Branding Through Social Media
Branding is a buzzword you hear a lot, but what does the term actually mean? Branding means to associate a business with a product or service. The American Marketing Association defines a brand as a name or symbol that differentiates one business from another. A key part of creating a brand is targeting a specific audience and social media plays a part in the process.
Who are the Customers?
To create a brand effectively, you have to know whom to target. A homebuilder is not going to focus on teenagers, but a company designing video games might. IT giant Rackspace turns to social media to reach out to people interested in technology and the Internet. For instance, they maintain a photostream on Flickr for their employee community. This creates a virtual bond between employees and target customers. Simply put, it gives geeks a peek inside at the people who make Rackspace work.
It’s not enough to establish pages on social networking sites; you have to maintain the presence. Networking is about interactivity. Customers want to see action on pages – updates to Facebook, tweets on Twitter. Companies with blogs should monitor and respond to comments.
Showing the human side of a business develops memories. Rackspace shows employees playing games and living their lives. It makes an impression about the company that will stay with the viewer. If the CEO of a company maintains a Twitter page and posts a link in the contact section of the business website, customers have a way to communicate with a vital person. The more faces that become associated with an organization via social media, the stronger the brand.
Market Your Business
Social networking sites like Pinterest and Facebook are powerful marketing tools. Post discounts and new products using social media. You can create contests using Twitter hash tags. Set up groups in LinkedIn if your target is business to business. Ford used this concept to create branding for their new Fiesta. The head of Ford’s social media department, Scott Monty, stated one social campaign was more effective than a Superbowl ad.
Become Socially Conscious
Social media is about being social. Companies can use networking sites to support charity and community organizations. Social consciousness makes a company more human just like interacting online will. It anchors the brand in the mind of the target audience. Set up separate Facebook pages to raise awareness about a cause and link it to your main site.
Make a Connection
Integrating your social resources ties everything together. Blogs and websites should link to Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and every other social networking site that targets your core customer base. Using one site to help promote another expands online presence and anchors the brand.
A brand is a strong force in the business world. No matter what service you offer or product you sell, people remember the brand. It is not a tissue==it’s a Kleenex. You are not going to stop and pick up antacid tablets. You’re getting Tums. The brand sticks on the Internet, as well. Social media is the way to make that brand a force online and off.