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Building Social Media Platforms for Growing Brands

By: Heather Smith
Posted: July 6, 2009, from the July 2009 issue of GCI Magazine.

Social media is literally the buzz everyone is talking about these days. It is what consumers are doing online, and it is what brand owners need to be doing online. Having and implementing a social media campaign is hot right now, and it is paramount for branding, marketing and public relations. As a business, small or large, learning social media optimization is crucial to reign in potential customers engaging in online social media.

Don’t be Bashful

You’re not alone if you have questions such as: What is social media? What are people tweeting about? These remain very common question across the board. Social media can be described as online tools and platforms that people use to share opinions, insights, experiences and perspectives. Social media can take many different forms—including text, images, audio and video. Examples—and currently popular social mediums—are blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. And some or all of these mediums should make up your social media platform, facilitating sharing and discussions about your brand—as well as creating a community around the brand. To make any given platform a success, it is essential that everyone in the organization is on board, and pushing in the same direction to execute effectively.

This technology moves quickly, so start building your social platform now—first by listening to what people are saying about your brand ... and listen carefully. Next, jump in the conversation, and remember that trust, transparency and authenticity are the key to branding and building your brand community. When people follow a brand, they are more likely to both buy that brand’s products and seek more brand information online.

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article about the online research consumers conduct before buying products. Consumers are looking beyond what they are spoon-fed from companies’ Web sites, and they don’t believe TV commercials give enough of the information needed to make a purchase. Of the group surveyed in the article, 92% said they had more confidence in information they find online than what they are told by a sales clerk or other source.

Additionally, from a brand marketing perspective, research published in The 2008 Cone Business in Social Media Study showed 60% of American citizens used social media. Of those surveyed, 93% indicated business should have a social media presence and 85% indicated businesses should interact via social networks with their customers.