While there is no one universal approach to building and maintaining a good brand, I have a few rules when it comes to social branding. These are constant marketing truths and tactics one should keep in mind when they look at their social programs:
Go for the Groove
Some branding campaigns try so hard to be different they lose their relevance or the message requires too much explanation. Remember: different is not always good, especially in the online and mobile environments when you have just a few seconds to capture someone's attention and connect with their emotions.
Here is the deal: there is a groove in each person's head that your message must fit right into. This groove is an incomplete need or thought, based on what they know, what they need and what they love about your brand or category. Find this gap or this "groove" and fill it! Accomplish this and chances are you will have a winning message that connects and embeds in people's minds on a synaptic and emotional level. Miss the groove and... well, you're just another meaningless instant in an ocean of impressions.
Ask yourself this simple question: "Why would anyone want to hear from us on a regular basis?" Make sure there is a reason to connect to you.
How does getting a continual stream of content from your company provide value to your audience members? Are you helping people to be more successful in their careers? Are you giving them ways to live healthier? Have more fun? Save money? Make money? Is the reason to connect obvious when a person browses your content or reads your social calls to action in your ads?
Give people a reason to connect with you and make them one of the driving forces of your social content and promotions. "Check us out on Facebook" really is not a great call to action. "Save tons of money and get exclusive deals - Like us on Facebook" may work better to get your customers engaged socially. If your targeting B2B, maybe it's, "Get industry insight and IT success tips - Follow us on Twitter."
Get People Talking
Remember, in social your brand is not what you say; rather, it's what people say about you. Like Bonnie Raitt sang, "Let's Give Them Something To Talk About."
Spark conversation and promote content that generates dialogue, not just between you and your community, but between the members of your community and even their friends. Encourage interactions, ie.: "Ask your friends where they like to travel to and Brand X might just send you and them there together!" This will also boost your "Talking about this" viral metric on Facebook.
Social media is the right place to show the human side of your company. Let people get to know not just your products, but the people behind your products. Remember, social media is about socializing and people want to feel like they are connecting with real people who share their values and emotions.
It is impossible to communicate with an inanimate object. Loosen up a little bit and show the face behind the curtain. Really be friends with the lovers of your brand!
(Now here is the thing, they don't want or need to know what you did on your corporate outing, so a tinge of discretion alongside humor or self-deprecation is advised.)
Encourage the share
The share is as valuable as the Like or Follow! It creates peer to peer impressions featuring your brand and also goes back to the "get people talking" tip.
Be greedy for the share and celebrate it. Make content that is worth sharing and then make the share the call to action you are trying to encourage. We all want engagements, conversions and actions - but what about shares?Remember - the share is the action. So put big honkin' share buttons everywhere and celebrate the share!
I would love to see some of your tips for good social branding; please post them below or add them to the shares you post with this column!
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As founder and CEO of Overdrive, Harry Gold is the architect and conductor behind the company's ROI-driven programs. His primary mission is to create innovative marketing programs based on real-world success and to ensure the marketing and technology practices that drive those successes are continually institutionalized into the culture and methods of the agency. What excites him is the knowledge that Overdrive's collaborative environment has created a company of online media, SEM, and online behavioral experts who drive success for the clients and companies they serve. Overdrive serves a diverse base of B2B and B2C clients that demand a high level of accountability and ROI from their online programs and campaigns.
Harry started his career in 1995 when he founded online marketing firm Interactive Promotions, serving such clients as Microsoft, "The Financial Times," the Hard Rock Cafe, and the City of Boston. Since then, he has been at the forefront of online branding and channel creation, developing successful Web and search engine-based marketing programs for various agencies and Fortune 500 companies.
Harry is a frequent lecturer on SEM and online media for The New England Direct Marketing Association; Ad Club; the University of Massachusetts, Boston; Harvard University; and Boston University.
December 12, 2013
1:00pm ET / 10:00am PT