How to become a powerful social media brand is a major factor in small business success these days. Beyond having a website, you need to make sure that you are out there demonstrating your expertise at every opportunity. There are those who believe that if they can’t find you or your business online, you do not exist. That may seem harsh, but think about how we all buy things now. We do not call 411, or look in the yellow pages, we all go look for information in search engines such as google.
As someone who has a powerful brand on the internet, I have recently been interviewed a few times about building an online brand and more specifically how I built the SmallBizLady brand and I thought the information might be helpful to all of you. So here’s the full interview.
1) Why does everyone whether they are in a career or business for themselves need to be aware of their online image?
Every 30 days people should Google themselves to see what is being said about them on the internet. If they Google themselves and nothing comes up that is a problem too. Everyone with a business or a job should at least have a LinkedIn profile, and if you run a business you should have a website. If you are really trying to build an online brand, I would also add Google profile, and Facebook Fan page to that as well.
2) How does one go about developing a strategy to build a brand online?
To build an online brand you must use the HELP mantra: Help Others, Engage People, Listen Carefully and Promote Yourself With Care. Traditional selling is dead. Your valuable content and helpful sharing will do the selling for you. No one wants to hear or read “Buy my stuff, buy my stuff,” they want to read about how you can solve their most pressing issue.
3) What is your advice for one trying to build their brand online?
Before you do anything online, you need to identify your niche target customer. Then you should employ a listening strategy to figure out where your target customer spends time online. Research the keywords people use most to search for your topic, service or product. Then develop your content strategy for how you will stand out in the marketplace.
4) How important is it to choose the right social networks? Which ones work best for what, ie. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr etc.?
In order to build an online brand you must first figure out where your target client spends time online, and become a part of the conversation. Everyone does not have to be doing everything. LinkedIn is perfect for people who need to network with senior executives and decision makers. Facebook personal accounts are great of keep in contact with family and friends. Facebook groups and fan pages are great for engaging with retail customers. Google+ is also becoming a major factor in communicating with your entire social rolodex, particularly if you are blogging.
Twitter is terrific for establishing thought-leadership and building community online. I convene my #Smallbizchat community live each week on Twitter, which has been a major factor in growing my online community. Tumblr lets you effortlessly share anything. You can post text messages, photos, quotes, links, music and video from email and from any devices. I chose Twitter and LinkedIn to build my brand when I got started. I also used blogging as a key strategy to demonstrate my expertise and keep my website updated.
5) How important is messaging in social media? Should one stay on message at all times? When is it OK to go off message and be ‘social’?
It is critical to stay on message. It should be obvious who your customer is by what you share online and what you write on your blog. You can not write a blog about being an expert image consultant and the next day blog about a cat caught in a tree in your backyard. You will confuse people. I think it is important share personal things about yourself, so that people know that you are a real person but be strategic. Nobody cares what you had for breakfast.
6) Are there any special tools or apps on any social media sites that you would recommend? why?
I like www.Hootsuite.com to manage all my social media accounts. You can have up to 5 social accounts. I also have a virtual assistant that helps me manage my blog and some social media updating.
7) How does one go about earning a community of subscribers, followers, friends, etc?
Content is currency online. In order to attract subscribers, followers, likes and connections you need to add value to the conversation, create valuable blog content and engage the people who like your content.
8) How important is it to be discreet or cautious online? Any tips on what should be put online and what shouldn’t be?
You should not post anything online that you wouldn’t want to read in the newspaper. Everything on the internet can be found forever. Watch the loose talk on Facebook especially.
For more tips on how start or grow your small business subscribe to Melinda Emerson’s blog http://www.succeedasyourownboss.com.
Melinda F. Emerson, known to many as SmallBizLady is one of America’s leading small business experts. As a seasoned entrepreneur, professional speaker, and small business coach, she develops audio, video and written content to fulfill her mission to end small business failure. As CEO of Quintessence Multimedia, Melinda educates entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 companies on subjects including small business start-up, business development and social media marketing. Forbes Magazine named her #1 woman for entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter. She hosts #SmallBizChat Wednesdays on Twitter 8-9pm ET for emerging entrepreneurs. She also publishes a resource blog http://www.succeedasyourownboss.com Melinda is also bestseller author of Become Your Own Boss in 12 months; A Month-by-Month Guide to a Business That Works.