It has never been easier and cheaper to build brand equity--a favorable impression with an audience that matters to you. Sure, it's noisy out there, but
with a little sweat equity you can build support for your school, project, or product.
Earlier this month, a dozen startup CEOs offered some great advice on How to Build Buzz For Your Beta. Once you're up and running and need to let folks know about the good work that you're doing, our friend Frank Catalano provided some thoughtful advice on allocation of marketing budget:
Public relations and social media are the lowest-cost, longest-fuse ways to create buzz with customers. Advertising, especially traditional display and broadcast advertising, is the most-expensive, least-effective way. The latter may make you feel important and as if you're in control of the message, but with the web and social media, control is an illusion. You want to make customers, even pilot or beta customers, into advocates, and have them spread the word with their implied endorsement.
There are many inexpensive ways to create awareness and buzz through social media and public relations. Distributing well-written news releases through PR Web (which I prefer for its combination of relatively low cost and good reach; there are other alternatives) is not as much about alerting editors to coverage as it is about getting the release into online databases where it will show up in search and about SEO through embedded links. Also, becoming a helpful and knowledgeable (not promotional) voice on blogs (as either an author or commenter) and discussion boards which already reach your audience.
We've found social media to be a cost-effective way for schools, advocacy groups, and companies to get the word out. Following are five tips on cost effective brand building:
1. Facebook: Maintain an active page with a daily update. Posts should be conversational and allow for discussions to happen in the comment section. Follow and "like" related projects to build traffic.
2. Twitter: Make a couple original content tweets and a half a dozen retweets every day. Follow and use relevant hashtags. Follow relevant and influential tweeters (you can follow up to 2,000 to get started).
3. eBlast: Send out a short newsletter every week or two to an email list. Include links and event information.
4. YouTube channel: Build a library of short videos, favorite other videos, and create a playlist.
5. Selectively use other tools: Pinterest is great for visually appealing projects. Edmodo can be a great way to connect with teachers.
Combine social media with relationship development--get warm introductions to opinion leaders--and build a network. Follow prospective clients, donors, partners, etc. on Twitter and like them on Facebook to see what they are posting about. Joining their conversations and retweeting messages is an easy way to make a connection.
Remember to be consistent with messaging across all your channels. No matter what type of social media someone visits they should see a consistent look and message about your company. Create custom background, thumbnail images, and cover pictures that enhance the look of a basic social media page. Your website should have clear links to all your social media channels as well.
When giving presentations, speeches or webinars make sure you are easy to tweet. Keeping short and concise wording will allow others to tweet and post about your event. Add your Twitter account to your business cards and email signature.
Edmodo is a Learn Capital company where Tom Vander Ark is a partner.