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Why Branding Must Precede a Social Media Strategy

DATE PUBLISHED: September 16, 2013
 

Almost every marketer in the world has integrated Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter into their inbound marketing strategy.  branding and social media

With more than a billion users on these social media sites, it would be foolish to ignore them, but many marketers tend to leap into social media without first solidifying their brand.  It is easy to confuse which should come first, but a strong social media campaign is pointless if consumers can’t easily distinguish a brand from its competitors.

When planning branding and social media campaigns, it is important to remember these considerations:

  • Branding supports conversations: The point of all social media is to connect with other users, most typically using shared interests as common ground. Once those relationships have materialized into communities, they provide excellent breeding grounds for marketing messages.  For a social media marketing strategy to work, however, the millions of conversations that will propagate a marketing message must possess some shared terms, which in this context means a strong brand.  Without a strong brand, conversationalists may mistake one company for another with a similar name or use.  
  • Branding is foundational for customer loyalty: Branding and social media may be a positive relationship, but only if the brand is worthwhile in the first place. Although social media can be ideal in introducing consumers to products, those relationships aren’t likely to prove useful unless there is substantial value to consumers. Building a brand that is valuable to consumers requires superior product development, deep insights into consumer needs, and ongoing attentiveness to customer concerns and issues.  
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  • Branding weathers marketing missteps: Companies which have been around long enough eventually make a marketing mistake; look at New Coke.  A powerful brand that has a strong relationship with its consumers is able to weather these dust-ups more easily than a company that is essentially banking on positive buzz from a marketing campaign. A brand with devoted customers will have someone to advocate for them when there is a large public backlash over a marketing misstep.
  • Branding creates value: All too often companies focus on marketing as a means of selling products without understanding that those sales are strengthening the brand—or weakening it.  Just looking at some brands like Rolex or Mercedes Benz, it is not difficult to recognize how those brands have become synonymous with value.  In fact, those companies greatly prize the value associated with their names and work tirelessly to shield their brands from any serious ill repute.  In the same way, other companies need to work to elevate their brand before they subject it to the bruising that may occur once they are introduced to the critics on Facebook or Google+.

It is easy to put the cart before the horse when it comes to branding and social media.  Many companies want to use social media as a springboard for success, which is fine if there has been a strong branding process implemented first. 

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