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7 Steps to Creating and Cultivating a Brand in Social Media

In business, we learn through everything we do and it influences all that we try and repeat. When something new comes along, we tend to view it with either enthusiasm or skepticism, or in some cases a bit of both. Such is true with the advent of Social Media.

As business, marketing and service leaders, we face new challenges. We’re not quite sure how or why to implement the lessons and promises of social media into what we’re already doing. Nor do we understand how to experiment with it in ways that are safe and useful. We need answers, but questions and concerns face us at every step ahead.

Even though Social Media represents nothing short of a revolution in business, it starts with practical steps that help you find the answers to move forward with confidence and direction. To get you started, I’ve developed a simple set of questions to guide you through the phases of evaluation, planning, and action.

1. Who: Define the brand personality and what it symbolizes.

Social Media is about people connecting with people, not avatars. Bring your business and your brand to life. Give it a persona, personality, voice, and presence. If your company was a person, how would it look, behave, speak, respond, or lead? Also, make the brand stand for something that’s worthy and desirable. Give it a mission and a sense of purpose.

2. What: Listen to online conversations and learn from what’s said.

Assess how the brand is perceived today using search tools for the traditional and social web. Create a benchmark that captures what the world looks like today and pay attention to the general sentiment tied to your brand and competitors. Try Google, Google Blog Search, and also to get started. If you’re working with a reasonable budget, also consider using services such as Spiral16 or Radian6.

3. When: Pinpoint when your opportunities arise.

Each tool mentioned above provides you with alert systems to let you know when your keywords appear online as they happen. Monitor the real-time Web to see the level of activity that takes place every day. Surface any conversations that represent opportunities for positive engagement as well as those that contribute to negative impressions.

4. Where: Track down where your presence is required.

Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, blogs, are among the most often social networks discussed in popular media today. Using same services referenced above, we get an exact idea of where your customers, prospects, and their peers are interacting online. Once we have this information, we can put together a plan action to become part of the conversations, learn how to build valuable relationships, and contribute to the loyalty and advocacy of the social customer.

5. How: Become a part of the community.

In your review, pay close attention to how people interact, and the culture and behavior that exists within the social networks that are important to you. Their words and actions reveal opportunities for value-added, not disruptive or offensive, engagement. Monitor the responses that follow each time we engage. They will offer feedback that teaches us how to improve and what next steps we should take.

6. Why: Find the reasons that warrant your participation.

Pay attention to recurring themes, topics, question, insights, or the lack thereof. Doing so surfaces the reasons for initial engagement as well as the ideas that trigger creativity and value for engagement over time.

7. To What Extent: Identify the individuals who can help you tell your story.

Many individuals are earning authority within social networks and what they say influences those around them. Their reach is expansive and is instrumental in effective word of mouth programs. We can identify who they are by using the same tools in steps 1 through 6. Monitoring their activity and learning about who they are will also reveal their motivation.

Connect with Brian Solis on Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Google Buzz, Facebook

Please consider reading my new book, Engage!, I think you might like it…

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232 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “7 Steps to Creating and Cultivating a Brand in Social Media”

  1. I think nuxnix's point below is absolutely right, but I'd say 90% of people don't ask these questions when they decide to dive into social.

    Sure its “common sense”, but common sense isn't so common, especially as Brian mentions, when something new comes along and people get really excited.

    I was just working with a client yesterday walking them through these same questions (similar at least). Technology, platforms, and systems change, basic business principles or in this case “question framing” does not.

    Thanks for the post Brian and thanks for pointing that out nuxnix. This social stuff isn't so hard now is it?

  2. Ricky Steele says:

    You hit the nail on the head once again, Brian. Since meeting you in Atlanta, I have gifted 10 or more copies of Engage. Everyone is appreciative especially a young lady who had ordered it at Barnes and Noble to pick up the next day.

    I hope you are taking good care of Ms. Bird. She is one of my favorite people.


  3. joshaustin says:

    Great post Brian. It seems so basic to consider these questions when planning, but at the same time they're just as easily forgotten. In my mind its the whole cart-before-the-horse thing…in an attempt to not get left behind in the social sphere, people dive in head first at the expense of prior planning.

  4. Omar Alam says:

    I was wondering when a cheat sheet of sorts for social media presence was going to include LISTEN. The other steps are all necessary, it's just I don't think enough energy is spent on the listening. Instead it is seek and destroy, or spam them all and see what sticks.

    When a friend is added, or a follower connects to you, should you just fire out some canned cookie cutter response, that is most likely from an automated tool or bot? No, as this just makes your brand identical to the millions of others trying to push crappy products down your throat. A lot of larger companies and especially corporations do this, which just goes against them in the long run.

    #6 is an interesting one, as it requires you to actually think and decide on what to do. The rockstars of social media seem to have this ability down pat, while most people struggle with it. If you are having a problem with this area, ask yourself this question: do you know how to mingle at a party, event, wedding, bar (example)? Then you have no excuse for not know how to be a part of the conversation.

    Your business could depend on it.

    Good stuff Brian!

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