I think it’s fair to say that today, most business owners understand the importance of building a brand online. What they don’t understand is how to do it.
I’ll share some good news and some bad news…
The good news is that building a brand online is incredibly simple. The bad news is that it’s very difficult. If that sounds like a contradiction, let me clarify. It’s simple because the process is not complex, but it’s difficult because it requires consistent hard work over a long period of time. In other words, there is no “secret” to it. Consistency is the most important part of this equation because it keeps your brand in front of your potential customers. This includes:
- blog posts
- media coverage
- paid advertising
- guest posts
- social media
Most business owners start with the best of intentions, but unfortunately, they often set unrealistic expectations. They make a plan to publish blog posts too frequently, try to build a presence on too many social networks at once, or dabble with paid advertising, but don’t allocate a reasonable budget or give up shortly after starting. In most cases, they don’t appropriately plan for the amount of time, effort, and money their goal will require, and before long, it quickly disappears from their task list and they end up stagnating where they are.
Are you guilty of this? Don’t feel bad, it happens to the best of us.
But you need to understand that this prevents you from building and maintaining brand awareness—staying on the mind of potential customers, which means that when it’s time for them to make a buying decision, they’ll choose one of your competitors who have.
If you want to successfully build a brand online, here are the components and what goes into them:
Do you regularly publish new blog posts that visitors, whether they buy from you or not, will find valuable? This is essential because it gives you a library of useful content to share on social media, but it also creates an opportunity to earn more organic traffic. If your content is really high-quality, it helps you to earn inbound links, which in turn, helps you earn even more organic traffic as well as referral traffic. You can come up with a lot of blog post topics just from the questions potential customers frequently ask you, but you should also develop a more robust keyword strategy to develop a steady stream of valuable content to help keep your brand in front of your audience.
Once upon a time, you could drive a ton of traffic organically through social media, but those days are long behind us. Between algorithms and saturation, organic reach on social media has been whittled down to the low single digits. Likewise, paid ads are continuing to steal more of the space available in the search results, resulting in fewer click-throughs for organic listings. This makes paid advertising essential for building and maintaining brand awareness.
Media coverage, guest posts, and interviews
This is an absolutely vital component of building a brand online because it bolsters your credibility through third-party sources who already have a built in audience, but it’s not going to just happen. If hiring a PR firm isn’t in your budget, you’ll need to do it the old fashioned way by reaching out to media sources and bloggers to pitch them why your story would be valuable for their audience. Don’t be discouraged—this will be a lot of work and you’ll face a lot of rejection, but it’s well worth it. I suggest engaging with people long before your ask them for anything, otherwise, you’ll sound just like everyone else who begs them for favors.
Are you regularly sharing valuable information on social media? That includes your own content as well as content from other publishers. Do you use your social accounts properly to engage with followers, or do you use them more like a megaphone to simply shout about your products or services?
Do you take the time to thank customers for positive reviews every single time? And how do you respond to negative reviews? Do you ignore them, or worse yet, attack the reviewer? Or do you try to solve their problem? How you respond here has a tremendous impact on whether potential customers decide to do business with you in the first place. You should have a proactive reputation managemen strategy in place, which includes asking customers to post a review on the websites that matter in your industry, as well as responding promptly to every review, whether it’s positive or negative.