Publishing Your Brand

If you listen very carefully, you might hear it… the groans from small business owners all across the land when the phrase “Content Is King” is mentioned to them.

As true as that saying may be, most of today’s consumers go directly to search engines to answer even the slightest of trivial questions.  The mistake that most businesses make today is that they churn out content every day, but without making it part of their overall communications strategy.

Content publishing should focus on two simple goals: educating and building trust.

Content strategy is delivered through very specific content forms, and not volume alone.  Every business today is publishing content, and today is the day you need to think like a publisher.

How best to build trust with your audience?
Blog: There’s no doubt that blogs are the best starting point for content strategy as they allow for simple content production, and syndication of your message.  Search engines gobble up blog content.  Blog content can easily be delivered through other channels like e-books, workshops and guest articles.

Social Media: Step one – claim your stake with profiles on sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.   But don’t let that stop you.  Take it to the next step by claiming your place on communities like Entrepreneur, Inc., or even Business Week.  Creating these profiles and optimizing links back to you site plan an important role in content strategy publishing.

Testimonials:  Third party testimonials may be the most powerful tool in your publishing arsenal.  Seek testimonials in a variety of forms including written, audio and video.  Share them on sites such as YouTube and Google+ to continue to build your publishing portfolio.

Reviews:  Depending on your specific business, sites like MerchantCircle, CitySearch and Yelp! can offer positive user referrals.  While never in control of reviews, overlooking them may prove more harmful than bad reviews.  One thing is certain, you’ll need to actively monitor these channels at all times.

Consider these two easy ways to educate your customer with content.

Seminars:  Today’s consumer wants their information neatly pre-packaged for easy consumption. Seminars, workshops and presentations are everywhere – both online and offline.  Once engaged, these channels provide a great opportunity to really engage your audience.  Taking your white paper or ebook and turning it into a 30-45 minute, value-packed presentation may be the most cost-effective way to both engage and convert casual leads into loyal customers.

White Papers & Ebooks:  In communicating their brand story, documenting the values and views are effectively done in the form of a white paper or book.  This content needs to highlight the businesses truly unique values including why it exists, what it will accomplish, and ultimately – it’s special purpose.

This is certainly a short list of ways and channels for you to reach new, actively engaged customers. What are others you might be using that are working for you?

Once you’ve developed your specific system of content publishing that works in unison for your brand, maintaining and growing our channels becomes a fun and welcomed task, instead of one to dread and avoid.

Have you plugged into the power of YouTube yet?

YouTube is often the “forgotten child” in a social media marketing campaign. Today’s focus on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn is based on the immediate access to text based systems, and the ease of response and dialogue. In fact, YouTube may be one of the most powerful players in your social media strategy team – especially in light of the more recent technology and related costs to produce high quality, creative video for your product or service.

Consider a few interesting statistics: just over 75% of the social media audience in the US reports that they have, and will continue to view online videos. You could extrapolate this to an estimate of over 558 million (yes, MILLION) hours of online video watching – every month. The channel appeals to a broad range of demographics. Ages of users range 18-55, and are evenly divided between males and females – spanning all geographies.

According to the company’s reported user statistics, fifty-one percent of users go to YouTube weekly or more often, and 52 percent of 18-34 year-olds share videos often with friends and colleagues. YouTube truly does offer something for everyone.

With that broad of a range of users, and their frequency, you’re missing out on innovative and creative marketing strategies if you’re not engaged on the YouTube experience now.

So… how can you effectively use YouTube to market your service or product?  Here are a few suggestions:

First, consider leveraging the many channels offered specifically for your product or service category:

  • Autos and Vehicles
  • Comedy
  • Education
  • Entertainment
  • Film and Animation
  • Gaming
  • How-to and Style
  • Nonprofit and Activism
  • People and Blogs
  • Pets and Animals
  • Science and Technology
  • Sports
  • Travel and Events

Your first step is to decide what category your products or services fit into. Bear in mind that uploading a commercial isn’t the goal, but rather to create an interesting conversation around your product or service through your posting.  Ask yourself what kind of video might be the most interactive?  Commercials, unless their engaging on a national level, might get easily lost and overlooked in the hundreds of thousands of posting on YouTube each day.  Creativity is key.

Rather than a self-involved commercial, what about a “how-to” video that provide real value to your prospects and community?  Consider sharing other podcasts that are both informative and entertaining to your group of followers – and be judicious about promoting yourself all the time.  After all…it’s called YOUTube…not MEtube!

Your second step might be to establish your own brand channel:

While this may be more advertising than social media in nature, the investment to establish one for your brand might well be worth the investment.  Take this action only after you’ve given it careful consideration for your specific strategy.

For your investment in time and money, YouTube can be an effective way to share your brand’s values, and begin conversations with over 78.3 million users. Counter that potential with the fact that over 150,000 videos are uploaded every day, the challenge is to create and promote content that attracts, and keeps attention to your brand.

No matter what your social media strategy may be, you can can fun doing it.  Engaging your community on YouTube is just one way to round-out a truly effective social media campaign.

I’ll be investigating other topics that are YouTube related in anticipation of my presentation at the SM@RT Social Media Conference in Reno-Tahoe this December.

If you have any specific questions about how to integrate YouTube into your brand communication strategy, I’d love to hear about it!

Social Media Do’s And Don’ts

Social media is, by its very nature, an ongoing conversation.  Without honestly and openly engaging your audience, you’ll simply be shouting into the void.  I’m often asked what I think makes social media effective, and thought I’d share a short list here, and see if you have others.

Social Media Don’ts:
:: Directly selling your product or service to your audience is a turn-off.  With all the obtrusive messages we receive on a daily basis, who wants another uninvited sales pitch?
:: Self promotion falls into the “direct sale” category.  Learn from your competitors, and keep the conversation flowing.
:: If you receive criticism (and you likely will), don’t ignore it – address it.  Never continue an argument over anyone’s perception.  Listen… learn… and adjust if necessary.
:: Having multiple online names and associated emails  can be confusing to your audience, and may make it more difficult if you’re trying to brand yourself effectively.
:: Fact and figures may be interesting, but don’t use them to prove how smart you are.
:: Never try to be anything other than who you are.  In time, everyone will see through your fake facade.
:: Don’t engage every channel you can think of to connect with irrelevant audiences.  Be targeted… in everything you do.
:: Don’t use just one social network.  You’ll get more insight by trying one or two primarily – and certainly learn more about your potential audiences that way.

Social Media Do’s:
:: Listen, listen, listen to your audience and prospects.
:: Actively listen to your customers.
:: Strategically listen to your competitors.
:: Honestly listen to your critics.
:: Listen and converse with your  followers and fans.
:: Ask questions of, and listen intently to your industry leaders.
:: Always be responsible and honest whatever you write.
:: Be authentic and stay positive.
:: Be helpful to your  fans and followers – you just never know who might be a prospective customer, or know someone who is.
:: Always double-check your tone, language, spelling and grammar before you send or pass-on information, comments, and reviews.
:: Respect all copyrights.
:: Develop and post a clear policy that protects your confidential information.
:: Focus all your efforts on customer value, at all times.

:: Determine specific goals and make sure you’ve included a mechanism to determine your success or failure (ROI)

I’m sure there are many, many other “do’s and don’ts” you can think of.   What are some you think are important?

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