The online world presents a variety of different ways to promote, develop, and grow a brand. However, just because there are plenty of tools available doesn’t mean you can simply use any combination of them in any way you want and expect to get positive results. In the same way that a hammer, saw, and drill all serve separate yet valuable purposes, so too do online tools.
Those utilizing the internet to build their brand should do so with thoughtful, careful consideration as they attempt to use each tool at their disposal.
With that said, here are a few things to keep in mind as you go about cultivating an effective brand image online.
Consider Your Goals
One of the first things you’re going to want to do when it comes to building your online brand is to consider what stage your business is in. SMB Team has laid out four helpful “marketer profiles,” each of which helps guide your company’s branding efforts depending on the stage of life it is in. In brief, these are:
- Basic: A company that is in the fledgling stage of establishing a presence and being found online.
- Emerging: A company that has already created a presence and is looking to scale it in an affordable manner.
- Accelerated: A company that is already well-established and is pushing towards specific marketing goals, including creating a solid brand image.
- Experienced: A company with a powerful brand image that is looking to maintain their level of success and create new leads.
Identifying which stage your company is in will help hone your online branding efforts. An emerging company, for instance, will have much different branding goals than an accelerated company that is seeking to capitalize on momentum.
Consider Your Content
From your website to your social media efforts, proper content creation and management can have a huge impact on how your brand is perceived online.
Creating and maintaining a company blog with meaningful, valuable content can help build your business in multiple ways. For instance, it can:
- Help with your site’s SEO
- Connect you with your audience and help build their trust
- Build your brand’s reputation
The simple act of providing quality content to your readers naturally establishes you as an authority in your particular niche. This is precisely why you’ll see quality content being stressed so often. If your focus is purely on quantity, you’re likely to end up publishing a lot of information that is lackluster, simplistic, or incorrect.
Quality content, on the other hand, is a magnificent tool that can bolster your online reputation and set your brand up as a reliable source of information for your customers.
In addition to your own website’s content, social media has become a critical factor in improving a company’s online presence — and its brand, by extension. While a website creates an ideal hub to house a company’s informational content, social media profiles tend to function as the “tentacles” of your site, empowering you to find and interact with potential customers.
However, as is the case with a company blog, taking the time to create meaningful, cutting-edge social media content can be a huge factor that can make or break your social media efforts.
Concepts like the “80/20 Rule,” for instance — which dictates that 80% of your content should be informational and 20% promotional — have quickly become dated as marketers have learned how to seamlessly blend promotion and information into their marketing efforts.
Instead, modern social media strategies tend to focus on things like:
- Sharing your own non-promotional content on your channels.
- Asking and answering questions.
- Posting information about upcoming events.
- Sharing information about your company with your followers and fielding questions and comments from them as well.
Even within the context of “social media content,” it’s important to understand what context is best for each platform. Each social media site has its own marketing strengths. For example:
- LinkedIn is excellent for making connections.
- Twitter is a great option for engaging in conversations.
- Facebook’s groups have made it easy to find and interact with people who share your interests.
Whatever your particular situation, make sure that you map out a strategy for your social media from the platforms you use, right down to the nitty-gritty details of the content you share.
Even the hashtags you choose to use can make a huge difference in helping posts succeed or fail. Using post-specific hashtags, for instance, can boost your traffic, while an overabundance of irrelevant hashtags can be a turn-off.
User Experience Is Key
While typically tied to things like productivity, efficiency, and profitability, user experience can also be an integral part of any brand-building effort. If customers are satisfied with their online interactions with your company, they’re more likely to see your brand in a more positive light.
There are many different ways to increase user experience, including:
- Designing your site from the user’s perspective, including information, flow, and navigation.
- Utilizing visuals like images and videos.
- Considering your use of white space in order to ensure that your information is easily discoverable and digestible.
- Keeping a minimalistic mindset when it comes to the presentation of the information itself.
- Including “calls to action” that are strategically placed and beneficial to the user.
Cultivating Brand Excellence
Creating a powerful online brand isn’t done overnight. However, if you take the time to understand your business’ branding needs beforehand, it can enable you to effectively cultivate your company’s online reputation and image. Once you’ve set goals for your online branding efforts, take the time to incorporate quality content and thoughtful social media posts into your strategy in order to naturally increase your authority. In addition, attempt to provide a superior user experience in order to foster customer relationships and trust. Efforts like these will help to ensure that your brand is regularly seen in a positive light across the online landscape.