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How to Build Online Communities: What Celebs Can Teach Brands

Build Online CommunitiesThey’re everywhere.

Little monsters. Lambs. Lovatics.

Directioners. Beliebers. Hooligans.

Call them what you will, these people take the definition of “fan” to a completely new—and sometimes terrifying—level. They’ve set up dedicated websites, established active chat forums, and even branded body parts like Bruno Mars’ prominent neck vein.

Whether you love them, hate them, or belong to them, one thing’s for sure: you can learn something about their loyalty and the way their idols mobilize them to act in unison.

While you may not be able to carry two notes, you can still be a rock star in your own industry. Follow along as we look at how these celebs manage to build online communities and retain the unwavering support of their audiences.

Building a Passionate Community around a Brand

When you analyze celebs with massive fan bases, you’ll notice there’s something they have in common—something they understand: the importance of developing a community around their brand. They know how to cultivate a sense of shared identity, which is the foundation on which they build their brand’s following.

How did they do it?

You may think the answer lies in a simple word and a little artistic license. It’s that, but it’s also so much more.

  • They’ve become compelling storytellers. Besides sharing their brand’s story, they share the interesting tales of their fans. They not only help their followers relate to them as both a famous artist and a human being, but they also help their fans relate to each other. Social media has made it easier than ever before to spread powerful brand stories and user experiences with an online audience, so it’s only natural to take advantage of it.

  • Online community buildingThey help their community members identify with their brand’s values so that they feel connected and part of the crowd. When fans feel part of an exclusive group, it’s bound to generate pride and loyalty. Lady Gaga offers a perfect example. Besides instructing concertgoers to put up their “paws” during her performances (something that unites them), “Mother Monster” has also developed her own social network where her “Little Monsters” can interact with each other and share branded content that only strengthens their devotion to her brand.
  • They interact with their audiences frequently and speak to them directly. When you visit the social media profiles of these celebs, you know you’re actually communicating with them, and not some lackey hired to keep the feed flowing with content. While most business brands can’t afford to have their CEO Tweeting all day, once in a while is a good start.

Sometimes the Tables are Turned

You don’t always have control. Sometimes fans will label themselves (as is the case with Directioners) and build online communities of their own without support from the top. Sometimes they’ll give a brand a nickname (think Bud, Chevy, and Bloomies). Is it a bad thing? Not necessarily.

It’s often the consequence of frequent interaction. Communities create their own language to demonstrate their love, admiration, and support. It’s their way of establishing a bond between you and them.

What should you do if you suddenly find your brand in this situation? Embrace it. Adopt it. Make it part of your brand packaging and leverage it to build your community further.

Don’t Hear What’s Not Being Said…

Are we suggesting that you make up some cutesy moniker and slap it on every customer who walks through your door?The power to build online communities

No.

What we are saying is that you need to start thinking about ways you can make your brand a fundamental part of your community’s identity. Your words and behavior have the power to give people a sense of belonging—to make them feel connected. When you empower your audience to become part of something bigger than what your competitors can offer, you’ll find they become your brand’s biggest advocates.

How are you building a passionate community around your brand? We’d love to hear your stories, so join the conversation below.

Social Media Branding

Social Media Branding Tips

An effective article marketer uses a variety of tools to build their brand over time. One extremely useful tool to utilize in your efforts to build your brand is social media and branding combined. With so many options available to you, it can sometimes feel a little overwhelming. If you are unsure how to use social media to your advantage, these tips can prove quite effective in growing your brand recognition.

Share Don’t Scream

Social media is just that; it is meant to be social. If you had a friend that never talked about anything except their own interests, you would very soon lose interest and move on to a more fulfilling friendship. The same is true for social media. You need to share information socially that is of interest to others. Engage with others on their level with information that is of interest to them, if you want to build an effective long term social relationship with them. For every tidbit of info that you share through social media that pertains to your business, you should be sharing at least one tidbit that does not. Whether you use Twitter to tweet information to your followers or you post information on Facebook, the key is to share information that others will find interesting. Rather than a continual posting of “look at me, look at me” information, share with your network the same way you would share with people in on a face to face basis.

Engage Don’t Enrage

This tip ties into the sharing philosophy, but is slightly different in that you need to engage with your network socially. If members of your network are involved in business interests other than your own, take the opportunity to help them further their interests. If they tweet information on Twitter that pertains to their business, retweet that information for them. Chances are that they are likely to return the favor and retweet your posts to their followers. Take the time to reciprocate postings on Facebook for comments left on your business’ page. Be sure to make your posts relevant to the poster’s comments or business interests. If you can cleverly and effectively tie your comments into your business interests, that is all the better. If you are trying to use social media to build your brand’s image, it is vital that you carefully craft that image. If your Twitter followers or Facebook friends feel like you are only interested in spamming them with more “look at me” posts, it is going to do nothing to build your brand and will only serve to turn them off.

Socialize Creatively

Social media is so much more than simply using Twitter or Facebook. You can be social in a variety of ways. If you are launching a new product, you can include a link to that new product in your email signature. Get into the habit of engaging on forums where your business might be of interest to other forum posters. Include a link to your website in your forum posting signature. If you have an article or a post on your site that is particularly relevant, include a link to that article within your forum post or as part of your email signature. Start offering a guest post on sites and blogs that are relevant to your business. It helps to build your brand and gets your name out there within your own industry. Being social means getting involved. You may initially question whether the effort is worth the payoff, but think of your social media strategy as a long term investment. It is about building a relationship and developing your reputation.

Donate Your Expertise

Another great way to build your social media reputation is to donate your expertise to non-profit organizations related to your business. Find non profits that could benefit from your business knowledge and offer your expertise to them. Offer a free article to them for their newsletter. Introduce them on Twitter to others that might be of use to them. Connect them to others that can help them to further their cause. Social media comes in many different forms; it is up to you as to how you develop your own strategy.

Sponsor Socially

Similar to donating your expertise, you can also use sponsorship to build your brand. Whatever your forte is or your business niche, find startups or promising entrepreneurs in your field and offer a sponsorship. Whether you sponsor online or in real life, the key is to use your sponsorship to build your reputation and help out at the same time.

However you decide to build your brand socially, it is all about engaging with your audience on their level. You can jump on the upcoming trend of gamification and connect with your network through a game application on your website. You can include a downloadable application on your website that is of use to your followers or network connections. You can even connect with them where they socialize through a site like Foursquare. It is all about connecting with others on their terms and building your brand’s reputation in the process.

Top Brands

A Brief Insight into 2 Top Brands

Each year several lists of the top brands are released by brand ranking organizations. Although each company uses its own set of criteria when assessing a brand, many famous brands appear on the majority of the lists, and it’s not hard to see why. Determining factors often include earnings (both inside and outside the brand’s home country), recognition outside the brand’s consumer base, market capitalization, global presence, customer loyalty, brand distribution, brand valuation, and brand awareness.

Many of these top global brands were started by ordinary individuals with extraordinary drive. Some even fearlessly started operating from their garage, with nothing more than an idea and fierce determination. These top brands are worth billions of dollars today. There’s no denying we can all learn a lot from these companies, so let’s take a look at how two of them achieved their powerful positions.

Coca-Cola

“Life Begins Here”

Touted as the number one brand in the world, Coca-Cola is a beverage company like no other. With advertising being a top priority, aggressive marketing and clever strategies have helped place this brand in a powerful position. Thanks to their wide reach, outstanding product, effective marketing, and impressive brand loyalty the company sells approximately 1.6 billion servings of soda per day. So how does Coca-Cola manage it?

Coke has developed highly competitive brand strategies over the years and constantly raises consumer interest through reinvention. With a clear focus on brand enhancement, Coke takes full advantage of each marketing mix element. The company has achieved extensive global distribution, high market capitalization, and high awareness levels.

Their marketing efforts have helped them build a brand that is instantly recognizable. Without a doubt, Coke has a solid brand personality, identity, and image. The corporation aims to trigger positive feelings within their consumers, something they’ve successfully achieved many times over. With slogans including “The Coke Side of Life,” “Open Happiness,” and “Life Tastes Good,” they know what their consumers want and they give it to them.

The Coca-Cola Company has distinguished itself from its competitors, which has helped them build a brand worth more than $70 billion. They invest in areas that matter, such as customer relationship management and employee relations. The brand has become synonymous with the product, which has allowed the company to position themselves exactly where they want to be within their consumer’s mind.

Although Pepsi is a strong competitor, Coca-Cola continues to dominate its category on every level. Even though the company has suffered several major marketing blunders it has survived the worst and still managed to make it out on top. The brand has certainly established longevity, so chances are slim that we’ll ever have to worry about it disappearing from our supermarket shelves.

McDonald’s

“i’m lovin’ it”

With a brand value of nearly $40 billion, McDonald’s has become one of the strongest leaders in its industry. In addition to achieving extensive global distribution, the company has been consistent in developing a brand identity, as well as implementing strong marketing strategies. One of McDonald’s major strengths is that the organization successfully continues to evolve the brand’s product offerings.

The famous golden double arches are recognized the world over as the “M” has become a symbol synonymous with the McDonald’s brand. The corporation’s mission is to provide service, value, quality, and cleanliness in each of its restaurants. To ensure they meet expectations, McDonald’s have implemented strategic systems and procedures that allow them to serve fast food to over 58 million customers every day.

A main strength of this brand is its ability to adapt. Faced with public criticism over health concerns, McDonald’s incorporated healthier product options into their menu. Many restaurants situated in the suburbs boast impressive playgrounds, catering to families with children. McDonald’s ability to react to consumer demands and adapt to market conditions has made them one of the most successful brands of all time.

Successful Top Brands

Other top brands to study include IBM, Microsoft, Apple, Google, Marlboro, Nike, General Electric, Intel, Pepsi, American Express, Disney, and Hewlett Packard. Studying the brand strategies of these companies can help us understand what they did right, and how we can emulate their success. Many strong brands are built on continuous innovation, customer focus and engagement, superior quality standards, extensive distribution, employee focus, and brand identity. Ultimately, the brand’s values and its consumer’s values must be in alignment.

Best Brand

The Best Brand Methods for Powerful Positioning

When you combine your innovative ideas with some of the best brand methods, you have a recipe for success. Adding your signature flair to your branding techniques is often the difference between being mediocre and being extraordinary. If you’re not already using these techniques as part of your branding strategy, you should consider how instrumental they can be in expanding your personal or corporate brand and how you can use them to your advantage.

Develop an Identity through Design

Creating an identity through design plays a significant role in branding, as it is a visible manifestation of your personal or corporate personality. Every design element allows you to define your business by conveying the message you want your customers to receive. Do you want to let customers know your company is conservative through a strong, neutral image, or do you want a fun, bold image that says your company is outgoing?

Certain factors influence the overall aesthetic appeal, including color, style, and design. Particular colors, for instance, will evoke certain emotions within your target audience. What your brand design says about you can help generate trust and loyalty with your customers.

It’s best to consult a professional graphic designer to help you through this process. A qualified expert is better able to interpret the image and message you want to convey and will provide you with invaluable advice. Be sure to investigate your options thoroughly, so that you create the right identity through a design that makes an impact. People should immediately identify your brand whether they look at the style and layout of your website, logo, sales page, or blog. In a nutshell, your personal or corporate brand should shine through in every design element both online and offline.

Connect through Social Media

Type your brand’s name into any search engine and instantly gain insight into your online profile. If results don’t show that you’re using major social networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, to make the most of your connections, then you’re missing a huge opportunity to solidify your brand and get your message heard. Social networking sites are powerful tools that help you make connections quickly, establish long-term relationships, and generate a buzz about your company. You not only have the ability to promote your business in a cost-effective way, but you can gain a loyal following.

Make certain your message is consistent and authentic to the brand you create. Stay inline with your vision and mission statement and always represent your brand in a positive way. Be cautious about the people you associate with and make certain you manage your reputation continuously.

In addition, there are plenty of forums that provide ample opportunities for you to interact with potential clients. You can use these forums to find out what people say about you, which allows you to deal with problems immediately and control any negative press. A strategic campaign that fuels a positive word of mouth campaign can give your company the boost it needs. Reach out to these cyber communities and find out what their needs are, so you can shape your brand to fit in with your target audience.

Make the Most of Multimedia

Establishing a solid brand means using every opportunity to your benefit. Thanks to the ever-expanding Internet, new ways to communicate your message are created every day. As a result, you have numerous opportunities to put your brand in a powerful position, whether it’s through text, video, animation, audio, images, podcasts, or other multimedia. If you’re unsure where to start you can look at social video and photo sharing sites, such as YouTube and Flickr, for ideas.

The best brand methods involve techniques that make an impact and convince potential clients that your product or service is best. Using promotional methods across several platforms, including social and digital technology, is essential if you want to build a successful and powerful brand.

Personal Branding

The Pros and Cons of personal branding.

Few would argue that personal branding can help position you favorably within your industry. However, it’s wise to weigh up the pros and cons of branding your name, so you understand exactly how to leverage your brand and use the Internet to connect and communicate with the right people. A powerful personal brand is an excellent tool for attracting opportunities that could catapult you to professional success.

Successful personal branding is a result of positive self-packaging. In a nutshell, you are your brand. Your name, behavior, and knowledge are just a few of the elements that help to distinguish you from the rest of the pack and make you unique. When you brand your name the right way, you can influence the way in which people perceive you.

The Pros of Personal Branding

One major benefit of personal branding is that you can create a competitive edge by establishing a sense of individuality. By separating yourself from everyone else, you make it easier for your target market to differentiate you from your competitors. You can also use your personal brand as a guide to direct your behavior and communications. It gives you focus and allows you to demonstrate both consistency and authenticity.

A personal brand gives you the opportunity to define who you are in terms of your opinions, beliefs, and values. The way you express yourself gives people a good understanding of your moral principles, which creates an indelible impression. As a result, you can influence the perceptions others have about you and ultimately enhance your career potential.

You have much greater control over a personal brand than you have over a corporate brand. For instance, the freedom to communicate as you wish, without answering to board members, is a great advantage. In addition, no one will misrepresent you, you have the type of flexibility big brands lack, you can change your behaviors quickly, you are not affected by the mistakes of others, and you have a greater awareness of yourself and what you represent.

You have the freedom to set your own objectives and take risks as you see fit. You can also manage expectations with a fair amount of ease and establish yourself as an authority, allowing you to demand higher fees. Ultimately, you can create top of mind awareness, making your name the first one people think of when they have a problem you can solve.

The Cons of Personal Branding

The downside to personal branding is that you have to live up to the expectations you create. Being authentic to the persona you develop is essential if you want people to recognize you as the solution to their problem. You have to build up credibility by being consistent and true to your brand. You should aim to create an identity you are comfortable with, or more specifically, one that does not exceed your capabilities.

Everything you do from here on out will be etched on your record permanently. For this reason alone, you need to make certain your behaviors reflect who you are, what you stand for, and what you do. People will associate your name with your business forever, so be sensible about the personal content you publish online. Keep in mind that your reputation comes with plenty of baggage, so you need to manage your personal brand effectively and with the utmost care. However, you should be weary of losing your personality to your brand.

Another disadvantage is that you risk spreading yourself too thinly. Maintaining focus is often difficult once you become highly sought after in your industry. You may also worry about disappointing people. While these are valid concerns, you should be cautious about juggling too many things at the same time, or you could reduce yourself to a mere commodity. Not only should you add value to your brand, but your target audience should perceive you as being valuable.

Last, but not least, the revenue generated by the personal branding of one individual is usually insignificant to that of a corporate brand. As a result, you need to look at where you are and where to want to be, and how branding can cross the chasm between the two. Consider both the pros and cons before you decide whether to develop a personal or corporate brand.

How Articles Can Help Extend Your Brand

Understanding exactly how articles can help extend your brand is one key to enhancing your online image effectively. When you understand the powerful impact articles have, you can begin to master the fundamentals of using content to your advantage. In essence, you can maximize your brand’s market value effortlessly.

By providing valuable, quality information and a consistent message to your audience, you can create long-lasting, sustainable relationships. The foundation of these relationships is trust, which is essential for establishing a loyal consumer base or readership. Ultimately, you can profit from a strong brand, and set yourself a cut above your competitors.

Create Brand Awareness

An integral part of building a brand is creating awareness. Articles can make people conscious of the fact you exist by helping you develop an online presence. Every article of yours that ranks well in search engines gives you a greater opportunity to shape and extend your company’s brand. In addition to posting content on your website or blog, you should be submitting your articles to directories. Article directories can help you dominate the search engine result pages (SERPs), and can help you gain wider exposure. Extensive exposure gives you the ability to reach and attract a larger target audience.

Content can create awareness on multiple levels. Besides brand recognition, you need customers to recall your brand. Customers with an acute awareness have your business at the top of their mind, which is the exact position you should aim to achieve. Keep in mind that you need to publish as many articles as you can on the Internet to reach your goal. One or two articles will not get you the brand coverage you need. Consider hiring an article writing service to ensure your content is fresh and that you post articles frequently.

Boost Your Credibility

By submitting content to several directories frequently, you ensure your articles will show up in the SERPs often. When people find your articles and start to make a natural connection between you and a particular topic, you begin to establish a solid reputation. As a result, your audience begins to perceive you as an expert within your niche. That expert status helps you build credibility. Credibility builds trust, which will generate sales to boost your profits.

Develop Relationships

Internet marketing is far more complicated than it once was. Content used to be a one-way street, but thanks to various communication channels becoming available, consumers now have the ability to respond to your message. Whether it is through social media sites, your website, or your blog, individuals can offer their opinions freely. This is extremely beneficial, since the information they provide allows you to build a stronger brand with long-term profitability.

You can own the most finely tuned website in the world, but without your customers, it means nothing. You have to let your audience know you care about them and that you are not just out to empty their pockets. Building a brand is about establishing a positive relationship with customers and visitors to your site. Aim to develop a brand people love, then sit back and watch your success levels skyrocket.

Send a Consistent Message

One main benefit of using articles to help extend your brand is articles allow you to send a consistent message about who you are, what you do, what you stand for, and why people should even care. Content allows you to control the message you put out to your audience. This aspect of content creation is extremely important, especially as your image and brand evolve. Make certain your articles are impressive and compelling if you intend to build a recognizable, trustworthy brand.

By now you should see the effects of the mighty web you weave when you use articles to help extend your brand. The more consistent and authentic you are, the stronger the silken threads of your web grow. Eventually, those silken threads will be laced with gold as more and more customers prefer your business as their business of choice.

Online Branding

What Is Online Branding?

In essence, effective online branding means telling people who you are, what you do, how you do it, and why you should matter to them. Although this might sound simple, there are a multitude of elements that contribute to a successful brand. One thing is certain; online branding is a building block for establishing a thriving Internet business.

Branding involves far more than merely getting your company’s name recognized. You have to get your message heard too. Anyone with an online presence is able to use branding strategies to carve an identity, create awareness, and grow their business. You may be wondering how you start a successful brand. While the list is somewhat comprehensive, the elements listed below provide a good start.

Differentiate Your Brand

No matter what you sell, or what you do, you will most likely face competitors. If you are fighting giant corporations, you might consider finding a niche within the market and mastering it until you are looked upon as an authority. Give your customers something special, something that makes them want to buy from you and no one else. Set yourself apart from the rest and be cautious of falling through the cracks. You have to be memorable, and not just simply exist.

Create the Right Perception

An important aspect of online branding is creating a durable, positive perception. Besides being distinctive, you have to establish a favorable perception amongst your target audience. When people see you in a good light, they are more willing to trust you. Control negative press and limit damages whenever possible. Try target the core issues of a problem area creating negative perceptions and turn the situation into a positive one.

Increase Your Visibility

There are many creative and interesting ways you can increase your visibility. One method is through the implementation of an exceptional SEO (search engine optimization) strategy. Optimizing your website with relevant keywords will help push your site higher in search engine rankings. This greatly increases your exposure and helps drive traffic to your business. Use relevant techniques, such as article marketing, to increase traffic. Also, become an active participant in the online community. Post messages on relevant forums and use the platforms the Internet offers to create as much awareness of your brand as you can manage.

Be Consistent

You nurture loyalty and trust with your consumers during brand development. As a result, they develop expectations of you or your business, which must be met. If you decide to alter your brand image at any stage of your company’s life cycle, you need to make sure you are consistent in every area. Do not make the mistake of changing one brand element and then fail to carry the change through to other elements. You will confuse your customers and cause them to question your direction. Rather be consistent with your message and maintain a positive image.

Strengthen Your Brand

Successful online branding is not something that happens overnight. You need to work at developing your online brand continuously. Many strategies only work for a certain period of time, so you need to keep creating and implementing new ones. Leaving your online brand to stagnate when you believe you have done enough is probably the worst error you can make. While you are sitting back, letting your brand dry out, your competitors are taking over the market with their new wave of branding ideas. You have to keep reinforcing your brand image, so that you are at the forefront of peoples minds when they need your product or service.

Ultimately your image, position, focus, purpose, and uniqueness combine to create online branding that stands out from the crowd. Both your online and offline brand strategies should be integrated to help you achieve the best possible positioning in the marketplace. You will see the results in your market share, as well as your profits.

Online Branding Recap

  • Strengthen Your Brand
  • Branding Consistently
  • Increase Visibility through Branding
  • Create the Right Brand Perception
  • Unique Online Branding
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