Branding Your Business with Social Media
Social media marketing can be a free and innovative channel to win your business positive press and to “get the word out” about who you are and what you do. However, if not done properly, social media can actually work against you, either directly or indirectly. Just as with promoting your business through flyers or an online banner, keeping your brand image consistent no matter the social media site is of the utmost importance. Therefore, take charge and manage your brand character by following a few basic tips. Read on below to see how best to promote and brand your company name with social media.
Social media platforms include anything from Facebook and Twitter to Instagram and Pinterest. However, the "big four" sites or platforms that most small businesses are a part of include the following sites. Below you'll find branding tips specific to each.
Create a Facebook fan page for your company. Information should include, but is not limited to, contact information, staff, photos of staff and of your business location, what you do, any organization that you support, and any other pivotal information about your company. You build "likes" on Facebook, which gives you the ability to post updates onto your "fans'" walls. They just have to click a button and they get everything you put on your own wall.
Make sure to put your logo as the profile picture. You can change up the cover photo, which is a banner-sized heading graphic on your profile page. Use the photo to announce specials or just change as your advertising scheme changes. Keep in mind still that even cover photo changes need to keep consistent with your main brand elements. You want your clientele to easily recognize your page no matter what you may be advertising at the time.
You’ll use Twitter to post any updates and events of your company. These posts are limited to 140 characters and should always include a link to a page on your site or to something your followers would want to see. You should also include hashtags. These are words or phrases without any spaces in them and start with the pound sign (#). So you might use #yourbrand to put at the end of any messages you send. These act like tags that can be searched at a later point.
Similar to Facebook, you create a branded profile page with basic contact information, a logo, and you can even brand your Google+ page with the images displayed across the top of your page. People can join your "circle" and then can see any posts or pictures you put up. You can also use meta content on your website to prove that you are the official Google+ page for your website and get acknowledgement for your content. While much smaller in scale than Facebook, Google+ does still have an excellent following and can be a great source of meeting new customers.
This site is for professionals. While you can list your company's site and build connections, you should consider getting your executives to have their own pages to build B2B connections. This site is specifically focused on C-suite and management, not your average consumer. You may find that it's not a good fit if you're a retailer, and that's fine. Your executive staff, however, should still have a page to build legitimacy. Just be sure to include links to your website, blog, and social media sites to give contacts plenty of ways to look you up.
Another common way to develop your brand is to have a blog on your website. While not necessarily considered social media, your blog is important to social media since it should give readers the opportunity to comment and share your content on their social media sites using buttons on your blog.
You can have a blog on your own site or use a 3rd party blogging platform on another site such as Tumblr or Blogspot, to name two popular sites. Pick the one that suits your needs best and then link it to your website. Just as with your social media sites, be sure to brand this with your logo and other brand elements so that visitors instantly recognize it as your company blog.
Write about new products, post pictures of various things related to your company, and include any other endearing or helpful stories that you’d like to post. Make your blog a resource that customers can use to learn more about your products and services or even a place they can learn some DIY tips or gather resources. Think of your blog as an accessory that users buy into when they get your products and services. It's extra information they can put to use.
If you’re part of a business that has done any marketing at all, then you more than likely have a logo. Your logo should be recognizable. As mentioned above, take that logo and plaster it everywhere that you do business. It should be the picture for all of your social media networks. Place it even in the corners of your company photographs that you post. Make sure that it is imprinted into your customer’s minds. Consumers have to see your logo over and over and over before they'll start to recognize it. Don't pass up the opportunity that social media offers for drilling your logo into customer's brains.
Inevitably, you’re going to have a certain “voice” or “tone” in any writing you do as a company. Make sure that that voice is appropriate for your business (i.e. playful and cutsie would be appropriate for a company selling baby clothing but not a funeral home service). Additionally, ensure that your tone is consistent throughout all of your social media sites. It's key to manage this voice consciously. If you have a distinct voice on Facebook, but on Google+ and Twitter your voice is generic, this confuses your customers.
Along with voice, try to use a similar color palate and possibly fonts when able in all of your marketing techniques. Customers ought to be able to recognize your style. This will build trust.
Make your social media work for you. Post a link to your Twitter account and your blog on your Facebook page. Post your blog address through your Twitter. Include both Twitter and Facebook buttons on your blog. Tag in your home site address to all three. Make it easy for your clients to find you on their social media platform of choice. Some only care about Twitter while others live on Facebook.
Do not merely copy and paste the same information onto all your social media sites. This will annoy your customer base. Assign a different person to all of the different platforms if you want, just make sure that your team is following brand and voice guidelines consistently. Simply make sure that even if you give the same information, you say it in different words. This will make you seem less like a robot and more like a personable company.
Keep in mind, too, that each social media site has a different kind of user, so tailor your message accordingly. For example, LinkedIn will be professionals while Facebook might be teens and Google+ twenty-somethings. Each of these groups likely have a different application of your goods and services, so communicate accordingly.
No matter where you appear, what social media sites you choose to be a part of, make sure your brand look and voice remains the same. Be as consistent as possible and your brand will be that much stronger. And a strong brand makes for strong, loyal customers.
Tara Hornor spends her days writing about social media marketing, advertising, branding, and web and graphic design for PrintPlace.com. Most of all, she enjoys advising freelancers and SMBs on how best to design and use PrintPlace.com business cards and brochures for maximum marketing impact. Be sure to follow @TaraHornor for more marketing and design advice.
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