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Chances are high that, as an experienced IT professional or even small business owner, you understand the importance of branding and how it relates to building customer loyalty and overall awareness. You know that consistency and placement are critical to long term success in building a cohesive, lasting brand.

But, have you taken the time to explore how the proper use of social media –post setting up a basic account – could benefit your branding efforts? Are you aware that the success of your brand may comprehensively depend on the way you use social media to your advantage? Based on the most recent studies (highlighted below), social media is adept to make or break any brand, yours included.

Understand the Value of Engaging Followers

Your company’s social media page (be it a Twitter account, YouTube channel or Facebook page) may be the first pool of information a potential client or customer has the opportunity to learn about what you have to offer. It’s probably where they’ll come to learn about the aspects your brand values and what you have to offer.

In fact, a recent study by AYTM Market Research makes the whole scenario more evident. According to the study, 85% of Internet users have Facebook accounts and 49% are on Twitter. Up to 74% of these users access their sites daily and the average user has over 100 followers and/or fans. Taking it one step further, up to 58% of users have followed a brand and/or commented, shared or retweeted information posted by these brands.

By connecting with your potential clients where they spend considerable amount of time, you’re not asking them to add another item to their saturated to do lists; you’re simply making yourself available and providing an outlet that you’d otherwise be missing out on. Having a social media platform is crucial towards establishing a stronger brand presence online.

Give Them What They’re Looking For

Once you’ve established your pages and accounts, the real branding work begins: the task of growing your fan/follower/viewer/reader base. To embark upon this, it is vital to begin with existing clients & share your page information along with asking them to become a follower. For further penetration, ask them to spread the word with their online connections by sharing or reposting. By implementing such efforts in the initial growth stage, you’re expanding your reach exponentially considering the fact that majority of your followers are connected to a minimum of 100 other people.

However, you’re additionally responsible for creating an incentive. Brands which have their own social media pages and accounts however fail to provide what their clients and customers are looking for thus setting themselves up for failure. The same AYTM study referred above projects that 80% of the people prefer to get coupons, promos and discounts from brands through social media networks (as opposed to traditional paper coupons and advertising options).

Become a Resource

One of the most concrete/ robust reasons why individuals choose to interact with brands online, and also account to be one of the most critical aspects of successful social media marketing pertains to relevant content. Users seek for content that answers their questions and helps them make purchasing decisions.

Furthermore, 32% of individuals prefer updates from brands in the form of short, social media updates. They seek for answers and perhaps you are able to set yourself up a subject matter update with few short sentences, it doesn’t take a white paper to create a successful online brand. Think about the IT and networking questions you are often asked and set up a Q&A session on Twitter. Create live Google+ Hangouts to encourage interaction and allow your clients (and potential clients) to troubleshoot, share blog posts on Facebook about recent projects or set up a YouTube channel that provides live demonstrations for common IT issues.

Amongst all decisions you implement, having an online presence is critical to your brand’s success and social media is one way to make it happen. Follow the steps recommended above and get started today.

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Matt Smith is a Dell employee who writes to help raise awareness on the topic of Social Media Insights and other network management subjects.