I see brand building as an essential part of business planning. And social media as an essential communications and audience engagement tool. Yet while the fastest way to grow awareness for a new product or service is through social media, so many entrepreneurs map out social media plans like traditional marketing plans – to push messaging out once a certain milestone is met. People designing exciting new products need to let their imaginations run with the communications piece of brand building as they do with product development.
Social media is wired for new brands. Entrepreneurs who start building social community sooner than later have an advantage in learning about how different audience segments are connecting with them, where they are, who the influencers are and emerging patterns. It takes a lot of time to build an engaged brand on social media so rather than waiting for a road map; entrepreneurs can use the time now to learn about how their brands can have a place in peoples' lives by quietly listening to the communities they're cultivating. Shape a successful social media plan that meets business goals.
When I dive into a new brand, I've found that as I poke around in a space and listen, the social influencers will emerge. If you're invested in building social reputation for your own brand, this is the point where you can reach out and share an influencer's post that's relevant to your audience – and consequently add value to your brand as you become part of the conversation in an organic way.
I'll start to adjust a social strategy as I learn more about audience segments, listening and looking at the differences between how people are engaging with a brand on different platforms. You can be uncovering new opportunities for how your product can be relevant and learning the language that resonates with people. Without blatantly asking people if they like a tagline, you can start testing brand positioning just by watching engagement levels when you include certain keywords or phrases to learn what's resonating with different audiences.
And while social media can build reputation and promote thought leadership, it's also about meeting new people and about learning more about how people respond to unstated problems: what motivates people, gets them inspired, what makes an authentic connection with any particular audience. It's like a spark when you're building a social base for your brand and you get that first engagement from people beyond your first supporters who are excited about what you're doing. Never take that for granted. Cultivate those relationships because they're the most valuable ones which can grow and give back in dividends.
Brenda van Ginkel
Every great brand that's making a difference to people or the planet deserves to stand out and be noticed. I write about creative direction and brand strategy for entrepreneurs and those supporting them, packaging concepts with messaging for growth and audience engagement in a crowded, noisy digital space.