By now you may have created social media profiles on behalf of your organization, developed a solid website and gotten a number of likes in various social spheres. Now what? The next step after this is something that SMB organizations seem to struggle with the most – transitioning from “we are on social media” to “we are having fun, converting and rocking out on social media”. Effective digital branding demands continuous engagement and interactions with audience members.
If you have already been fortunate enough to gain someone’s trust and interest online (not an easy feat by any means nowadays) why not keep it? It is not enough to have someone visit your website, and afterwards hope that they make an action simply based on that one interaction. A customer experience spans beyond a shopping cart, a contact form or call-to-action click. It goes to further lengths of conversation, reviews, interaction with peers…a memorable online experience. You have to create an impression as a publisher of information and/or service, a personality that will attract and keep attention of potential customers.
In order to take your brand to the next level and have it rock out (and convert) in the world wide web you need to consider the following aspects of all of your online touch points:
1) Where is the Conversation Taking Place?
If you are sending out tweets five times a day, yet no one pays attention – you are not utilizing Twitter effectively. Do not be on a social media network just for the sake of having a presence there, or because “everyone else is on there”.
Your social media plan needs to be carefully laid out: do the research – see where your customers are most active, what they are talking about and how you can join the conversation. Perhaps most of your audiences uses Pinterest due to the overwhelmingly visual nature of your content and find it easier to Pin and comment as opposed to tweet.
Being in the right place is as important as being part of the right conversation.
2) Am I Part of the Right Conversation?
Your website may rank well for the keyword “fast food restaurant” but majority of people are searching for “best burgers in town” – you will not be connecting or engaging the right audience. Fast food is a general term that applies to a vast category of food: is it a pizza restaurant? fried chicken? hot dogs? It needs to be specific, and focus on locality in which your customers and potential audience members are active in.
Once you establish the right presence and become part of the right conversations, you start to mold the perception around your brand. This will give you the ability to not only influence that perception in a direct way, but to determine what type of perception is currently circulating within your targeted community. Utilizing effective social media marketing services or having a dedicated person for digital interactions is crucial in joining the right conversation, and making your brand participants feel as if they are on a cloud – which brings us to our next point.
3) Make Audience Feel as if They’re on a Cloud
No – this does not necessarily mean to bring them into a Salesforce database (although it could be beneficial as part of an overall approach). It means that their online interaction with your brand need to cater to their needs and ways of communicating digitally. Did you share something useful? Help them solve a problem? Entertained them in some way? Contributed to finding something important?
All interactions digitally (and all other marketing efforts) need to be customer oriented, not product or service oriented. Branding efforts need to focus on the customers and their concerns – making sure that messages and interactions are delivered at the right time, in the right context and in a meaningful way. Bring each customer into the cloud and have them float there every time your brand is in question.
4) Encourage Digital Participation Internally
This seems to be a major road-block for building an effective digital brand personality for most SMB companies: blocking social media access, internet browsing, IM tools and other digital means of collaborating. While sales personnel are encouraged to, and most of the time provided with a mobile device – marketing or branding positions have access to certain websites, and the rest of the organization ranging from admin roles to higher management are not permitted to participate in the online conversation.
What is wrong with having your employees contribute to your brand? Yes there need to be guidelines outlined to using these digital communications so that people do not get sidetracked. And yes, there also needs to be a shift towards opening up channels to employees because they can be brand ambassadors and contribute to building your brand. There is nothing more encouraging to potential customers than hearing employees, executives, management and everyone that is part of the brand resonate the same message. It strengthens perception, gives confidence and engages everyone involved (employees and customers).
It is your brand after all – limiting people whether internal or external will only strain relationships and straining relationships can be the breaking point between having loyal customers or losing customers.