The world of one-sided marketing has faded. It’s more about…engagement (the magical buzzword). Marketing has become more dynamic and personable. It may take a little while for us to fully wrap our heads around what social media did and continues to do to marketing.
Once there was a time when dissatisfied customers only had those within earshot to discuss brand experience with. Now, customers can hop on Twitter and express their distaste in real time, directly to the brand, with the potential of thousands seeing it.
It makes for interesting marketing. It leads me to champion the process of branding more than ever. I think branding is inseparable from reputation management; and, a company that is mindful of branding can make maintaining reputation easier, standing tall, even through times of sporadic consumer dissatisfaction. Obviously, branding requires creating associations and…engagement is one way to create positive ones.
There are a number of brands that do a great job of creating, promoting, and maintaining a community, a fan base. It’s hard to replicate character and unique personalities; but, you don’t have to model others exactly; just be mindful of some options. It’s pretty much the same with all forms of marketing; the process is unique to each brand though many use similar methods and platforms. What I’m saying is you can’t expect to get the exact same engagement results as others; but, through the process of engagement, you can create your own community. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Free/Savings: I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say people enjoy free things as well as saving money on things. Is there a way to offer social media followers immediate savings on your product/services? Is there a chance you can giving something away free, even if just a mug or t-shirt? Maybe a white paper from the industry? Think of creating a reason to ‘get people in the door.’
Attention: If someone is following your brand, they have made positive associations. In short, they like you. However, reciprocity is a factor in real life, which spills over to the Web. Even if people like you, if you continuously neglect giving them attention, they’re likely to start ‘liking’ other brands. In all sincerity, ask your brand this question: Do we donate enough attention to subscribers, social media followers, or regular blog readers? A little attention can go a long way, especially when it’s likely some of your competition is being lax in this department. You could donate more attention by:
-More outbound re-tweeting and tweeting of others’ content
-Ask followers how their day is going. I know crazy, right?
-Feature a customer using your product/service on your site weekly
-Ask questions for feedback and then publicly thank those who participated
-Come up with some theme for the days of the week, asking followers to participate (Example: each Monday, your handle sporadically quotes from movies while followers guess the films.)
How would you like to save marketing dollars by getting your brand valued within its community? Wait. The gentleman branding process doesn’t work for every person or brand. There’s something I would like to point out to business people, regardless of your industry. There’s one aspect which all of the online marketing, SEO, social media, black/white-hat tactics can’t offer your company…personality. I try to pass on sentiments of great people and branding onto readers; but, I honestly can’t ingrain or grant character; that’s the man-in-the-mirror’s job.
I liken gentleman (or woman) branding to white and black-hat sentiments. White-hat and black-hat are adjectives rooted in the SEO industry. The former label is associated to ethical practices while the latter gets practitioners thinking of questionable and unscrupulous practices. Let’s be honest. I can’t definitively determine your brand’s intentions; but, mama didn’t raise a fool. I’m pretty people savvy, even online. After some time, I see your brand and associated personalities…as they are; so do your brand followers and consumers. Are you leveraging me or my brand for ulterior purposes? I hope not. Doing so sheds different colored lights on you and your company’s image. Don’t be a fool; consumers and cohorts discuss such impressions.
Support Brand Evangelism
PointBlankSEO aka Jon Cooper posted earlier today on this topic. His article contains good insight about appreciating consumers and brand champions (whether they’re paying or non-paying supporters). Does your brand or content attract a particular sub group of followers, ones who usually comment, tweet, follow, like, speak well of, and engage in all of those other behaviors, which give your brand the ‘warm fuzzies’? How does your brand show appreciation? As Jon addresses, noticing those who notice you makes for a better community and facilitates branding. Another Jon, Jonathan Allen of Search Engine Watch, does a great job of appreciating SEW’s brand followers and ‘evangelists.’ Take notice of the Twitter handles of Jonathan Allen and SEW, and how fans and brand supporters are appreciated and addressed.
Lend a Helping Hand
It’s highly likely there are other personalities within your brand’s space. Those who could use help understanding the industry as well as tactics and best practices. Company owners and practitioners, remember when you were younger, doing something mischievous, having your parents remind you that you are a reflection on them? (I hated that one; I was a toddler outlaw) The same holds true in the professional sphere.
What professionals do, how they act, is a reflection on their brand. Let’s give another real-life example. I had a genuine, professional question, and asked for help. Why did I ask Chris specifically? He knows his stuff for one; more importantly (to me), he genuinely wants to help. I’ve asked others for help, getting no response whatsoever. The ‘no responsers’ still have my respect as far as knowledge of the industry; I’m not really sure of their trains of logic, but that’s why they were asked to begin with. What do you think I think of their personalities and their brand after asking for help and getting ignored? Kindness is a timeless fashion…
I still have growing to do; I’m only thirty-two (thirty-three next week; send b-day sentiments to Anthony Pensabene, Web Office box Twitter, USA.) This may seem immature but money isn’t everything to me. I feel some of you sneering; we’ll have to agree to disagree. From a business branding point of view, I think providing exceptional service holds more value than immediate income. As a consumer, I shop by a golden rule; make me feel valued and I will value your brand. It seems simple to me. What seems more lucrative to you, showing your brand’s money-making or service-oriented skills? We know what holds more value for your target market. You know them, the ones whose favor your entire business depends upon…
The Extra Yard
Executives want their business to run smoothly. Unfortunately, reality trumps such business decisions at times. When something goes wrong during business day-to-day, reputation management becomes a part of branding. Address reparations for your customers; think about the approach because it could influence your ongoing reputation.
I recently purchased a larger-sized home implement from a furniture store. I was told by the store employee (I addressed the situation beforehand because it seem curious it would fit) that when I came to collect it, there would be no qualms fitting it in my Jeep Wrangler. Okay, math and spatial computation is not my forte; I leave it to the experts. I came; it was too large; employees expressed distaste with me (because I brought my Jeep); and, we were all left at a standstill. “What can your brand do for me?” I thought it was a good question. I was told (for an additional charge) I could rent their truck and drive it to my place. Could the store have done a better job branding, going the extra yard for a consumer (who was inconvenienced due to following store direction)?
Spot Clean Transparency
How transparent is your brand? Some brands feel that keeping some facts closer to the breast, may garner more cents. Do such maneuvers make sense? After you squeeze a few more dollars and cents from consumers, is it worth the long-term impression?
Last month, I was largely excited to purchase a smartphone. I read a lot and thought the mobile device would allow me to evade newsstand costs and read at convenient times and places. What I clearly didn’t understand (nor was it addressed at the time of purchase or agreement signing) was the incurred charges to come. I got my first bill, which is ridiculously priced. I understand, providers; it’s my job as a consumer to read and understand. But seriously, providers are contorting this way and that to produce the ‘next best technology.’ You can’t send an email or alert when I exceed my allotment? It seems to be okay to send commercially-driven emails and alerts… Do you think it is better branding practice to clearly illustrate charging processes or adopt a buy-at-your-own-risk philosophy?
It’s ALL Your Department
I understand companies house a variety of practitioners. As admitted above, I’m not your numbers guy. However, something I learned from my time as a teacher – help people find the answer. The resolution to a particular concern may lie beyond a respective department; but, as far as customer service, the company is one department. Branding consists of the minutest exchanges with consumers.
I was recently on the phone with a cable provider. It seems I’m dealing with a “unique situation.” Okay, I understand. I invested at least twenty minutes with a service provider until they called shenanigans on the entire conversation, admitting they could not help, transferring me to another “department.” When the other service provider picked up, they were annoyed at my annoyance in having to explain my “unique situation” a second time to the same service provider. Could the company use some branding troubleshooting?
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Too cool! I gained some new Twitter followers due to my sweet tweeting. Should I follow them back? Well, let me see ‘how popular’ they are first; surely, I can’t be seen walking the halls of Twitter, following those who aren’t cool; I wouldn’t be making a good impression. That rationale worked(?) in high school; it can work in the professional world too, right? I don’t think so.
I frequently pass by McDonald’s. I think the brand served enough people to provide every soul on the planet with (at least) three meals per day for a week. I’m impressed (using the marketing meaning of the term only). McDonald’s is kind of a big deal, yet not in my life. I think I was donning my little league baseball uniform the last time I (purposely) headed the brand’s way (1991?)
But who am I to speak upon McDonald’s? The long-standing brand has over 360,000 Twitter followers ( I only have about 250). If you were passing me by on Twitter, you may feel ‘too cool for school’ to follow me. Only 250? Pfft. However, you may be impressed by those with many ‘followers.’ Who provides better value to their community? I think it depends on how a brand wants to ‘impress’ you.
Twitter is a leveraged social media implementation of the online marketing world. I’m an online marketing professional as well as a consumer. Being in the former party helps me make ‘educated’ decisions as a part of the latter group. As an online marketer, I provide my readers insight gained from my experiences. Hopefully, the following information helps you make better sense of Twitter from a consumer and brand perspective.
As an Online Marketing Consumer
As an online-marketing consumer, I encourage readers to employ better diligence when shopping for providers. Don’t be immediately impressed by followers, numbers, press mentions, and advertising. Marketing companies are comprised of marketers, those who make a living making impressions (both varieties). I referenced Dr. Pete’s work (under ‘being new’ column) in a former copywriting post. He draws reader attention to the difference between search-engine visibility and conversions. Impressions don’t guarantee impressed (the better kind) visitors and consumers. Make sure brands garnering cosmetic results (a lot of Twitter followers, search-engine rankings, Facebook friends) are delivering services worthy of the ‘impressions.’ I assure you; the two are not one in the same. Many online marketing shoppers make mistakes because of it.
As a Brand Using Twitter
A few months ago, statistics were released regarding how consumers approach social media. Some local businesses may have been surprised to find a high number of consumers were merely interested in coupons and upcoming deals rather than brand engagement. Perhaps your brand only wants to use Twitter for impressions (the marketing kind). That’s for your brand to decide. I would suggest doing more with it for branding and reputation management purposes; but, take my advice with a grain of salt; I only have 250 followers.
I ask all readers to understand the difference between initiating online impressions and making a genuine impression on your target market. As a consumer, you just don’t want to notice a brand’s impressions; you want to know if a brand beholds the services to truly impress you. As a brand, do you just want to be noticed? You want your brand to build a community who values your brand, right?
Thanks for reading our SEO blog. What do you think about the topic?
How would you rate the importance of copywriting on a scale to one to ten? If you didn’t admit to eleven or above, keep reading. It’s the core of communication. Content adopts a variety of online forms these days (video, infographics, sound bytes, etc) but to date, written content is a need for all online real estate.
So, your brand is new to the game. Nothing to be ashamed about, we all start from somewhere. You’ll find a wealth of knowledge online regarding copywriting. Some is great, while some is not worth your time. I’ve come across a considerable portion of advice from both sides of the fence.
Here are a few points I’ve consistently observed being employed and suggested by those with experience.
Yes! I Got Them!
What does marketing mean to you? Is marketing a way to lure the innocent or inform your consumers? I understand your business exists to make money; but, you’ll pay both figuratively and literally if your brand is not genuine. Are you writing for attention or to inform your public?
I’ll ask again because it’s that important; are you writing for attention or to inform your readers? I see a difference in advertising and marketing; the former is the ‘commercial’ side of getting attention (and needed); the latter is important in building a brand. Marketing involves proving you warrant the desired attention. There’s no better way to do it than adding to your community, giving rather than expecting. Respect and attention is earned online; go ahead, disagree and give me a tweet in a short while; let me know how that’s working for you.
Does your brand have the most unique name and product/service on the market? If so, keywords may not be a huge problem for you (unless your meaning of the word contrasts from that of others – read about negative keywords); however, for the other 99.9 percent, keywords are needed to communicate to users and search engines.
There was a time when intense focus of particular words and percentages of on-page insertion were the obsessions of newcomers; those who greedily leveraged the tactic like it would never go out of style. Guess what? It did. These days, brands attract traffic in a number of ways; ‘gaming’ the SEs and keyword stuffing offers you nothing.
For one, even if you (temporarily) got away with ‘gaming,’ what happens when browsers come to a site (with great SE rankings) with little value to offer? They bounce (figuratively and literally). Secondly, a good-rankings-low-value dynamic screams, “ALERT!” to any consumer with a little bit of online knowledge.
Read up on LSI (latent semantic indexing). Search engines are getting smarter; new trends allow for a better read and a much more natural writing experience.
By now, you’ve read the first sub-heading and pledge to always consider your user when copywriting. “Content is king” was a long-standing SEO mantra, and some in the industry still like to use it; however, if you traced new SEO trends, I think you’ll agree with me; the contented user is king. What makes your target market content? Would added amenities augment the message contained in the copywriting? Consider producing infographs and short video clips as well as inserting tables, graphs, and high-quality pictures in your real estate. This benefits your market, compelling them to return.
Thanks for reading.
- Copywriting Tutorials for Crafting Effective Copy (if you want to keep on the pulse of copywriting, the copyblogger site should be in your toolbar)
Being New and a Blogger
Offline is mimicking online fervor. All the ‘kids’ are doing it. Multiple facets of business are better discovered, engaged, and shared on the Web. We do and will see ongoing shifts. Consider Danny Sullivan’s observations of the WSJ. How about WSJ’s coverage of Verizon’s spectrum deal?
Online is the place to be. Like printed-news counterparts, magazines are making online transitions as well. A NY Times article showcases a unique off-to-online transition. How does getting ‘fit’ online sound? No, Self magazine isn’t teaming with Nintendo Wii (though the digital world is creating strange ‘partnerships’). Today, the mag has plans to introduce an online game, hosting the name of an offline, ‘Self Workout in the Park’ event.
The online event is brand new. The offline event has been taking place for 19 years in New York and other locations. Women are primarily the target market; online games involve health and wellness implements as well as elements of beauty and fashion. The goal is to closely emulate the offline version while implementing online avatars, puzzles, opportunities to win goods, and get (your avatar?) in shape.
Though Self Magazine’s iteration of online play is new, the online gaming notion is not. We know ‘social games.’ Think Farmville and Badgeville.
Self is reported to invest a mid-six-figure amount toward the marketing effort. That’s a lot of magazine sales. In addition, marketers (BlackBerry, 7 for All Mankind) aligned with the Self game, have invested several hundred thousand dollars for sponsors.
Why? I think New York Times author, Stuart Elliott hits the nail on the head:
The Self effort is part of a growing trend that reflects how profoundly legacy media like magazines are rethinking how they seek revenue from advertisers and consumers.
Okay, brands with similar ideas, perhaps you’re inspired; however, as a marketer with intense interest in branding and reputation management, I naturally take notice to genuine intentions and how implementations ultimately…play out. Consider this article by another Times’ reporter. Who’s playing who regarding ‘gamification’? I wrote about gamification on my personal blog a few weeks ago.
My advice is to engage in gamification for the right reasons, such as to build an online community and strengthen connections with your brand’s users. In addition, don’t assume participants are in it for genuine reasons as well. Do they want prizes or do they really champion your brand?
I know some online marketing tactics seem intriguing and really innovative; but, will they specifically work for your brand? At this point in your brand’s history? Is the process the right fit for your brand and users?
In his post, Elliott directs attention toward the odd dynamic of a fitness brand endeavoring at intriguing its brand users to ‘get fit online.’
It may seem odd that a magazine dedicated to encouraging its readers to improve themselves — whether through its editions in print, online and on mobile devices, its mobile apps, a mobile texting diet and events like Workout in the Park — would offer them an opportunity to stay sedentary and play a game in which their avatars, rather than their physical selves, try to shed pounds and buff up.
If you neglect your ‘self’ in offline life, your body shows it. If you neglect your online ‘Self’ avatar, it shows too, shadowing ‘reality.’ Will Self’s community be interested in staying fit and intrigued offline and on too? Self needs to ask itself that question and so does your brand before online game engagement.
Thanks for reading. Please comment to make my post better.