How social media can build a small business brand - part 2

Yesterday I posted part 1 of this article, (http://www.andreakelly.org/andreakelly/2015/3/25/how-social-media-can-build-a-small-business-brand-part-1) about how traditional brand building principles fit in with a contemporary social media marketing plan. I looked at how the first 2 steps of brand building, identity and meaning, play out in a social media setting. I mentioned that these brand building blocks fit so well with social media that it’s incredible to think we ever managed to build brands without it.

 

Today I continue that exploration into response and relationships, and I’m pretty sure that straight away it’s pretty obvious that these 2 steps also fit perfectly with social media and probably even better than the first 2. Social media is social and it’s interactive - perfect for eliciting and encouraging response and building relationships.

 

So following on from identity and meaning ...

 

3. Next is response - judgements and feelings about your brand

When a customer or client puts your brand identity together in their mind with your brand meaning, they form brand judgements and feelings, and naturally we want them to be positive.

There are four broad categories of brand judgement - they are;

Brand quality - influenced by how well you perform in relation to competitors, your professionalism, image, customer value and satisfaction.

Brand credibility - influenced by perceived expertise, trustworthiness and likability, that is, competent, dependable and interesting or fun.

Brand consideration - how much does your target consider your brand to be a good fit for them. It is possible to believe a brand to be of high quality, dependable, competent and interesting, but still not a good fit for a prospective client or customer - this is where your personality and going the extra distance comes in so that word-of-mouth gets your over the line.

Brand superiority - do your customers and clients believe that your brand offers them advantages that other brands can’t or don’t deliver? If your products don’t stand out, or if they are commodity type products, then you can still achieve this belief in superiority through your customers' overall experience with your brand. Again, your personality and going out of your way to make your customers’ experience exceed their expectations can be your ticket to brand superiority.

 

Incorporating these categories into your social media strategy capitalises on social media’s interactive and relationship building qualities. Using your personality to deliver content that fosters the formation of favourable responses from your audience is perfect for the social platform. Compare achieving the above via traditional marketing and advertising channels to the now ubiquitous social platforms we have available to us today. Just makes you want to throw your hands up in the air and say ‘YEAH’, doesn’t it?!

 

4. Finally is relationships - creating brand resonance

This is all about the relationship your customers and clients have with you and your brand, and how ‘in sync’ they feel with what the brand represents. This is where engagement, loyaltybrand advocation and a sense of community happens.

 

Engagement happens when customers and clients are willing to spend time, energy and money on the brand in a way that goes above and beyond the exchange of goods and services. Engagement is a fundamental characteristic of a mutually beneficial relationship and can be expressed through comments on your blog or social media channels, participation in competitions and other promotional activities, attend events hosted by your brand and tell their friends and colleagues about how good you do what you do.

 

Loyalty means your customers and clients will be back for more products and services from you rather than searching the market to satisfy their needs. Loyalty not only produces repeat business, but it increases the frequency, as well as the quantity purchased, feeds engagement, community and evangelism.

 

Brand advocation is where your happy clients and customers become evangelists for your brand. When humans are happy, it’s just in our nature to share it. Word-of-mouth has always been and will always be the most powerful form of marketing because we trust our friends more than we trust companies, brands, and well, marketing.

 

Community is important to people because we’re human - identifying with others is what we do. When a brand creates a community around their values, customers and clients can express an affiliation with others they perceive to share similar values. And when a community is created, the strength, reach and influence of that community greatly exceeds that of the individuals of which it is comprised.

 

Social media as a marketing platform offers itself so well to these principles that I wonder how we ever achieved these outcomes without it. Of course it was done, but there were so many more barriers to entry for the small business owner. The expense, the media and agency gatekeepers, the mass marketing channels and the disempowerment of small business to name a few.

 

Luckily you and I now live in a new era. Traditional marketing principles still stand, but we have better, more accessible ways of implementing them and have greater potential to achieve better results. Social media plays a massive role in that change and in the opportunity that now exists to take traditional marketing and make it better, do work that’s more meaningful, reach more people and change more lives.

 

Your brand, coupled with sound marketing principles incorporated into a contemporary social media strategy, can be a part of this brave new world.

I hope you enjoyed this, thanks for reading, and if you have any comments, I'd love to hear from you in the comments below.

Thank you,

Andrea

Photo credit: View from the top of the Rock, New York, by Dimitry B. via Flickr