Using Social Media to Influence Your Brand Image
Millions of us use social media to connect with friends, family, and random people around the world. Indeed it is precisely this connectivity that makes social media an immensely powerful tool if you want to grow and improve your brand image. So if you are new to the concept of using social media to promote your business, how can you make it work for you?
What Is Brand Image Anyway?
Your brand is the impression other people have of your products or services. Brand image is a feeling or a reaction someone has when they see your logo or company slogan, advertising or actual products. For example some car brands are associated with a certain lifestyle, so when a middle-aged man purchases a sports car, he is not buying the vehicle per se, but rather the idea that owning such a flash car will boost his sex appeal and make him more attractive to the ladies. Hopefully reaction to your brand image is positive, but sometimes you may find your brand image is not necessarily the impression you want your customers to have.
Six Degrees of Separation
In the old days, brand was developed by creative advertising techniques. Posters on billboards and advertisements on prime time TV helped a brand reach a wider audience, but invariably there was a limit to how far the message spread. With the advent of social media, things have changed and now businesses can reach a far wider audience, an audience that is highly connected and engaged. There is a saying that every one of us is connected by only six degrees of separation. If you believe that, the power of social media immediately becomes evident.
Why Is Social Media So Important?
Social media has the power to influence how people view your business. Every time someone sends a tweet or posts a comment on Facebook about your products or services, the message spreads. Positive recommendations and favourable product reviews have an instant effect on how your customers interact with you, and with the global influence of social media websites, you have the ability to promote your brand to a worldwide audience.
How Does Social Media Affect Brand Image?
People use social media to chat, exchange opinions and talk about everything and anything. Invariably shopping is a popular topic and it is very common for users to offer opinions on products they buy or share their experiences with other users. This of course affects a brand greatly and it is not difficult to see how a few negative stories can soon spread like wildfire across sites such as Twitter and Facebook, thus negatively affecting brand and reputation.
Building a Brand with Social Media
Social media is a great way to spread the word about your business and get the message out there. Of course it goes without saying that you have to be honest about the product or service you are selling for it will soon come back and bite you if you try and mislead your potential customers about the benefits of buying into your brand.
- Create interest – in order to create a brand, people need to know about it, so your first goal would be to encourage the public to start talking about it, which is where social media comes into its own.
- Listen to feedback – take note of what people are saying about your brand as it grows and use the information gleaned from such feedback to improve and sharpen your brand.
- Keep it interesting – people are more likely to remember your brand if you make your brand stand out from the crowd.
Engage with Customers on a Variety of Different Platforms
There is little point in creating a Facebook page and only using that one platform to engage with customers. A social media strategy works best when a variety of different social media platforms are utilised and you are far more likely to see good results if you combine Facebook with Twitter, Google+ and YouTube, and a few other key Web 2.0 sites.
Be Active on Social Media Sites
To be effective on social media and really develop your brand, you need to be active regularly. Customers will not bother engaging with you if the traffic is a one-way street, so make time to keep the conversation going and really listen to what they are saying. Send out regular Tweets and keep posting on Facebook. It will take time to build up a memorable brand, but time spent on social media sites is always time well spent.
Image courtesy of freefotouk, Flickr.
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By Laura Ginn
Laura Ginn runs a small retail business and she regularly spends time on social media marketing in order to build up her brand with customers worldwide. She’s had a couple of bad years because of the recession, but thanks to some great advice from www.realbusinessrescue.co.uk, she has managed to turn the corner and business is improving.