For many businesses, social media is a valuable promotional and brand-building component of your marketing strategy, and surely that concept is nothing new. But as a business owner, freelancer, or independent brand, are you leveraging it’s power, reach, and influence to the best of its ability? I know it took me a while to really grasp just how broad the capabilities of social media ran, and where my business and brand fit into that. There are seemingly endless possibilities around what you can do and how you can engage through social media, none of which will prove particularly effective unless you establish a strong, cohesive brand presence that illustrates the value your brand offers to your target market.
Exploring brand building across social media is really an important strategy for job seekers, freelancers and small businesses alike, as we’re all operating as individual brands looking to target a specific audience and deliver a clear message around the value we can offer. As a business, there are several key strategies you’re tapping into by streamlining your content and creating a consistent online presence through your social media profiles efforts. These include:
- Better Marketing: Using social media as an in-bound marketing tool for potential customers to find you, on top of your targeted outbound efforts such as email list building, direct mail, and viral marketing.
- Increased Visibility: Most people are utilizing some for of social networking, and chances are your target customer is utilizing several. They key is to understand where they “hang out” and build a presence in front of them.
- Storytelling: Leveraging social media to communicate the information you want customers to know about both you and your brand can be a powerful approach. Why did you start your business? How did you end up in this line of work? What really inspires you about the work you do and the value you provide to your target customer? Paint an intricate and personal portrait of the person behind the brand, versus a straight selling pitch, and customers will be more encouraged to engage with you in hopes of getting a personalized experience.
- SEO: The bigger your presence on the most appropriate channels, the likelier you are to be found by people searching for relevant types of products and services.
Here are a few key steps you can begin to take to leverage the reach and influence of social media, and increase your visibility to potential customers:
Create Brand Consistency
Do yourself a favor and invest in a professional headshot or two, and use the consistent profile images for all of your networks, making it easier for people to recognize you. Make your profile polished – this is your digital business card and the first thing people will often encounter with your brand, so enlist tools that make a solid first impression. Keep consistency with your headlines where possible – think about how you’re describing yourself. Is your Twitter tagline conveying something completely different than what you say on LinkedIn or Google+?
Deliver on Your Message
Make sure what you say in the body of your profiles supports the high-level ideas presented in your headline. “Provides cutting edge marketing solutions to startup businesses”: Explain to me what that means in terms of what you’ve done, and what your customer will actually experience working with you. What has been the result for customers past, and what kind of similar value can someone expect to see if they pay you for your expertise?
Update Your Profile As Necessary
Don’t fall into the trap of creating a one-off and never tending to it again. Aspects of your business are likely to evolve, like your products and services or even your audience, and your profile should reflect those things. Don’t just create a Twitter profile, stand back, and see who follows you. Connect with thought leaders in your industry, participate in conversations, get involved in Facebook and LinkedIn groups, and share interesting content and ideas of your own to positions yourself as knowledgeable and in-touch with what’s going on in the area in which your business specializes.
Don’t Just Connect. Leverage Your Connections
Everyone knows social networks are about connecting. But what do you do with those relationships once you’ve started to build a foundation? Follow people, comment on their ideas and content, share it, share your own ideas if they seem like they’d be something of interest. It’s not just about making connections, but taking that to the next level by actually engaging with people, talking, sharing, cross-promotion, and building that connection into an actual relationship with mutual respect and rapport. Your goal is to position yourself as an authority in your area of expertise, and connect with other who can help you spread your message.
The goal is to create a place for people to find you, and make sure it’s conveying a cohesive message around your brand, whether that’s you as an individual or your business. Position yourself by providing the information that you want your audience to know about you, and remember you for. The question you should be addressing through your profile content, collectively and individually, is “What do I want prospective and existing customers to know about me, and about my brand?”
We’ll continue to explore this topic more in the coming weeks, and look at more tools, statistics and best practices for leveraging social media in your marketing efforts, connecting and engaging with your audience, and building visibility and credibility that’s going to help your brand stand out in a competitive marketplace.
In the meantime, if you have questions about how you can be leveraging social media to increase your own visibility, build your brand, and get the most of your promotional efforts, head on over here to find out more about how you can boost your online presence and reach more customers with professionally branded content for your networking profiles.