Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Business Branding with Social Media

By Nick Sutherland
Today, just about every brand has a social media presence, usually Facebook, Google +, Twitter.  Most are boring, bland and self-fulfilling and built with advertising in mind. You have to ask yourself why would anyone want to subscribe, follow or have that feed coming up on their screen on a daily basis? It’s more important than ever to be interesting, entertaining, and most importantly real. Society has become pretty good at sniffing out fake personas and company images; we tend to shun these and reward the authentic. Here are some ways to kick start that
Be Transparent
Transparency is VERY sexy for brands. People want to talk to and listen to REAL people behind real brands – Not Big Bad Corporate Logos. Social Media transparency can mean a lot of different things to many different people. It should mean  letting your personality shine, engaging with people, being cute or funny, and sometimes putting it out there.  People love fun, exciting and real and are far more likely to tune in and even engage with you if you are. If you like something as a brand or as a whole and it’s not political or really controversial then put it out there.  People also appreciate humility, admitting mistakes or saying you can do something better goes a long way towards being authentic as well. Always remember you’re real people behind the company and consumers will appreciate that.
Engage, Engage, Engage
There is nothing more important than letting your audience know you’re listening. How do you do that, by engaging with them! There isn’t a bigger turn off for me right now than shooting a  Facebook post over to a brand and getting zero response. It essentially says hey we don’t care.  Yet on the other hand when it elicits a response it makes you feel warm and fuzzy about that brand. A simple thank you, or an answer about a product or service can go a really long way.  
You Must engage with people if you want to build a fan base and brand champions.
Get to know your audience
So you have Friends, Likes or Followers but what does it all really mean if you’re disconnected from them?  No matter who you are a celebrity or a Fortune 500, take some time to get to know your audience. Ask them what they think about topics, or decisions you’re going to make. Show them their opinion matters. Provide feedback and replies to their engagement with you, show them you’re listening.  It’s an amazing way to create brand champions and fans. They will genuinely appreciate you.
Be Interesting
As I’ve stated  before Social Media is just that a form of media just like TV, Movies, Magazines, etc.  If it’s not entertaining, informational or intriguing nobody is going to stay tuned in. You need to create and share quality content if you want people to follow you, engage with you which in turn grows your branding and exposure. 
Part of the problem is a widespread belief that content is content -- any will do. Generic content typically lacks relevance that not only doesn't it engage consumers, but its lack of uniqueness can hurt the integrity of a brand.
Successful content marketers need to think less like advertisers and more like publishers. Publishers distinguish themselves in several ways. They apply distinct inclusion criteria to every pivotal content decision. They adopt a "pull" orientation rather than "push," allowing consumers to define the conversation. Finally, publishers dynamically plan and create content on a more "real-time" basis than on a rigid, cyclical campaign-centric basis.
Red Bull is a content-marketing success story, having shifted from energy-drink manufacturer to content dynamo, particularly with 2011's film "The Art of Flight" and last year's record-setting Stratos Jump, featuring a helmet-cam video of Felix Baumgartner's free fall. By understanding what its consumers are most interested in and consistently aligning content -- and the brand -- with action sports and adrenaline seekers, it has been able to cut through the content marketing clutter. But brands don't have to send a stuntman to the edge of space; a few simple rules will help stem the tide of bad branded content.
Support content by fueling the fire. The best content experts strive to create "elastic" content that stretches across multiple channels and devices and is shared by consumers.
If you haven't already done so, it is likely past time to update your approach to content. A brand with poor-performing content runs the risk of getting lost in in today's distraction-filled environment.

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