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Building your brand: Use social media to tell the world who you are

Build your social media brand with a human touch

Imagine a small boutique with all sorts of handmade eclectic wares – everything from candles made of beeswax and sculpted into beehives to beautiful jewelry made out of antique silverware.

The bell above the door jingles as you step into the sweet-smelling boutique. You begin looking through the items on the shelves, pick something out and bring it up to the cashier.

“Greetings, patron,” the cashier says with a blank look on their face. “I entrust your experience in our establishment was pleasant and effective.”

You look around, wondering if there’s an actual human being around, or only this drone-like person in front of you. Uncomfortable, you pay for your item and turn to leave.

“Thank you for your interest in our brand. Based on your previous purchase, you may be interested in our new … ” you hear as the bells jingle and the door closes behind you.

You wouldn’t expect this kind of stiff exchange from an employee of a business in real life, so why would companies treat their customers so stiffly online?

Social media is exactly what the name suggests: social. The best way to build your brand using social media is to effectively use authentic interactions to gain your customers’ trust and acceptance. By only plugging and not interacting, internet users won’t distinguish your brand from any other robotic company out there.

Let’s start by determining where online you should begin to market your brand.

Which accounts to have and how to brand them

It can be difficult to try to figure out which sites are the best for your brand, and it can seem like the easy answer is to just make an account for everything you can. While that might seem like the best way to reach a wide audience, it’s actually less effective than hosting a few accounts that are very well maintained.

Which social media channels should you choose? The best way to figure it out is to determine:

  • Who you are trying to reach.
  • What kind of content you would want to make, and

Ideally, you would have two or three of these accounts and update them often enough to keep your name on the forefront of your followers’ minds, but not so much they unfollow you due to over-saturation.

Old Spice does a good job of keeping the tone and look of its Twitter, Facebook and YouTube pages cohesive.

Old Spice does a good job of keeping the tone and look of its Twitter, Facebook and YouTube pages cohesive.


Old Spice Twitter

This is the banner for the Old Spice Twitter page, which uses the same image as the YouTube page.


Old spice youtube

This is the Old Spice YouTube page, which uses the same logo as the other two pages, the same banner as the Twitter page, and a featured video that relates to the Facebook cover photo.

Tips to make your social media accounts feel cohesive.

  • Make the banner, cover photo, or icon image cohesive among sites. If you’re using images of your products, then use similar ones across platforms. Or if you want to use different images, try to keep the color scheme similar, so it feels like the brand even on different sites.
  • Stick to the same tone on different sites. You’re building a personality with your brand, and you want that to be noticeable and distinctive. So don’t be very formal on one site and whimsical on another. Keep the tone as similar and as close to your personality as possible.
  • Don’t be afraid to reuse content! You can post the same picture to your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram account without committing a social media faux pas. In fact, if you link the accounts together, it may automatically post the same content to multiple sites at the same time to save you time and ensure your followers on all sites will see the new post. Please note that it’s always better to customize content for each channel. If you’re short on time, best is to choose one or two channels to focus on.
  • Link between sites, and link back to your blog or main website. With connections between the different sites and accounts, your followers who really like your content will begin to follow you on all different portals, and sharing your content with their friends.

Now that you have some idea of where you want to post your content, it’s time to talk about how to avoid awkward exchanges on social media.

How to effectively interact with clientele online

  • Talk to them naturally, so they feel comfortable responding back to you.
  • Admit when your company makes mistakes, and see if there’s a way you can make it up to them.
  • Show your personality and the personality of your brand. Are you funny, an activist, eclectic? Show it because most likely customers who are interested in your personality will like your products as well.
  • Re-Tweet, Like, and share things that your customers have written about your brand. They’ll be excited to be recognized by you and others will see the good things they have to say.
  • Find places online to connect with others in a given community – comment on others’ blogs or guest post – and get involved in conversations that will give your brand the right kind of attention.
taco bell tweet 1

This tweet from John Gomez was re-Tweeted by Taco Bell to show customer support from their fans and to interact with someone who is already talking about their brand online.


jet blue reply tweet

JetBlue Airlines replied to this customer’s Tweet almost as if they’re good friends rather than a corporation and a customer.

Many companies these days will search for their name on Twitter to see what people are saying about them, and respond accordingly. Other brands use social media differently. Here’s a list of 20 companies Forbes praises as using social media well.

This example from JetBlue shows how companies can reach out to those talking about them to show their customers that they are paying attention and care about them.

The way you interact with your fans and followers says so much about you and establishes who you are as a brand. It will either make the difference of your online followers staying interested in you and sharing your content with others or unfollowing you and going to your competition.

Consider how you want to be treated and spoken to as a face-to-face customer or client, and treat your online following that way.


Small Organizations Can Create a Big Social Media Presence

Aimee Roundtree

When time, money, and help are hard to come across, it’s time for organizations to incorporate strong social media strategies. Many small brands are seeing big success with social media, whether for outreach, education, PR, or promotion. South by Southwest Interactive provided tips on how to create a strong social media presence.

If you want to do big things with social media at your small organization, you have to be creative and flexible, use what works, and know thyself to create a campaign that’s effective and works for you (and most importantly, your audience), according to Aimee Kendall Roundtree, University of Houston-Downtown Associate Professor in the Professional Writing Program. Highlights from Big Social Media Results for Small Organizations:

Social media for small organizations: Best Practices

  • Invite participation
  • Set and know your metrics and perform sentiment analysis
  • Know you purpose and set policies and training programs invite participation
  • Set smaller goals and achieve them
  • It’s good for small organizations to be talking about news, events, and partnerships with other organizations
  • Track interactive patterns, build metrics and tools as you need them.
  • Do what works for your organization, which may be unique to your audience and brand
  • Being adaptive is a best practice because money and time are the biggest barriers
  • Hashtags build community structure, be sure to put your mission first
  • When establishing strategies, small organizations should use messages for content, not memories
  • Small organizations can often do well by amplifying user-generated content

Make the voice of your organization heard through social media

  • 73% of small orgs using social media. Of those not using, 81% plan to start
  • For small organizations, often the best social media posts don’t support the strategic plan or goal
  • Use social media to embody the organization. Share daily goings-on and be intimate in a brand-appropriate way
  • Film events, share anecdotes and other clips to help feed social content. This helps a small organization to show activity
  • Be aware: Despite organizations’ goals/purpose, users can change direction through contributed content

 Be brave when branding your organization through social media

  • It’s OK for small organizations to wing it! Just use your intuition
  • When it comes to social media, intuition can be more effective than best practices
  • Don’t be afraid to say what you need to say, provide real content about what’s happening. Be concise and consistent
  • Consider the ant: How is it that ants accomplish so much without someone telling them what to do?

Thanks to @akroundtree, @ACDunbeck, @inthekisser, @mirandaLwilson for your insights!

B2B Fast-Track to New Media Success by Designated Editor

It’s true: Most new media successes stem from B2C. And so many B2Bs seem lost. Designated Editor’s Suzanne McDonald offered a fast-track for B2Bs in this presentation, requested by Swissnex Boston and hosted by the Cambridge Innovation Center.

B2Bs & social media: Where we’re at

“Ninety-two percent of prospects almost never book a meeting from a cold call or email.  In 2012, rather than make cold calls, sales executives will first seek connections through social media networks, and then increase response rates with warm introductions.” –  UNC’s Kenan-Flagler School of Business, reported by Mashable.

Social Media Reality-check

AdAge recently reported:

“Although few CMOs will admit this, social media costs less to execute on a per-impression basis than TV, print, and radio. But the organizational cost – both the number of people needed to execute these programs and the changes to corporate culture – can be significant.”

Stage 1: Get your website together

Key components: WordPress, themes, usability & identifying with your audience

Tools: Keywords (Google Keyword tool) and use them in the right places (titles, meta & content)

Remember: Search is increasingly becoming more about social  (Google Alerts)

Stage 2: Blog & email

Key components: Blogs enable you to demonstrate thought-leadership, brand personality; brand all of your experts as experts, not just the CEO

Tools:  Editorial Calendars should include trade shows, industry news, client questions, processes; make it multimedia; leverage blog to feed email

Remember: B2B = P2P -> people want to interact with other humans, blogs & social make it possible, changing the way businesses interact forever

Stage 3: Social integration: Optimize profiles & content for you & team

Key components: Reserve brand profiles across platforms, determine which social platforms make sense, based on your audience

Tools:  LinkedIn use verify leads, connect, community; Twitter enables fast engagement, use hashtags, SlideShare = decision-makers; YouTube #2 search engine; Wikis, PitchEngine/HARO, Zemanta, Podcasts, Meetup, Facebook, Pinterest, Quora, Google+ (too many to bold)

Remember: You don’t have to be everywhere, so focus on your audiences and where they are

Stage 4: Measure & refine

Key components: Know what’s working & what’s not: Refine & adjust

Tools: Facebook Insights,, Klout, Google Analytics

Remember: You won’t know until you try & each brand is unique (or should be), so there’s no 1 size fits all

Designated Editor is working on “B2B New Media Success Guide” eBook & would love to feature your tips. Please share in the comments & be sure to comment on anything we’ve overlooked.

Many thanks to Swissnex Boston and the Cambridge Innovation Center, looking forward to seeing you again soon!

Here’s to helping B2Bs succeed via new media!

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Group Deals Begin to Grow up: Tips for Retailers, Restaurants From South by Southwest Interactive

How can small businesses benefit from group deals like Groupon?

Kara Nortman Senior Vice President of Publishing CityGrid Media

Kara Nortman, CityGrid Media

One of the best South by Southwest Interactive 2012 talks was jam-packed with lessons, tips, and stats on the state of group buying. With fatigue setting in on both sides of the equation, consumers and merchants, how can everyone get what they want?

Kara Nortman, senior VP of publishing at CityGrid Media, took the stage solo and wowed everyone attending.

Here are some highlights

Group Deals Are Killing Your Small Business: How small businesses can uniquely and effectively tap into group deals as a key piece of a smart overall marketing strategy.

Have you heard about Groupon?

Create a more effective group deal strategy

  • SMBs and deal sites are at odds … SMBs must show clear return on investment. Businesses are being more critical
  • Prior to 2008 there were 2 personas: enjoy a high-price experience (get-what-you-pay-for) and the couponer
  • Prepaid transactions are not dead. Consumers will get more relevant deals through them
  • Deal sites need to provide their clients with great analytics
  •  Correlating behavior with credit card data is commencing, but it still needs consumers’ trust with data and privacy
    • Proximity marketing and credit are going to be the most exciting developments in next few years

Deal sites to consider

Think Near

  • Pulls in demand patterns, weather, traffic, and events reports. It allows you to auto-generate 5-10 campaigns each week for each business
  • Targets local, high-quality customers
  • Became bigger than Groupon in NYC


  • Targets high-quality restaurants and has focuses on experience and high value – creating a clear brand can help your deals succeed
  • Forces users to commit to reservations and align them with restaurants’ slow times. Offer 30% off with no embarrassing coupons
  • Encourages diners to post pictures of their receipts that shows their discount


  • Aims to collect who loyal customers are without merchant cooperation, then present to the business owner
  • Users take photos of receipts to collect data for PunchCard
  • Targets low-frequency and high-spend customers

The truth is in the numbers: Group deals statistics

  • 44% subscribe to 4 or more deal services – often causes user fatigue
  • 44% of daily-deal customers will come back, but some might have already been customers
  • 66% of people let their deals expire before redeeming
  • A third of all Americans shopped on Small Business Saturday and saw 23% boost into small shops. This is Amex taking a long-term approach
  • 15% of Punchcard customers generate 50% of revenue – you consolidate loyalty cards and even redeem at businesses that don’t offer cards
  • 20%-30% of Groupon’s 10,000 employees are in sales
  • Studies show it didn’t matter whether you offered 50% off or less, the majority just want some discount and will convert

Thanks to @mauriciopina, @journalynn, @DeeSwartz, and @lorennoel for sharing their insights!


Google+ Twitter Q & A at Newport Interactive Marketers

Newport Interactive Marketers shared best practices and techniques to using Google+ and Twitter as effective social media platforms.

Michelle Quillin, social media maven of New England Multimedia and Matt Medeiros of Slocum Design, shared their experience and expertise with the #NIM group.

What did the #NIM audience take away from this Newport Interactive Marketers session?

Google+ offers

  • Targeted messaging
  • Social circles and hangouts
  • Makes online life more “real” via sharing abilities

Tips for Google+

  • Categorize your circles
  • Use Google+ circles to target specific people and avoid over-posting
  • Follow back every follower and then reassign to relevant circles
  • Google hangouts a great connect face-to-face
  • Look for people who are following thought-leaders

Google+ takeaways

  • For now, it’s best for marketers
  • Will not kill off Facebook
  • Will Google+ outrank other social mentions in search engine results?
    • Google says no, NIM attendees say yes

Interact on Google+ and Twitter

  • Tune your voice to fit various social media platforms
  • Matt’s take on finding your social media voice
The NIM group had varied opinions on the relevance of both of these platforms for their individual campaigns. Try them out and see what works the best with your audiences.  Then cater your voice to effectively reach out  to your intended audiences.

Thanks to @PRNick, @wordtracker, @kristinzhivago, @rrenfreehawes, @ChristiesNWPT, @HeatherCinOC, and  @NewprtBridgeRun for contributing to the dialogue.

Looking forward to more #NIM conversations!