Social media for business is becoming more and more pervasive. As new social networks are introduced and the average age of Facebook and Twitter users increases, ‘traditional’ social networks become an online marketplace for business-to-consumer and business-to-business interactions. For native users of social media, this transformation is met with mixed reviews. Lots of consumers enjoy having a forum to engage with the brands they invest in…at any given moment, your organization’s customers are taking part in a dialogue around your brand. Whether or not you choose to engage is an important facet of your digital strategy.
The other side of effective social dialogue that takes place around specific brands is the unfortunate eventuality that many businesses who don’t have a strong understanding of what affects positive engagement in an online social environment tend to use their platforms as a tireless digital megaphone, blasting the same promotions and superficial messages through cyberspace at regular intervals. As quickly becomes apparent, this is not the way to inspire influencers to take part in a meaningful dialogue around your brand. In fact, it often has the opposite effect. Potential customers become frustrated with the lack of meaningful content that stems from your digital presence and this inspires a much more negative discourse around a company’s brand.
If marketing in the age of New Media has taught us anything, it’s that when Marshall McLuhan said, “The medium is the message,” he wasn’t kidding around. It’s not what you say, necessarily, but how you say it. Content marketing encompasses most facets of online advertising – social media promotion, especially. In order for your brand to mean something to people when they recognize it, it’s essential to cultivate a positive association with your online identity. This is accomplished through creating content that edifies the user in some way. Many companies don’t quite understand this concept – why should I spend time creating a piece of advertising that has no immediate, direct affect on my bottom line? Content marketing and social networking for business, when done well, involve a commitment to strengthening your brand and inspiring a social dialogue around your online identity by means of enriching, unique content; the end result is an increased audience and strengthened brand equity that goes hand-in-hand with establishing yourself as an expert in your industry and a resource for potential customers seeking answers about your particular product or service.
That said, there is still a stigma attached to using social media to market an idea, cause, business…the list goes on. The reality is, though, that social media as an educational tool, a way of blasting a meaningful message to a widespread audience, has been used for some pretty incredible things. Namely, cause marketing. Marketing for a cause via social media is something that a business can take part in, an individual can jumpstart or an NGO can avail of to get the word out to a much more diverse range of influencers than is possible through traditional media.
In 1999, an Australian news channel aired a story about how a group of men from Adelaide came up with an idea at the pub one night – they would get the men in their community involved in an initiative to raise money for prostate cancer awareness…they would grow moustaches in the month of November.
Movember was born.
Beginning with 80 men from Adelaide, Australia, through the power of New Media and digital crowd funding, the initiative has exploded into a global phenomenon, to date raising over $170 million for prostate cancer awareness. Without social media marketing and digital storytelling, this would have undoubtedly been impossible. But, Movember is here to stay. All over the world, throughout the month of November, men grow interesting facial hair and solicit donations for this cause. Corporations and small businesses get involved, creating pages on the Movember site and campaigning to make a difference.
Now, I can’t say that you’re social campaign for a cause will take off in the way Movember did. But, here are a few steps to ensure an effective foray into cause marketing with social media:
Image Source: www.granitebrewery.ca/movember-is-coming/
Things slow down in the summer—it happens in almost every industry, every workplace. People go on vacation; the alluring call of the warm weather can be really distracting! People are spending less time in the office and less time in front of their computers.
This means great things for our collective Vitamin D intake, but not such great things for your social media strategy. Fewer people cruising the web means less potential for your brand to be seen on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Throughout the year, there are a few of these slow times (usually during the holidays) that make your social media campaign is a little lethargic. The important thing to remember is: people are still engaging with brands online. You need to be one of them. If you pay attention, you’ll see lots of organizations ramp up their social media game in the summer months. This is a strategic move—more engaging campaigns during the summer months put you a step ahead of social media programs that become neglected with the arrival of warm weather and sunshine.
Here are some ways to up your engagement for the summer months (this can also be applied to other holiday seasons, fyi).
This sounds a little mundane, but summer is prime time to solicit engagement! People are doing really fun stuff in the summer time…going to the beach, hang-gliding, wind surfing, normal…surfing. We all know that people love summer because there’s more freedom to do cool things outside the house. So, ask people what they’re doing! Tell them to upload photos of their ‘best summer experience yet!’ It’s undeniable that there’s a collective excitement when summer rolls around—tap into that.
Social media is a place where conversations are supposed to happen and experiences are meant to be shared. So, create some of your own experiences. You’re still running a business; I get it. But, as part of your summer social media effort, schedule some fun field trips and take lots of pictures. It can be business-related. Maybe an outdoor tradeshow or a fundraising BBQ outside the office. Afterward, blog about it and post the pictures. Then, start asking your following what your ‘next summer adventure should be!
*Hint: if you find your summer posts aren’t gaining much organic traction on Facebook, a little boost from paid advertising never hurt. Promote a post or a story, try running Facebook ads for a month. You’ll see a marked difference.
Content marketing is KING! This is becoming more and more apparent. The more content you upload, the more eyeballs are drawn to your platforms—your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and your website. One new piece of content to each platform, each week means more than you probably realize. So, this summer, if you have a little more time on your hands, take it somewhere new. Try a podcast.
With the advent of satellite radio, the popularity of podcasts skyrocketed. People in my age demographic (22-35) love podcasts. All my friends listen to at least one. I have six that I like. So, there’s got to be some interesting stories right at your fingertips. Grab your smartphone, tap on that ‘voice memos’ function and interview the person sitting right next to you in the next cubicle. Ask them what they like about their job. Ask them what led them here. Ask them if they have any advice for up-and-coming (insert profession here). Or, take to the streets. Spend an hour each week sitting in a park or strolling around your office complex, chatting to people. Ask them how their summer’s going. Ask them what they hate and love about working during the summer. In fact, call the podcast “How’s your summer going?”
There you go. Two free ideas. But, of course, it doesn’t have to be a podcast. The point is: summer is a great time to up your content marketing strategy. Start a photo gallery blog. Shoot an awesome promotional video on a beautiful day. Fresh content is key and when things are slow, it may be the only thing that’s regularly calling attention to your organization.
Seriously. Run a contest ANY time of the year—but, if you’re looking for a sure-fire way to up your engagement during the slow summer months, a Facebook contest can be just the ticket. Make sure you’re within the Facebook rules and regs, of course (Check out Policy, Procedure and the art of saving your hide) and have at it! Destination prizes are great for the summer months, if you can afford it. Even if you can’t, does your area have a waterpark? A zoo? A mini-golf course? Offer prize packages from any of these places…they’re outdoor themed and they also lend themselves to developing cool concepts for your contest.
Don’t get discouraged by a little lag in social networking activity during the summer…even if you are pulling out all the stops. Focus on having some fun with your campaign; chances are, your audience will see that and want to engage with you.
How do you plan on ramping up your social media program this summer? Let us know!
Here’s a killer summer jam to send you off!
Picture source: jarofsunshine
“True re-branding involves updating a company’s goals, message and culture.”
- Luke Brassinga, Likeable Brands
So, you’ve decided to re-brand…
This is a big decision. Something has led you here…maybe a lot of personnel changes, a restructuring, an influx of new products and services. Or, maybe you just feel like your current brand isn’t cutting it. You’re not getting the volume of customers you used to, your logo is feeling a little old-hat or your just plain sick of associating yourself with the same tagline, colour scheme and artwork.
Whatever the issue, a re-brand can work wonders for your company or it could be a huge flop. Most of this depends on the thought, time, and creative juice you pour into the re-branding effort.
I’ve often heard ‘re-branding’ referred to as a corporate buzzword…just another one of those things upper-level management like to say to make nothing sound like something. You know, like ‘synergy’ and ‘participaction.’
Well, that isn’t true. Re-branding is a real, involved process. It’s risky, too.
The first thing you must decide in approaching a re-brand is why you want to do it…What has elicited the re-brand and prompted you to change? Once you know that, you can examine the best way to go about implementing change. Is this strictly an image-based re-brand? Are you creating a new tagline, more in-tuned with your company’s core values? Are you doing a website overhaul?
My advice for a successful re-brand is to go big or go home. You have to commit lots of time and thought to coming up with a new concept that works. Inevitably, you do have loyal customers who have become accustomed to a certain standard when interacting with your company’s brand. In re-branding, you don’t want to upset these customers, confuse or fluster them. You want them to have a clear understanding that your company is still upholding a high level of service, you’re just changing your look and feel to more poignantly communicate what makes you special; better than your competition.
Here’s how social media can help…
Extending the re-brand to your social media channels is a huge step toward making the whole process successful. Again, this stage can be daunting—you’ve gained followers with your existing brand. How do you know they’ll want you once you’ve changed? People have hopped off bandwagons because of botched re-brands. Anyone remember Cherry Coke?
The thought and commitment you applied to your re-brand needs to extend to your social media strategy. You need to ensure your fans and followers know why you decided to re-brand. If you don’t remain transparent throughout the re-branding process, you run the risk of confusing your followers and fans as to who you were and who you’ve become.
Make sure you announce your re-brand in the weeks preceding on your Twitter and Facebook. It’s a great way to generate hype and give your followers an opportunity to weigh in on what they’d like to see. Pick an aspect of your re-branded artwork or logo and design some new backgrounds, cover images and profile pictures for your social profiles. Drive traffic to your new imagery by asking your followers what they think of the new ‘look.’
Social media will be invaluable in promoting your re-brand, soliciting feedback on your company’s new identity and providing outreach for existing customers and followers who want to navigate your re-brand and explore your company’s new look and feel.
Some notable re-brands…
Keep in mind, these are just the logos. A lot more went into these corporate overhauls.
Tips for utilizing social media in your re-brand…
1/ Ask lots of questions. Every day.
If you want lots of feedback and a good read on how customers/followers are responding to your re-brand, you have to ask! Post questions on Twitter, Facebook and Google + with links to aspects of your new site, promo materials or logo. Leave your questions open-ended, give your followers a chance to express themselves. Not all the feedback you get will be constructive, but there’s a good chance at least one social media responder will give you something you can use…maybe something you hadn’t even thought of.
2/ Give your customers a voice and let them know they’re being heard.
Let customer/follower feedback be public. Even the things that aren’t overwhelmingly positive…and respond to everything thoughtfully. Imagine you were a loyal brand follower and then, out of the blue, everything you loved about that brand changed overnight—and you had no forum to express doubts, concerns or questions! Chances are, you may feel a little betrayed, out of the loop or confused.
Let your followers know you’re listening.
3/ Run a contest
Nothing gets people in a positive frame of mind like the chance to win free stuff. Put your new branded imagery to good use and develop a cool Facebook contest app that hypes the re-brand and gets people excited about your company’s new direction.
(Aside: Make sure your complying with Facebook’s contest guidelines. See Policy, procedure and the art of saving your hide)