"Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room," Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, said. I would venture to take it a step further and clarify that your brand is what people say about you, not just your business, when you are not in the room.
Today I want to talk about your brand. Like I always say, your brand precedes you, my friend. Let's make it a good one.
With new social platforms emerging daily, protecting your brand has become nearly impossible. From Snapchat to Periscope, what you (yes you Savvy business owner/blogger/entrepreneur) do online has a direct impact on the brand that you represent.
That is horrifying.
Even as I type I can think of a million times I have failed my brand, both digitally and physically. Which is good news for you, because today I want to give you five tips for protecting your brand online, because YOU are your BRAND—Scary, right?
1. Use social media professionally.
In an age of sharing, tweeting, liking and scoping this is easier said than done. And, to make it even more complicated, every brand will have different standards when it comes to using social media. For a business blogger, coach or consultant this means keeping your public profiles engaged with the business community you are targeting.
Does your target want to be inundated with cookie recipes? If the answer is no, then you should probably stop pinning them. What about Periscope? Does your target care that your driving to work and singing karaoke? No? Then you should probably avoid the "entertaining" scopes.
My main point? Know your audience. Social media is a powerful branding tool, but that also means that it can powerfully deteriorate your brand if used ineffectively.
Tip: Keep some things private. If you really want to learn to crochet (but are a entrepreneurial marketing consultant) keep the crochet board private so that you do not drive away your target by sharing non-relevant content. Having a good handle on your private v. public persona can change the way your business is perceived.
2. Stay focused.
Sometimes creating content is difficult. It is easy to gradually stray away from your main purpose or objective. Unfortunately, this is also the easiest way to devalue your brand and detract from your brand loyalty and authority online.
One of the tips I always give my clients is to figure out your main objective and write it somewhere visible to you everyday. Whether it is on your mirror, taped to your desk or saved as your background image, remembering your main objective daily will help you to stay focused when it comes to communicating with your target.
Tip: If you are running out to ideas, consider going back to the beginning. What were the tiers of your objective? How did your target respond to those topics? Determining your foundational successes will help you to revitalize your content strategy by repurposing and expounding on topics that were well-loved by your target.
3. Be nice!
This one is self-explanatory, but—hello! Sometimes we are mean. Opinionated, offensive, aggressive and just plain rude. Unless this is part of your brand's appeal (which is totally is in some cases) then STOP.
Tip: Your brand is worth more than shaming that annoying client on Facebook. Worth more than ranting about your political aggravations digitally. Before you act, both digitally and live, think to yourself, "How will this reflect on the brand I am building? Will it encourage my followers, or detract them?"
4. Do your due diligence.
Just because you are functioning under a business title that you have registered does not mean that no one else will try to monopolize on your gain in order to boost themselves up in search. That is why it is so important to keep a regular gauge of your online reputation and competitive market.
One of the best ways to determine a starting point for this is to check the TESS (Trademark Electronic Search System) on the USPTO.gov site. Before you start pursuing others who are infringing on your brand, it is important to make sure that you are not the one in the wrong.
Tip(s):Once you have established that you are rightfully using your business name, there are a few things you can do:
1. Consider registering your name as a Trademark or Servicemark.
This will assist you legally in protecting your online reputation and combatting any infringement. Disclaimer: This can be a bit pricey, so if you are not quite ready to make the leap, I recommend following #2-3.
2. Check the SERPs (search engine results pages) regularly to keep a gauge on the competitiveness of your brand name.
I.E. "Google" your business and see what come up!
3. Consider adjusting your SEO strategy to rank better (more pages/assets) on the first page for your brand name.
It is very important to have balance when it comes to your SEO strategy. Not only should you be optimizing for the key words that your business thrives on (services, deliverables, etc.) but you should also be monopolizing in your branded search atmosphere.
5. Get connected.
One of the best ways to ensure that your brand has a shield of protection active online is to get connected to the other key influencers in your niche. Call it "friendly competition."
By connecting with the other business owners, bloggers or entrepreneurs in your field you are setting yourself up to be viewed as a player in the game, rather than a bystander. This will help you not only network and capitalize on your competitor's following, but also give your brand authority in the market!
Tip: Your target is likely the same as your competitor's target (duh!), so by connecting and engaging with them, you are opening yourself up for association by your target, which will ultimately lead to curiosity and eventually brand loyalty!
So, with all of that being said, your brand precedes you, my friend. Let's make it a good one.
What obstacles are you facing with your brand reputation online? Do you agree that you are your brand? Let me know below!