It’s the end of the decade. Nearing 2020, timelines are starting to trend with lists of everyone’s ‘top learnings’ of 2019. Year in review lists.
What would such a list look like for businesses or individuals trying to build their online brand?
- Launched new social media channels and started a blog
- Created a content strategy and committed to posting once a week
- Google changed the algorithm, now my posts get fewer visits
- Failed to post weekly due to other tasks
- Was not sure what to post on social media
- Started to see some movement from followers
- Is it time to try LinkedIn sales?
There have been many strategies and tactics, trials and errors, successes and failures. But overall we’re left with key learnings that we can leverage in the future.
Why invest in your online brand?
It makes sense now more than ever before.
According to Statista, in January 2019, 4.4 billion people were active internet users and 3.5 billion were social media users. If you’re committed to bringing value to your customers and connecting with your community, you need to be present where they are – educating, listening and engaging, to build long term relationships.
When you’ve tried almost everything in the book, it’s challenging to find innovative uses and new benefits of investing in your online brand. However, there are three aspects that have not changed and that I’m confident will not change:
- The importance of bringing value to those around you.
- The need for connections and relationships.
- The power of trust and credibility.
A well-thought-out strategy could be a great asset in achieving your goals while meeting these three principles.
How can you build your online brand?
Enough reasoning, let’s take action.
Listen to Customers, Competitors, and your Industry
Before getting into channels, content and tactics, first list to your audience. Review your competitors and find prospective customers. Learn about their needs and challenges, and define how you can help.
Some questions to ask yourself are:
- What channels are they using?
- What content do competitors provide, and what is missing for customers?
- What type of content works best?
- How can this information influencer your branding and content strategy?
⭐ To help you do the above, leverage Paper.li to follow a hashtag, a Twitter List or a keyword to see what your competitors are doing or to get a grasp of the latest developments in your industry. Here’s an example of one of our users, Brian Macleod, who is curating real estate industry news from Alberta, Canada on his paper: Curb Appeal.
By listening to what’s happening in the market, it’s easier to make informed decisions about what your goals are and how you’re going to achieve them.
Give your Audience the Information they are Looking For
For starters, your website and social media accounts must respond to the questions and doubts of your prospective customers or followers.
Make sure you’re sharing more than company information such as pricing, operations, and logistics. Also share educational content that your audience is interesting in, including industry trends, whitepapers, statistics, and visual content. If resources are limited, focus on content that can help them take action or solve a problem. Some examples of content you can create or share on your channels include:
- Reviews and testimonials from your customers to share with prospective buyers who are in the decision-making stage.
- Answers to email questions
- Pro tips for using your products/services
- Commenting on current industry news (Which you can surface with Paper.li’s Genius Source)
⭐ A great example from our community is Bill Jelen, Mr. Excel. Bill is a Microsoft Excel wiz and he knows his audience is on the hunt for the latest tips and hacks on spreadsheets and formulas. How does Bill help his audience? Since he is constantly traveling and keeps a busy schedule, he created on Microsoft Excel curated content.
Share Content & Connect With Colleagues and Customers
Okay, so you know the channels your customers are on, have defined a content strategy for your channels and are well on your way to building your online brand. Now it’s time to share and engage with your audience.
Engagement is the most important commodity of an online presence. It doesn’t matter how great your visuals re or how much information you have if you’re not engaging in a genuine dialogue with customers or followers – all effort is lost.
Start by communicating different kinds of content that drive engagement. Highlight a customer of the month, share updates, exclusive news, or nurture them with the latest news.
Some quick actionable tips to get engagement when promoting your content include:
Note: If you’re using Paper.li to help you feed content to your channels, you can plan and schedule sharing to email and social channels directly from your paper settings. Here’s an overview of how cross-channel promotion works in Paper.li.
Track Your Progress
As Neil Patel said: “Learn from your mistakes. The number one reason I see entrepreneurs failing isn’t because they make mistakes, but they keep on making the same ones over and over again. Learn from them and avoid making the same ones over again.”
The best way to avoid repeating mistakes is by measuring your progress. How do you know things are working? Are your followers growing over time? How is your engagement rate? Here are some of the most important metrics that you should be tracking:
- Website Traffic
- Email Open Rate
- Social Reach
- Social Engagement:
These numbers will provide insights for future decisions on whether to invest in one channel or the other.
Following these principles and tips, will get you well on your way to building your online brand. Remember that growth is only achieved with consistency and experimentation. Overnight virality is a very rare thing and in reality, getting more visits and views takes time and effort.
Be patient and persistent while keeping your goals in sight.
What has worked for you? Share it in the comments!