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Beware: is your social media damaging your brand? Posted by Ben Norman on 16 February 2012
One of the most important considerations in a company’s social media campaigns is to provide a consistent brand image across different platforms. Ben Norman, Managing Director of digital marketing agency, Koozai, gives advice on how to go about this.
Social media is a huge subject area and all manner of issues arise when considering how to carry out an effective campaign. For example, you need to decide which of the many platforms to use, how to get them to feed into each other and how often to use them.
However, one thing is essential to a successful social media campaign, and that is your brand. Or, more accurately, brand consistency. In this article, I want to share some specific tips for Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn, that you can take away and implement today.
It is important to keep branding consistent across your website and tie together all your social media properties to ensure a consistent message is portrayed. This is essential to ensure that when the different properties are viewed that they are recognized as being connected to the company that you are promoting.
If you are running a Facebook and Twitter profile for your brand, for instance, the design skins need to match each other. A good way to achieve this is to ensure that you have clear brand guidelines in place that all members of your team and suppliers can adhere to.
This may seem a simple enough thing to achieve, but many companies, time after time, continue to get it wrong.
So, how can you ensure that you portray your brand consistently across the different platforms? Easy. Just follow the advice below.
When setting up and using social properties for the first time there are many different steps to follow to make sure your campaigns are as on message as possible. Setting up the platforms in a non-consistent way will only limit your chances of making social media a successful marketing channel for your business.
Points for all platforms
1) Use the same username on all of the profiles, preferably your company name. If you are unable to get your company name try to be creative and find something that works for you.
2) Use a good quality logo for the main image/avatar on each platform (PNG image files tend to work well and retain their quality).
3) Write unique bios and include a link back to your main company website.
4) Write in the same style and tone as you do on your main website.
5) Portray your company ethos and represent your brand throughout.
6) Before putting anything live, get the copy proofed so there are no silly mistakes.
7) Have one person dedicated to managing all company social media accounts.
8) Do not let your social properties sit dormant! If you have them, you need to use them frequently or you will quickly lose followers.
Twitter is a fantastic platform to use to integrate into your industry and push your brand. Over time, if used correctly, you will be seen and recognized as an expert in your field and this can be extremely valuable to a brand.
When you first consider using Twitter, make sure you are doing it for the right reasons. In certain industries, it may not be the right platform and there is no point setting up a profile and then not using it. If you won’t have useful things to say or share every day, then don’t use Twitter.
Another useful aspect of Twitter is that it enables you to connect with prospective customers and partners quickly. Whether you want to communicate with potential buyers as an encouragement to make a purchase, or provide ongoing support for existing customers, it can be an invaluable tool.
Via Tweetdeck and Hootsuite you can set up useful search filters which pull in all mentions of your brand across the platform, ensuring that you can reach out to potential customers quickly and deal with any negative press you may receive.
Here are five of my top tips to use on Twitter:
1) Get a Twitter handle (username) that is your company name. If the name is already taken by another user and your company name is trademarked, you can approach Twitter and try to get it back (see this State of Search article for more information).
2) If you have a company blog, get it set up to automatically post to Twitter by installing a plugin (WordPress Tweet Button or Twitterfeed, for example. This will ensure your profile is regularly updated with content you want to push.
3) Interact with followers on Twitter and follow relevant users back.
4) Push any positive feedback by re-tweeting and engage in the conversation if you can.
5) Deal with negative tweets appropriately so others can see that you are trying to put it right. At Koozai, we have taken the approach to have a dedicated company account but we also have accounts for each employee within the team. This has allowed us to grow our brand online quickly as all members of the team are helping to push messages about the brand and our services.
If you decide to take this route, the employee Twitter handles should contain the company name along with the employee’s name. For example, my Twitter handle is @Koozai_Ben. Wordtracker’s is @Wordtracker
Facebook is a very good place for you to push the ethos of your brand in a fun and social environment. You can also use it to communicate business updates and developments in a non-corporate environment. And it allows you to educate and keep fans of your page up to date with what your company is doing.
A lot of tips below can be used across all the social media platforms, but here are six that are specific to Facebook:
1) Rather than using the normal Facebook page design and layout, create something that is unique to you. However, make sure it mirrors your website and other social properties and that your logo appears so it can be used as a thumbnail.
2) Check that the thumbnail image of your logo is displayed correctly in posts. Some logos don’t fit well into the small square and half the logo gets cut off so always good to check this and amend where possible.
3) Add relevant company pictures and videos to the page. If you have company events, photos are good to get across the social side of your company.
4) Populate the About Us section with relevant information about your company and be sure to include mentions of the brand name throughout.
5) Track and respond to all comments and keep an eye on who “likes” your content as they can be useful in promoting future items.
6) Users of Facebook get frustrated with companies that post excessively, so keep this to a minimum. Once per day should be ample for Facebook, unless you have a flood of major announcements.
If you have videos or are planning to make them for your brand, YouTube is a platform that you should definitely be utilizing. You can show your brand as an authority in your niche and you will find that there are not many companies using YouTube in the correct manner.
And as video tends to have a higher perceived value than other forms of marketing such as audio and print you can really show your brand as a thought leader.
1) Ensure that the quality of your videos is high and audio is clear.
2) Video length should vary – we have everything from 60 seconds to 20 minutes.
3) Include links to your main company site and a call to action at the end of videos.
4) Utilize the channel description as a way to drive visitors back to your main website.
5) When logged into your account, go to the Channel Settings and switch to ‘Player Mode’. This is the newer layout and allows users to see and select your existing channel and new videos.
6) Update the Title and Meta tags for your channel using the Settings functionality in YouTube.
7) Post transcripts with your videos (this is a legal requirement, but very few people do it). Uploading videos to YouTube can be time-consuming so I wouldn’t recommend doing this on a daily basis. Fortnightly should be sufficient for YouTube.
Google+ is similar to Facebook and Twitter in many ways; but it is a very high profile social platform that has a strong effect on rankings and is gaining traction fast, so should not be forgotten.
You can set up a company profile on Google+ and it allows you to add links off to your other social profiles. To verify your Google+ page, you need to link to it off your main company website and this is a step that a lot of businesses are not aware of.
1) Be sure to populate all possible fields to give your page the best chance of showing up in the search engines.
2) Create circles of people so that you can communicate messages to certain groups easily.
3) Link to your other social profiles, not forgetting your own website.
4) Verify your account by adding a link on your main site.
5) Post photos in a similar way to Facebook.
6) Add useful content daily.
LinkedIn is the most widely used social network for businesses and individuals in businesses and can be a great sales tool if used in the correct way. You should set up a company profile on LinkedIn and also get your employees to set up a personal account if they don’t already have one.
1) For the company profile, complete all fields that are offered to you to ensure that your page looks professional.
2) Get your employees to link to the company profile from their personal accounts.
3) Encourage employees to add links to your main company website with relevant anchor text.
4) Senior members of the team should have Premium Accounts as it allows to you track who has viewed your profiles. This is great for a sales team as they can get in touch with prospective customers.
5) Employees can link their company Twitter accounts to automatically post on LinkedIn.
Now that your social properties are set up you need to ensure that they are populated on a regular basis. This doesn’t have to be as daunting or as time consuming as you may think.
There are tools available that allow you to automatically push content to Twitter and Facebook. One tool that I can recommend is Twitter Feed, as mentioned above, which is a free and easy to use tool.
Post frequency and cross usage
Many people set up social platforms and lose interest very quickly, leaving the properties to sit with no new content or updates. This will be more damaging than not having a profile at all.
When users find a property that hasn’t been updated for a long time it can cause them to question whether the brand is still in existence. It is very important to keep profiles up to date so having someone in the team dedicated to this task can be beneficial.
I recommend the following updating frequency to get the most out of your social platforms:
Platform Frequency Daily Multiple times per day YouTube Fortnightly Google+ Daily Daily
If you follow the above it should help to ensure that your social media campaigns are successful and that when people come across your different profiles they will have no problem associating them with your website and brand.
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About Ben Norman
Ben Norman is a published author on the subject of SEO and his book “Get to #1 on Google” is now in its 3rd edition, selling more than 50,000 copies. He is the managing director of Digital Marketing Agency Koozai and oversees the day-to-day running of the company.
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Here’s a guide on how to achieve branding consistency across your social media properties.