Branding Through Facebook Alone

Most of us have used Facebook at one point or another, and it’s great for a lot of things. For personal use, it’s great for keeping in touch with friends and family and/or sharing photos of a grumpy cat. For business, it’s a great way to showcase your products and services, provide helpful and useful information, and establish yourself as an industry leader. One thing it’s not particularly good for is establishing and showcasing your business brand.

There are many things that go into establishing your business brand and brand image. Too often, we still see businesses that opt to have Facebook as the only online face of their business – and as I mentioned earlier, Facebook is pretty horrible at establishing a brand. There are several reasons for this.

One of the obvious issues with having Facebook as the only online existence for your company is that the posts you make on Facebook have a rather short lifetime. Within a few hours, that post is irrelevant. Even if someone marks your page to have it show first, if the content is too old (merely a few hours), that post won’t show up. Plus, when your followers do see your post, they are very possibly seeing another post from a competitor right away.

The biggest issue with attempting to brand your business through Facebook alone is that you have very little control over the presentation. Yes, you can add in your own photos, but you’re oftentimes only adding one photo per post. Additionally, you’re probably only posting once or twice a day. You have no control over things like background colors, font selection, font color or slideshow images, and only limited options for a strong call to action.

I’m by no means arguing against having a Facebook business page or using one on a regular basis. It serves as a great avenue for building a connection with an audience and your page’s followers, but at the end of the day, Facebook alone is a very poor avenue for establishing a company brand and image: there really is no social media platform that will replace your business website for that purpose. Social media platforms can certainly enhance your brand and image, but a dedicated website is needed to help establish that brand in the first place.

Social Media Isn’t Just for “Marketing”

Unless you’ve been living under the proverbial rock, you’ve heard about how social media can be used for marketing your business. One side of marketing that is often overlooked is taking action to maintain your clientele. Social media is not just about marketing; it’s about building and maintaining relationships.

Most business owners know that it’s about 10 times more expensive to find a new client than to maintain a current client. There’s no perfect method to keep a client forever, but a great way is to build a strong relationship with them. Social media is a great way to build and maintain that relationship. By effectively using social media, we can do so much more than just advertise different aspects of business – we can have a full conversation and interaction with clients.

One of the leading reasons many clients take their business somewhere else isn’t because of price changes, but rather because they no longer feel appreciated – or perhaps they simply forget about the business. Many businesses score great reviews from clients for the work they do. The problem is that for some companies, it could be years between business transactions. While the client might be happy with the product or service they received, they could very easily forget about their experience, especially if there is no relationship.

With social media, that relationship can be built and developed. Social media isn’t just about promoting your business, it’s about having conversations between your business and your existing clients. By utilizing social media, you can build a strong relationship between your business and clients, therefore avoiding the added expense of needing to find a new client.

Pinterest Feeds

I don’t claim to be a Pinterest expert, but one things I do know about it is that you can very easily spend way too much time on it. That easy addictiveness of Pinterest is what makes it a very powerful marketing tool. That easy addictiveness is also what can make Pinterest a cause for concern, especially if you include a Pinterest feed on your website.

Just like most other social media, there really isn’t a lot of sales that happen on Pinterest. The various social media platforms are there to engage your audience and social community and then eventually drive them back to your website to make a sale. I’m all for providing links to your social media accounts on your site, we do that on most of the sites we build. But providing a full feed of your posts, especially on something that is easily captivating like Pinterest, can have a negative effect pretty easily. If someone sees something in that feed and then follows it to Pinterest, there is a fairly decent chance that they might not be back for a while. What’s more concerning is that they very well may forget all about you because they left your site so quickly and got to Pinterest right away. Once they’re at Pinterest, they could very easily come across any number of other competitors. If those competitors are using the platform to drive users to their site to complete a sale or transaction, you could very easily lose out on the opportunity.

I’m not at all against Pinterest or any other social media platform. They are a tremendous marketing opportunity, but as Uncle Ben said, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” Social media should be an avenue for building and engaging with you social community, then bringing that community back to your website to complete a transaction.

How To Use Content Marketing Strategies

One of the hot marketing phrases you’ve probably heard recently is Content Marketing. Content Marketing is one of the most powerful ways that you can promote your business, especially with social media platforms such as Facebook. One of the key parts of content Marketing, a part that confuses many business owners, is that you’re not actually promoting your business with each posts – and that’s what makes it so powerful.

With content marketing, what you’re looking to do is to position yourself and your business as an expert in you field, as a place to turn to for ideas, inspirations, tips, tricks, and anything that your audience might find helpful. For example, if you’re a car dealership, you could make posts about what different parts of a typical car loan mean or ways to get the most life out of your car. These aren’t sales oriented posts, they are simply posts to provide your audience with something of value.

After a certain number of these value driven posts, feel free to make a sale pitch oriented post. The thing to keep in mind is that your sales pitch posts shouldn’t outnumber your value driven posts. Content marketing is all about the audience and providing them with great information and useful content. Once you’ve established the relationship through those value posts, you can then come back and make a sales pitch posts. I know the question you’re dying to know… how many value posts do I need to make before I make a sales pitch post? Unfortunately, there is no single answer to that. It changes from industry to industry, and from company to company, and even time of year to time of year. Trial and error is the name of the game. I’ve recommended to clients in the past to start with making about 7 value posts and then a sales posts. Keep track of the success you have and see what combination you need for your business.

Content marketing sounds a little different, especially with the value posts where you aren’t promoting or really even necessarily talking about your business. What you’re doing is building those relationships. We may live in an extremely high tech, social media filled world, but those relationships between a business and their customers is still immeasurably important.

Defend Your Soap Box

Depending on the industry your business is in, you may have some topics or views that might ruffle a few feathers. If you have things that might be a little controversial (think politics) don’t be afraid to talk about them or express your views online through your blog or social media – just be prepared to defend your digital soap box.

A friend of mine is a health insurance rep, and often times will make some very politically base comments. Does he likely ruffle a few feathers with some of his comments? Yup, no doubt. Does he know he’s going to ruffle a few feathers by making those posts? Yup, no doubt. Do people sometimes comment back and argue or debate his posts? Yup, no doubt. When people do argue or debate him though, he will always defend his belief or stance on the issue.

If you express your beliefs or views on any subject and someone challenges or debates you on the issue, just be sure to defend your soap box. Getting a dialog like that going is really what social media is all about.

The Conversation

When I talk to clients about blogging, email newsletters or social media, I often get asked about what they should write about. What you write about isn’t necessarily the most important thing to think about. What you should be thinking about and keeping in mind, is that it’s all about the conversation between you and your community.

While it’s important for you to be talking about things related to your industry or business, at the end of the day you are really just having a conversation with people. Make sure that your writings and posts are written in a similar tone and style to which you speak. Some people think that since they are writing they need to use big words or come across as a very well educated writer – not at all true, but do be sure to use spell check and proof read things.

The goal with these different types of communications is to keep you and your company front and center with your community. It’s really no different from calling someone or going out for a cup of coffee. Just be yourself and share your ideas and provide some value. We may live in a high tech world, but people still buy from people.

Only have a Facebook page?

When speaking to people about the benefits of a website I have recently heard, “I don’t need a website, I have a Facebook page.” Through some investigating I found they did have a Facebook page, one of them actually very successful! Even with this I still expressed my reservations.  I know I have an obviously biased stance on this issue (being a web designer), but with this experience I have to take a few moments and share why this is a mistake.

One big drawback to Facebook is that it doesn’t index very well in search engine results. How often have you Google’d a business/individual and had a Facebook page in the first couple of results? Facebook may have a billion users, but there are still another five billion web users on this planet, many of whom will never hear what you’re saying if you are restricted to that demographic. Think of all the possibilities and opportunities you are missing my limiting yourself to one form of networking.

Another big drawback to the “Facebook only” approach is that Facebook itself isn’t a very user friendly Search Engine. Ever try searching in Facebook for a local pizza place? How about trying to find the name of the restaurant that you pass by every night on the way home from work but can never catch or remember the name of it? If social media is your only presence online, you severely miss out on showing up in any of the many random searches that people do every day.

When I tell people about this third reason, people usually look at me as if I’m crazy. If you watch the news at night, you’ll know that Mark Zuckerberg is not the smartest businessman. Facebook can, and will, go away at any point in time. It is simply one of the many platforms available in Social Media.  Social media is all about current trends and many came before Facebook and many will come after. Remember AOL? Remember AOL Instant Messenger? Have you logged in to your MySpace account much lately? In the span of a few short months, MySpace went from being the beacon of social media to being a near laughingstock. If your only existence online is on Facebook (or any social media platform) and it goes away, what does that say about your business?

A final thought also about having a Facebook business page versus a customized website is this: by restricting yourself to the Facebook format you are letting them dictate how you present/represent your business. With a website you can showcase your individuality and why people should buy your services or goods compared to your competitor. Most businesses have a Facebook page but no one will have YOUR BUSINESS’ website, that will always be original.

I’m by no means saying don’t use Facebook or social media. Use it! It’s a great tool to have in your tool belt for marketing your company. What I am saying is we need to be mindful of the way we utilize social media. You need to make sure that your website is the center of your online existence. Bring the users back to your site. More on that idea in an upcoming blog.

The Website Marketing Hat Trick

We’ve written a few posts in the past about how to market a website, but I thought it would be helpful to do one more, and bring all three aspects we’ve talked about together. When you utilize blogging,Social Media, and Email Marketing you can see a great return on your investment as you complete the Website Marketing Hat Trick.

BLOGGING

One marketing element that all businesses should utilize is a blog. Blogging can help increase your overall search engine ranking, as well as help you to showcase your expertise and knowledge in your industry. By writing good posts on a regular basis, your clients will continue to return to your site, looking for more expert knowledge, and possibly complete a make a purchase or contact you (whatever the goal of your site may be).

FACEBOOK

Facebook has over 500 millions users, odds are that some of them are either existing or potential customers. With a Facebook account for your business, you have a great avenue for introducing new products or services, announcing new sales or specials, or just opening a unique dialog amongst your customers and Facebook community. With new posts made on your Facebook wall, try to include a link back to your main website. By doing this, you’ll help pull visitors back to your site to complete your sites objective, and it also can help increase your search engine ranking.

EMAIL MARKETING

Acquiring new customers isn’t always an easy task. Once you have a customer, or even just a potential client, you’d want to stay in communication with them. By using an email marketing campaign, you can announce new products or services, sales or promotions, or simply stop in and say “hello.” A well written email, especially one with a custom email template, can yield great results. With a custom template, your email can easily stand out from all the other dozens of emails your subscribers get a day.

PULLING IT ALL TOGETHER

The game plan for search engine optimization is changing. The emphasis is no longer on gaming the search engines. It’s about providing your users with quality information at their convenience. By using these three marketing avenues – Blogging, Facebook, Email Marketing – you can see a great return on your investment with higher sales, and a more loyal customer following. If you would like to learn more about putting the Website Marketing Hat Trick to work for your company, get in touch with us today. Are you currently using any or all three of these marketing tools? How are they working for you?