Tag Archives: social media for business

Two Simple Tips For Building Brand Community

What makes a community? This week I was on a social media panel at MIT Sloan, where we began the conversation with this topic – community building. How do you use social media to build a community around your brand?

There are two key words that come to mind when I think of community:

  • Helpful
  • Resourceful

It’s easy to broadcast on social media, but if you’re looking to build a community and advocacy around your brand, lead with these two values. Be helpful – post tips, tricks, and hacks – tell people how they can do things better or easier. Be resourceful – build up your thought leadership around key subjects that you know are important to your connections. Offer insights, experiences or opinions. Be thoughtful. When people know they can rely on your for quality content, they will continue to come back to your channels. You have become a resource to them.

Another simple approach is to think about walking into a party in your new neighborhood. Let’s say you’ve just moved in. If you want to become a part of the community, you don’t barge into the party loudly broadcasting how great you are and pitching people on what you do. You’d likely take the time to introduce yourself, get to know what matters to your neighbors and, if appropriate, offer up insights on things you have in common, sharing your experiences.

Online isn’t really all that different. Brands lose sight of this. Just because you can broadcast on social media doesn’t mean that all you should broadcast is information about yourself. Brands especially need to take care with how they establish and build community. It’s okay to share information about your products and services but in the end, by being a resource and offering ongoing information about topics related to your business – and to what your audience cares about – you will develop stronger relationships.

For more on this and other social media tips, check out the video from the panel. Bobbie Carleton of Innovation Women was our amazing moderator. Thank you for the opportunity, Bobbie!

 

Content Fatigue – You Can’t Be Everything To Everyone, So Stop Trying

I was recently asked by a media outlet what I think is next in social. My answer: content fatigue.

Why?

Brands are trying desperately to push out content – a lot of content. And content is great, it really is. Blogs are a smart part of your content strategy, and it’s an exciting time compared to 15 years ago when most companies relied heavily on third party journalists to publish their key messages (and hope they came across accurately). To be able to post, share and spread our content in exactly the way we want, where we want and when we want is a great thing.

But lately some of the content overload has reminded me of being at a teenage dance, where kids who don’t quite know who they are yet bumble about awkwardly trying to be funny, cool, cute or smart. They wear too much makeup, have extreme hairstyles and wear clothing that they’re clearly uncomfortable in. They’re trying out everything because they’re still figuring out who they are.

dance

Photo original by Barbro Andersen. Licensed under Creative Commons.

Is your brand an awkward teenager still figuring things out, or do you know who you are? Are you a humorous company, so it makes sense to post cat memes? Or are you a serious B2B company for which informative and resourceful infographics make more sense? Is Vine really a network that will reach your audience, or are you just trying it out because it’s “hot” right now? Great, you’ve joined Instagram! How is it contributing to your bottom line success?

I stick to the advice I’ve been giving since brands started to catch on to the social media craze – don’t try to be everything to everyone. Don’t feel like you have to be on every single social network. Stop, calm down and look at your business goals. What are you really trying to accomplish? What other marketing channels are you using? What percent of those should be social? What really works for you, not just the brand next door? Who are you trying to reach and where do they spend their time online?

Too often, companies try to follow suite because “all the cool kids are doing it.” Facebook isn’t sensible for every brand. Twitter might not reach your customers. Some companies don’t have the right resources to use more than one social network, and do it well. Social isn’t a broadly applicable strategy – you’ve got to apply it like you would any other marketing initiative – is this [channel, campaign, update] right for us, what will it help us accomplish and how will we measure success?

No one can be everything to everyone. It’s more compelling to know who you are and be confident in that. Share content relevant to your area of expertise, and your credibility will stay intact while your awareness grows – among the right audience for your company. In the end, isn’t that what really matters – quality over quantity?

Yes, Your Small Business or Startup Can Easily Deploy A Full Marketing Team

I’ve spent the last 20+ years counseling hundreds of startups and small businesses on how to market their business on a very minimal – if existent at all – marketing budget. Too often, I see founders or small business owners wasting valuable time and resources either cobbling together marketing experts, paying ridiculous retainers for a big agency, or trying a DIY approach.

Marketing may seem easy but there is a science to connecting all the dots and choosing the best programs for your company at its current lifecycle. Can you create your own website? Should you take the time to send an email newsletter? Is email outdated and you should focus on digital content or social media instead? How do you drive traffic to your website – and how do you find the right audiences to engage with? And what’s with all this Google Analytics stuff? It can be a lot to take on and keep up with.

There are a few options that can align with your startup budget. You can find an individual marketing expert on sites such as Guru.com (or here, like me!) or multiple experts with different talents at 99Designs.  The challenge here is that you may have to spend more time reviewing resumes and proposals, as well as managing multiple people in various locations and at different levels of expertise.

If your needs are bigger – say, you need everything from a new website to SEO to ongoing marketing management – a third option is to hire a full virtual marketing team to kick off your marketing. Midsize companies, for example Nowspeed – a digital marketing agency here in Boston – can deliver end-to-end online marketing solutions, and require less hands-on management than freelancers at a reasonable cost. In addition, you’ll receive a full team to handle all elements of the most crucial marketing needs of any company:

  • Website design and development – make a great first impression and receive a site that’s easily managed by your team in the long run
  • SEO – drive, manage and audit the right traffic
  • Social media services – cross promote your messages, website, webinars and news; engage with influencers and ensure that your social media strategy is created and executed by experts

One advantage to using an agency like Nowspeed – disclosure, I personally know Founder David Reske and he’s a great guy – is knowing that everything is integrated – providing a consistent and persistent brand image and messaging. That alone is worth the investment – even if in the long run you build an internal team. Using an external agency of senior and seasoned executives can be just the right investment to kick your marketing efforts off on the right foot – and serve as a great training ground for you to manage a future Marketing team.

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