Using Social Media to Promote Your Brand

For affiliate managers social media can be overwhelming as well as boon to their business. It takes some work to set up accounts properly and stay on top of communications and updates. But social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook can help you effectively and efficiently spread the word to thousand of potential customers as well as help strengthen ties with already loyal fans. It can also help you drive traffic to your website as well as stay in touch with affiliates.

Getting started

Before you set up any social media accounts – be sure to look across all the platforms select a consistent name. You can use a service, such as Knowem.com, to check for if the name you want is available across hundreds of services or check on your own for the ones that are a priority to you. Remember, you don’t want to be Smith Widgets on Facebook and SmithCompanyWidgets on Twitter and WidgetSmith on another service. That will only confuse people. Consistency is the key to people finding you and it offers some branding opportunities.

Next, you’ll want to set up a Twitter account. This is very straightforward. Sign up for the service with the name you’ve chosen and then add a profile. Be sure that if you have special branding or logos that you customize your Twitter background to include those elements. If necessary you may need to seek out a Twitter background program or template that lets you further customize the background. This can be done for as little as $30 to $50. In addition, there are also some free services.

When filling out the profile, you’ll want to include a link to your website. If your goal is to get followers on your Facebook fanpage, then use that URL instead.

To get followers check the accounts of people in your specific market segment and follow people they are following. Begin by following as many people as you. The bulk of them will follow you back. You can also do a search on Twitter for keywords related to your product and brand and then follow those that are talking about your subject matter. It’s likely they will be interested in what you have to say. In addition, there are paid services that help you acquire followers. There are social media experts that say growing your following organically is best. However, buying followers has worked for some companies. Just be sure to do your research on which service works best.

You can also use Twitter to communicate with your affiliates. But using a separate account to push offers and give them information is best. (See Strategies for Recruiting Affiliates.)

Also make sure to set up a Facebook account and fanpage. You can have both a business and a fanpage but a fanpage is necessary to engage followers and is typically less formal. This gives you the chance to have discussions, let loyal followers post photos and have contents or giveaways. The goal is to be creative and entertaining. You can get some ideas by looking at fanpage from other brands or companies that are successful. Emulate the parts of those fanpages that work best and are appropriate for your business.

You should also look into signing up for other social networking services that appropriate for your market. For example: If you are in music or movies then MySpace might also be right for you.

Getting the Word Out

The key to getting people’s attention on online is solving problems and entertaining them. If you can combine the two using social media, that’s even better. Keep in mind that you are trying to engage people and build a following. Its okay to sell to people but giving them the hard sell is a turn off. Give them information about your products and services but don’t beat them over the head to buy. It’s an ongoing process to engage them but it can really pay off.

Answer questions for people. Being helpful also boosts your image as being an authority on particular subject. It also shows that your company is responsive, helping and willing to share. These are all good things to have associated with your brand and products. Make sure to be timely and courteous in your responses – even if you need to respond to negative comments.

Try to engage people by asking questions, starting discussions or soliciting feedback. For example: if you have a complex product, ask people about their experiences setting it up or using it. People love to share their opinions and perspectives. This is valuable content and will make you fanpage or Twitter account a destination for other potential customers.

Monitor Your Brand

It’s very important to know what people are saying about your company – good or bad. You don’t want to be in the dark. Plus, you might find great feedback or new ideas that you can use to improve your product or marketing.

Here are a few things you can do:

  • Set up Google Alerts for all things related to your company and product

  • Regularly search for your brand via Google search

  • Use Twitter’s real-time search feature

  • Use Google Realtime Search

  • Look for free monitoring tools (give examples here)

  • Pay for a monitoring service

Regardless of what people are saying – even if it’s negative – try to respond. Again, be polite, succinct, and respectful.

Social media is a power tool that when used creatively and strategically can improve your business.