Using Social Media – Marketing Your Brand As an Entrepreneur

Several designers asked me to further expand on the topic of social media with a few tips, so they may “re-vamp” or better enhance their online brand presence.

I am happy to share a few specific examples, but please keep in mind, I am not an expert or guru on this topic. This post is directed to entrepreneurs such as myself that strive to use social media as part of their business marketing objectives.

I utilize tools such as FB, LinkedIn and Pinterest, finding them extremely useful whether I am promoting my services, to make an event announcement, provide updates or simply to connect and network online with other like-minded individuals. Please, I beg those of you out there, do not send me endless rants on the “science of social media” or ” theories that I should consider”. Entrepreneurs want bare knuckle solutions, that they may attempt to implement easily for their company. Instead, please let’s just all agree the needs of everyone will vary based on the type of business.

1) Determine which social media platform(s) will work best for your objectives.

This may sound obvious, but many designers I notice will place themselves on any and every platform because they think they will be found by everyone at anytime. Typically, their end result is very few followers on their page, and/or no direct hits to their website or blog. Not to mention they have no time to follow up with their online presence and stop using them all together or give the duty to their latest internet savvy intern.

What I’d recommend is to consider each platform and why’d you should use it just as you would consider an ad in a fashionable print publication. Certainly, you wouldn’t purchase a full page ad in every single type of “woman’s’ publication” because you want to reach female consumers. Instead, you’d review all the magazines you like — their audience, view other advertisers, time of year its published, the overall look and feel etc.

Only then would you decide to pay for the ad placement based on your evaluation of which one was the most relevant to your target audience. It’s a good idea to do this as well with various social media platforms. Spend some time on a minimum of three types of tools when researching what works best. For each one also note and consider what type of people use the specific tool, and how brands use them-especially the customer engagement for sales, promotional marketing and brand awareness – pay attention to how often an item may be shared, where its cross-linked and amount of relevant tweets.

Take additional time to search and review competitors in your sector – what do they do, use and why? What seems to be working well and how to do they stay relevant when advertising their brand, sale or promotion? Are there some ideas you can incorporate on a smaller scale from a global company? I often participate in Facebook “event parties” by my favorite food brands – especially when they allow their customers to post or tweet questions to their healthy living teams of experts on ways to prepare their products at home.

Look at organizations you follow in other sectors, that are the complete opposite to what you do now – what do they do to capture your attention? Some companies are quite clever at using social media when they don’t have a “non sexy” product. Perhaps that may give you a fresh idea to use in your marketing.

2) Dedicate 30 minutes, once a week, starting out with your tool.

Social media is about engaging people directly and consistently, but also be aware it takes time. You will not get hundreds or thousands of followers in a month or even two months. You cannot buy followers another misconception. You must think quality over quantity if you want real followers aka potential customers that will want to connect with your brand online and eventually offline at your next event, product launch or trunk show.

Think of your social media as a “window” to your store — people may walk by and eventually decide come in (aka follow you ) but you have to make the consistent effort. As an entrepreneur you have many responsibilities, and working on your social media presence for 30 minutes a week, should be part of your marketing initiatives.

3)Take advantage of features, that can assist you with making social media a task not a chore. Here’s two small action items you can try tomorrow!

The Facebook post scheduler. Its a great way to post regularly. You can schedule out your posts ahead of time – for the week or the month with exact times. Its a great way to promote a sale, event and the reminders in timely organized fashion.

Link ALL of your accounts together – I have my FB and Twitter accounts linked, so I can post simultaneously. This way if someone is just on one or the other, I’ve covered my bases. Not to mention, I’m not posting the same updates over and over.

3) Post relevant topics, people and things that relate to your brand image.

i.e. If you are selling cocktail dresses, then keep your posts relevant to that topic.

Don’t post about a kids’ event or the latest candy, if you can’t tie it into your brand message. Perhaps, I’d instead, customize the post to prom season in a candy color that I am trying to sell. You have to be strategic with every single post. Direct or non direct each one should be a gentle reminder about YOU and what you are selling.Not your competitor, another event or brand that will lead them away from your page!

I don’t understand why, in particular,emerging designer brands will talk about another designer in their category, (as they think this will be draw to their site), when they are trying to promote their own collection online. If you notice, competitors don’t boast about an amazing brand similar to theirs no matter how much larger or more popular it may be – instead they tie in their message to something that keeps you on their page. There is a thin line between discussing trends and fads versus promoting someone else on your dime.

4) Understand not everyone is communicates regularly on social media. It’s not the end all easy marketing solution for your business.

I am assuming I will get a lot of flack for this last point. Yes, social media is here to stay, but know if your customer uses it, which one(s) and why. I have one high end very successful boutique client in a small town in Florida, that uses text messages to alert their clientele about sales, new collections, holidays offers and parties. They discovered that many of their customers were older affluent women and men that preferred a private personal touch – through a phone call and text rather than going online to a Facebook page.

Social media is a great resource and service for marketing – especially when used correctly. Like anything an entrepreneur tries to incorporate or implement, just realize its not the savior on the road to riches. Also know it is not “free marketing” your time is not free, so make the most of using it with a solid plan.

It can get daunting, reading about the trends, new platforms changes and updates, however, stick to your plan stay diligent and evaluate all pros and cons with each service. It’s again about knowing your customers –what works and what doesn’t for YOU and how the heck you going to share your brand message consistently and clearly online.

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