Smaller brands struggle to get their brand name out there. Small budget brand reputation often revolves around responding to people’s queries, and acting on negative reviews. That is all obviously very good, but brands can go further without blowing the budget by working on their positive brand reputation. Online reputation shouldn’t just be reactive and based on the principle of damage control; it should be about building positive relationships and engaging with your brand audience. Here are some quick & easy ways to start building a relationship-focused brand reputation online, without breaking the bank.
A business blog can be a powerful marketing and brand awareness tool. Don’t use a blog as you might a noticeboard in the staff kitchen- use it as a vehicle for engaging your audience with quality content. A business blog (along with emails and social media) is the ideal place for businesses to tell their story.
Storytelling has been a branding buzzword for a while now, but it’s not just a tactic for big budget brands or creatives. Breaking down company events into smaller story-size chunks and putting them into a narrative sequence is a rewarding exercise. It instantly makes what you are saying more compelling and memorable.
Do you invest in sustainable products or fair-trade goods? Are you making some changes to your factory, or launching a new product? Have you hired some new members of staff recently? Use these business realities as an opportunity to tell your story. Remember that even a complex new product or process can be broken down into a story soundbite. Shift the story out to your audience in a variety of content like videos, blog posts, tweets and emails. Think about what works best for your audience; always make commenting easy.
Here are some elements of a good brand story:
People connect with people, not with a faceless brand. Tell people who is behind the work to inject some personality into your brand. Include employees in your company Twitter feed, personalise mass emails, pass on someone’s funny joke on LinkedIn, or shout about employee success in your newsletter. Sometimes injecting a little office humour, or opening the lid on what makes you guys tick as a team is good. You could create online playlists of office music, or start a Pinterest board about your office life. There are plenty of brands taking a quirky attitude to people stories- and it works!
It can be heard to find the time to create content, especially if you are always responding to requests and enquiries. Luckily there is a win-win solution. Reduce the time you spend dealing with people’s questions by creating content that does the hard work for you by answering those questions for you! Create FAQs, user guides, and company resources in your niche to have something valuable to pass on to your customers. Post these through your social networks on a regular basis.
Your team will now have more time to deal with actual problems. Clients and customers will feel supported and valued, as long as you don’t stop also taking care of them. Valuable brand content doesn’t have to be earth-shattering, it just needs to serve a clear purpose of helping the user.
Backlinks, endorsements, testimonials- think about the people who are currently linking to you. Could you up your game? Think of all your suppliers or associates – could you guest blog on their company blog in exchange for some brand exposure? Make sure you pitch something valuable that fits with their audience. Ask for advice if you’re not sure.
Think through your contacts in terms of their neighbourhoods too- who has a valuable pool of people around them? Leverage your networks and don’t be afraid to ask for some brand PR in exchange for something valuable like content or endorsements. Being associated with strong and positive brands is good.
A great way to get positive brand mentions is to get more visibly involved with local community events and charities. Chances are you already are contributing positively to the community, but just make sure you are doing so regularly. You’ll be raising awareness for a worthy cause, and your own profile to boot.
Getting your customers to shout about you is a great idea. They can often be your most valuable brand advocates, drowning out any dissenters. People often assume that getting in a digital agency who specialise in digital branding is the only way to get more brand exposure, but even they will tell you that getting customers to contribute is crucial. Keep your brand active through competitions, testimonials and user-generated content. It’s the sort of PR money can’t buy, but that won’t cost you the earth. Get your most passionate customers talking about you online- make it easy for them and optimise your content for sharing, have easy review forms, and talk back to them. Reward their brand loyalty with personalised messages and incentives.
A lot of online brand reputation revolves around raising awareness, but what about taking action? Often it comes down to creating a sticky idea in the first place. If you are struggling to gain traction, rethink back to your original idea and see if you can make it connect with people more? Is it too abstract? Veiled in corporate language? Get people to connect emotionally with your brand. You might need to revisit your brand messaging and marketing strategy- don’t be afraid of making tweaks if they are going to add value.
Know your audience and engage with them, leverage networks, create quality content and share your people and stories. What defines a positive brand experience online? Share your thoughts!