Survey results have shown that more than 89% of consumers research online before making a buying decision. 87% of them agree that a favorable review has confirmed their decision to purchase. [Source: survey conducted by ORC International] This means that maintaining and managing your online presence has never been more important. Translating your brand's personality onto the web can be tricky, so here is our list of five simple steps that can help you get started.
1: Match your offline and online personas:
When you're creating a Facebook page or a Twitter account, it should match your brand's personality in the real world. Choose a design language (colours, shapes, textures, fonts) that represents your brand's image. Next, ask yourself which social media platform is best suited for communication between you and your customers. You may not need to create an account on each one of them. Selecting the one most actively used by your target audience will make it more manageable for you.
For example, let's look at two female singers, both of whom are very well known but have completely different personalities. Beyoncé and Rihanna have managed their online profiles brilliantly to match their offline personalities. Beyoncé's Tumblr page shows carefully selected photos of her enjoying with family and friends. Rihanna's Instagram feed couldn't be more different. Her casual photos show her smoking a cigarette or drinking to her career's success.
2: Groom your search results:
Your customers will rarely move to the second page of the Google Search results to find what they are looking for. Set a distinct and clear name for Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube and other social networking sites. It also helps to specify your country or region in your name as your target audience may be searching for products within their locality. If you have special offers or campaigns, dedicate a separate landing page for those to land customers directly to them.
For example, popular chocolate brand Cadbury Dairy Milk is spread all over the globe. They have separate Facebook pages and communities for different countries and even for special promotions and offers so if a customer saw a billboard about it, he will have no hard time searching for it online. Their recent campaign "Unwrap Big Prizes" (developed by Cygnis Media) has its own landing page and appears in search results when you look for 'cadbury unwrap'.
3: Establish credibility:
It is not enough to only be active on your own social media platforms. You need to branch out and participate in social media discussions that revolve around other topics of your brand's interest. If you are in the food and beverage industry, you may want to see what restaurants your customers prefer and where they are talking about your brand other than your own page. Focus on your specialties and post sporadically but smartly.
For example, Skinny Kitchen is a recipes brand that stays active on other recipe and culinary channels on social media. It regularly posts recipes on allrecipes' Facebook page where food connoisseurs from around the world share recipes and kitchen tips. Staying active on other channels increases visibility, draws attention to your own page and guarantees that your message will get delivered to the right people at the right place.
4: Respond to Feedback:
Do you know that more than 90% of the companies in the world don't respond to their customers' feedback on social media? That can be fatal to your brand. When you're starting a conversation on the web, you need to monitor it as well. See how people are responding to various posts. Is there anything that they like in particular or getting offended from? Are they asking questions or are they providing reviews for your products? Get back to them and let them know you heard.
For example, recent animation Stanley Pickle gained momentum through Vimeo and Twitter by personally thanking each person who re-tweeted or favourited their film on-line. They started the conversation and then kept it going. They answered people's questions, responded to their jokes and took their fans seriously. In return, their fans took them seriously and spread the word like wildfire.
5: Eliminate Spamming:
On social media, people can get carried away simply because they can. Some people spam your page with random links that have nothing to do with your brand, others post ridiculous comments. All of these spammers can cost you real fans who want to provide genuine feedback. Get rid of these spammers so your customers have a clean environment to interact with you. Set down clear rules for your social media page so people are warned beforehand.
For example, the beverage giant Coca Cola has a separate page for "House Rules" on their Facebook page. The page outlines the guidelines for commenting and posting on the Coca Cola page. A simple way of letting fans know that their genuine opinions are honoured and spammers are - well, not so much.
Conclusion: In conclusion, you should know what your brand stands for and what its core values are. Communication is the problem of the communicator - so make it a point to get your brand's right perception conveyed to the audience. Curate your search results in a way that customers can find you easily with simple search results and on the first page on Google's search results. Understanding where your target audience is most densely congregated will help you deliver the message to them effectively. And effective communication is what it's all about. Share your feedback in comment area.