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How to brand your business using Social Media

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Background When you hear the word brands, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Coco Cola, Apple, Microsoft, Google? Did you ever stop to think why these brands are so popular or why these names are a constant presence in our minds? What makes these brands stand out amongst millions of others? One word – branding. So what is branding? Well the key to success in branding in understanding the customers’ needs and wants and anticipating them. Your branding strategy needs to be entwined with the hearts and minds of your customers. In the past, branding meant advertising via TV, radio, newspapers and on hoardings, flyers and other print material. Its about having a constant

Background
When you hear the word brands, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Coco Cola, Apple, Microsoft, Google? Did you ever stop to think why these brands are so popular or why these names are a constant presence in our minds? What makes these brands stand out amongst millions of others? One word – branding.
So what is branding? Well the key to success in branding in understanding the customers’ needs and wants and anticipating them. Your branding strategy needs to be entwined with the hearts and minds of your customers.
In the past, branding meant advertising via TV, radio, newspapers and on hoardings, flyers and other print material. Its about having a constant reminder of your brand in your customers’ daily lives. On their way to work – billboards, when watching their favourite TV show – commercials and so on.
But branding too has changed over time. Today with businesses becoming more social, marketing and brands and how customers perceive brands have also changed.

Fig 1: Branding Over the Years

In this millennium, communications has been completely revolutionised with the introduction of social media into the foray.

So how can you now brand your business?

Branding and Social Media

Looking back, identities of brands have changed phenomenally.  The concept of branding in the modern era was born after the television was invented and the need to reach a mass audience. In order to reach the mass market, businesses needed to communicate their message through mass media. Thus, the concept of television advertising and branding began to take shape.

This is especially true of Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), but branding for these items was focused on having a product and communicating about it.

However, with social media brands also needed to think about not just product and communication, but also about environment and behaviour. Branding is all about consumers developing a relationship with the product in a social/psychological/anthropological sense.

So how do you communicate with the customer via social media and build your brand?

First of all, you need to educate yourself on Social Media and how to implement it.

The second step is to plan – you need to draft your social media strategy. For the scope of this article, we will only concentrate on the second step.

Before you start you social media strategy, you need to first identify the platforms that are best suited for you. So you need to understand fully what social media is – blogs, forums, online communities, social networks and multimedia sharing networks and RSS feeds, etc.

CocaCola and Oreo Facebook Pages

The next step is identifying your target audience/market.  But the key to identifying your target audience is to also realising that your consumers are now behaving differently.  They are meeting in different social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn and they are sharing links, comments, and reviews via channels such as Twitter. Your consumers are also influencing others via their comments, links and personal recommendations. They are also commenting real-time on the performance of your brand. Furthermore, you know who they are as they make no secret of it.

So as part of your social media strategy, you need to follow these consumers and go where they are going.  If you want to go viral very fast, then you need to tap into these communities that will help spread the word. This is exactly like old-school mass communication or broadcasting, except this is free, real-time and you are getting your consumers to market your brand as opposed to you doing it yourself.

Consumers are now smarter. They know what they want, they know where to find it and they know how to get it. Brands are revolving around conversations and who thinks what’s hot.

As a business you can no longer afford to only be marketing on old media. You need to have a community and talk directly to your consumers. If you are not willing to engage and listen to your audience then chances are high that your brand will die.

In your social media strategy, you need to identify your markets – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and Google+ in the near future and design an experience that is uniform across the board and is consistent with you branding image.

The next step is to ensure that you are reaching out to your market and having a conversation with them on a regular basis. However, you need to stop self-promoting and pushing your brand. You need to talk about the benefits of your brand and how it adds value to the consumers’ daily lives.

Starbucks Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube Pages

A great example of value addition and brand presence is Starbucks. They designed a social media campaign to fully engage the community. One such campaign that stands out is the Starbucks’ Love Project. The team at Starbucks collaborated with many bands such as Dave Matthews Band, John Legend and U2 and created the “All You Need Is Love CD.”  When customers purchased for $15 at participating Starbucks locations, they received the CD for free and also received an invitation to a mass sing along and the opportunity to upload their own video to Starbucksloveproject.com.

Adding further value and a corporate social responsibility component, Starbucks also contributed $1 from the sale of every CD to the Global Fund to Help Fight AIDS in Africa. Furthermore, customers could also create a Love Drawing online and Starbucks would contribute an additional five cents per drawing to the fund for the first 1 million drawings submitted.

With this example, it is extremely clear how Starbucks used social media channels to not only create brand presence but also engaged customers and created unique user experience.

Another factor that stands out in the Starbucks social media channels is the consistency in branding, the authenticity and not losing sight of the roots of the brand – which in this case is coffee.

The part of your strategy, you need to  set-up Key Performance Indicators.

  • How many unique Tweets, Facebook posts, etc., per day
  • Replying to mentions, re-tweeting, sharing and likes, etc.,
  • Videos to be posted per month Eg: (Logannathan YouTube channel)
  • Posts linking directly to the brand

These are but some of the information you need to consider when drafting your strategy document. Set-up Google Alerts to monitor your brand mentions,  traffic driven to your website via Google Analytics and keep an eye on the number of fans and followers.

Everybody agrees that social media has redefined branding, communications, advertising. So what are the key actions points you need to take as a business to build your brand in this new media age?

  1. Be where your community is, follow them
  2. Ensure that your brand has a strong vision and objectives
  3. Acknowledge the criticisms as much as the praises.
  4. Contribute back to the community
  5. Go viral and create buzz

If you want to gain the attention of your community and hold it, you need to create enough buzz around the brand but ensure it is backed up by a great product. If your product sucks, then social media can’t help you.  Remember the key to success in social media is to create engaging user experiences.

About Logan Nathan

Social Media Business Consultant | Internet (Web) Marketing Strategist Speaker | Trainer

Based in Sydney, Australia, Logan has been an avid & passionate social media user since the advent of Facebook. Logan runs his own workshops on the social media for business in Australia. He has also written a number of eBooks on the same subjects (Social Media Secrets for your Business, Twitter Secrets for Your Business and Social Media Startup Guide for Business), all of which are now published and available online. Logan is also a passionate speaker on the subject of using ‘Internet and Social Media for Business’ and spoken at number of Business conferences in Australia and overseas.

Watch testimonials from Logan’s latest workshops on http://www.youtube.com/logannathan

Book your seat at the upcoming workshops, refer http://www.socialmediaforbusiness.com.au/register-for-social-media-training/index.php