If your business does not have an internet presence, it is time to step out of the dark ages! I know that may sound a little harsh, but that is the reality of marketing in 2012. For example, if a potential client searches the web for your spa or aesthetic company and cannot find any informative content, you have probably lost that customer. Twenty-plus years ago, most consumers relied on the phone book or TV/newspaper advertisements to learn about local products and services. Today, the majority of consumers are looking to websites and social media pages to get that…
This is why it is so important to focus on establishing your brand online.
Before we delve into the how-to of building your brand, let us look at the definition of the concept. A brand is defined as a unique design, sign, symbol, words, or a combination of these, used to create an image that identifies a product and differentiates it from its competitors. Over time, this image becomes associated with a level of credibility, quality, and satisfaction in the consumer’s mind (definition from BusinessDictionary.com). In essence, your brand should help consumers figure out who you are, what you do, and why they should choose you to be their service provider. Whether you choose to convey this message in a written mission statement, a distinct image – or both – be sure to keep your message consistent throughout all web channels.
The Building Blocks of Online Branding
The first step in building your brand online is the creation of a website. There are many tools available to help you design a website on your own, but if you are not technically inclined, it may be best to hire a professional web designer. You want your site to look professional because it is a direct reflection of you! You can often find an affordable web designer by looking at local message boards or sites like Craigslist.org. Once you begin to design your website, be sure to include information about your location, hours, services and, of course, your branding message.
Once you have provided the essential business information on your website, it is time to take advantage of all that social media has to offer. Social media sites have become the go-to sources for consumers to find companies, learn about them, and review feedback given by previous customers. In some ways, social media sites are an extension of word-of-mouth advertising – and word-of-moth advertising is very valuable. A recent “Global Trust in Advertising” survey conducted by Neilsen revealed that people trust recommendations from someone they know 92 percent of the time, and trust consumer opinions posted online 70 percent of the time. When it comes to ads on TV or in magazines, the survey showed consumers trusted them only 47 percent of the time. This shows how crucial social media can be when it comes to building your brand.
Do Not Sell … Share
An important thing to point out is that your accounts on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest should not be thought of as selling tools. These sites are best used as a tool for building relationships with consumers and increasing the awareness of your brand. If you would like to advertise on social media sites, there are some great opportunities to do so, but do not make your actual account sales-focused. Social media sites allow you to have a conversation with current and future clients. You can update them on the latest beauty trends, alert them to your latest products and services, answer any questions they may have and tell them about the amazing results you have achieved using certain products or techniques. Engaging in social media helps to build a rapport with clients while establishing yourself as an expert in the beauty industry.
Social media also plays a large role in online reputation management. If a client posts a negative review online, you can respond to his or her concerns via a public or private message, and if necessary, you can post a response addressing the customer’s issue and presenting your business in a positive light. In addition, you can send thank you messages to clients who have posted positive reviews. You want to let them know you appreciate them and their patronage!
Unlike traditional advertising, you may not see a large return on investment (ROI) from social media right away. As I mentioned previously, relationship building is at the core of a successful social media campaign. Your investment in social media should be viewed as a marathon, not a sprint. Building your brand by using social media can pay dividends in the long term. Three important things to remember on this social media journey: Be consistent, engaging and social.