5 Best Practices to Develop Your Brand Image

Social media branding has been embraced successfully by iconic companies like Nike, Apple, and Google, however many smaller organizations and individuals are challenged to develop brand image on social media platforms.  Many organizations simply do not know where to start.  Outlined below are 5 steps to get you started:

#1 Know Your Target Audience & Where They Play.

For companies that are established, an easy way to identify your customer demographics is simply to analyze the customers you already have.  Many customer relationship management tools allow businesses to analyze their customer data.  For small businesses who have not invested in a customer relationship management/CRM system before, Hubspot offers one for free to get you started.  You are also able to use tools like Socialbro to analyze the demographics of the existing Twitter account.  Another way to get an understanding of demographics and psychographics.

Once the target customer has been identified, you will need to research what social media platforms your target customers live on.  For example, if your target customer is 17 years old, in high school, and mobile connected, there is a good chance that the customer is active on Snapchat and Instagram.  This is critical to know, because you will need to identify what platforms will be most effective to reach the customers you want to reach, while also ensuring that the platforms are consistent with the brand you are looking to develop.  CRM

#2 Identify Your Influencers & Leverage Them.

Building relationships with influencers is paramount to developing a successful social media brand.  The easiest way to identify influencers is simply to Google top influencers in your industry.  Another tool that is effective is an application called Klout, which will allow an organization to identify top social media influencers based on Klout scores, which defines social media effectiveness and reach.  Once you have identified the influencers, you should connect (or follow) and begin engaging the influencer.  Share their content and mention them in content that is posted.  Nurture this relationship, and the influencer will help your business multiply its reach.  Hootsuite has a fantastic blog that provides a deep dive on locating and engaging influencers.

#3 Provide High Quality Content, Often.

Developing a brand that customers trust hinges on a company or individual’s ability to deliver quality products and services.  A company’s social media presence is a reflection of that quality, and so it is critical to ensure that the content that is being shared is relevant to the audience, consistent with the brand, and of the highest quality possible.  Brands that post valuable, high quality content on a consistent basis find that they build customer loyalty.  Companies like HubSpot and Marketo built entire businesses around this model.  There are a number of resources to provide free, great looking content, like Canva.  Canva allows users to create great web ready graphics with no design experience.  CanvaFollow the 80/20 rule. 80% of what you share should be quality, shareable content that is sourced from someone else.  20% should be original content from your brand.  Applications like Klout and Hootsuite make it very easy to pick content that is relevant to your brand and share it via social media with a click of a button.

#4 Be Responsive.

Social media is all about engagement.  Your customers and prospects can and will use social media to engage your organization.  If a company is unresponsive on social media, or does not respond quickly and consistently, those customers will disengage and may leave for a competitor.  Managing social media accounts and responding effectively is a daunting task for a small company.  Most experts recommend using software to manage this.  Applications like Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, and Hubspot provide tools to manage this process.  Replies can be automated to an extent, and you can ensure you never miss a message.

#5 Be Consistent.

Consistency goes beyond the content of the message.  Yes, the content of the messaging should be consistent with the brand across all channels, however consistency does not end with content.  Small organizations with limited resources might consider using a simple solution like Canva to begin experimenting with designs and company identity graphics.  Colors, graphics, and even fonts should be consistent across channels.brand_reversion.jpg  By doing this, as customers go from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc., they will never be confused about what company or organization they are looking at.  This is a failure of marketing.  Do not allow the details to get in the way of successfully retaining and growing the customer base.

Top 3 IoT Social Media Influencers

  1. Tony Fadell(@TFadell)

    Tony FadellThe infamous Nest boss has been under scrutiny lately for his alleged less than pleasant demeanor, however there is no denying that Tony Fadell is a social media powerhouse among IoT influencers.  Since the $3.2 billion sale of his connected home startup, Nest, Fadell has been busy as a Google executive and amassing quite the social media following.

By the numbers:

Fadell boasts an impressive amount of followers, and according to Klear.img_0014com , has achieved “Celeb” status for achieving 1,620 retweets in the month of April. In addition, his brand is consistent across social media channels (LinkedIn, Facebook Business Page, and Twitter).

Why is Tony Influential?

Not many entrepreneurs on the IoT startup scene have reached unicorn status (valuation of $1 billion+), which immediately differentiates Tony from his peers.  Not only did he build a multi billion dollar IoT brand, but he sold it to arguably the most influential technology companies in the world – Google.

2.  Glen Gilmore (@glengilmore)

Glen Gilmore

Glen Gilmore is a marketing strategist and has been recognized in Forbe’s Top 20 Social Media Power Influencers.  He is recognized for his expertise in marketing and IoT, two fields which are rapidly blending together, positioning Glen to be the go-to-thought leader on the subject.

By the numbers:

Gilmore blows Fadell away with 320k+ Twitter followers.  Like Fadell, Gilmore has earned Klear.com’s “Celeb” distinction based on his massive following and engagement on Twitter.  In addition, Gilmore is well-rounded across brand consistent platforms.  He has over 500+ (where LinkedIn stops counting, as he’s likely in the thousands) connections on LinkedIn, has 4820 Facebook friends, and has 7,900 Google+ followers.

Why is Glen Influential?

Glen stays incredibly active on social media.  According to Klear.com’s analysis, Glen posts an average of 21.9 times per day on Twitter.  This compare’s to Tony Fadell who posts fewer than 1 message per day.  He posts consistent, quality content with high frequency and the more times he is recognized by trusted institutions, the more his following grows (as does his sphere of influence).

3.  Timo Elliott (@timoelliott)

Timo Elliott

Timo Elliott is an established entrepreneur in the technology space, with over 25 years working in the business, Timo has a wealth of experience that he has used to inform his brand of “innovation evangelism”.  Timo has a great blog, which can be found here.  Timo spends a lot of time focusing on marketing and big data, which are two key components at work behind the scenes in IoT.

By the numbers:

Timo has an impressive Twitter following of 18k.  In addition, Klear.com rates him as “Very Popular” with over 170RT’s in April.  Timo has over 500+ LinkedIn connections and 204 followers on Google+.

Why is Timo influential?

Like Glen, Timo is very active on Twitter.  Klear states he posts on average 6.5 Tweets/Day.  His responsiveness is rated as very friendly, and his content is always compelling.  Timo leverages content marketing to provide a lot of great insight and analysis for free.  This is in sync with Hubspot’s strategy of giving your best content for free to build brand loyalty.  Timo’s influence continues to grow daily, and his input will potentially shape IoT’s future.



Internet of Things is a Marketing Game Changer

Tech consumers are well aware of the Internet of Things era we are coming in to, however many would be surprised to find the implications these technologies have on the way marketers interact with consumers.

The Problem

Ryan Begley at IBM’s IoT Division wrote an insightful blog on this topic earlier this week. He describes the evolution of advertising, from traditional to digital. As Ryan outlines, the problem with marketing has always been determining causality.internet-of-things-everything-you-need-to-know

Marketers have attempted, to varying degrees of success, to rectify this issue with deep analytics tools. While analytics and algorithms have been used by companies like Google to predict buying behavior, Internet of Things finally gives marketers the ability to truly attribute marketing spend to sales results.

Sample Scenario

Imagine a WiFi connected refrigerator that through sensor and camera technology detects you are running low on milk. A timely event-based marketing message from your favorite grocery store or Amazon provides you an offer if you place your order now via your smartphone or from the refrigerators touch screen. In this interaction, the marketer is able to directly access the need of the consumer and provide a timely marketing message that will have a measurable financial impact.

Looking Forward

One of the biggest challenges to these solutions continues to be the fragmentation and security of IoT platforms. The opportunity is to create widely adopted, secure, unified platforms for IoT that will enable these solutions to scale. Companies like IBM, Microsoft, Google, and Verizon are already fast at work building and scaling various IoT platforms, and the result of that work may lead to what Ryan Begley describes as a digital media transformation.

Key Considerations Before Your Next Connected Device Purchase

There is no denying the Internet of Things (IoT) revolution is well under way.  Gartner expects that there will be 6.4 billion connected devices in use in 2016, and 20 billion by 2020.  As new players enter the field every day, it is important that we focus on customer pain points and products that resolve those pain points, rather than simply creating tech Connected Devices.pngthat is loaded with fantastic features that don’t solve any problems.  As consumers and businesses consider adopting this technology, a few important points should taken into consideration:

How is your data secured?

IoT promises access to a nearly unlimited amount of data analytics including: connected car,  smart home, wearables, and healthcare data.  While there are hundreds (if not thousands) of startups breaking onto the scene offering killer apps to resolve the myriad of issues in each of these spaces, security is increasingly becoming a point of concern.  I call this the “Google problem.”  Google has access to your search data, browsing data, smartphone use and application data, and many other data points.  Some have raised concerns about the amount of data the tech giant collects and how it might be used.  As each company gains insight into driving behavior, health and fitness behavior, and various other IoT applications, the real question becomes–How are these companies safeguarding this information?  Ben Dickson of Tech Crunch outlines some of the security challenges IoT faces in his blog Why IoT Security is So Critical.  Look carefully at the company’s security and privacy policies.  If your information is being shared to partners or advertisers, what specific information is being shared?  How is it being used?

I don’t believe the issue lies in the amount of data being collected, however I do believe it is critically important that companies remain completely transparent so customers understand exactly how their information is being used.  Customers will then be able to make informed, educated decisions about the applications they choose to adopt.

What is the ROI?

For businesses, in particular, this point is critical.  If you are looking into a connected car or fleet tracking solution, consider the potential implications on your insurance premium.  Contact your broker to get an understanding of how much you will save by tracking your connected carvehicles and assets.  This also holds true for consumers, who frequently receive a break in insurance premiums for installing a GPS solution in their vehicle.

Challenge your solution provider to quantify the return on investment in terms of:  fuel savings, overtime reduction, maintenance cost benefits, etc.  Consider ancillary benefits such as the cost of data entry, paper, and other manual processes that many IoT solutions can solve at considerably less cost.

What about the network?

The IoT solution is only as valuable as the network the data travels on.  If you are using a wifi-based connected device, ensure your wifi extends through the entire area you need to collect data and that data speeds are sufficient for your application.  Ensure that your connection is encrypted (VPN, private network, etc.).

If your IoT solution is traveling over a wireless carrier’s network, ask your provider what network they are using.  If the network does not function well in the areas you need your connected device to work, you won’t have access to the data when you need it.  Every carrier has an IoT team, and each has put resources into building out an IoT ecosystem.  Ask questions about the quality of the connection, where you should expect to see connectivity issues, and how the solution provider intends to overcome those challenges.

Final Thoughts

Internet of Things has nearly limitless opportunities to improve our quality of life, however it is important that we ask the right questions.  Large companies like Cisco, Microsoft, Verizon, AT&T, Google, and others have put considerable resources into building out an IoT strategy for bringing these connected devices to the market.  It will be exciting to see how these various players bring ground-breaking technology and must-have killer apps in 2016.