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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We like being in this niche: call us exclusive!

One of the nuggets of wisdom that I have received over the years is about how DropCap Media needs to get into offering more and more services, and not just focus on delivering great content and planning effective social media solutions. There have been helpful indications about the kind of stuff we can get into, search engine optimisation, for instance. My partner, Sreedevi, and I have always fervently maintained the opposite: that we need to work within the scope of what we excel at. This does not, as often argued, limit our potential to learn and grow because we are always on the learning curve.

No project that we undertake, whether it is crafting a trade journal or managing social media profiles for clients in industries as varied as bespoke fashion and education, would turn out as well as it does if it were not for our commitment to learning and the constant push to innovate. We believe that focusing on our niche has given us the ability to further hone our skills to perfection, expand our knowledge and expertise in writing, blogging and social media, and related industries. Of course, at times just writing and strategising isn’t enough; sometimes our clients are so happy with our work that they often entrust a whole package to us, with elements of design and technology that we are yet to become experts at.

While our team has learnt the basic skills needed to handle such projects, we have tied up with reliable experts in the fields of design, web and app development, and printing to ensure that we only deliver the best. Here too, inevitably, we learn a lot through interactions with our technical partners, and our work as well as our expertise benefits immensely from these interactions. Now, going through this article on LinkedIn Pulse by LinkedIn Influencer Tim Williams, we feel vindicated. Williams’s post title, Your Firm Is Defined By the Clients and Services You Don’t Have, is intriguing and the article goes on to suggest and elaborate through examples that being the best in your niche, and creating and selling a specialised service that is right for a particular kind of customer does more for a professional services firm than to pander (often wildly) to everybody’s tastes and dilute the nature of your services.

In his opening lines, Williams says “What makes a great restaurant? The things that are not on the menu. The world’s most mediocre restaurants famously have virtually everything on their menus, making them average at everything and excellent at nothing.” He also elaborates on the power of ‘no': “In professional services, this translates to deciding which services not to offer. It means deciding which categories you won’t represent and which prospects you won’t chase. No firm is too far down the diversification path to mend its ways.” He suggests that each firm ask itself two questions:

1. If we offered only one type of service, what would it be?

2. If we served only one type of client, what would it be?

The idea is not to narrow down the focus to a “single client or service. Rather it’s to help you think through what you’re really good at and most passionate about. The answer isn’t as obvious as it seems. For a fast food restaurant, their “one thing” was not hamburgers but rather French fries.”

Aha… let’s all find our French fries!

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So, what do you wear to work?

Pic courtesy: Time magazine
Pic courtesy: Time magazine

Yeah, tell us… we’d like to know, what do you wear to work? It’s one of those interesting-not really important-but still relevant kind of things that we like to know and read about. I just chanced upon this article which talks about office wear gaffes, particularly in summer. And it turns out, we–at DropCap Media–are guilty of at least two of these so-called dressing no-nos: mine personally are messy buns and flip flops. I have been lucky (or unlucky, depending on your perspective of course) enough to work in places with no official dress code or (scary thought!) uniforms. And generally, the ‘creative types’ usually get away with most modes of dressing.

Pic courtesy: Time magazine
Pic courtesy: Time magazine

Of course, there are industries and sectors which mandate a dress code, particularly for the sake of safety (firemen and miners, for instance), identification as a professional in a certain field (nurses and policemen), and perhaps to foster a sense of belonging and equality. Dress codes are also most often industry-specific: an accountant and a graphic designer will most likely don highly different styles of clothing. Or at least, that is what popular media tells us. If the script says ‘accountant’, it could typically be a nerdy kind of guy, complete with spectacles, pinstriped shirt, grey trousers and Oxford shoes. And of course, the graphic designer will be styled with wacky hair and an outfit that spells ‘bordering on outrageous’. And of course, if the said designer dons spectacles, they are likely to fall in the ‘geek chic’ genre.

So when Mark Twain said ‘clothes maketh the man’, he seems to have been pointing the way forward to generations of writers, novelists and film-makers, not to mention scores of HR policy makers. But is it right to bring a cookie-cutter approach to clothing? Would people be happier at work if they were allowed to dress the way they love? And let us, for the sake of civilised argument, exclude all those dressing styles that are generally considered excessive, indecent or exhibitionist. What about the office-goer who prefers knee-length shorts to pants on the hottest days of summer? Or the young lady who would rather wear a jeans and a tee instead of a full-on corporate suit? By forcing them to fit into a certain mould for something as uniquely personal as dress sense, do we take away from the sheer joy of loving the work they do?

I don’t have any answers to that; here, at DropCap, there’s only one rule when it comes to dressing, and that applies only when we meet clients or have networking events to attend: wear smart casuals or semi-formals. On most days, we experiment with our clothes as much as we do with our writing. And since I have mostly worked at places that focused more on work than workwear, and never found the need to impose a dress code on me, I have never stressed over what to wear to work. Does it work because our jobs are mostly desk-bound? Even I, admittedly, don formal wear and the right accessories for a client meet.

So is an official dress code all about dressing to impress, or dressing to conform?

Would you rather wear a uniform or dress your way when it comes to office wear? Does attire make or break a working man/woman? Do share your opinions here.

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Aren’t you blogging yet?

India is poised at the tip of a digital revolution, and leading the charge is social media. The number of people going online to search, review, browse or simply Facebook, has been quietly and steadily on the upswing: A comScore report for March 2013 says that 73.9 million Indians went online via a computer at home or at work; the figure was 56.3 million for March 2012. And that doesn’t count the thousands who check into the World Wide Web via their trusty mobile devices. Indian Internet users numbered 205 million in 2013, and industry observers expect it to hit 350 million by 2015. A lot of these users search for brand and product related information online. More than ever before, people are engaging with the brands they love (and occasionally, hate) online. Social media makes for an open forum where people can reach out to brands and hope to be heard.

While India is now officially Facebook’s second biggest market, poised to overtake the US by end-2014 to become the largest market, there is another quiet-yet-steady revolution brewing in Indian Internet-land. Blogging has found a large audience in India, and blogs are the new ‘reader’s digest’ for those who want news and views at their fingertips.  The data for March 2013 showed that blogs added 11.6 million new users in a year! So why aren’t more companies out there, blogging and letting the world know their point of view, the story of their brand, updates about new products and more?

If you thought ‘do people really spend time reading such stuff on the Internet?’, do know it is most often ‘the first place’ people turn to for information, for entertainment, for news and for just about anything. Companies and brands can increase their visibility, build brand image and reputation, create a trust factor and even drive sales via blogging. If your company does not have qualified people on board to write the right kind of stuff for your blogs or you are looking for expert help for high-quality or keyword blogging, you can always seek help from an agency that provides focused content solutions. An experienced blogger can help you find your brand’s voice and will be an asset in your digital brand-building exercise.

If you aren’t blogging yet, what is holding you back? And those who have tried blogging, what are the benefits you have derived and the challenges you face? We would love to hear from you, so do leave a comment.

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