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Social Media Marketing: What's
Brand Got to Do with It?
By Lida Citroën
Principal of LIDA360
Social media marketing leverages organic, user-generated content to build and promote a relationship between a company, product, or individual and a target audience. As with any thoughtful marketing initiative, social media marketing should be designed with the audience, ROI, message, and strategy in mind. Just as important is the need to assess and understand various social media marketing strategies that impact, drive value, and maximize ROI to brand and reputation.
Social networking offers a tremendous venue to encourage dialog, promote key messages, raise awareness, and engage with audiences. Of course, social networking is the interaction, connecting, and sharing done online. It is often thought to be a way of getting the word out ("we're meeting at Bob's place after the game") or promoting services ("New Webinars offered this week"). Social networking is also being used to effectively and efficiently build brands that are global, sustainable, and authentic.
Meanwhile, branding leverages your unique and authentic assets in a way that is meaningful and compelling to an audience. When you brand, you develop an emotional connection between the audience and your product/service/company.
And when you incorporate your values and reputation into the social networking conversation, you let audiences see your authenticity. Instead of selling, you're sharing. Instead of networking, you're building relationships!
The key to effectively leveraging social networking to support a brand is to follow basic brand principles:
- Know yourself. Have a clear sense of who you are—your brand assets and value. Your audience will respond to your messages if they sense you are not struggling to clarify your role in the marketplace.
- Set goals. How will social media marketing support your business? How will other marketing strategies—such as electronic communications, Web site, and public relations—build and support your online goals? How will you measure success? Set benchmarks and other metrics to ensure you're on the right path.
- Show up authentically. Be yourself. Be genuine, honest, and empathetic. Social media audiences can sense imposters and have been known to expose them in a very public way.
- Show up consistently. Ensure your social networking profiles, tone, positioning, and messages are consistent across all platforms. While some forums are more casual (Facebook) and others are more professional (LinkedIn or Plaxo), a compelling and consistent presence builds trust with your audiences.
- Ask and you shall receive. In the same way you seek a conversation, so does your audience. Solicit guidance and advice. Then, reward and acknowledge those who shared. Brands benefits from input and feedback.
- Share and you receive more. Reward your audiences, customers, fans, and followers for publicly engaging with your brand. Leverage social networking to run promotions, special offers, breaking news alerts, and loyalty programs as a way to build brand loyalty and keep customers talking about the brand online. Consider sharing new content, R&D findings, and company insights, and solicit feedback from your social networking relationships. A true win-win for sure.
The next steps are to develop strategies, tips, and best practices for targeting audiences, demonstrating authenticity and promoting your value through thoughtful social media marketing.