Brand development is a long-standing concept that helps businesses build relationships with prospective customers. Across industries, large companies devote millions of dollars to cross-platform campaigns, and it's these advertising strategies that attract attention as model case studies.
For a typical small business; however, expensive branding tactics like $20,000 celebrity tweets and $100,000 viral videos are not feasible. Companies with modest advertising budgets need to think outside-the-box to make the most of inexpensive options.
Believe it or not, a strategic branding plan is possible with any budget, large or small. The key involves integrating social media with more traditional forms of public relations and advertising.
Following this approach, companies can build multi-layered brand development strategies that generate returns of enhanced visibility and credibility.
This platform connects brands with consumer-driven social communities. Leveraging status updates on pages, companies can ask questions, share content, and spark conversations through users' news feeds.
Facebook facilitates brand development by helping companies maintain an ongoing dialogue with its community. By openly answering questions and customer service requests, companies can create a personable and trustworthy voice. Rather than serving as a tool to drive sales conversions, Facebook pages allow brands to maintain conversations, collect insights, and develop a sociable personality.
In addition to pages, brands can leverage Facebook to serve advertisements to prospective customers. Using strategic demographic targeting, companies can increase their visibility by recruiting new audiences. Unlike free brand pages, Facebook advertisements will require a marketing budget; however, it is possible to run a test ahead of time to determine potential returns.
LinkedIn is especially valuable for companies with a B2B focus. Literally speaking, companies can develop their brands by using LinkedIn for personnel recruitment and industry-related research. The platform provides a hub for job-seekers who are searching for new opportunities and companies to follow. To satisfy this niche, companies should maintain a concise, straightforward, and informative brand profile.
Using LinkedIn, companies can also research and contact prospective clients with pitches for potential relationships. Rather than send generic messages, companies should custom-tailor requests for a more personable approach.
To establish credibility brands can launch or become involved with discussion groups to help answer questions and provide resources. In this way, company representatives are able to position themselves as knowledgeable resources, which is especially important for client-facing organizations.
Of all social networks, Twitter is among the most aggressive conversation and information engines. In 140 characters or less, brands can condense content into a format that is quick and easy for followers to share.
On Facebook, best-practices suggest that brands should update no more than two or three times a day. On Twitter; however, brands can maintain a continuous presence by tweeting more frequently.
To increase visibility, brands can share tweets and content through popular hashtag (#hashtag) channels that organize trending topics into an easy-to-follow format. In this way, Twitter can expand a company's reach beyond its immediate follower-base, providing a platform for new customer recruitment.
Within popular hashtag channels, brands can also inspire conversations to help build credibility among user communities. Using Twitter, brands can develop their authority as discussion leaders while actively reaching out to new leads.
Google+ is a newer player to the social media landscape. Because the platform is still in its infancy, there is a better opportunity to get involved and connected to some powerful influencers within the platform.
Google+ makes delivering targeted content and messages to specific groups of people easy through the use of "circles". "Circles" allow you to categorize every connection you make and when you create a new message, or share something, you can target it to specific circles. Targeted messages increase the likelihood of engagement.
Many people ask, "So how is Google+ different from Facebook?". The easy way to explain is this: Facebook is filled with people you know, Google+ is filled with people you should know. Google+ is definitely something you should consider adding to your marketing mix.
Businesses can reach the public eye by connecting with journalists at online media outlets. On many sites, journalists feature their email addresses to connect with people who tell compelling stories. As a brand development strategy, it is essential to pitch journalists and news outlets. Keep in mind; however, that this strategy is highly competitive, as writers tend to receive many requests. As a supplement, companies can also reach out to prominent bloggers with compelling followings for guest posting opportunities.
PR is an important strategy for companies who are looking to expand their reach and develop credibility through media coverage. Although the strategy is less personal than social media, PR is a valuable tool for generating attention from new audiences.
In contrast to traditional broadcast media, magazine placements, and billboards, the Internet gives companies a strategic advertising edge. From display ads to AdWords, campaigns are customizable to target users based on demographics, geography, and online browsing habits.
Compared to television and magazines, online advertisements are less expensive and more accessible to small businesses and budget-strapped marketing teams. Display and search engine advertisements can help companies increase their visibility beyond their immediate networks in a cost-effective and efficient way.
Across industries, brand development is multi-faceted. Online, companies have a range of options for building visibility and credibility. Instead of following the crowd, differentiate for a custom-tailored and budget-friendly strategy.
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