Build your brand’s digital and social presence right: we tell you how

Photo: freedigitalphotos.net/photoraidz
Photo: freedigitalphotos.net/photoraidz

Twenty years ago, brands had to plan extensive PR mechanisms to get their stories told; today the same PR mechanisms are hard at work, ensuring the right stories are gaining traction and trying to get a hang of popular sentiment about the brand, via the opinions and reviews floating free across all social media. So what changed in the last 20 years to bring about the change? A lot, of course, but the biggest contributing factor was the rebirth of the world wide web, via social media networks, and the pervasive usage of Internet via handheld devices including the ubiquitous mobile phone. Most cell phone users today use (or want to use) at least one social network from a phone app, so much so that on entry-level phones, sites like Facebook are often a newbie’s first exposure to the world wide web. Welcome to the virtual world!

The modes of storytelling and the avenues of networking have changed: both have gone virtual, and the possibility of virtual content going viral has multiplied manifold! One bad review, in the days of word-of-mouth, would not have hit a brand very hard; but these days, a well-worded, cheeky tweet could be retweeted and liked hundreds of times in a matter of minutes! Which also goes for happy product and user experiences too, of course. So how does a brand build build its digital presence right? We give you some pointers:

  1. Define your goals.
    And let your goals define your social media strategy. If you are looking to be a thought leader in your industry space, perhaps you need to focus more on blogging, LinkedIn and Twitter. Google+, Facebook and Twitter are excellent for customer interactions and engagement. So are a plethora of other social media platforms. If you need to choose the right one, you need to know what your goal is.
  2. No hardsell please.
    Let your ads do that. On social media networks, people are looking for information, engagement and real stories. Don’t use the space to exclusively market your products. What if that is your priority? You can talk about the difference or benefit your product or service can bring about, you can mention new developments in your industry, you can share happy client-speak and occasionally you can put up product-specific updates. Take some tips from Nike, one of the brands that leverages social media best.
  3. Be consistent, stay relevant.
    This may seem obvious but the truth is not many brands are consistent about implementing this: add your social media URLs to all your branding and marketing materials, from ads to visiting cards to signages used for an event and most importantly, your website. Help your customer stay connected to you by making it easier for them to find you on the social media platforms they use.
  4. Assign a budget.
    Signing up on a social media platform may be free but it takes time, effort and money to update and monitor your social media profiles perfectly. Defining a budget for social media activities and ads are crucial if you want to invest time in creating and sharing the right content. There are a lot of brands competing for attention on the social media space, and you need to allocate resources for your social media plans if you intend to take it seriously.

So what are your key goals when it comes to social media? What are the challenges you face when you are planning a social media strategy?

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Spread the word: how to help the world find your business on social media

Images courtesy: Corbis Images

Don’t we love Facebooking and Tweeting and all the other random things we do on social media! Brands love it too! And we love it when companies provide great social content that we can relate to, learn from, simply have fun with or even use to win a prize or two!


For the average user, social media is more about fun, catching up and games; for companies, however, a lot of thought, effort and strategy is put into making sure their presence on social networking sites is ‘just right’ and that the look and feel of their content lends to brand-building. Which is probably why the average user is not too focused on his/her ‘friends’ count while brands almost define their social media presence by the number of fans/likes/followers they have!

Stop and think, though, before pouring tons of money into apps that promise to deliver fans and followers aplenty. Do you really need those numbers that mean absolutely nothing to your bottomline or customer engagement or any of your other corporate goals? Do you even need fans you can literally buy, fans who have absolutely no connect with your brand? Why is it so important that a Facebook Page of say, a boutique, simply must have 10,000+ followers, if they are followers who are highly unlikely to set a foot in the store, forget buying something out there? Unless your social media strategy starts and ends with showing off, there’s no point in simply amassing a lot of followers who have absolutely no clue about your brand or are not interested in getting to know the brand at all.


No, this is not an argument defending the slow-paced growth of fan count on social media sites; on the contrary, do grow your “authentic” fans and followers, which in turn helps you connect easily to your clients, grow your business and do a whole lot more. But do understand that follower count will not pick up from 100 to 10,000 in a month or so! Businesses often do not realise that like any other medium (perhaps, more than any other medium), you need to do the giving first before you can hope to receive. 

And if you are already putting great content out there, here are some tips using your ‘real world’ presence that will help you popularise your brand’s social presence:
  • Email all clients and associates welcoming them to be a part of your community on FB, YouTube, blog, etc.
  • Add FB, Blogger, YouTube logos and links to email signatures and the company website.
  • Put social media logos along with page links in all written communiques (letterheads, brochures, press releases, print newsletters) and ads.
  • You can also display the social networking logos and page URLs in posters (with a message like: ‘Come, join us!’) in prominent areas in your office, common areas in your building (lifts, for instance) and also in eye-catching spots in your business and on your products as well.
Need more help with popularising your brand on social media? Feel free to dial us at +91-92872 17277 for a consultation or drop a line at info@dropcapmedia.com.

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Why should businesses ‘do’ social media? Answers to your FAQs

As an ardent believer in the powers of social media, I have always upheld its importance as a novel tool for businesses in marketing, branding, customer relations and lead generation. Time and again, in my interaction with clients and peers, I have been asked to validate my stand. Here are the major queries I get and their answers, in a lighter vein:

Pic courtesy: americanhell.com

Q. Does my company/non-profit/brand need a social media presence?
A. Is your company/non-profit/brand relevant to others? [The client’s answer is often ‘Of course’ in an ‘Are you crazy?’ kind-of tone.] Then of course, you need a social media presence.

Q. So shall we just jump right in?
A. Hold it! Get your top management to sit down and discuss your social media goals, just as you would for any other major decision you may make. Once you have your goals in place, draw up a social media strategy. Get expert assistance if needed.

Q. Facebooking and Tweeting are simple! Why do I need a dedicated person/consultant for the job?
A. Because half-hearted attempts show up easily on social media. You don’t want the wrong kind of ‘viral’ effect, right? You are dealing with actual people–customers, influencers, critics, competition–on social media; and you need time, effort, consistency and clarity to build up a social media presence that suits your corporate profile/brand. It’s not enough that you care about your brand/product/clients/channel partner, you need to show that you care.

community.brandrepublic.com

Q. OK, so what else do I need to know?
A. In addition to establishing your brand on social media, you need to track social media metrics. This involves both the engagements that have taken place on your sites/pages (like your FB page, blog, etc) as well as what people are talking about you elsewhere, away from your official pages. Is the predominant sentiment positive/negative? How is your brand being perceived? You can use premium tools from Radian6, ScoutLabs, etc for this or your social media consultant can track it for a fee.

Q. We are an old-fashioned company, operating on traditional values. Will a Facebook presence dilute/trivialise our essence? Will we have to develop a more youthful image to fit in?
A.Your customers and channel partners love you for who you are; you do not need a makeover in order to fit into the social media sphere. You may need to engage younger clients with specific content/activity geared to their likings, of course but that does not necessarily translate into rehashing your corporate identity. Look at social media as a place where people can connect to the soul of your business and you, in turn, get your message across in a more direct, interactive and consummate manner than ever before.

Want to know more? Mail me at sumithomas@dropcapmedia.com.

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Social media for Business: Nine tips to get it right


Last week, I was invited by the Rotary Cochin Knights to speak on social media for business. Putting up my speech here; it’s practically a transcript, so do excuse colloquial usage and the like.
Image courtesy: panicfreepublicspeaking.com.au 



It’s good to be on this platform talking to you about something I am passionate about. When I set up DropCap with social media outreach as part of our portfolio of services, I was happy with the initial reaction I got from friends, family and existing clients. But then came the barrage of questions: Are you sure about this social media thing? Is it sustainable? How will you do it? How will you track it?
My answer was simple: You can run from social media but you can’t hide from it. Sure you can choose to ignore it, you can refuse to be part of it but you know what… your clients, your channel partners, your critics, your competition, they are all on it. And if you are out of the picture, you have no control or awareness about what is being said about your brand online or how your company is being perceived in one of its most visible branding avenues.
And when we say big, we are talking big, waiting to explode…. Facebook crossed the 500-million user mark in June, of which more than 8 million are from India. Then there’s the micro-blogging platform, Twitter, where India ranks no. 2 after Japan in Asia, with 6.48 million users. And these are numbers that are growing by leaps and bounds.
So what do you do if you are a company or a startup and want to do social media? You want some part of those numbers, right, all translating into sales figures, right? People say getting on social media is easy; you don’t need an expert for the job. Sure, it’s easy; it’s as easy as signing up on FB, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Digg, Tumblr or wherever. But what do you do next?
It’s not being on social media that’s important; it’s actually being a presence there. What matters is what you actually do out there. And if you don’t have a plan for this, you will be like the guy dressed in an Armani suit at a rock concert. Sure, he can afford it but does he feel like a fish out of water!
So let’s talk a bit about how companies can do social media:
  • Most companies jump onto social media because everybody else is doing it. The first thing about social media is to stop treating it like an impulse buy. And start thinking of it as an investment. You can buy a Levis jeans on an impulse… perhaps you like the way it looks on the model or just because bootcut is back in vogue. But you wouldn’t buy a house just because you like the brochure, would you?
    Especially if you are in Cochin you will look at the builder’s history, his track record, maybe speak to a couple of the company’s customers, a few experts… social media for corporates is a long-term investment. It’s an investment in relationship-building. And you have to treat it just as carefully as you would a special relationship, maybe even extra carefully because this is one of your most visible relationships. It’s like being on reality TV 24/7. 
  • The next thing you need before you jump into the fray is a social media strategy. You need to define strategic goals clearly and definitely. Gauge what you want your social media presence to do for you and plan your strategy accordingly.
    Are you going to use social media for lead generation? Or for strengthening existing customer relationships? Or troubleshooting? Maybe you just want to create a buzz. Or perhaps you have loftier ideals… you want to be a thought leader in your space. Or maybe even all of the above? Whatever your goal, define it… otherwise you won’t know how to get there and worse, you won’t even know if you have arrived! This is a simple thing of course, perhaps even a management mantra but we so easily tend to overlook the obvious when it comes to social media. 
  • Your strategy should define your social media presence. There is no need to be all over the place. You don’t have to sign up at every social media website or application that has ever been invented. Choose the platforms that work best for your company’s goals.
    And here’s a tip: start small if you are unsure. It’s way better than starting with a bang and then fizzling out. 
  • Give. It’s always Christmas in the social media sphere. I don’t know any other medium that responds so beautifully to the Biblical commandment: ‘Do unto others as you would have done unto you.” Social media is not just about creating a Facebook page or a Twitter profile and then sitting back and waiting for your follower count to rise. Nope, doesn’t work that way! You have to connect with people. You have to put out relevant content that interests and engages people. You have to do the ‘giving’ bit first before you can start receiving.
  • Be consistent. You cannot afford to ignore your social media commitments and then expect it to work for you. Consistent, interactive and meaningful activity is the no.1  element that keeps your followers attracted to your profiles. Whether you are blogging, tweeting or posting updates, you have to stick with it. It would be best to draw up a schedule for all your social media platforms, with desired frequency of activity and just do it!
    It’d be ideal to put a person in-charge of your social media platform, either in-house or a consultant, because it takes time, effort and coordination to get it right.
  • Engage, engage, engage! All social media gurus will tell you that this is the cardinal rule of the game. There is just no way you can afford to ignore your online community. Are people commenting on your blog posts? Add a meaningful reply or just say thank you. Are people re-tweeting you? Thank them. Are they asking you for help? Go on, help them and let your community know with a follow-up comment. It’s all about making people feel included and important.
    See, there’s no magic to social media. Ultimately it boils down to keeping people happy. It’s just that we often forget that there are people associated with those icons we see on screen. 
  • Now when it comes to comments and reactions, you have to take the good with the bad. How you handle negativity online is as important as important as how you deal with all the praise and good stuff.  There’s a cardinal rule to dealing with negative comments: unless there’s actual use of abusive language or something, do not delete negative comments. Get in touch with the user and try to solve his issue. And most importantly put up follow-up comments on what is happening so the rest of your community is in the loop.
    Two quick tips here: content on the Internet is rarely ever truly deleted. Even if you delete a comment it might turn up in a weekly email digest that the social media service sends out or may be present in some archive.
    Secondly, always ensure that comments appear on blogs only after moderation. This helps prevent spam, abuse and other little irritations. 
  • Social media is not all about me-me-me. Don’t talk only about your company and your fabulous products and services. The client has probably got all that from your website. You need to also put up content that helps the reader or is useful to them. For instance, I always find that whenever I blog about practical writing, editing or social media tips, I get the most number of visitors.
  • Of course, that said, don’t forget the power of ‘social media specials.’ You are building special communities online so you can occasionally offer your followers discount coupons or freebies that are exclusive to those communities. As it turns out, the whole world loves a discount. On Twitter, there’s even a user profile @theearlybird, which offers special discounts through tie-ups with various retailers.
I guess you must have got some ideas about the whole process now. I would encourage each of you to look at social media as an enhancing experience rather than just as a frivolous outing.

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