Studying the impact of innovation on business and society

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, Collecta.com. Google Blog Search, and also Analytic.ly 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…


Get Putting the Public Back in Public Relations and The Conversation Prism:



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

  1. nuxnix says:

    You really did blog about 'who, what, when, where, why and how'.

  2. iloveGarick says:

    Awesome summary, I was glad to win this book from Jason @DocStoc through his Startups Uncensored Series with Dealmaker Media.

  3. Susan RoAne says:

    Terrific encapsulation of what to do and where to start in the business of branding.

  4. 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?

  5. 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.

    Ricky

  6. 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.

  7. 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!

  8. Pragya Dubey says:

    Very articulately put forth. Look forward to reading your book.

  9. Ismail Kizilbay says:

    Dear Brian Solis

    I was reading your new book “Engage”. At the page 26. where it's giving details on Facebook user number, you wrote “Two hundered and fifty million users is a remarkable landmark”.. Isnt it “three hundered and fifty”?

    KIZILBAY

  10. Kyle Lacy says:

    I agree with these 7 steps. Ultimately, set yourself apart and be a person not a computer. 🙂

  11. Howard Shen says:

    Hey Brian,

    Interesting post! 🙂

    Keep it up,
    Howard

  12. Thanks for the advice. It always is amazing how many companies don't even stop to assess the situation before they jump in head first.

  13. Nicolasvegamora says:

    Many times I read insights like these and always I said, good summary, I have to work on it now, but the time passing and I arrive to another article like this, and the cycle start again. Maybe, when the days passing, I work with this ideas on my mind, product of read it and read it again, think and re think again, practice and practice. it´s not about forget, it´s about working every day between theory vs practicaly, I am sure that every day, the things are improving…

    Thanks, this kind of articles makes me think, about the importance of back to the basics

  14. Many times I read insights like these and always I said, good summary, I have to work on it now, but the time passing and I arrive to another article like this, and the cycle start again. Maybe, when the days passing, I work with this ideas on my mind, product of read it and read it again, think and re think again, practice and practice. it´s not about forget, it´s about working every day between theory vs practicaly, I am sure that every day, the things are improving…

    Thanks, this kind of articles makes me think, about the importance of back to the basics

  15. fizlikwilam says:

    When something new comes treated with enthusiasm and skepticism – and in some cases even slightly both.Even social media revolution actually represents the company, will start the practical steps that will help you find the answers in the future with confidence and direction.
    canary islands holidays

  16. I love it ….agree ..

  17. Great reminder and simply put which I like. Always easier said as cultivating a brand is, well, hard work.

  18. Tanisha says:

    Love this article. I especially love the point you make about branding your business. I use to think it was all about how your website look but it is about so much more.

  19. Thank you for the refresher on why social media is so important.

  20. Balakrishnanrajesh says:

    Yes, I like the concept of every brand having a “persona” or “individuality”. I think in the near future, brands will be like “friends” and people will connect with them like they do on facebook.

  21. Brian,

    Great list for any brand looking to get started.

    Regarding listening, I am glad to see that you mention also paying attention to what is being said about competitors.  It appears some companies never get quite there, or they are mis-balanced — Maybe listening about the others too much.

    Awareness is the goal there, not necessarily imitation.

    I appreciate your sharing resources to utilize for listening. 

    Looking forward to your session at SMSS12! 🙂

    ~Keri

  22. @ashleywolfmusic says:

    Wonderful set of guidelines for just about anyone trying to navigate the often murky brand/SM waters!  We love your blog in #uclax425 and it’s always chockfull of new refreshing, revealing ideas! 
    Thanks so much, @ashleywolfmusic 

  23. kendra91 says:

    Recently I was extremely low on cash and debts were eating me from all sides! That was UNTIL I decided to make money.. on the internet. I went to surveymoneymaker dot net, and started filling in surveys for cash, and surely I’ve been far more able to pay my bills! I’m so glad, I did this!! – uj8k

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