For every marketer, online branding is a puzzle that they must piece together themselves.
Let’s face it, the guides you can find online can only cover so much. At the end of the day, you still have go through trial and error to devise a strategy that will match your brand’s specific needs.
Sure, mistakes will be made. But if you’re willing to learn, these can be turned into stepping stones that will inch you closer to your goals.
To accelerate your progress, you can also learn from experts who’ve already been in your situation before. Here are five branding lessons from social media stars that you should know about:
1. Neil Patel: Use “pre-suasion” to build anticipation, interest, and desire.
Put simply, “pre-suasion” is the act of influencing the audience to buy into something before you even present them with your message. The term was introduced in “Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade” by Dr. Robert Cialdini -- a renowned psychology and marketing regents’ professor at Arizona State University.
“It’s kind of like a first date,” says Neil. “You need to ‘set the mood’ by putting on nice clothes, getting your car washed, etc. so that your date is impressed.”
In his post on how to create an online course, he describes how pre-suasion can be done in four simple steps: creating good visuals, using effective phrasing, putting the most important idea front and center, and knowing your angle.
2. Katy Perry: Humanize your brand, but be authentic.
Today, you see a lot of brands that are trying to “humanize” their brand by using casual language, posting stolen photos, and responding to comments in a friendly tone. While these ideas sound good on paper, a lot of brands execute them poorly because they lack authenticity.
To be fair, Katy Perry will probably rack up a huge number of followers even without proactive social media marketing. What’s commendable, however, is the amount of audience engagement that her posts on Twitter.
“I think people like following me because they see that there’s an authenticity to it -- it’s always me Tweeting,” says Katy. “I’m sharing about my life; it’s not always me saying ‘buy my record, buy my record!’.”
One way to instill authenticity in your brand’s social media presence is to let employees take the reins. For example, you can run an employee takeover that lets them post about their day and communicate with the audience in their own way.
3. Mark Fischbach: Embrace your core content and avoid controversies.
One thing that separates Mark Fischbach -- also known as Markiplier -- from other gaming channels on YouTube is his commitment to horror content, which played a huge part in his success. Although he also publishes vlogs, sketch comedy clips, and short animations, the majority of his expansive video library falls under this core genre.
“Once you start getting fans, talk to them and really try to connect deeply with who they are and what they do,” says Mark in one of his old videos. “As you start to grow bigger, just try to stay true to yourself and the reason you did it.”
If you’re trying to grow a brand, you need to be consistent with an identity that is proven to align with your audience. Diversification of your content can help you appeal to new people, but you should never completely deviate from what your loyal followers are already accustomed to.
It’s also worth remembering that publishing anything offensive or irresponsible may cause a lot of negative press. Unlike bigger channels like Felix Kjellberg’s PewDiePie, Markiplier also tends to avoid posting anything that may create controversies or friction with other YouTube content creators.
4. Clara Shih: Redefine your success metrics.
In marketing analytics, analysis can very quickly turn into paralysis. This is especially true if you do not define success in your branding and marketing efforts.
Remember that branding and relationship-building goes hand in hand. To make the most out of both processes, make sure you are connecting with the right people. However, you shouldn’t get hung up on monetary ROI alone.
Rather than monitoring the standard CLV (Customer Lifetime Value), consider the “Social CLV” model that’s developed by Clara Shih -- CEO and founder of Hearsay Systems.
In addition to the sale value and the estimated number of repurchases, Social CLV also factors in word-of-mouth referrals, customer support cost savings, and sales resulting from idea contributions.
“It takes into account a consumer’s influence and level of participation on community forums, feedback sessions, and the like when calculating his or her overall value to the brand,” says Shih.
It’s also important to understand a community and determine which content types resonate with its users. For example, if you want to build your brand with an arsenal of visual content, be on the lookout for profiles with a substantial Instagram follower count. Alternatively, you can kick off with influencer or content research tools like BuzzSumo, NinjaOutreach, or Followerwonk.
5. Ann Handley: Thinking and researching is the foundation of good writing.
Regardless of your niche, text articles are the bread and butter of your online branding efforts. It’s the most practical format for delivering a comprehensive and coherent message to your target audience.
But rather than thinking too much about your writing style and voice, you need to focus on what really matters. And according to content marketing keynote speaker Ann Handley, it’s all about the information that serves your audience’s interests.
“Writing is not the foundation of good writing -- it’s thinking and researching,” says Handley.
Her advice may sound rudimentary, but focusing on the meat of your content is fundamental for audience engagement. It doesn’t matter if you want to build your brand through your own blog, a webinar series, or via social media.
Branding through social media is a lot harder than it sounds. At one point, you may feel like you’ve got it all figured out -- only to find yourself getting zero engagement for weeks. Hopefully, the lessons above can help you shape a brand that not only gets the audience’s attention, but also their much-needed trust.
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* Adapted lead image: Public Domain, pixabay.com via getstencil.com