Branding For Social Media


No matter what stage in your business or career you are currently in, social media can help you achieve some of your goals.  Establishing yourself as an expert with credible authority will help you gather a willing audience if you build and maintain a positive online reputation.

I ran across these five easy steps to consider that were originally posed in one of my favorite online resources – 30-Minute Social Media Marketing.  I think you’ll agree that they apply equally to your personal brand as well as your professional reputation.

I’m not going to revise or alter the original content because I think they are right on point:

1. Begin with Branding
The first step to joining the digital age and starting your journey on the social Web is to evaluate your own brand promise. How do you want to position yourself in the marketplace and in front of your target audience? A focused brand is a strong brand, so determine your niche and use it as your primary brand message and image.

Your audience needs to develop expectations for your brand in order to develop loyalty to it and feel secure enough in your brand message to talk about it with their own friends and connections, particularly across the social Web. You must meet customer (i.e., audience) expectations in every brand interaction or people will feel confused and turn away from your brand in search of another that does consistently meet their expectations. Don’t let your audience get away. Determine your brand promise and position and stick to it at all times.

2. Create Your Branded Online Destinations
Once you know how you want to position your brand in the minds of your audience, you can create your own branded online destinations. The destination you choose to start with is up to you and depends on the types of tools you enjoy using and feel like you can stick with for the long-term. Start a blog, create a Twitter account and get on Facebook, and then play with the features and get a feel for which tools you actually enjoy using. Those are the tools you should focus on using as your original branded online destinations.

Most importantly, choose one branded online destination to be your core branded online destination. This is the place where all of your online content and conversations will lead back to. It will be the central hub of your online presence and will become the go-to place for people to learn anything and everything about your brand and writing business.

I recommend a blog for a core branded online destination because blogs are so search engine friendly and flexible, but the choice is yours.  The most important factor is that your core branded online destination is kept fresh with new content that effectively represents your brand promise and invites interaction and sharing.

3. Find Your Best Audience
Who do you want to connect with online in order to build your business and/or career? You can engage with existing and potential clients, online influencers, experts, customers, and more on the social Web.  You simply need to determine who you want to talk to and go out and find them. Visit Google.com and type in the keywords your audience is likely to use to find brands, businesses, content and conversations like yours. Follow the links. Chances are you’ll end up finding multiple sites where your target audience already spends time.

When you find your target audiences’ online hangouts, spend some time listening to the conversations happening on those sites. What topics are important to them? What gets them excited? This type of information-gathering is extremely valuable and allows you to create your own content strategy to best meet your target audience’s existing wants and needs.

4. Join the Conversation
Look for social destinations such as blogs, Twitter profiles, Facebook pages, forums and so on where you can interact with other people by publishing comments, asking questions, and answering questions. However, you must avoid self-promotion. No one will want to engage with you if you spend all your time trying to sell your writing products and services.

Instead, apply the 80-20 rule of marketing to your activities, and make sure at least 80% of the time you spend on social media activities is not self-promotional and only 20% is self-promotional.

In time, those audiences will get to know you and develop expectations for your conversations. Eventually, you can lead them back to your own branded online destinations through links to related content. There you can deepen relationships. It’s this type of relationship-building that enables you to develop a band of brand advocates online who will talk about your brand and defend your brand against naysayers. There has never been a more powerful form of word-of-mouth marketing, and you can tap into it thanks to the social Web!

5. Publish Shareworthy Content

How do people find information in the 21st century? Do they pick up the printed Yellow Pages directory or go to the library? No. They log into their computers or pick up their smart phones and visit http://www.Google.com where they type in keywords related to the business, product or information they want to find. You need to be represented in search results when people search for keywords related to your business or area of expertise!

One way to make sure you’re effectively represented is by publishing amazing content that people want to talk about and share with their own connections. In time, you’ll benefit from what I call the compounding effect of social media. The more content you publish, the more entry points there are for Google to find, index and deliver in search results.

If your content is amazing, people will read it and talk about it on Twitter, their own blogs, and so on. This conversation not only boosts word-of-mouth buzz about you, but it also creates more incoming links to your content. More incoming links mean more ways for people to find your content across the web and higher search rankings from Google.

Coming Full Circle
Your social media participation cannot be one-sided.  You need to focus on building relationships, getting on people’s radar screens, and indirectly marketing yourself, your brand, and/or your business. Remember, quality trumps quantity, so don’t spread yourself too thin. Organic growth of quality followers will deliver the best long-term growth results. Every day that you wait to join the online conversation is a missed opportunity.

What do you think about these points to begin your mission to build a solid online brand?  What would you add, change or delete?

Forget “The Box”


I literally wince every time I hear someone (often from another agency) say “we need to think outside the box” on this project/campaign/strategy.

Forget “thinking outside the box”.  There is no “box” in today’s marketing.

As a consumer, I’ve become cynical and skeptical about being marketed to.  The more impressions I get every day, the more I crave value, relevancy and authentic messages and images.  I want to connect on a much deeper level to the brands that I choose to love and allow into my life.

Look around us at the brands that are succeeding even in today’s economic climate – Avatar, iPad, Old Spice are a few good examples.  No matter how rotten the economy, or how en vogue it is to abhor conspicuous consumption, we’ll gleefully plop down our precious earnings for brands  that inspire us, entertain us, and in general, provide us a respite from the traditional ad pitch.

With social media, it seems that the experience economy has literally exploded.  No matter what your social status, your spot in the world, or your preferences, your life has picked up speed to a blurry pace.  By the time traditional advertising has caught up with you, you’ve already seen it, reviewed it with your friends, and if you liked (or disliked) it – shared it with a much broader group of individuals that the traditional ad agency may not have even begun to target.

And so it goes that social media is here to stay – in a big way.  I’m personally not convinced that social media is marketing alone – but just an important channel that must now be considered in every campaign, from every perspective conceivable.

Today, more than ever before, brands need to be fast.  They need to be smart.  And they need to speak to their audiences in more specific, relevant ways that people will actually pay attention to, and share with their community.  Traditional media may still be the foundation of that communication, but it’s certainly not the mainstay.

What do you think the future of marketing looks like?  What brands are resonating with you…and why?  Please share your thoughts, we’d appreciate your viewpoint!

Smart, Savvy Social Media Tips From Alice Heiman


AH

Our good friend and affiliate, Alice Heiman, has kindly offered to allow us to re-post some of her smart, savvy sales tips here on SmartBrand’s blog to help our readers maximize their marketing investment.  After all – a great marketing strategy must ultimately result in increased sales, and it takes a synchronized effort from both marketing and sales to make that happen for any business today.

Here’s Alice’s insightful tips on social media for your business:

To be successful using social media to promote your business take the following steps:

1.      Take a look at your current plan and review the ways you are currently reaching your target market.  Ask yourself, what’s working and what’s not.

2.      Think about your ideal customer, what social media are they using?  Look at the demographics of the users of LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and the others and see if it matches.  Ask your current customers what social media they use.

3.      Think about your image and the messaging you want to use to communicate on social media.

4.      Make an editorial calendar for what you will post.  Good content is the key.  Push out content on a regular basis and then in between you can promote your events or specials.

5.      Determine who is going to be responsible for posting.  It needs to be done consistently.

6.      Review and evaluate the results of what you have executed.  Make changes to your strategy based on this information.

They key to successfully promoting yourself or a business with social media is to have a plan that integrates with your overall sales and marketing strategy and enhances that in some way.  Know what your goals are and measure the results.

Utilizing social media properly is a lot of work and in many companies becomes a full time job.  There are many companies you can outsource to and I recommend that if you can afford it.  Just make sure they develop a plan in conjunction with your current sales and marketing plan.

Syndicate Your Twitter Feed


twitter

Here’s a great list of easy ways to syndicate your Twitter feed that I ran across on Einfo blog.  Originally, the information was obtained from Profileomat.com – a helpful profile aggregator.

1. Facebook – The Twitter Facebook App (good tutorial) will pull in your status updates from Twitter.
2. FriendFeed – Another social network where you can import your Twitter feed.
3. LinkedIn – This professionally skewed networking site now provides the ability to incorporate your Twitter feed right into your profile. Just note that you have to list your Twitter URL as one of your “Websites” in order to use the “Blog Link” application.
4. MyBlogLog – This social networking site allows you to managed your online profiles, including Twitter. Once you add your Twitter information, it will pull your feed onto your profile page. The links within the posts are dofollows as well as the link to your Twitter page.
5. Plaxo – This site also allows you to pull in your Twitter feed.
6. Tumblr – A hosted blogging solution will pull in your Twitter feed as a daily aggregated post. The blog will provide dofollow links within the Twitter posts.
7. Yahoo!360 - The profile page on Yahoo!360 allows you to add RSS feeds to your profile page. No link love here. All of the links redirect, but you still have an opportunity to share your Tweets with your friends on this network.

Also do not forget to submit your Twitter feed to RSS directories as well. Here are a couple of strong RSS directories: Feedage, RSS2, Feedest, RSSMotron, and Feedagg.

If you have any other suggestions or resources – please share!

WordPress Marketer’s Blog Roundup


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We’re fortunate to be included in a collective of bloggers on WordPress that concentrate their efforts on marketing reviews and ideas.  Here’s a quick recap of some of their latest (and greatest) updates:

* Brady’s Crew has some 50 great ideas from Time Magazine on how to improve your website.

* Dave Knox over at Hard Knox Life has some compelling ideas on why corporations should integrate social media into their communication mix using Motrin as a good example.

* Rick Leibling takes time with Junta42’s content marketing list, and notes Eyecube is growing in readership.

* Francis Anderson takes a quick look at Dido and Elf Yourself.

* Groves Media survived hell week with a round-up about manic Christians, Google, Crunched Celebs and Dead Parrots!

* Jax Rants investigates a really cool Sweet Spots site by Nike.

* Liquid Architecture shares some insights about the gaming community’s reaction to President-elect Obama.

* Marketing Integrity’s new site location rethinks church marketing, and it’s role in growing participation.

* Micha Solomon give props to Elite Media’s truly elite sales rep and process.

* Nicola Davis shows us something really interesting – AC DC’s innovative music video in an excel spreadsheet!

* Octagon First Call makes a really good point for brand communication, using XBOX as an example.

* Online Marketer Blog is offering a free e-book for download about writing holiday donation emails.  Take time to read it…great advice.

* Share Media’s Matt Hames takes note of Motrin’s social media response challenge, and the importance of context over content.  Something’s obviously up with Motrin…this is the second time the brand is on our radar.

* And finally, Weather Pattern’s shares the experince of getting a free future edition of the New York Times.

This roundup is just a sampling of the great ongoing work these bloggers passionately cover.  Please take time to read them, and share their insights and information with those you know might enjoy them as well.

Religion And Advertising Just Don’t Mix


American Humanist Association's
American Humanist Association

At first, I had a difficult time wondering why, for any reason, someone would launch a $40,000.00 ad campaign that asks: “Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness’ sake.”  Was this some sort of sarcastic reference to one of my favorite holiday songs?  Or a pitch from an obscure religious group of some sort?
The American Humanist Association, a Washington-based group, has entered into the yearly battle between commercialism and the true meaning of Christmas – but for the first time, in a very public way.
“We are trying to reach our audience, and sometimes in order to reach an audience, everybody has to hear you,” said Fred Edwords, spokesman for the humanist group. “Our reason for doing it during the holidays is there are an awful lot of agnostics, atheists and other types of non-theists who feel a little alone during the holidays because of its association with traditional religion.”
The ads and posters include a link to a site with the purpose of connecting like-minded individuals in the D.C. region.
The actual proof, however, may well reside within the polled responses to the campaign provided by AOL:
celebrate
results
Clearly, the majority of respondents say they participate in Christmas, and nearly as clearly, the ad campaign isn’t appreciated by a wide majority of respondents.
Edwords continued to support the campaign by noting that its propose isn’t to argue the existence of God, or change anyone’s opionions, although “we are trying to plant a seed of rational thought and critical thinking and questioning in people’s minds.”
Whatever your position, the campaign doesn’t seem to be changing any behavior or attitudes toward God or the holidays.  To me, it only helps to illustrate that religion and advertising simply aren’t compatible mates.
What’s your opinion on the campaign?

Simple Marketing Strategies For Today’s Economy


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One of the biggest mistakes any company can make in challenging economic times is to severely cut back (or worse yet, stop) their marketing efforts.  One of my favorite quotes is from Peter Drucker:

“Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two–and only two–basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.”

As the distinguishing element of any business, your marketing message is the main point to communicate your brand.  In today’s economy, it’s often difficult to keep your marketing efforts moving forward at a pace that keeps your brand relevant, and moving into new economies.

So what are the basic steps every brand must continue to survive, and even thrive today?

1. Contact and engage your existing customer base. It’s more than easy to understand that you best opportunity for stability and sales lives within those that already believe strongly in your brand.  Within those loyal customers reside new sales opportunities, and most importantly, a strong base of customers you cannot afford to take for granted.   Sure…you’ve heard this before…but really…what are you actually doing about it?

Don’t forget the 20/80 rule: 20% of customers provide 80% of sales.  Reach out to them.  Thank them for their patronage, and offer them something to meet their needs in their own challenging times.  While you’re at it, take this opportunity to meet with them in person to express your loyalty face-to-face.  You’ll learn what is happening with them, and establish and even deeper brand relationship.  Ask them what you should focus your efforts on to make your product or service even better for them.  Then do it.

2. Give customers economical solutions and options. You know it – times are hard for everyone now, and that includes your customers.  Show them that you have an option that takes current economic challenges into account.  Empathize with them, and provide them with alternatives through your products or services.  Wouldn’t you want them to find a way to buy them from you?  Make sure you have options that make sense, and promote them.

3. Most importantly… Network, Baby, Network! You can understand there are clients that simply can’t afford to enter your market now.  This isn’t permanent in our business cycles – so take the time to meet new people while they’re looking for the same new connections.  When the economy does return, you’ll be well positioned to take advantage of the new business you’ve developed.  Keep your T.O.M.A. (Top Of Mind Awareness) level up.  Show up…meet… introduce – now is not the time to be shy.

Social media marketing provides a great set of cost-effective opportunities to expand your reach into new markets with a minimal expense – a good position to consider that can have far reaching, lasting effect on your brand and its value.

These aren’t simply “hard time strategies”, they should be part of everyone’s marketing efforts in good times and bad. Believe that our current challenges are temporary, and when the markets return to a normal pace of growth and expansion, you’ll be stronger, and more prepared to take full advantage of the new economy.

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