How people talk about and recommend your brand is the single most powerful reason for whether they buy you or your competitor.
But what happens if your category or brand has low visibility, interest or conversation? You can still tap into and harness the interest and attention of a core group of influencers that are plugged in, motivated and savvy…to drive brand awareness, relevance and sales.
Identifying needs and driving consideration with Social Media
You need to build relationships with top influencers in your category and give them clear reasons to recommend your brand. That will help create brand awareness and sharing that will ultimately drive traffic into stores. To tackle this goal of building these key relationships, use this three-step approach:
- Make the connection
- Position your brand
- De-position competitors
When you make the connection, you are creating a deliberate link to your brand to the specific conversations happening in and around your category. More importantly, you are bringing your brand to life in these conversations, sharing the unique benefits of owning your brand among key influencers and within key market groups.
Do do this best, you need to:
- Listen to the conversation happening around your brand before engaging.
- Through either subscription-based tools or through publicly available free tools, develop a daily monitoring routine to identify opportunities, influencers, and key trends.
- Define and own a brand vision to leverage in an overall communications strategy (see my earlier post: Do You Need a Brand Road Map?).
- Align your brand with the issues and topics related your category and brand.
- Provide resources and information to specialty groups – building contractors, designers, architects, realtors, etc.
Creating a deliberate link between your brand promise and product ownership
In the second step, position your brand, you are fortifying your position as best in marketplace while de-positioning your competitors. Here your goal is to create a deliberate link between your brand promise and product ownership. For this you need to focus on:
- Clearly establishing the need for your brand – why it’s important in the conversation.
- Become the go-to resource for information which will create opportunities for your brand to share and recommend.
- Create broad awareness about your brand vision and how your brand delivers against the promise.
- Educate key influencers, called eminents, across special interest categories.
- Give your audiences reasons to consider your brand by engaging bloggers and media across special interest areas. Proactively building relationships with key offline and online influencers is critical to fortifying your market position.
This step puts you on the path to becoming the leading expert and resource for helping consumers think about your category and brand in the right way. It also provides the reasons and opportunities to put your brand into conversations where consumers are sharing their experiences and recommending you to others.
Provide reasons for consumers to engage with you in the places they already are
You want to create “reasons to buy” in consumer circles where the benefits of brand ownership are clear, relevant and meaningful. One of the best ways to do that is to reach consumers during and around the events and interests they care about. Your secret is to create conversations around the topics and social channels related to the need for your brand. If you are just starting out in social media, see tips from my post: Are You Following These 8 Basic Steps for Online Success?
The goal is simple: become the leading expert, resource, authority and trusted partner in the space around your brand. You do this by creating top-of-mind awareness about the importance of your brand, both online and offline by:
- Providing purchase influencers with sharable resources (sell sheets, photos, videos, testimonials, checklists, research, samples, etc.) to pass along to audiences.
- Provide bloggers with content to pass along to audiences to spark and facilitate discussion and recommendation.
- Monitor online conversations for opportunities to proactively insert your voice.
Take steps to make sure your brand is considered the leading authority
Facebook allows a direct channel into the day-to-day lives of consumers. This becomes the first step toward building an online presence that complements and integrates with activities across all channels – including blogs, forums, Twitter, LinkedIn, and beyond. Facebook becomes the anchor that helps tie together your brand’s benefits – through stories, interaction, contests, and rich media.
Your website and your Facebook page should be tied very closely together. Facebook gives you interested consumers to leverage for events, promos and new product launches. All this leads to more visitors to your site, invested in your brand, and looking for content. All those visitors will eventually be lead to a retailer where they will become consumers!
For a great example of how Heinz used a dedicated website to create powerful content and relevance with food service professionals, take a look at this story from ABC News: How Heinz Website Energized Food Pros.
Create competitive barriers by de-positioning competitors
If you don’t define your space in social media well, then the competition has the capability (and goal) of taking your expert position away from you. That will leave you with the crumbs they leave you with. You cannot allow the competition to steal your position within your industry or with your consumers!
To do that, you need to prove expertise and leadership by winning the trust of consumers before competitors do. Create competitive barriers by:
- Proactively building relationships with key offline and online influencers to fortify your position.
- Ensuring all points of engagement are compelling, relevant, “sticky” and focused on your brand’s promise.
- Monitoring conversation for inaccuracies, competitive threats and ensuring eminents understand your value proposition before they hear from competitors. Reinforce this through frequent engagement.
If you create a steady drumbeat of focused, relevant and compelling dialogue and conversation, you will be successful at sparking and driving opportunities for consumers to engage with your brand and build lasting relationships.
Graphic credit: INSIGHTOVATION.COM