With the rise of the internet, business owners had to contend with new ways of marketing and branding themselves. People were spending less time in front of the TV and more time online. in addition, more and more commerce began to be conducted online and companies had to find new ways to compete in the digital world. Gone were the days of traditional advertising and marketing methods, as they soon became replaced by pop up ads, email mailing lists, and now, social media.
However, one area that had yet to be fully developed was branding one’s company in the internet age. Many companies were able to easily get their business online, set up a website, and sell their products, yet branding became more difficult, as the company’s web site was their only branding avenue to pursue. Many companies were unsure of how they could spread their brand using only their site. Some companies decided to purchase mailing lists and randomly email people, but this practice of spamming soon caught the attention of the government, and spammers began receiving massive fines. As well, practices like these only served to earn the participating company a bad reputation.
However, the answer for companies searching for a branding solution came in the form of social media. Social media encompasses a number of internet technologies that allow for business owners to interact directly with their customers. Social media holds immense branding power, and is currently one of the absolute best ways to not only brand your company, but also to establish and protect its reputation.
Branding through social media holds many advantages over traditional methods. By using social media sites online, you are able to see the results of your branding campaign in real time. Essentially, you can try out different branding strategies, and see consumer reactions within hours, or even minutes. This means that you can tweak your message to tailor fit your target demographic, allowing for more potential customers, and more potential sales.
The only way you’re going to brand yourself using social media is by setting up some accounts and using them. Most of these sites, but not all, will allow you to set up a free profile for your business, at which point, you can begin adding other people to have access to view your page. All social media sites work on the premise that the users provide content that other users want, so doing that in all different forms is what you absolutely must do. Most social media platforms allow you to add people to your collection of contacts, often referred to as friends or followers. Once these people accept your request, they can see information about your company, as well as receive status updates as to the latest news, products, and services from your organization. Letting the people come to you is often a more desirable means of pushing social media content. You never want the customer to feel like they didn’t want what you’re giving them.
Once you’ve got your devoted following, engage with them on a personal level. Depending on the number of followers and friends you have, try to interact with everybody who tries to interact with you. If they have concerns, make sure they leave without them and make sure they get what they want.
Social media is a great way to interact with your customers and if you do it properly, you will leave a positive brand image in their minds. You may want to encourage people to ask questions about your products and services, and then answer them across your various social media profiles. Essentially, social media gives you a chance to give your company a human element. By interacting with your customers, they will feel as though you have a personal connection with them. This is much more desirable than previous, one-way means of marketing . Now, instead of simply being a faceless corporate entity, the two way communication increases your brand’s power.
Social media also allows you to take advantage of special features that you may not find on a other websites. Many social media sites allow you to create digital products or games that you can give to customers. By allowing a customer to download a video, audio file, game, or image, you are not only branding yourself to the customer, but you are giving them the opportunity to then send these files to their friends and family. This means that you can create custom digital media for your brand, and allow your customers to assist you in your branding campaign by spreading your message. Viral marketing can be another article entirely, but if you do research it, it can really make your business explode.
However, with all of the advantages to social media, there are some things to be aware of. First, if you wish to build and protect a good reputation, keep in mind that with social media, you are in the public spotlight. If someone asks a question, or posts a concern on your profile, it is best to handle it right away. If you let questions or comments sit too long without being answered, you may come across as uncaring, thereby hurting your brand. Furthermore, while adding people on social networks is easy, you would not want to add random people. This is the same thing as spamming, and will not only earn you a bad reputation, but may result in you and your company being banned from various social networks. It is important to only add people you know, or better yet, to simply allow people to add you.
As well, it is important to have a dedicated employee in charge of monitoring your social networking sites. While it is great that social media allows people to interact, there are unfortunately people out there with malicious intent. These people may post obscene or profane words or images on your company’s profile, and if there is no one around to monitor such behavior, your company may appear tolerant of such things. If a particular social media site allows it, it may be wise to require approval before comments, content, or images are posted by your list of contacts. As well, if a customer had a bad experience with your company, for whatever reason, they may do harm to your reputation by continually posting negative things on your profile. Address these conflicts immediately and make sure no reasonable person would think you were in the wrong.
As internet technology continues to advance, we are certain to see major strides forward in the use of social media to assist in branding. Keep in mind that it always counts to have a knowledgeable professional on your side when setting up and using social media. This will help with the implementation of your branding message, as well as with ensuring you earn and protect a good reputation.