Although there is a large push to jump on the social media marketing bandwagon, most companies and business owners strike out into the great unknown of the online frontier without a social media marketing branding plan.  It might seem unnecessary to most business owners; however, the creation of an online branding strategy is one of the most vital steps to social media marketing success.  Just as each bubble of social media contact floats out into the webosphere toward an intended audience, a social media brand must be consistent for potential customers and business partners to see a strong message.

There are as many different online forums and networking sites in the online marketing arena as there are bees in a hive.  For the purpose of clarity, consider Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Biznik as prime examples.  In fact, these five steps to creating a consistent brand in social media marketing will apply the same way to every online promotional opportunity from electronic article publication to blogging:

1. Decide on a Niche Market.  No matter what audience you are seeking to address, identifying your niche audience is even more vital in social media marketing than in traditional marketing because there are millions more people to reach.  Many companies believe that drawing thousands of followers on Twitter or dozens of connections on LinkedIn equals high ROI (return on investment).  If 999 of the 1000 people who follow you on Twitter are women without children and you sell mommy products, then your conversion is actually VERY low.   Finding your niche audience will give you good coverage for your brand and lead to better conversions.

2. Consider a Face.  Much of social media marketing is about finding the right way to promote.  Whether you decide to use your company logo or your picture, remember that the icon or avatar will represent the “face” of your online efforts.  If it is important to have human recognition (for services, human recognition is imperative!), then consider finding a person that looks non-generic in race, economic type, and profession without being remote or sterile.

3. Persona Grata.  The welcome person should be prepared to tweet, post, and connect with a consistent tone and voice to distribute all company correspondences of online marketing.  By allowing one person to interact on each posting board and forum, the chances are better that the message and branding will stay the same in all social media venues.

4. Slogan-ate.  In virtually every social media forum, there is the opportunity to write a short blub about the company or person.  This is incredibly useful space that most people waste.  This is the place where people look when they are deciding if they want to connect with you and get to know you.  Using this space as your online business card or elevator speech is the best approach for developing interaction between social media platforms.

5. Promote and Measure.  By setting up separate promotions for each social media forum, you are able to kill two marketing birds with one stone!  You can do some quick A / B testing of several promotions to see which promotion out performs the other.  Plus, you can quickly measure results by the number of people who take you up on the offer.  Once you have decided which promotion has achieved more results, you should create slight variation of the same promotion to strength your brand recognition for each social media involvement and measure return on investment.
 
Many of the reasons that solopreneurs and companies market in an online atmosphere include the opportunity to gain exposure for their brand and the dissemination of branded marketing messages to a larger audience.  In both cases, increasing brand recognition and promoting a strong marketing message require a consistent brand for the audience to connect the dots into a series of marketing touches that increase sales potential.  By following the five steps, consistent branding in social media marketing will match the branding on the rest of your promotional materials.

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