Experts Reveal Top Tips to Help Build Your Online Brand
Written by Said Hamood on Oct. 17th 2016
Online marketing experts unanimously identify two key areas that will drive your brand forward and deliver results: social media and blogging. These strategies not only serve as a starting point but also as two areas of your business that need to be carefully maintained.
To help walk you through the process, we asked entrepreneurs, bloggers, and social media experts to weigh in on the importance of building an online brand, how to take advantage of social media and blogging, and pitfalls to avoid along the way.
STRENGTHENING YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA GAME
Think about why you started your business in the first place. What makes you emotional? What revs your engine? According to Cierra Savatgy-King, founder of social media marketing company Pigtail Media, those feelings can help turn your posts into social media gold.
“Social media gives brands the opportunity to really make someone feel something by the words you select, the characters used in captions, and the photos or videos you share,” says Savatgy-King. “When starting to build your social media marketing and branding strategy, ask your team, ‘How do we want to make people feel each time someone interacts with us?’ This is a great starting point for building every campaign and every piece of daily content.”
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Here’s more sage advice from Savatgy-King:
Why is social media important for online branding?
Social media gives brands the opportunity to authentically create “soft sells” continuously. Because a good content plan includes providing audiences what they already want (resources or entertainment) in a space they are already hanging out (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.), brands can stay top of mind without encroaching on a user’s own experience. The result: You build brand trust with your audience, and trust is the most valuable aspect of branding and marketing.
What should brands avoid on social media?
CSK: The most common and most embarrassing mistake I see every day is when brands think of social media as a second thought. It can be really obvious that they have hired someone without experience. Just because an individual knows how to use social media does not mean they know how to use it as a marketing, branding, and customer service vehicle. Social media is frequently the first way a user experiences a brand, so it should be given the appropriate level of importance.
What are some of the best ways to engage people on social media?
CSK: Be sure to connect the online and offline world to get customers to follow you. For example, if you have a restaurant, explain why someone would want to follow your brand (enters them into a contest, provides them with a discount, gives them secret menu items, etc.). If your brand has customer service relations, be sure your social media strategy includes a process for how questions are quickly and correctly answered with your brand voice in mind.
Instead of just posting about yourself, be sure to engage with others in the community. This can take a lot of time, so using social media management tools can be extremely helpful for efficiency and targeting.
THE BENEFITS OF BLOGGING
Blogging not only helps increase your SEO and drive more traffic to your website but — like social media — it gives life and personality to your brand. We asked two seasoned bloggers, Kelly Stocker (Friday Five) and Laura Jack (LauraJack.com), about why blogging is vital to a brand’s survival.
Why are blogs important for online branding?
Kelly Stocker: It tells a story. A catchy name and tagline aren’t enough to convey your brand’s message. No matter how easily it rolls off the tongue, brands need to build identity through additional relevant content and blogs are a pretty simple way to do that. If you’re looking at it from an SEO perspective, having consistent dynamic content is key to being discoverable, especially if you can capitalize on hot topics in a timely manner. Linking your brand to highly searchable keywords makes it more likely you’ll get in front of a broader data set.
Like so many digital entities, blogging is basically free. Sure, you may pay a freelancer or someone in-house to come up with content, but the amount you’re spending on those words is infinitely less than what you’d be spending on actual ad buys.
Laura Jack: Blogging is a way for a business owner to share his or her unique voice, experience, and expertise in a way that provides value to the reader. Blog content gives readers a chance to get to know the business owner without risking any investment. Blogs are also a way to grow your credibility.
What should a business keep in mind when starting a blog?
KS: The look, feel, and voice should align it with your brand. Are you fun? Are you a subject matter expert? Are you big bright colors or are you monochromatic? Tie it into what you’re hoping to accomplish from a branding perspective before putting words to paper. Also, write as you speak.
Set up an editorial calendar of when you’re blogging and what you’re blogging about for the next couple of months. Creating deadlines helps make sure you have content. It’s easy for blogging to get pushed to the backburner. You’ll also want to be responsive to what’s happening in the market to optimize searchability, so set up a protocol for that.
Ask the question every time you put something out: What is the value to the user that has nothing to do with our brand? Will someone share this?
LJ: Your unique voice is the most important thing you have. Yes, it is helpful to read successful blogs and see how they do it. However, you are the only you who exists, and your experience and style are what make you unique. Just like with dating, if you start by trying to be someone else, it will be exhausting and won’t last.
It is also important to have very few mistakes to maintain the integrity of your work. Grammar is important, but spelling and typos are a big no-no because they immediately take away your credibility.
For a brand that is just starting out, it is just as important to guest blog for others as it is to blog for yourself. Write for others who have more followers than you and then redirect to your site. Always have some call to action at the end your blog to keep your readers engaged.
What is one of the biggest mistakes you see brands make on their blogs?
KS: Besides not using Hemingway App and Grammarly? Or even basic spell check? The biggest mistake people and brands make is thinking that once you push the content, you’re finished. That’s the beginning of building your mountain. Set up a social schedule, respond to comments, send to invested users, tag other strong brands to get them to weigh in. Figure out your avenues with the most eyeballs and push it like a damn drug dealer. This is most definitely not an “if you build it, they will come” scenario.
GO BUILD YOUR ONLINE BRAND
Now with a solid foundation of social media and blogging, you have the tools to take your brand to the next level. With so much information available online today, you need a way to be remembered, unique and authentic touch to remain relevant and engaging. By using your blogs, social media, and brand message to achieve these endeavors, you will inevitably stand out, creating invaluable and lasting results for your company.
Cierra Savatgy-King is founder of Pigtail Media, a social media marketing boutique specializing in the hospitality, travel and entertainment space, and is the co-founder of Reset Retreat, a travel retreat company. She is an avid explorer of nature, a recording artist, and has a bit of an obsession with handstands and cartwheels. Follow her social media marketing tips and life adventures on Instagram (@cierrask) and Twitter (@CierraJesperson).
Kelly Stocker is a creative consultant, freelance writer, DJ, event emcee, and all-around extreme extrovert living in Austin, Texas. She has entirely too much of the internet crammed into her brain and shares it weekly in her Friday Five. If you have questions, comments or angry denunciations, feel free to let her have it on all the social medias @kellyjstocker.
Laura Jack, author of The Compassion Code: How to say the right thing when the wrong thing happens, teaches compassionate communication and how we can relate to one another more effectively during the challenging moments in life. Her mission through LauraJack.com is to cultivate a culture of compassion, starting with self, and to create a better understanding of loss and its accompanying grief.
Said Hamood is an expert digital marketer helping local businesses get new clients and customers using proven marketing campaigns and strategies.