Being Your Own Mad Man
The word advertising still brings to mind smoke-filled rooms, half-full highball glasses, secretaries in tight skirts, and lots of glory. The show Mad Men hasn’t done much to dispel this image, and that’s why so many startup companies think they have to pay thousands of dollars to get the attention they need for their company. In reality, we have the tools we need to build our own brands and, except for time—which is expensive, we know—your marketing efforts could cost little to nothing.
Social media has removed the wall between companies and customers, which puts the power where it belongs—in the hands of the consumer. What you do with that responsibility is now entirely up to you. No longer must you pay thousands of dollars for slogans and TV spots to get the attention you deserve. Your small business can gather all the clients you need and then some by simply becoming available.
So what’s the problem? If you’re doing all you can and still just can’t get traction, maybe you need to take a look at your social media strategy to make sure you’ve established a brand.
Establishing Brand Personality
Your brand is one of the most important aspects of your business. It’s the face, the image people will see when they think of your company. If you’ve put off establishing your brand, it’s time to start thinking about it right now. While choosing your image isn’t easy, it’s probably not as hard as you may think. You can develop your identity in three simple steps.
Your first step is to seek out other companies similar to yours. Social media is a great place to do this, because you can see businesses from all over the world rather than just those in your own backyard. Decide what you like and don’t like about those companies’ images, and take copious notes.
When you’ve completed your research, it’s time to put your thoughts into action. Pick your logo, your colors, your slogan, and your company attitude.
When you’ve made the choice, you must hold fast. Social Media 101 dictates that you must spread this new image across the board, from Twitter to Facebook and everything in between. If you’re tweeting without your new image, your customers will get confused. You may miss out on new followers because they don’t recognize your Twitter account. When you know what your brand is, go all in.
Maintaining Your Brand
Building your audience isn’t easy, even if you have the best branding in the world. Of course, the more people see it, the more they’re likely to share with others. That’s why maintaining your brand is so important. Giving up too soon could lose you several potential customers. So, past the commitment stage of branding, what can you do to maintain your company’s image?
The language you choose is very important to your image, so it’s important that you keep it consistent. This is made harder in this era of social media, because more than one person may be covering your outlets. In addition to multiple users, there is also the challenge of immediate distribution. Once your content reaches the Internet, it’s there for all to see. You may be able to delete but never before at least one person sees it.
Develop a social media strategy and make sure anyone who contributes to your Twitter, Facebook, or other social media platforms is well versed and adequately trained.
Humor is always welcome, but be sure you don’t overstep bounds that don’t match your brand’s image. Remember that inflection cannot be heard in text, and that means everything you publish is open to interpretation. Sarcasm and parody could bring more anger than laughter, and no one will hesitate to share your offensive tweets. In fact, your faux pas is likely to travel faster than any of your legitimate marketing.
Again, keep your sense of humor in line with your social media strategy. If you’re a company that thrives on the shock factor, anything goes. If you’re relying on a serious, friendly, approachable image, be discerning before posting.
If you’ve tried everything and held true to your social media strategy and still feel you can’t gain traction, it may be time to rebrand. Many people take this opportunity to completely change their company’s image, but that could actually be the worst thing to do. When rebranding, make sure you still keep your new image in line with your discarded one. You may want an updated logo or a snappier slogan. Perhaps your colors don’t draw the attention you had hoped. Maybe you even want a social media policy that makes room for some sarcasm without damaging your reputation. Whatever your change, think carefully before integrating, and make sure it fits with the rest of your company image.
If you’re like many small business owners, social media probably scares you. With all this talk about branding and images and the immediacy of social media posts, that fear may have just increased tenfold. Before you give up and walk away, consider finding a professional who can help you. There are experts out there who can walk you through your social media branding to ensure it’s consistent with the rest of your company image. You’ll be so glad you didn’t pass up this incredible marketing tool.
image credit: kromkrathog/freedigitalphotos.net