From SMEs to multinationals, companies are well aware that communicating their brand is an essential part of doing business: who they are, what they do, why customers should buy from them. But the channels for digital communication have exploded with customers now having the power to elevate or ruin a company’s reputation through social sharing. The rules have changed – so what can you do to maximise your chances of building a brand that brings in business?
This week, we welcome online business journalist and entrepreneur Megan Ritter to the Firehead blog. She highlights 10 things clients should make sure they have covered when it comes to brand marketing through digital communication.
1. Mobile – from smartphones to wearables
With mobile usage expected to surpass desktop usage as soon as this year, the shift to smartphones and tablets is a must to address if you’re to stay relevant to your customers. This is no doubt the biggest trend for brand communicators to be aware of.
Mobile devices are easy to use, convenient to carry and accessible 24/7, so gear your brand communication to be consumed on small-screen devices through responsive design or apps, rather than planning content that only works on more traditional desktop views.
In addition to mobile, wearable technology will also give us the opportunity to create and consume personal content on the move.
2. Personalisation – serving up unique content
Personalisation involves communicating relevant information across a variety of channels. If you are able to showcase clearly how much effort you’ve put into creating a plan that will cater to customers’ specific needs, they will likely feel more inclined to trust your brand.
3. Social media – resourcing customer engagement
The crucial difference in social versus the more traditional media is the opportunity for engagement. What was once a one-way street of information is now a potential two-way conversation about your brand.
Make sure you are both listening in to what your customers are saying – setting up a feedback pipeline into your business can be very useful on many levels – but also setting some skilled resource to address their needs or to act swiftly on any reputational issues as they arise. (More on real-time responses below.)
4. Brand journalism – editorial for customers
Online publishing tools have levelled the playing field and businesses no longer have to look solely to big media, PR and advertising for visibility and brand recognition. Now anyone can create timely content that brings ongoing and relevant visibility through using a journalistic approach to their brand comms.
Why hire a journalist and not a PR or marketer? Because they know all the tricks of the trade of engaging an audience, have a nose for news and hunting out interesting company stories, keep content topical and relevant, tell a good story, ask questions and provide answers – essentially, getting your content read by your target audience.
5. Always on – monitoring your brand’s reputation
Think of how quickly a video or image can reach millions of viewers. Trying to remove or pull down something that has gone viral, especially something with a negative connotation attached, often just makes matters worse drawing even more attention to the problem. Make sure you and your PR team knows what to do in a crisis – and plan for it.
6. Transparency – open customer conversation
Consumers have a multitude of channels and platforms available at their disposal to expose or discredit a business within a few short minutes on their hand-held device. Tactical transparency has become increasingly important and effective way to deal with this.
For example, you can take advantage of these open platforms to educate your customers more fully on exactly what your brand has to offer them, and to be there with correct information when a negative story breaks.
Providing dialogues such as FAQ boards will invite open communications directly with consumers. The more open and transparent your brand appears, the more customers will see it clearly and build their trust in you.
7. Evidence-based strategy – honing your digital comms
Measuring the effectiveness of a marketing campaign can now be examined on most of the popular social platforms using a variety of data, such as number of pageviews, shares, likes, click-throughs, sales conversions and so on. Set up and regularly review your analytics to discover where the most effective use of your marketing time and energy is to be found.
8. Visual content – from animations to augmented reality
Don’t just communicate through text; customers like and respond to visual content. Photographs, videos, infographics, animations, augmented reality and so on can offer an effective way to relay large chunks of information into more easily digested portions.
Allowing people to post their comments under video or other images will further encourage them to engage with you, your brand, product and services. Unless breaking moderation rules, don’t bother taking down negative comments as it will show that you are open to listening and responding.
Megan M Ritter is an online business journalist and entrepreneur living in Los Angeles. In addition to covering brand communication trends, her writing also covers virtual technology, business globalisation and social media marketing. Connect with her on Twitter.