5 Areas of Your Website Ideal for Branding

When companies think about their branding, they tend to think about where they have mentions online like review sites, social media, and other third party websites.

Not many take the time to think things through logically. If you want your brand name to stand out in organic search and when users use your website, there are five areas that you’ll want to be incorporating your brand name into.

The five areas that enables users to see you’ve stamped your brand…

1. In your schema mark up

Schema mark-up can seem complex if you’re trying to implement it D.I.Y style without the use of third party applications. The only third party required is Google. All the information is right here.

For those who don’t know about Schema, it is a collaborative project between all three major search engines to provide a method for all webmasters to tell their web crawlers exactly what the website is about. It’s not just Google friendly. It’s all three of the big players. Google, Bing and Yahoo use Schema mark-up.

Your brand name should definitely be located on your site with your mark-up telling the search engines that your company is a business and the type of business it is too.

2. In your titles, preferably closer to the start

For on-page optimisation, ideally your brand name should be in the title of your home, wrapped in the only H1 tag on your page.

3. In your privacy policy and terms of service pages

The boring pages that nearly nobody reads, you do need to have them. The other page that’s worth adding is a cookie policy explanation page, letting users know about the EU cookie consent law and an external link pointing to the “about cookies” websites for more information.

Google requires all of their publishers on the AdSense revenue share platform to have a valid privacy policy on their sites as part of their terms of service so if you take that as a signal, they must think it’s important for users to know. Now on that page, no matter where you get your privacy policy from, there are plenty of areas to stamp your brand name all over it. The same with your cookie policy page and your terms of service page, or terms of use page.

4. On your business listing

Do this for both Bing and Google. Claim your listing. If you’re a local business, you’ll want to pay attention to the way you brand your site online. Use the NAP acronym as a reference to remind you how to format your business details to keep them consistent.

NAP stands for
• Name
• Address
• Phone number

You want the format listed as that as often as possible and ensure it matches what the schema mark-up on your site is telling search engines.

For local business, citations matter more than backlinks. Provided they’re consistently formatted using NAP.

5. On the google map you use to display on your website if applicable

On your contact page, it’s as easy as pasting some code that Google gives you to display your local map. You can have the address show on the map, or once you’ve claimed your business listing, you can have the embedded Google map display your business name with a pin to mark your location on the map.

All five are ideal places to stamp your brand name, ensuring that search engines identify you as a business, and list you as such, and when users land on your site, it’s perfectly clear to them what your brand name is, which will give you a better chance of being remembered and increasing your return visitors.

What Avon And Gillette Can Teach Us About Branding

Big brands have market share. Sometimes huge. Gillette; a global dominator and Avon a Top Global Direct Sales Company. Gillette’s market share hasn’t a close threat in sight (other than online sales where they only get a fifth of the market) but Avon, well, they lost 3.08% in 2014 and surrendered the title of top global-direct-sales-company to Amway. In response to that loss, they’ve come back with a phenomenal ad campaign, which will no doubt get them some favourable results.

Is it evil to watch the battle of the brands? One loses out and fights back with creative ad campaigns to claim their leading spots back?

It is fascinating, but when you delve deeper into the makings of big brands, there are a few things we can all learn about how they go about claiming market share in the first place.

How Brands Become Established

They say that a brand is everything a business needs to succeed. It’s not. Your brand needs an audience to succeed. You can only define your brand but your audience are the people who gain momentum for it to grow.

To make that happen, you need to make powerful impacts in your marketing. Branded content will only go so far at spreading your company name and at that, you’re only advertising a name with no real purpose.

If you’re spending big on a marketing budget, there’s a high chance you need to get around a white board, do some creative brainstorming and define your business.

There are brands big, small, personal, and some downright favourable. At the very least of a goal, yours should be to be favourable. There’s always going to be competition and you never know when a competitor is going to move into your patch. That area you thought a few years ago was a perfect haven with a gap in the market for you to move into will never be safe. Even if you’re business is online and “not on the high street” – a phrase that’s turned into a brand.

Problem is, if you can do it, so can someone else, or a bigger outfit with a bigger purse to splash out and take over your terrain. Do you have the capital to compete with a franchise and…

Did capital make you think money?

Capital isn’t just cashflow. Money will only get your business so far until the funds run dry. What can never run dry are your brand ambassadors.

Take Wikipedia – Supposedly the most trusted source on the internet. Some people cite them; others loathe them stating flat out they are not a credible source because the material is self-authored.

Opinions aside, it is a brand. They have a mission statement, a vision and most importantly – the brand has values, in which they state “Our community is our biggest asset”.

Love or loathe them, they know they can improve. What they define is never set in stone and some sources, not even their own editors trust and make that abundantly clear when you arrive on an information source.

Like this one:

Brand Ambassador

“Brand ambassador is marketing jargon for celebrity endorser or spokesmodel, a person employed by an organization or company to promote its products or services. The brand ambassador is meant to embody the corporate identity in appearance.”

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brand_ambassador

There’s so many things wrong with that. Your brand ambassadors are not employed by your company to endorse your product. Every celebrity endorsed interruption ad on any TV channel… it’s blatantly obvious that those people are paid to say and do what the company puts in their script. They’re rarely trusted and when they are, it’s idiotic.

Unless it has something to make it credible – so Avon gets an exemption on their recent ad campaign. Right at the start of the commercial, it sounds the same as the rest until they said they sent their products to beauty bloggers. When viewers heard that, it prompts the response of “they did what”. What happened? Bloggers, Social Media, TV – What’s going on? Genius marketing and branding.

Image Source: http://www.avon.uk.com/PRSuite/blogger_TV_advert.page

Near the end of Helen Anderson’s unboxing video (featured in the TV ad) on YouTube showed what a brand is. On her video, you could see her remember her Avon Lady who was her school nurse, and when she says she “remembered the scratchy pages“…it was clear there were memorable moments there.

Why didn’t they put that in the ad?

It invoked memories of a brand she’d completely forgotten about and that was from when she was just a kid. They’re still going and still do business in the same way. Just using multimedia channels to reach more people. There’s likely a ton of people who just forgot because for one reason or another, the Avon Lady fell out of touch.

The point of that story is they are clearly memorable. They have a brand, they have representatives, and to be where are today, they must have core values somewhere to give their company and representatives a guide.

Quick check and yes they do indeed.

http://www.avoncompany.com/aboutavon/history/values.html

1. Belief
2. Integrity
3. Respect
4. Trust
5. Humility

That last one is not something you see often and they clearly state they are not always right. And they aren’t right on that page either because they finish off by stating
“We’re no less human than the people who work for us” – No!

Anyone at the Avon HQ reading this – We’re no less human than the people who work with us.

Change for to with and it reads a lot differently.

Independent Representatives work for themselves and partner with others. They don’t work for others. They work with them. That just denounced the third core value of respect.

Take that as a lesson in writing. It only takes one word out of place on your copy and it’ll devalue the message you’re trying to send out.

A brand needs core values.

It’s something that no page on Wikipedia will ever be able to define because it’s unique to your business.

You have a vision, a dream even. However, you’re smart enough to know that you need a path to reach your goals. You can’t go about your business with your head in the clouds. You need to come back down from dreaming to deal with the realities of keeping growth on track and you need a clear path to do that.

That path starts with your brand identity. The core values that your business sets out to uphold in everything you and your partners do. As for partners, take a lesson from Starbucks #tobeapartner where employees are partners.

Core values are not a one off exercise either. When you’re small, your core values will be focusing on the independence and personalising the experience to create memorable moments. As your company grows, there may be wording that needs changing in your core values, more added, and some altered. Perhaps even a re-branding campaign to redefine your business.

The core values of a brand represent a navigation tool

Nothing too complex and simple enough to be understood.

Do you need to set core values to define your brand?

No, but you definitely should. If you’re not convinced, think of any industry and see what the market leaders have in place.

Let’s take the shaving industry as an example. It’s no surprise that Gillette dominates. It has over 70% market share in the UK, and even higher worldwide with 81% market share. Not even a close second Schick (we know as Wilkinson Sword) which has 17% market share.

Take a look at both brands and you figure if you need to core values or not.

Gillette has a mission

Image Source: http://gillette.co.uk/en-gb/about-gillette

Wilkinson Sword has a timeline.

Image Source: http://www.wilkinsonsword.co.uk/our-heritage

See the difference? Market leaders lead, they innovate, they connect with people. Gillette makes the promise in one statement that implies every new razor launch will be better than the last.

What’s implied by Wilkinson Sword? Something along the lines of the brand your Great Grandpa trusted for his weaponry during the Battle of Omdurman?

Both brands are successful and have their own loyal customers. One focuses on innovation, whereas the other focuses on heritage. It’s still core values.

A brand is much more than a business…

• It defines your core values
• It defines your vision
• It defines your growth

The most important part of a brand is the connection. Or as the Wikimedia Foundation call their biggest asset – Our Community!

Define your brand and connect with your audience using your message. Audiences build brands. Core values, mission statements, and visions are all defining what your business stands for. Others will connect with your message and that’s what builds your community and your community builds your brand.

You just have to tell people what you stand for.

• Gillette do it
• Avon do it
• Starbucks do it

It’s hardly worth mentioning Coca Cola but there you go.

Make your mission statement a promise to be delivered and then tell the world what your brand is setting out to do. Connect with others, build a community and those are the people who will promote your brand name.

Is Your Brand Reputable?

brand reputation image

Every small business owner without the funds to invest in a huge marketing campaign is at risk of miscommunication. They expect that if they’re going to achieve a decent R.O.I, they need a creative marketing strategy.

That’s where the communication mishaps come into the equation and it could be what’s holding you back and getting you a lower R.O.I than you expected from your advertising.
Every company has something unique to offer. If you didn’t have a decent USP, the bank or any other investors would not have contributed to your start up costs.

The USP of your business is not only important for funding, because it’s something that will continue to contribute to the amount of customers who decide to do business with you.

People will only hand their money over to people that they trust and that’s what your communication efforts need to do; establish trust right from the get go.

Problems occur for start-ups when they focus they’re material towards attracting investors rather than customers. You need to reverse that mentality and attract the customers first. The words you use in your marketing material are what promote your business in a way that attracts new customers. You simply cannot use the same language to communicate with both customers and investors.

If you need to raise capital to expand your business, it can be tempting to alter your materials, such as your web content to appeal to an investors’ interest. That will do you no good in the long run, because investors are only interested in what people are paying for.

That’s why there is a number one rule in every business to always focus on the customer first. If you can attract the customer and retain their business, the investors will sit up and take notice. If you’ve started your business in the last five years, you’re still considered a start-up business.

Most businesses fail within that time frame, so to ensure yours thrives beyond that and grows to a success, you need to attract the customers.

The first impression does that

For effectively controlling your marketing message in a way that does your business justice, you need to think beyond the first impressions you control internally. The way your staff answer the telephone, how your invoices are branded with your company logo and any other marketing material that inform people about your business, be it a service or a product-based business.

The first impression people have of you are not always with you. In fact, the most powerful first impression people have about your business – you have absolutely no knowledge of it. It’s when you have one customer and they speak to someone else about your company.

That’s a first impression and if that is poor, you won’t have the chance to put things right. You only get one chance with first impressions, and if that one is through an existing customer, you have absolutely no say in what is said and how. You can however control the conversation partly by always delivering excellence in customer care.

You need to acknowledge that every customer interaction is part of increasing awareness about your business. The more people do business with you, the more people are exposed to your company name. That’s why a strong and memorable company name is essential to get your company off the ground.

Your brand is not your logo and company name

There’s a misconception over branding that it’s all about stamping your brand logo in all your material. That is not your brand. That is only the face of things. Your brand is the customer interactions with your company. How people perceive your business is your business brand. That’s what you promote.

That is why customer reviews are one of the most powerful marketing tools that any company can leverage. They are independent user reviews verifying the legitimacy of your brand. Remember that your brand is your reputation. If you want to promote your brand name, you promote your reputation.

For every customer who leaves you a review and permits you to use it on your website or other marketing material, fire up your newsletter and announce it to your prospects.

So much emphasis is put on the graphics of brand promotion, when that is only a fraction of the battle. The real heart of effective marketing is controlling your first impressions with your company both with you and from your previous/existing customers.

Leverage what you already have for maximum effectiveness by giving each of your customers an excellent level of service and that will allow your business to control the first impressions both with and about you.

The more people hear about you from others, the more effective your promotional efforts will be.

Whenever you run a marketing campaign in the local paper, or radio, you want people to have at least heard of your company because they will already have a first impression and based on that, they will make a decision to contact you, or dismiss your business.

Pay close attention to controlling your reputation and you’ll have a far easier job marketing your brand name effectively, without being overly promotional.

All you need is your first customer and from that first experience, your business can grow, or fall flat with negative feedback circulating about your business. Take care of your reputation and your brand will become stronger consistently.

Please feel free to contact us today. We’d be happy to discuss your brand promotion and marketing requirements.

What’s In A Brand Identity?

A brand is not just a name. A brand says everything that you want to about you and your business. Your ideas, standards, and what you can give to your client.

Think about the top brands in the world, the likes of:

  • Apple
  • Coca-Cola
  • Google
  • McDonalds

All of them are so much more than just a name. Just saying each one conjures up a whole host of images and perceptions about those companies. The two most important aspects of your brand are undoubtedly your name and your logo.

But, once you have these down, how then do you make your public aware of you? How do you create the sort of associations with your business name and logo that you want people to have? In short, how do you create your reputation?

First things first, you must decide how you want to be seen. Write down a brief overview of what you feel your core values are. What do you want to be known for, and how can you help your potential clients?

What makes you stand out from your competitors, what will make people come to you and not them? Once you have that list stick to it like glue; every piece of marketing and advertising that you do, make sure that you can relate it back to your core values.

Now you have completed this exercise, you are ready to move on and build your brand and following. You can do this by:

  1. Being consistent – Never stray from your core values. Certainly don’t change them half way through. Stay on message at all times. There is nothing more confusing to clients than a business that is constantly changing its point of view or focus.
  2. Service – Where you are a sole trader, or a small business employing a few staff, remember that service is everything. Harry G Selfridge, American founder of Selfridges & Co, understood this from the outset. ‘The customer is always right’, and ‘Give the lady what she wants’ are two or his more well-known quotes. Understand your customer, and then give them what they want every time. It will keep them coming back, and will be the difference between them recommending you or not. If you employ staff, then make sure that they understand your company’s core values. They represent you, so make sure they do it well.
  3. Network – Your clients won’t come to you, you need to go and find them. Depending on your business, this may be online, or in the real world. Either way, you need to engage them. They need to know that you understand their problems and can solve them. If you need to print business cards, or other marketing gadgets, then do so professionally. Home-made business cards may save you money, but at the end of the day, they look home-made and don’t give the right impression.
  4. Slogan – Decide on a slogan, something that is short, catchy and sums up your business.

Think of some of the more famous slogans:

  • When it absolutely, positively, has to be there.
  • At work, rest or play.
  • Soft, strong and very long.

Did you get them all? This is what you want from your slogan, that instant recognition of your business.

Elevator pitch – Your elevator pitch is so important. Once you are in front of potential clients you need to be able to answer the one question they will have, ‘What do you do’? Do you stumble over your words at this stage, with a confusing, impromptu summary of your business, or do you have an eloquent, clear, concise story to tell them?

Of course it takes time to build your brand and reputation. It takes time for people to know who you are and what you do. But, if you get your branding right at the start, then you will have a strong foundation on which to work.

Good luck.

 

Supercharge Your Social Media Marketing Campaign Via The Help Of A Social Media Addict

Are you looking to outsource your social media marketing campaign? Are you becoming bored of running your own social media campaign? If you have answered either of these questions in the positive then I may well have a solution – ME! So who are you? I can hear you ask.

Well my name is Steve Hill and I am one of the founders of Promote Your Brand Name. I am aged 40, as of 2014, and I live in Birmingham, England.

And now for the confession:

I am a social media addict! Unlike the majority of people that find social media a complete bore and something which is just far too time consuming; I love it! Yes I am more than aware of just how sad this statement is.

But why do you love it Steve?

This is a simple question to answer; because it works! And what I mean by that is it helps my businesses to gain additional revenue. Yes I do enjoy the social side of it, but I am doing it for one main reason – the hope that it will help me to increase the overall profitability of each of the businesses that I run – and so far, so good.

So you say that you are a social media addict Steve; can you explain more about why you think this? In truth I am not a real “addict” however I probably do spend way too much time on the various platforms. And I will provide you with an example here.

As well as managing the campaigns of a number of clients I also run the social media accounts of my business websites as you can see below:

Stammeringcourse.co.uk:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Stammeringhelp
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/stammeringtherapy
Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/118293532898091061581/+StammeringcourseCoUkSteveHill/posts

Topnotchcontent.co.uk:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/articlewriterUK
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/UKarticlewriter
Google plus: https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/112917584133952504091/+TopnotchcontentCoUk/posts

Tweetingz.co.uk:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TMServiceUK
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TwitterManagementService
Google plus: https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/117617299901578489303/+TweetingzCoUk/posts

Stutteringtherapycentre.co.uk:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/stutteringcured
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/stutteringtreatments
Google plus: https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/103828231181795164612/+StutteringtherapycentreCoUk/posts

Promoteyourbrandname.co.uk:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/promoteurebrand
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PromoteYourBrandName
Google plus: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+SteveHilluk/posts
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/pub/stephen-hill/4b/a45/11a

So if you would like me to help you with your campaign, or if you have any questions, I welcome you to contact me.

I currently have a special offer monthly package available. This is where write one blog post each week and where I also manage my clients Google plus, Facebook and Twitter accounts for a monthly fee of £350.

There is more information about this package here: http://www.promoteyourbrandname.co.uk/social-media-special-offer-package

OK I am now off to do some tweeting!

Steve Hill
Promote Your Brand Name
0121 453 9208 / 07967 549 070
info@promoteyourbrandname.co.uk

Avoid A Mass Link Building Catastrophe Via Social Media

social media linking

With the ever-evolving world of organic search, algorithm updates, and penalisations galore, the process of natural link acquisition is the only way to guarantee search engine results that last.

The problem is how you acquire those links, without buying links by the thousands from overseas providers, bots, or one-user accounts, with a massive amount of fake profiles attached, with no reach on social media sites at all. There’s a power of those accounts scattered around.

After a conversation the other day on Google Plus, discussing client requirements for organic search listings, it’s clear cut that local clients, and perhaps even some uneducated brands have a bit of a learning curve ahead of them.

Note to +Dennis Brown – The link above is the uncut conversation 😉

At first our concern was that it was the process we took explaining our services, benefits, and the results that we can and do achieve for clients to one prospect who approached us, for an SEO service.

While it is part of what we do, we can’t and will not guarantee fast results. After reviewing the conversation though, and discussing with others in the same field, it’s clear that some educational content is required for not just the potential client we’d spoken with, but for every business owner looking to achieve lasting results in organic search, and probably hitting a brick wall, if misinformed.

This is a process and not one that can be achieved overnight. Probably not even in the short space of a couple of months.

When we say short space, we really do mean in a short period of time. When link acquisitions are acquired organically, it leads to long-term organic listings. Not a flash in the pan ranking that disappears at the next Google algorithm update.

SEO is a drawn out process. When it’s done right, the impact is a sustainable ranking. There is a clear-cut difference in a long-term strategic SEO campaign, in comparison to a campaign that’s being implemented for the objectives of fast rankings.

If you want sustainable rankings, you must sustain an SEO campaign. No ifs or buts about it. The best and most efficient way to organic listings that really do last, is to focus on a long-term marketing strategy where social media is incorporated at the core of your marketing campaign.

The emphasis needs to be on people and not links

Links are penny apiece if you look in the right places. Customers aren’t. You can buy thousands of backward links for less than the price of a cappuccino. They’re no use though and only contribute to a search engine penalty, probably sooner rather than later.

For business owners of the mind-set that all you need is a boatload of links to rank organically in Google search, then look no further than the horse’s mouth themselves. Google specifically state that link building to manipulate organic search listings is strictly against their terms of service.

What’s not against their TOS, as mentioned by +Jordan Donnelly is sharing your content via social media. That’s where your connections are and those are the people who will spread the word for you. Provided you have the relationship foundations built upon. You get reciprocal benefits. The social signals shows you care about your readers, and your brand name and everything your business stands for.

So why would you go about going directly against the biggest search provider that could make or break your business?

Quite frankly, it’s desperation and stupidity, nothing more, nothing less. As abrupt as it sounds, that is how we feel.

The main component of social media is to allow business owners, and even global brands to connect together. It’s getting to know your customer. As +Sam Mottram commented: It’s about establishing a relationship with your customer.

Further comments started to pour in with +Emmett Smith adding that social signals aren’t nearly as important as the relationship itself. That is one core message each of our team members are in complete agreement with. The point is that the more you know about your target consumer, or client, depending on your business model, the better you can serve that niche market.

Business is all about serving, whether it’s serving your customers up with a first class English breakfast, or a top of the line business plan, or even a customised CV writing service. The customer comes first. Not the ranking, the relationship.

Relationships are established through brand recognition. If it fits the needs of consumers, providing lasting results, it’s a brand name worthy of promotion.

The more unique the better, but even if you think that your business has nothing unique about it, you can still do a better job than most, when you get to know your target audience.

That’s what social media marketing is about. Letting the people do the voting of what really is the best content for others who need to access the same information.

With Google being the biggest of search providers online, it’s only common sense in business to go with them. You only need look at Google+ and see first-hand what Google has achieved there. It’s the one platform that puts users first.

While it’s noted to be a social network, the company themselves call it more than that. It’s an authorship tool. That’s what helps connect businesses to potential customers.

The same applies to every social network, from Twitter to LinkedIn, all the way back to MySpace when that was the bees’ knees of social media. The success drivers on social media are always the users. It is user generated content that power the sites, and the marketing reach of every one of them.

The one thing that each of them share is the ability to share information. The difference in today’s search is that while social media isn’t all that’s required for a successful SEO campaign, it does offer the ability to instantly share content that real users find to be of value.

Those shares can then be picked up by other website owners, who can then attribute the original source of the content, back to the creator of that digital material. Think Google Authorship for claiming content as your own.

To see an example of natural link acquisition, take this as one example:

seo social synergy photo

This description above comes from +Eric Enge, creator of StoneTemple.com. It is an awesome overview that describes the impact of social media on organic search results, and establishing connections through social interaction.

To make it even simpler to understand, here’s the Whiteboard Friday presentation on SEO and Google Plus…

As you can see from the video explanation above, just having G+ linked to your content can give you indexation benefits. Imagine what can be achieved through a super active and encapsulated social media presence, where your audience hang on your every word.

That’s powerful stuff, and that sort of engagement does not come fast. It takes time, effort, and devotion to serving the needs of your target audience. Longevity is only achieved by a long-term strategic SEO plan that incorporates marketing methods that help you reach people online, and not just count towards a specific number of links higher than your competitors.

Use any backlink checker and you’ll see that whatever site ranks top of Google, will not always have the highest amount of links. It’s usually far from it. It’s the trust coming from each link contributing to your link profile. It’s called a trust factor.

The more related your links are from inbound linking sites, the more credible the vote of trust. Nobody with an unrelated site is going to link to you with no rhyme or reason. Credible sites worthy of a relationship will.

Build the relationship with your target audience; establish yourself as a trustworthy source and the SEO advantages will come. It’s the only way to ensure that when you do achieve results, that those results are for the long-term, and not associated with mass link building putting your site at risk of penalisation.

Are Facebook and Twitter Fads With No Future?

facebook twitter

When social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter first started to emerge, it was easy to assume they wouldn’t be around for long and their use would be short-lived. Perhaps just like generations before us which were skeptical about radio, then TV, and later the personal computer.

Making life easier..and harder too

Few could have predicted just how rapidly these social media channels would take hold and on how many levels they would impact daily life. The average workplace now has a social media policy to ensure employees have limited (or no) access to channels during office hours.  Educationalists debate twitter’s impact on students’ language and grammar skills and authors pen self-help books on how to digitally disconnect from the always-on life we now live.

The same tools we all love to hate have also made it possible to reconnect with childhood friends, share intimate details with perfect strangers or arrange a night out at the touch of a button, and far more besides.

big and small business

Big (and small) business gets social

Once purely social domains, social media sites are now among many businesses core communications channels, with customers (and potential customers) paying more attention to these than more traditional tools such as e-newsletters or standard website content.

It’s now increasingly important to be where your audience is, and engage with them on their ‘turf’, rather than continue to assume they will come to you (and your website). This two-way conversation, rather than corporate monologue, will help business become more friendly, approachable and attractive.

Retention and engagement issues

Despite their obvious uses, recent research (Source: Associated Press and CNBC) suggests that 50% of Americans think Facebook is ‘just a passing fad’. Now in its 9th year of running (Facebook started back in 2004), it shows no sign of slowing up, as founder Mark Zuckerberg devises new ways to monetize the channel, largely through targeted advertising and sponsored content.

But with exactly half of its users failing to see its value, and everyone knowing at least one friend who has shut their account, perhaps the world is finally starting to disconnect from some forms of digital life.

Could it be the very route that is set to finally make these sites legitimate money-making businesses be the thing that actually turns their users off and sees them searching for alternative, niche (and less commercial) platforms to share and connect?

Additional research from Nielsen suggests Twitter, launched in 2006, is also seeing a crisis among its users. A massive 60% of those who signed up to use the channel failed to return to the site one month on, which is hardly a glowing endorsement.

Here today, gone tomorrow?

Not a week goes by when we don’t read about another social media site which promises to be the can’t-live-without tool. Will we  ever have enough social bookmarking, image sharing, micro-blogging, professional networking and friend connecting tools?

The question, after all, is not about quantity, but quality. The survival of one social media channel over another will ultimately come down to its users. They will decide whether it is a tool which adds value, is user-friendly and listens to their needs, then evolves to meet them. People power will always separate the wheat from the chaff.

Fad, or here to stay, be selective, stay focused

So, whether or not there’s more to come from these social stalwarts or we’ve seen the best from Facebook or twitter, it’s important to decide whether they’re the best tools out there for your business.

Not every tool is right for every offer so don’t jump on the bandwagon if there is no clear fit or obvious benefit. It’s better to concentrate on one or two channels and do these really well – update content regularly, be consistent and accurate with tone of voice/brand persona, respond to comments and queries and build relationships through two-way conversation and interaction.

The web, by its very nature, is ever changing and this perpetual evolution will continue to throw out new applications. The trick is to hand-pick the select tools which will make a difference to our business and concentrate on mastering these so they make a valuable contribution as part of an overall marketing strategy.

How to use Pinterest to boost your online brand

Pinterest For Branding

What is Pinterest?

Pinterest is a photo-based social network which enables users to ‘pin’ (or share) images they like. Think of it as an online pin board where you can organise your favourite images into different types or categories by using different boards.

Pinterest works on the simple premise of sharing and organising photo and video content via an easy to use platform, attracting savvy social media experts and novices alike.

The site now boasts more than 150 million global users, so branders, marketers and business owners have a real opportunity to grab the attention of a captive audience which use Pinterest to explore and find inspiration through imagery – will your captive shots form part of their search?

How is it different from Facebook, Twitter etc?

Although it is one of the fastest growing social media sites, it’s not about sharing just any old image. A quick browse across its many million pin boards will show that the most popular and impactful pieces of content (those which are liked and repinned) are those which have a real ‘wow’ factor.

It would be a mistake to view Pinterest as just a dumping ground for average images, so when it comes to planning what to pin (or what you hope will get pinned), pay due care and attention and ensure it represents your brand in the best light, otherwise its unlikely to get picked up and passed on (‘repinned’).

pinterest v facebook

(Why) is it relevant for my brand and how can it boost it online?

Currently, Pinterest is one of the social media channels for referring web traffic, because the very nature of Pinterest is to find interesting and shareable content, its users are ready to share; distributing and redistributing impactful/beautiful/funny/provocative titbits as they discover them. In other words, Pinterest is a great SEO tool and can really contribute to your brand’s online presence.

And the real beauty of Pinterest is that many organisations aren’t themselves active on the platform. As long as their own web content is shareable and captivating, visitors to their site or other social media channel will share their content for them. Such third party endorsements are powerful and far reaching recommendations for a brand.

Getting started with Pinterest

1) Make your content pin-able

By its nature, Pinterest is a highly visual site and content that is pinned uses the image as the primary focus point. Be sure that all of your pages and posts (across all your online platforms) have impactful and relevant images/videos that encourage and invite pinning.

pinterest infographic

2) Add ‘Pin’ buttons to your website and all online channels

Once you’re confident you are producing really shareable visual content, encourage your site visitors to share it. Add a Pinterest button (you can find these on the site) to encourage this, making it easy for users to share images they like quickly and easily.

Give your users every opportunity to share your content with the world by adding buttons to your blog, Facebook page and Twitter channel too: in fact anywhere you are sharing unique and interesting visual content. Linking your channels together in this way will present your brand as seamless and joined-up.

3) Get your own Pinterest account

If you’ve been savvy, your brand, through the unique content you have created, will be spread and shared across Pinterest by a stream of online advocates. But you shouldn’t forget to create your own Pinterest presence by setting up an account too.  Ensure you differentiate your company persona from any personal activity you have on the site by using a corporate email account. The site was once invite-only but is now open to all.

4) Organise board content to support clear brand messages

If your brand covers multiple themes or categories, organise your content accordingly. For example, if you run an interior design business you could have different boards to share your inspirations for curtains, cushions, rugs etc. The number of boards is endless and so is the opportunity to share your great images, and with them your brand proposition.

5) Build your own brand community

To build a community of like-minded individuals who appreciate your content and re-pin it, or pin it themselves directly, you need to interact and engage on a regular basis, keeping the relationship two-way.

Although they may have originally shared your content without any thought of being acknowledged, a little recognition goes a long way. If they are active on Pinterest, think how far they could be sharing it and how wide your subsequent brand reach.

As well as on-site interaction, (in the form of replies to comments, reciprocating likes, and re-pinning their content), broaden the interactions by encouraging the content you share on Facebook, Twitter et al to be re-pinned by any Pinterest followers or fans you have.

Take time each day to read comments from people so you know what content is ranking highly in their opinions and which may be falling short of the mark.

6) Pinterest etiquette and best practice

So, you’re excited you’ve got lots of great content to share, but don’t overload by posting all of it at once and bombarding the Pinterest community. A slow drip feed effect works better to maintain momentum and interest.

Don’t view Pinterest as a place you can post just any old content. Your images should be considered and seek to inspire – always have your target audience in mind and be objective. Just because you think it’s a great image doesn’t mean it really is, so get a second opinion if in doubt.

etiquetteIncrease your images’ mileage and share-ability by using the hash tag standard to categorise your content so it is easily searchable. Make use of hash tags that already exist for larger content types, for example #interiordesign, so your content is seen by all who follow that content type.

Making your images as unique and interesting as possible – even if your brand is niche and in its own narrow category – will instantly make them more shareable, and doesn’t every business want its brand seen by as many customers and potential customers as possible?