Building your brand online
A cool logo, a glossy website, social media links and a consistent brand image are no longer enough. With the new rules of branding the emphasis lies with interaction, presentation is now taking a back seat.
These are the new rules of branding online:
1. Conversations must be two-way
‘Social media has one very important perspective to share with brand management—the conversation. Like branding, social media is all about the conversation and building effective relationships. They are perfectly suited to one another,’ says Ed Roach, the author of The Reluctant Salesperson.
It’s not enough just to have a Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn account, it is essential to involve yourself in conversations – make regular posts, reply with direct messages. It is essential; to stay on top of what people are saying about you and your brand online. A key element of social media is monitoring what’s going on and being said. Social media has shortened the time frame for company responses to complaints or accusations. In these times, organisations need to acknowledge any issues and control the messaging in a matter of minutes instead of hours or days.
2. Either keep your personal brand out of it…
Having 10,000 Twitter followers will not impress your customers – why would they care? Author of The 4-Hour Workweek, John Warrillow said: “Unless you’re in one of a handful of businesses like public speaking, I think managing and growing a personal brand can be a huge distraction for company founders. I see all of these entrepreneurs trying to collect Twitter followers, and it reminds me of a matador waving a red flag in front of a bull. In this case, the founders are the bull. The bullfighter moves the flag away, and the bull comes up with nothing but air.”
3. …or dive in and get all the coverage you can.
Being a highly thought of source of expertise can do impressing things to your reputation – and therefore building your brand. To gain coverage identify the media outlets that your industry and expertise will work with and send them targeted pitches.
Becoming active in professional organisations and attending conferences and networking events offer valuable opportunities. As you become more familiar within a certain field, more and more people will call on you to share your expertise. Making an appearance as an exhibitor at an event can also offer long-term personal branding benefits.
4. Be persistent in finding and targeting your niche.
You always have a chance to make your brand and company standout, even in a flooded market place like the Internet. People used to think water was all the same; now stores carry half-a-dozen brands or more. ‘Marketers struggle with differentiation because they give up too soon,’ says Derrick Daye, managing partner of The Blake Project. ‘They think that this can’t be differentiated, it can’t be unique.’ Experts say the constantly shifting marketplace increases the need to be imaginative and creative in your approach.
5. Tell your customers ‘About Us’
You might not spend too much time writing your ‘About Us’ page but your customers will spend time reading it. This will often be the first port of call for customers wanting to learn about your company – so surely it deserves some time and consideration. It’s still important to include the basics – but also to make it exciting and more accessible. Avoid too much text, and focus on connecting with your visitors. Readily available contact information shows customers that you want to hear from them and that you have nothing to hide.