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Social Media is More than a Branding Tool

Black Book

Branding is important. It’s something that most businesses want but few do well enough considering the tools that we all have at our disposal through the internet in general and social media in particular. However, too many are starting to use social media as a branding tool only. The reality for local businesses is that it can and should be used to drive foot traffic and website visitors. Branding should be a secondary benefit, a side-effect of a proper promotional strategy.

Look at the image above. It’s compelling. It’s branded (though not by the company that posted it). It combines the power of the OEM’s brand (this is posted on a Chevrolet dealer’s Facebook page), the trust associated with a partner brand (in this case, Black Book), and the clever wording in the description designed to achieve a goal. In this case, the goal is website traffic to a form that is specific to the message of the post. Here’s how the message reads:

“First and foremost, check out that beautiful Camaro. Once you’re done reminiscing about a body style that didn’t really get the attention it deserved, look down at the bottom left corner. You’ll see a logo that you should trust. We trust it.

“Black Book is the most accurate way to get an idea of what your trade in is worth. Before you go shopping for a new car, prepare yourself with knowledge about your own trade in… http://bit.ly/13nyr5E

At the end is the call to action, of course. Sometimes it’s good to make the link the focus of the post. In this case, because it’s a permanent page (a trade in evaluation tool) and not a time-sensitive landing page surrounding a short-term event, it’s best to hook the viewers with the image and description, then give them a valid and relevant reason to click through to the website itself.

After 18 hours and with the bulk of the Facebook advertising budget still available, it’s at 48 likes and has been seen by 1,300 people. Both numbers will go up in the coming days, as will the number of clicks to the link.

The challenge facing most who attempt posts like these is getting them enough localized traction. There are some posts that are good for branding that have no call to action. Even in those cases, the goal is to massage the Facebook EdgeRank algorithm to favor the page’s posts and display them in more news feeds. Those posts are primarily designed to enhance the success of the “money posts”, the ones with a specific promotional message designed to drive foot traffic or website visitors. If every post that goes up is a “money post”, the algorithm will start kicking the posts down on the feed. If all of the posts are “fun posts” designed strictly for branding and popularity, the point of using social media for business is lost.

Branding-only strategies are easy, which is why many businesses and even marketing agencies focus on them. It allows for intangible benefits. It also makes the success level much harder to track.

As you develop your strategy and campaigns, keep this post in mind. You can definitely have some fun and feel like you’re accomplishing something with a branding-only strategy. Unfortunately, it’s not the way to make social media really hum for your business.

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