Building a Brand – Strategy 101 – Blog 1

Welcome to my life, called Building a Brand 101. As a freelancer, and especially in social, you jump onto the sand, create a castle, and then the waves come in and the project’s over. Super. Zen. I feel lucky that for the past year now I have had so much work coming my way, that I’ve had to turn clients away. It’s a good feeling.

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Image: Creative Commons Net Diva

Although for me I lament a bit when a project is over – as I’ve connected with a community and feel I know them, know what resonates…The great thing is with each job, you step away with a perfected content calendar and voice guide ideas, and a perfected list of objectives and questions to ask as you once again hit the sand running. No, don’t run. Walk slowly…at least at the start. Which frankly, I do find to be a challenge.

Laying the Foundation

For Tier 1, select ONLY 3 platforms based on where your demographic plays, then define the objective of each platform, then perfect the voice on each platform. It’s OK if this takes some time. You have a lot of listening to do. Both to your client and their needs, and also what’s going on in the social space.

Once you’ve identified your demographic, Research what platforms they are using 

Research where your target demographic is playing by not only looking at what they’re doing on your current social properties, but by diving deep into what your client’s top-tier competition is doing.

ASK: If your brand could be any brand besides itself, who would it like to be?

Get the answer, and then stalk that brand and their competition like nobody’s business and see what platforms get the most engagement. If your client does not even know who their competition is or how to position themselves  (it’s been known to happen) do your own research. Forbes lists are great for that.

Just go for the Gold. Barney’s over Ross. Louboutins over Aldo. Yale over…You get the picture. It’s not because I’m a snob. I’ve found amazing knock-offs at Ross. But that’s the point. Everything as far as I’m concerned in marketing is aspirational. We all want THE BEST. So, just go and see what Apple is doing. And DONT copy, do your own innovation from there. Clearly they’re doing something right by creating what I like to call…an imprint identity.

Select your platforms

Often, your client will want to be on Pinterest, Vine, Instagram, Google + LinkedIn and of course Facebook right away. NEVER do this. Did I say NEVER do it? Never, just don’t. For your own sanity. Why? Each platform is like a little baby. It needs to be fed. Content. It needs to be listened to. It needs to be monitored. You get the idea. And I get where they’re coming from. They want to get the word out. If too many platforms are live, the messaging becomes diluted. Use FlowChart or another visual tool to map out the flow of your messaging. Some platforms are used to “get the word out” and others, are actually to pull the people in.

Often, you may love a certain platform for an intuitive design or the fact that it offers video. You may love Vine, but is your demo playing there? What is their technical bandwidth?

There are ancillary platforms to leverage, such as If you wanted to create a SoundCloud Playlist, or even begin playing with Vine, it is OK- as long as your 3 primary platforms are clearly defined and in full swing. And with a clear objective in mind – to gain more shares and RTs and likes.

If you’re stepping into a project with platforms already set up, be sure and check the basics like pushing tweets to FB or vice versa. This happened to me today, and it was disturbing, as I had already revoked the twitter to FB. Double check, especially in the beginning. Just don’t syndicate content across your social channels.

Once you determine what the important features of your product are and why your consumer will want your product, Perfect the objective of the platform itself

As stated in a previous post, RTs and SHARES are the ultimate goal on social. We’re cool with the friends and tweeps we have, we LOVE them, but we’re really interested in their hot friends. So we want to utilize each platform in order to inspire this type of word-of-mouth engagement.

It’s essential that you post with an objective, yes, it’s to “create a conversation,” yes, it’s to “be authentic” (although that’s a whole other convo)..but WHY these platforms?

Things to think about:

Facebook: Use Facebook to highlight your brand’s unique culture and vision. It’s about posting images and videos, and linking out to content to establish your brand as a go-to for information your demo craves. 

It’s also great for lead generation. Want a new email list? Run a promotion. It’s also good as a centralized content funnel.

We use Facebook to direct traffic from this platform to information that is generated from you or reflects your brilliance – you will link to videos, the e-commerce site, to blog content (generated in-house or directed to a source you want to align your brand with by sharing their content), or perhaps to departments in the organization you are speaking from the voice of. More on the Content Calendar later. And yes, FB is key in establishing a connection – and a conversation – with your demo.

Twitter: Is a microblogging platform, is global, real-time, and über performative. It’s like a cocktail party on the world’s stage. Everybody’s watching. It’s about pulling people in towards you by tweeting out content that reflects the value of your organization. Once they’ve been pulled in, they will want to share your content. 

The objective on twitter is to get your brand’s handle on the radar of key influencers by using their handles in your tweets and mobilize brand evangelists to retweet or reply to your messaging. When your key influencer likes a post on your Facebook page, that’s great but the event happens within a container, a closed system of Facebook. Your brand evangelist’s friends may see that they ‘liked’ a post of yours, but then that interaction is quickly swept away in the feed. When your key influencer or brand evangelist RTs your content or replies to you on twitter, all of their friends see your twitter handle and the conversation taking place, and this interaction claims a larger residency – as the convo remains on their twitter page for a longer duration, and your handle is not hidden. 

Your Influencer list will drive engagement here. If your messaging is strong and consistent and has VALUE, you can get on the radar of your ideal brand/influencer/ tastemaker/ thoughtleader. Using EdgeRank strategies is useful in this space, but implement creatively. You can get on the radar of key influencers on FB as well, even posting to their page (despite being pushed to that annoying box on the side), but in my experience, the response on FB is much, much slower.

Instagram: Images, images, images. Tell the story of your brand.Often this platform is used to reflect a RT behind-the-scenes story of your organization or brand.

Pinterest: The land of aspiration. We re-pin because we want to be that, do that, have that. 

Tumblr: This is a good space to visually display images. It can also be used as a content funnel and your content can be reblogged. I think this space works best for social critique and meme or animated gif collecting.

Perfect the voice on each platform.

Although your Voice Guide will have consistency across channels (emoticons or no? abbreviations or exclamation points or no?) – you will need to learn the currency on each platform. What hashtags is your demographic currently using? Are the hashtags the smartest choices? Could you perfect or innovate within and/or outside the language that’s currently being used? Who are your tweeps RTing…find out why. What influencers can you identify on each platform that you’d like RTing and Sharing your content? Influencer Lists in another blog. This gets into The Holy Grail. More on that later.

Even though your content calendar may have the same content going out at 10am on both FB and twitter – you must craft messaging according to how content is “read” on each platform. And especially for twitter – because it often has a totally different objective than FB in which case you will be dropping in hashtags and handles that may not be relevant on FB. Though, it is important to use hashtags on FB now. 

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