In our recent posts, we’ve been discussing how to create better social media, so we offered 5 tips for creating effective social media ad campaigns. We then ran through 5 steps to successful post boosts on Facebook.
The issue is, however, that some small businesses are just put off social media altogether. In recent times, news has been full of division, of building walls, of ‘fake news’ that sometimes turns out to be true. Honesty, integrity cast aside; the age of bluff and bluster.
It follows then that the world of social media can appear to be dominated by nonsense and trivia, toxic personalities, anonymous keyboard warriors, vacuous celebrities, politicians stoking issues that suit personal power agendas. Uncertainty has been mixed with nationalism, populism and mistruth, confounding the already confused.
No wonder many of us are put off social media.
1. Recognise your need for social media
The thing is though, digital and social are so universal these days that you will be conspicuous by your absence. The excuse of:
“We don’t have time”, “we don’t do social”, or: “no one reads it anyway”,
sends a negative message. If you are too small or social media, or have no time to post anything, you’re also probably too small for customer service, and won’t have any time for problem solving, or for delivering services or products when you need to.
The fact is that the world communicates through social media, at least for now, which means so must you.
Not only this, but also because if you ignore social platforms, you hand control of your identity to others and leave your competitors with free reign over the space, but also because you are also missing a real-time, cost effective medium through which to reach your market and customers.
2. Get to grips with managing your digital brand
Digital marketing, whether recognised as such or not, is now universally used by companies of all shapes and sizes. This is obviously much easier to achieve for large businesses, who can employ specialists to manage their brand at all levels of contact with the market.
Not so easy, however, for SMEs with a multi-tasking, time-poor workforce. So, easy to skip the task of poring over every tweet and Instagram post like they do for copy for brochures and flyers. We are so used to hearing that digital is ephemeral that any form of branding or strategy is thrown out with the bath water.
Beware of the ‘strategic marketer’ who is ‘beyond’ executing strategy. They sit at their desk in the corner tapping away, but never seem to produce a strategy document; they organise digital training for the staff and somehow manage not to engage with any platforms themselves at all. All this always seems to be someone else’s job, possibly because it’s actually quite difficult to do and much easier just to talk about.
3. Create a digital brand management policy
Any firm who uses digital should have written a digital brand management policy.
As we’ve discussed above, if digital marketing is just marketing, then your digital brand management policy needs to be part of your overall brand management policy. It’s the same thing. Offline and online policy should be the same.
Think about your design – the experience of the customer on your channels – the look, the feel, the images, the fonts and cover photos.
Your digital content needs to reflect your personality, your brand, your image. It will tell customers who you are just as much as your flyers and brochures. Your digital brand management policy should lay out clearly and succinctly how the business will approach digital marketing and who is responsible for what. It will lay out clearly how you will create a recognisable image and voice across all your channels.
Digital brand management is becoming an essential part of a business’s overall brand image and strategy. Given the multitude of channels, platforms and stakeholders, businesses need to create a well-studied, overarching strategy that can achieve their digital branding goals without compromising their overall brand image and strategies.
4. Write your own wisdom – remember your digital brand is you
Remember in all this, that ultimately, engagement is not the aim – selling more stuff is. Beautiful images of people laughing at life in their skinny jeans might look great, accompanied with some famous ‘wise’ quotes, but will it sell more? Probably not.
Customers want great products, they want delivery on service, not a picture-perfect Instagram bubble. As we’ve said before, they’ll wonder, ‘what Gandhi or Churchill has got to do with your product. Customers want useful product information, not quotes about fighting on beaches.’
Social media platforms are part of your digital marketing brand, one tool within your wider marketing mix and remember that your digital brand must reflect your overall brand. You would never rest your whole identity on quotes from other people, or print a brochure full of other people’s wisdom, so why do it for your digital branding?
Write your own wisdom and quote yourself, that’s what your customers need to hear.
5. Raise the quality of your digital brand output…
The final step to protecting your digital brand is by raising the quality of your content. Write your own content instead of quoting everyone else, or just churning out high-volume, throw-away nonsense.
Nigel Hollis, Chief Global Analyst at Kantar Millward Brown, when giving one tip in the content debate says: “whatever you do, don’t cut quality”.
You need to recognise the need for content that is meaningful, relevant and current, rather than following outdated gut-instincts or misplaced understanding of what digital branding represents.
Don’t just think that social media is so ephemeral that it won’t ever affect your overall brand image. Your content will still be searchable long after you post it unless you take careful steps to remove it forensically. If you haven’t time to produce good content that reflects your brand, you certainly won’t have time to remove poor content.
Poor-quality content is rightly punished by Google and other search engines, pushing you down the search result ranks, so producing it will only serve to make you harder to find, confuse customers and muddy your carefully crafted brand image.
Regain control of your digital brand in 2020
So, don’t be put off social because of the toxic few. Block and delete them into silence.
Don’t leave platforms free for your competition to dominate either; being absent sends the wrong message and will allow them competitive advantage you probably can’t afford to give.
Recognise that digital marketing is just marketing and that digital branding is part of your overall brand. Write a strategy that reflects your overall brand that everyone can understand and implement, using your own wisdom and content, not nicking other people’s…
But who’s actually going to do all this?
If you have a strategic marketer, they will have written a deliverable digital brand strategy already and will be demonstrating their worth by producing some high quality, brand focused content (brilliant). If they’re new, perhaps give them a few weeks (simples).
If you haven’t got a strategic marketer or you’ve just fired them because you’ve realised they’ve been bluffing you (sorry about that), then maybe you need some help? If so, then get in touch – we’d love to hear from you!