Advertising, the ability to persuade viewers to buy your products, is a form of outbound marketing that relies on a “shock and awe” exposure of products and services. Putting in glossy advertisements in magazines or gaining a spot on prime time television can create demand for your offerings, but the same approach fizzles when it comes to social media.
The reason it doesn’t work as well as brand management is because people don’t join social networks to hear about your business offerings. They join to stay in touch with friends and followers, and like most rules of polite public conversation, it’s considered rude to dominate the conversation with business topics.
Spam: What Advertising Seems like on Social Media
When someone links to you as a friend or follower on social media, it’s because they’re interested in what you have to say. However, to gain that initial interest, you have to post many different status updates that aren’t all about you.
Would you want to be cornered at a cocktail party by the office bore who force-feeds you spam while they guzzle the champagne?
Neither do your friends and followers.
If that’s what they see on your feed, a constant advertising of your products and services, they will rightly assume that you are in it for yourself and you do not offer much community value for them. They won’t even bother linking to you in the first place. In order to gain people’s trust on social media, you have to show you won’t abuse their feeds and post only advertising. This will only get you quickly labeled as a spammer.
How Social Brand Management Works
In comparison, when you use social media to manage your brand online, you not only attract more people as friends and followers, but you also get an unofficial army of social promoters who will create greater exposure for your business.
Every time someone likes or shares a post, that item shows up on their feeds to their friends and followers. It’s not likely they will want to share posts about your latest product offering, but they will share articles of interest that are also educational. When you seek to present information to your social media crowd that they find valuable, then your online reputation becomes more trustworthy and fewer people see you as a business promoter or spammer. This also leads to word-of-mouth advertising that will help associate your brand with integrity, since those promoting it will usually have no monetary incentive to share your posts.
Top 5 Ways to Engage Social Brand Management Online
Once you know how to properly engage your social media fans online, you can still use brand management to promote your offerings, as long as you do it in subtle ways. You can use your profile to direct attention to your product offerings, as long as you are not solely hogging the airwaves with this information only. Always seek to engage your friends and followers on a more personal level and practice the art of attraction versus the art of persuasion, to generate more loyal fans. Here’s how:
1. Be the Go-To Expert
You can post helpful links and articles on your industry. For instance, if you are a real estate agent, you can post information on how to qualify for a mortgage and tips and hints to sell a home. You may be tempted to post only your listings, but that would be advertising, not brand awareness, and can lead to people only checking in after they’ve hired you. If you’re looking for new customers, start by making people aware of your brand and cultivating a one-on-one relationship to get them to trust you to sign on the dotted line when the need arises. By being as helpful as you can be, you will also increase the chances that people will share your content with their friends and followers who can benefit from your services.
2. Stay Connected
There are numerous online social networks out there, and they all have branding value. However, if you spend time on one site, you may not be able to get to another unless you start to plan and automate your online campaigns. Use tools that allow you to cross-post across different networks and to view which users are responding to the message, like Hummingbird for Twitter orSocialOomph. You will also be able to generate a good demographic profile this way. Post frequently for Twitter, less frequently for Facebook, as that is what is expected on these sites. The more people notice you online in association with your brand, the more likely they will remember you when they have a need in this area.
3. Sponsor Events and Contests
One way to make a big splash with your brand is to sponsor and event or contest that generates a lot of buzz. These types of branding formats are especially easy to do online. Facebook offers an events manager that lets you post the event and see who has agreed to come and who maybe might come. You can even do the event online, like offering a class or seminar which appeals to your core demographic. This can then be used to showcase some of your service or product offerings, along with the free information you promised to give out during the seminar. Contests can be an easy way to get people to give you their email addresses, which you aren’t allowed to legally harvest from a social network. You can then get permission to market them later, if they accept your free offer.
4. Give Out Free Samples
Branding also should include giving your friends and followers a freebie every now and then. In the same way a traveling salesman uses a promotional item like a branded pen, you can offer your social network branded ebooks and videos to entertain them by directing them to your website. If you do a little product promotion at the end, that’s totally acceptable as they are no longer on the social networking site.
5. Issue a Call to Action
Instead of asking for the purchase, ask for the share, the like, or the comment. You aren’t going to be pushing products and services as much as trying to get others to promote your brand to increase your online reputation. This will generate more traffic that will see your contest, events, freebies, and articles of interest – all of which should direct them to your website where you can market them further.
Why Social Media is Inbound Marketing
Unlike advertising, social media is a form of inbound marketing that seeks to attract attention to the brand initially. After the introduction has been made, you can try to generate more interest for your products and services, but only after you’ve provided some value to the community.
Once people realize that you are there to engage them on with integrity, they will have less resistance to your offers and be more inclined to participate with your branding efforts. Social media is really about the art of the soft sell versus advertising which is a hard sell.
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