If you’re a startup or an entrepreneur you’ve already displayed the basic skills you need to profile your brand in social media - an understanding of your market and the ability to read what people expect and want from your business. When it comes to social media don’t let your confidence in these proven skills evaporate. They are there. If your knowledge is the food on your plate, social media is the utensil you use to eat, digest and share that food. But whilst you've been used to a knife and fork, you now need to learn how to use chopsticks. It’s still eating, the food still has to be nutritious, tasty and attractively served.
Here are 4 killer tips for mastering the use of the new utensil, social media, for profiling your brand to your publics.
Tip One: You’ve got to be known for something
A jack of all trades rarely inspires confidence, but an acknowledged expert in specific fields always garners attention. The first tip for profiling your brand and business is to identify what you are experts at. Apart from the products and services you sell select 1-3 areas of expertise in which you are confident and experienced. Of course you will have many more, but let’s not confuse the audience.
You might like to ask yourself what people ask your opinion on, what you read about all the time, which interests have been perennial in your life, related to your business and are likely to remain so. Moreover your subject matter expertise needs to connect in a favorable way with your brand and business. Thus a fashion company might have expertise in design, art, photography and styling. An accounting firm might have interests in economics, banking, fiscal policy and wealth creation. A fitness company might have interests in nutrition, general health, motivation and osteopathy. But don't be a one-trick pony. It's fine to show and display a hobby interest in an unrelated subject because this can also make you interesting.
So Tip One; decide what your areas of expertise are as these are what you're going to share.
Tip Two: Choose the right social media platform for you
Each social media platform has its merits. You’re looking to appear on those that compliment and chime with the values of your business and your products. Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter are some of the largest social media platforms but there are others to consider also, such as Pinterest and Instagram to name just two.
Facebook is the largest social platform with three quarters of Americans holding accounts and is a powerful tool for brand promotion. Twitter is a fast platform and according to a Social Times survey, 59% of journalists worldwide already used Twitter as far back as 2013.
According to Social Media London’s research in February 2015, Instagram is excellent for visually promoted products, and with its young female skewed audience, experienced a growth of 18% against Facebook's active user loss of 7% in the UK. It is now the top platform in that demographic according to this research. Pinterest is excellent for retail based products, again very female in its orientation (62% according to The Last Hurdle Blog), and also young in its usership.
LinkedIn is superb for business-to-business promotion and generates a lot of interest for journalists as a source of stories and spokespeople. But it’s not just about the numbers. You have to ask which platforms suit your style and services, then post across those that do.
Tip Three: Shareable content
Social media operates on the basis of the 'freemium'. The fastest way to get attention is to share material that your followers want to read. Reputations for quality content are quickly built and your followers will continually check to see what is new on your menu. You don’t have to create all the content, just make sure that what you curate and present is of interest and quality. Thus when you share don’t think just about you. It’s only about you in as much as you know what you’re talking about, but for the most part you need to consider what interests your followers and customers.
Related to this is the fact that no one wants to engage with someone who is continually and overtly selling them something. My rule of thumb is that your posts should be 80% gelling (or giving) and 20% selling. Building relationships is about the “gel more than the sell”, a phrase I learned from networking expert Andy Lopata, and the sell follows on naturally from the gel! What you share must reflect the social, cultural and other values of your brand, so be careful about memes and the use of humour.
Remember, we see the world as we are, not necessarily as it is, and what is funny to you may be risqué to your audience. Remember also that visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text so they are a great way to get attention and present takeaways and ideas.
Tip Four: It’s all about relationships
The most important word in Public Relations and Media Relations is “Relations”. Profiling your brand is about building a relationship between your company, brands and services with the audiences that matter – your customers and the journalists who can raise your profile.
When it comes to journalists you need to identify which titles and/or blogs you wish to appear in. Then consider which journalists write for those media platforms, and build relationships with them. The fastest way to get a journalist’s attention is to read their output and share it. Remember, most journalists hate sycophancy so being a creepy stalker online would be counter-productive. Find their articles that resonate with you, comment on them and share them.
Like myself, journalists want to produce news that is fresh, unexpected and game-changing for society. Share material that suits that agenda and connects to your brand. Share views that demonstrate your knowledge of trends and expertise in a way that adds to the knowledge of others. This will give you the best chance of being noticed and taken seriously.
The final thought in this blog is to make sure that you promote new ideas. The media wants feature ideas, ways in which your brand and product are relevant to our way of life, or ways in which your brands hack emerging problems and needs. Think creatively; it’s never just about the facts of your product or service, it’s always about the meaning of the facts to ordinary folk, users, and society.