You might be thinking that you just want to put up a website. You might be thinking that you just want to start a small online business. While that’s perfectly fine, you have to remember that if you want to truly succeed online, you need to focus on building a brand.
There’s a reason why the bigwigs of Google and other massive internet companies keep focusing on brand. In fact, industry insiders say that the future of the internet belongs to brands. That’s the overarching message they should focus on. If you don’t understand this or don’t want to get it then you’re playing a losing game.
I’m not saying that you’re not going to be making money. You may be able to make quite a bit of money off the internet. The problem is it’s going to be short-lived. You’re not going to be building a business that would withstand the test of time. If you want to create an online money-making machine that you can pass on to your kids, listen up! It’s all about branding.
What a Brand Is and Isn’t
Now that I’ve opened your mind up to the importance of building an online brand, it’s too easy at this point to get carried away. It’s too easy to think that you need to build the next Starbucks online or you need to build the next McDonalds. No. A brand is not some sort of massive corporate identity. It’s not a product of a multi-million dollar promotional campaign.
A brand is more like a battery. When your computer is running on a battery, it’s basically drawing power from the battery. The power got there because you plugged that battery into a charger.
The same applies to your online brand. You do some active promotions at first to bring life to your brand. Eventually, you reach a point where the brand can run on its own. In fact, it is the interplay between the company behind the brand and the people who patronize the brand that’s important. I’m talking, of course, about your customer base.
A well-crafted brand takes into consideration the needs and aspirations of the people that it’s speaking to and works with that base instead of against it. You’re not looking to just promote something to a massive group of people because you need money from them. Instead, it’s a two-way conversation; not a simple top-down relationship. A living, vibrant, and thriving brand is built on that two-way conversation.
Promotions are Great but Branding is the Key to Your Business Approach and the Future
If you’re still unclear, let me hammer in the point.
Promotions are great in bringing in traffic which can lead to conversions. Conversions, of course, put money on the table. The problem with this type of thinking however, is that it’s too short-sighted. You’re just focusing on today. the case is often that promotions that work today might not work tomorrow.
Focus instead on building a solid brand that people in your niche will continue to flock to along into the future. The good news is you don’t have to go to MBA school to do this. You don’t have to spend millions of dollars getting professional help from an expensive media agency to accomplish this. You can do it on your own. Just pay attention to the following discussion. Use this information to craft your own particular branding strategy that meets your needs, your available resources, and time commitments.
Brand Equity Doesn’t just Yield Cash…
Another key concept that you need to understand about branding is that it doesn’t just yield money.
If you develop a solid brand, it can lead to partnerships. There are tons of other brands in your niche that would love to partner with you. The good news is that this can create win-win situations where value is added both ways. Maybe you can do business with other website that provides a similar service or product to what you’re already offering instead of competing against each other and trying to get a larger slice of the pie. You can grow the size of the pie. You can work with each other to produce synergy. This is easier to do when you have a solid brand because people would trust you more readily compared to a fly-by-night operation.
Everything you do Online Leads to your Brand
Another crucial truth you need to wrap your mind around is the fact that everything you do leads to your brand. You’re always branding. That’s the bottom line.
It may not feel like it. It may feel like you’re just sending out an email or putting up a website or picking a font for your content. Think again. Everything that involves any kind of third party perception can either push your brand forward or drag it down. There is really no third way.
There is no such thing as a neutral brand direction. Either you’re moving forward or you’re setting yourself back. This is why it’s crucial for you to be as mindful as possible regarding anything that you do online. It will all come back to your brand.
Build a Home for your Brand
It’s important to always build a home for your brand. This home is crucial because you create a two-way conversation about your brand on this platform. It cannot be a platform where you just send out messages. That would lead to failure.
You have to create a blog that allows people to leave comments. You have to create a social media presence that allows people to give you a piece of their mind. The more people feel that they have some sort of feedback mechanism or say in your product or service, the sooner your business can get transformed into a brand. Blogging is crucial because it doesn’t take much resources. It’s fairly easy to do, and it doesn’t take up much time.
Create Distribution Points for your Brand’s Content on Major Social Media Platforms
Once you have a blog going, the next step is to focus on spreading the word. Now, thankfully, there are tons of social media platforms out there. These places are amazing as far as promotions go.
Why? When people join, they are encouraged to invite their friends to join. When those friends join, they invite their friends as well. Now, this can have an exponential effect. Your brand may only have a few dozen followers, but your reach can be quite exponential if you attract the right kinds of people.
If you attract very popular people with thousands upon thousands of followers, you’d be surprised as to how far and wide your brand can reach. Don’t waste this opportunity. Make sure that you create brand-specific accounts on the major social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and LinkedIn among others.
Publish Once, Distribute Many Times Over
Now that you have set up your blog to build your brand, it’s really important to follow this rule: Publish once, distribute many times.
A lot of people think that they need to publish every single day for them to spread the word about their brand. This is a common mistake. People don’t care about how often you talk. They care about how important what you have to say is. Keep it at that level.
You don’t have to publish everyday. Just make it a point that when you do publish, it is worth sharing. Follow this formula: Publish once, distribute to as many different relevant groups and interstate parties as possible. You may even want to reach out with other blogs and tell them to link to what you just published. You never know who would link to you.
Leverage Each Social Media Platform’s Resources and Orientation
As you probably already know, YouTube is very different from Pinterest which is very different from Twitter. Different social media platforms have different orientations. They have different ways of communicating with their users. Their users have different content preferences.
People who are looking for pictures primarily are drawn to Pinterest; the ones who have short attention spans and are looking for late breaking news are drawn to Twitter; and those who are looking for social groups based on niches tend to find a lot of value in Facebook’s group system. Pay attention to each of these platforms’ resources and orientation and leverage them to their fullest potential.
Networking Must fill with your Brand
Now that you have developed a blog and you have created social media accounts, the next step is to network. I’m not talking about networking with individuals per se, I’m talking about networking with individuals who are behind certain brands.
Find the top brands in your niche, get in touch with those entities and engage them. If they like your content, chances are quite good that they would share your content on their social networks. This can pay off tremendously.
First, you can get direct traffic. Second, you can get people who like your social content and might join your own particular Facebook page. Third, you get more credibility in your niche because when established brands promote other brands by retweeting or sharing content, they lend you their credibility. You win many times over when you network.
Create Brand-Enhancing Content
It’s important when blogging to build a brand, that you do so purposely. Don’t just blog because you have some extra time. No. You have to pay attention to what’s controversial or what gets eyeballs in your niche.
Create your own version. Maybe you can create a resource that people would share. Whatever the case is, you need to create something that would draw enough attention so you become part of your niche’s brand vocabulary. Otherwise, you’re just simply spouting out easily forgettable content. That is not going to push your brand forward.
Use Networking to Turn your Brand into a Hub for your Industry’s Biggest Brands
Regardless of how esoteric or small your industry is, there are sure to be established brands there. Why not turn your brand into a hub for your niche’s biggest brands? You can do this by simply collaborating with other bloggers or a round table or a group interview. Regardless of the specific form it takes, there are many opportunities you can pursue. Don’t ignore them. It’s all about networking and getting your brand to appear with other established and trustworthy brands in your niche.