In Social Media Part II, I elaborated upon two views of the role of social media in networking originally identified in Part I of this segment. Also, I provided an example of the approach that had worked best in my experience and provided guidance on how to implement social media in your business or individual career. In Part III I will discuss social media brands.
Consistency and Exclusivity
In a previous posting I had discussed the importance of consistency and exclusivity to your brand. I believe this concept applies to social media as well. The social media employed by your brand should be consistent in that each tool should invoke the same or similar images when you think of each tool individually and they should each be aligned with your brand. When considered in total, each individual piece should form a complete picture of your brand.
Exclusivity might sound a little strange for a social networking tool given that most tools are free of charge for a basic package and that anyone may sign up for use of such tools. You may ask the question, how can something be exclusive if by its very nature it is all inclusive? I struggled with this a bit myself and arrived at the following conclusion. Social media, just like the Internet, or any living system is a self-organizing entity. My opinion is that social media self-organizes by attracting people and organizations that are consistent with the overall brand or message offered by said tool. Like attracts like; therefore a social media outlet is exclusive not by a formal gate or barrier, but by the group of individuals congregating within the group and their comfort level and interest in participating in the group. As mentioned in the Consistency and Exclusivity post, some people will gravitate towards brands such as Apple, Barnes & Noble and Starbucks as opposed to similar brands, so is it with social media.
A Practical Example
When starting Cape Cod Branding my partner, Amy, and I made the conscious decision to limit our posting to a few of the many social networking tools that populate the Internet. The rationale behind this decision was that we only wanted our brand associated with the higher quality tools that aligned with the image we wanted to portray. This does not mean that we will not expand to other outlets as more become available and we discover additional social networking tools that align with our image.
Linkedin is what I consider the most serious of the social networking tools. We use Linkedin as individuals, rather than a consolidated business use at this point. For example, Amy and I both have individual Linkedin accounts with our career profiles, but there is not a single Cape Cod Branding Linkedin profile as I do not believe the site allows for this option. I am considering starting a group specifically for Cape Cod Branding as a potential way around this shortcoming. Linkedin is consistent with our brand as it portrays a clean, simple, professional appearance. Besides, Linkedin is the top choice among entrepreneurs.
Finally, I find Twitter to be a fast, easy, fun way to connect others within my industry as well as a good method of collaborating. I am really just scratching the surface of Twitter but so far have found it effective for gaining a following, driving traffic to your website or blog, and finally, receiving updates as when others who may be of interest post new material. Twitter is consistent with my brand due mainly to the look and feel, ease of use, and rising popularity.
I have provided the individual value that these tools offer and the respective rationale for how they are consist with the overall Cape Cod Branding image and how they are exclusive in their own right. Combined, each tool will offer your business a total value that is great than the sum of it’s individual parts by providing a consistent image, exposure of your brand, and residual traffic to your website and blog.
Which Social Media Should I Use?
The answer to this depends on what you wish to accomplish. Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter work best for my business, however other options may be more appropriate for you. When evaluating each individual tool first consider if you like the look and feel of the tool and if it is easy to use. Next consider what you are attempting to accomplish with each tool. Finally, consider the combined social media package and determine if as a whole your image is consistent and exclusive with your brand.
Individually and combined, your social media package must be consistent and exclusive!