What does it take to be a social brand? Exploring Social Marketing

January 29, 2013sparxoo_admin

Let’s cut out misconception number 1: “We are social… we have social media accounts.” If that’s you – keep reading! Alright, so you’ve got the foot in the door: social media accounts; certainly a must. But what I’m really talking about here is how to be a social brand: dynamic, living and engaging. A brand with a personality – that’s what people love.

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In the social sphere, your brand is always on: it has to spark engagement and generate a buzz in order to have a relationship with your customers. And once you’re brand is pristine in concept, design, and identity, you’ve got to keep the ball rolling with social marketing.

Social media and digital strategies let us share content, expertise, and personality. Having managed a diverse bunch of accounts – across industries and social platforms – I learn more every day about how to communicate brands’ personalities and spark engagement.

The vastness and potential of the Internet are overwhelming and invigorating… So, in thinking about what  I’d like to share with you, I realized was that it’s most revealing to share what comes to mind first. Here are the ideas that I hold near and dear when working to give brands life through social marketing:

Diversity. It’s important to post a wealth of content across all mediums. And I mean a wealth. I try to circulate between industry news, engaging posts, visual posts (the short-sweet-and-to-the-point secret weapon), and company-generated content (such as YouTube channels, infographics or blogs… P.S. check out the chance for a double-whammy here, with company-relevant expertise and visual, a.k.a. the social sweet spot).

On Facebook, I try to cycle through all of these styles daily. I’ve noticed that the industry-news-lovers linger in the early morning (unless it’s relevant to the general population – any time will do); the visuals are great to gain the “likes” of those who surf mid-afternoon and early evening; and you should try to post the content that generates traffic back to the website smack-dab in the middle of the week (3pm on Wednesdays).

There’s lots of content that expresses or builds brand personality, but isn’t quite drawing enough to catch Facebook engagement: Can you say tweet? Tweet frequently; I recommend at least 6-10 times/day. Tweets can include quotations, pictures, team jokes, brand-specific info, or re-tweets. Due to the fast pace of Twitter, it wouldn’t hurt to post your company content, like blogs, once in the morning, and then later when it feeds from your 3pm Facebook post. Which brings me to my personal favorite Twitter/blog trick: keep an eye out for tweets that share perspective related to something you’ve blogged about. Then – jump in the conversation and link to your company page.

In all of this, the beauty of social marketing is that you don’t ever have to explicitly market your brand. Instead, provoke appeal toward your brand. All of the conversation mediums allow for you to showcase your brand as genuine, as if it has a heart and mind of its own (which, if you ask us, all good brands do).

B2B vs. B2C: I should also differentiate how each type of business should use social media. B2C’s have an easier time posting information about their company because, instead of seeming “self-promotional,” they’re informing and helping their consumers, the main fans and followers of their social media. For example, our client Fuse Pilates’ social media utilizes the dynamic nature of digital and social to showcase schedule times and class offerings. It’s just inherent to the B2C.

Web DesignB2B’s, like Sparxoo, have to build social personality from the ground up. Who knows who our fans could be? And where they could lead? Our consumers are businesses, but our industry is creative and personable. A B2B’s social approach should be to showcase expertise, as well as engage an audience – a mix between industry and brand persona. The exception that allows for self-promo is a B2B that generates an extreme amount of content (such as IBM, with studies for every interest group). And if you’re B2B, you BETTER-B on LinkedIn and Google+. LinkedIn is a place to post once per day about industry news or company expertise and content. Google+ (Facebook’s cousin for the time being) can be used kind of like Facebook: visual posts, and attractive content (i.e. unique and concise).

It takes a lot of work to maintain an endless, cutting edge pool of posts to pull from (pardon the alliteration – it was an accident!). However, it’s that constant diversity and engagement that will keep a brand alive. Post in creative ways – keeping it relevant, but witty. Don’t just tweet: retweet and have conversations. Post on Facebook in a way that elicits engagement (comments and shares are the stamp of approval in social media marketing). And share: get your brand where conversations are already happening.

And my favorite new way to show personality: Pinterest. While it’s a great way to feel productive and creative, there’s so much more to Pinterest than planning your wedding or pinning inspirational quotes. This business, people! You can easily tell from the Fuse Pilates Pinterest: Nothing personifies a brand like a collection of visuals in a digital scrapbook.

What does this all mean for you, social media managers? Due diligence:

  1. You can’t count social media platforms on your fingers anymore. Nor can you count the minutes that you need to manage them. There’s no cutting corners. Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest… and all equallyHero_CauseARuckus_Blog important and with their own assets. You know what that means? Yup – lots of passwords. Seriously, though: Your brand needs to be on all platforms, optimizing their B2B or B2C content diversity. It’s incredible what can happen if you post daily and diversely.
  2. The caveat: If you want all of these means to meet an end, your brand must create content. Whether a blog, Youtube channel, or infographic, content shows expertise and personality, which builds trust, and locks in a connection that resonates perfectly via social influence. In fact, we still get retweets on the Brand Color App that our CEO designed. Why? Because, all wrapped up into one, the content is visual, engaging, fun, informative, and revealing of what our company has to offer.

I could go on… but then all of this content wouldn’t be as effective (another tip – keep it valuable, but concise). Stay tuned for more on social marketing – and how to best keep your brand online all the time to generate leads. How do you stay social?