When it comes to being discovered online, the one part of your online presence that you “own” is your website. Your website should be the cornerstone of your online strategy – the information contained is the beacon that customers can find when they look for you or your services.
But, your website is only a part of your online campaign for online branding. Granted, an optimized website is the most important component of your online marketing strategy, however even with the most glorious and well thought-out website, you may be missing huge opportunities to support your product, champion your brand and connect with your customers and prospects.
Social media marketing was a “buzzword” that we started to discuss a several years ago. You may also have heard the terminology “new marketing” or “online marketing” or even “inbound marketing”. The concept is to create an optimized online presence to help your customers find you and your business. A lot of the social media “guru’ types talked about “engagement” and there was much nodding of heads. But the reality is that there is very little engagement happening, even today, because so many companies have opted to run automated campaigns.
I’m not against all automation, but it just does not work for every organization in every situation. Especially in times of high national tension, when the focus is on an earthquake or superstorm, having an automated message about sunny skies is a real disconnect with your audience. The worst thing you can to is have your customers disengage, opt out, and disconnect. Now, those wonderful social channels have worked against you.
If I had to pick one word to describe the best practices for social media marketing, that word would be responsive. Not only are we striving for responsive design in websites, but we also should be responsive to our audience and to the societal and cultural changes around us. If you are responsive, you are creating content that is relevent and that has true appeal to your targeted customers.
A responsive website is one that fluidly re-conforms to the device it is being viewed on. Newer websites are being created that have this feature built in. Some of the older websites have both a desktop version and a mobile version. Without getting too technical, what you want to be sure to do is to present the version that is best viewed on the device that the viewer is using at the time they visit your site. It makes perfect sense, right?
One of my biggest frustrations is one of the news alert services that I use that sends me a link to an article that I want to read. When I click on the link, I’m taken to a general page that may or may not contain the article. Eventually, I stop clicking on the link and ignore the alert. I may even unsubscribe from the alert. This is no different than putting the wrong terminology or advertising or teaser to an article, then sending the reader to a site that is so general, they get turned off. Social media is an awesome tool to drive traffic to your site – just be sure that the link is truly the target of the tweet or Facebook post. Otherwise, you will lose customers.
When it comes to internet branding and social media optimization, the rules for marketing have changed, and without a social media presence, you will be a dinosaur. Customers are searching and researcing using the Internet. There is an entire generation that is growing up in a world where using Google is second nature to find answers. The changes that search engines have gone through are taken in stride, and adopted readily. To be sure that your online brand is being appropriately represented in today’s informational society means you have to be relevent and you have to be present. That includes social media. The old excuse that your customers don’t use social media is becoming tired and inaccurate. Your customers use social media, and they use it every day. They may be checking their email first thing in the morning, which includes their Facebook statuses and their friend’s updates. The way we communicate is much more fluid, more rapid and most likely, online.
Be aware of derogatory messages about your brand and be responsive. Don’t hide from critical reviews, but address them with equally positive reviews from your customers.
Social media marketing, is primarily social, and secondarily its media, and finally, it’s marketing. Keeping the appropriate perspective will go a long way to your successful online branding and internet marketing campaign.