find themselves today.
To an outside observer, marketing on the Internet seems relatively simple and straightforward. And yet, there are many, many businesses that are unable to gain any traction online. It’s not as easy as it looks to create an online brand presence, and it’s about much more than saying clever stuff on social media or creating fancy videos. To really build your brand online, you have to be able to get the word out in a way that gets people truly invested in what you have to say. Here’s how to get started.
Find Your Voice
While there’s an endless list of ways to generate positive attention for your business, there’s one universal rule – nobody likes a brand that tries too hard. We see this a lot in the modern era, where marketers think that snark is the way to create a buzz. Of course, this isn’t true. For some businesses, though, sarcasm can be a powerful tool, and those businesses are able to use it to their advantage.
It all comes down to knowing what you are about and what you want to say to your audience (when you get one). Do you want to be authoritative or casual? Do you want to be funny or serious? There’s no “better” option here. It depends entirely on who you are as a business, the marketing message you’re trying to send and the industry in which you reside. If you’re a bank, maybe you don’t want to launch your online presence by cracking jokes and undermining your own credibility. But if it helps you to make your bank look good by pointing out all of the flaws of other banks in a somewhat light-hearted manner, and subsequently showing why your bank does these things better, then by all means that’s the approach you should take.
Many businesses are in a rush to get onto social media, and with good reason. But entering the social media landscape without the necessary materials is short-sighted at best. People don’t want to follow a business account with nothing to say. So, then, it’s wise to create some top-notch content before you hit social media. You want to make a splash when you launch your social media presence, not a tiny ripple.
With that in mind – and with your voice and overall social media strategy in tow as well – it’s time to develop the content you’ll share on social media. Consider your target market for these materials, as well as what they’ll ultimately be used for. Again, flash isn’t always the best way to go. Your ultimate goal should be to educate your audience, both about your industry and why you’re the best option. The more people understand why they’re drawn to your business, the more likely they’ll be to recommend you to others.
Your medium of choice is critical as you prepare content for social media and beyond. Video content is the current flavour of the month, but nothing establishes a business owner as a thought leader like a white paper and some well-written blogs. Infographics are eye-catching and can easily be shared on any social media platform, while podcasts allow for a more personal type of exploration and dissemination of knowledge. There are a lot of options at your disposal. And while you can’t tell in advance which will be the most successful, you can at least account for your desired audience and what types of content they’re most likely to consume.
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Now that you’ve got some great material to show the world, you’re ready to take the first step towards truly establishing your brand’s online presence. Social media not only helps you to get the word out about your business, but it also facilitates the sharing and recommending of your content to others. That’s why it’s so important to get off to a good start on social media. If you can establish early on why your followers should care about your content, they’ll be more inclined to pay attention – and therefore more likely to share your material.
Although you might feel pressure to sign up for every social media platform at one time, this is a strategy that can work against you. Why spread yourself thin and struggle to keep up with one platform when you can focus on just one and make it the best it can be? Look at your marketing materials and your target audience, then make a decision about which platform best suits your needs.
In spite of privacy concerns and changing audiences, Facebook is still the platform with the most subscribers and the biggest reach. Many companies will find this a good platform for learning the basics of social media, especially since most of the functionality on Facebook is replicated on other platforms. However, due to its rampant popularity among younger consumers, Instagram is rapidly becoming a destination for marketers. Whichever platform you choose, make a commitment to posting daily and to keeping in touch with your audience. After all, social media – and marketing in general – is a two-way street. If customers are willing to take the time to leave you notes on social media, be sure to respond right away.
Next Steps – Moving Down the Funnel
It’s one thing to have an online brand presence. Convincing consumers to take the next step, though, can be a bit of a challenge. Social media is a great tool for attracting interest, but you’ll never make a dime from Instagram likes. The real money, it turns out, comes from your e-mail list.
While you’ll obviously want to garner as much attention as possible on social media, your ultimate goal should be to further the relationship between company and consumer. And the best way to do that is to convince people to go to your site and sign up for your email list. Not only does this indicate a high level of interest from an individual consumer, but it gives you a direct one-on-one conversation with that person. By using digital marketing to its fullest capabilities, you can zero in on what each customer is looking to acquire from your business simply by tracking their website and e-mail activities.
Your goal should be to figure out who you want to be online, then create the content that’s necessary to build an audience. From there, it’s as easy as sharing it through the right channels – and more importantly, empowering others to speak highly of your company to others.
When done correctly, a well-developed online brand presence can singlehandedly take an average business to the next level