When you’re running a small business, it can be easy to fall into the trap of laser-focusing on sales. In most cases, margins are thin, and livelihoods are on the line. It makes sense to concentrate on what’s bringing in the cash. Unfortunately, this approach can sometimes result in the business neglecting to develop and build its brand.
If “branding” is a term you’ve heard before, or you’re intimidated by all-things marketing, there’s nothing to fear. Your “brand” is another term to describe the name, design, logo, symbol and unique attributes that separate you from competitors. To put it differently, it’s the heart, soul, and essence of your business. Once you can convey what your brand is, you’ll have to strategize on how to convey it to your audience.
In part two of our educational series on how small businesses can best leverage social media, we’ll talk about using social networking platforms to establish your brand identify and build some buzz around your business.
Be Selective With Where You Market Yourself
When most people think of social media, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are the usual suspects that come to mind. But what about Pinterest, Snapchat and Tumblr? Tik Tok and Untappd? LinkedIn? Each of these sites, while technically classified as social media platforms, all serve very different purposes and audiences. Your goal should be to find the platforms that already house your customers (and potential customers).
Here’s an example: If you own a small plumbing company and you want your brand to be reflective of how you pride yourself as the “neighborhood plumber who cares,” a site like Pinterest probably isn’t for you. Users take to Pinterest to create “pinboards” or virtual scrapbooks. Where they can catalog ideas, recipes, construction projects, exercise routines and the like. They aren’t necessarily looking to connect with local plumbers.
On the contrary, Facebook might be the perfect place to start to build your brand. You can share promotions or specials, customer testimonials, and information about your efforts within the local community. Also, customers can leave their own reviews right on your page. It has a robust advertising model built right into the platform. And offers a cost-effective way to target users within certain zip codes. That can be incredibly impactful for a company with a small physical footprint.
The other thing to keep in mind beyond just the functionality of the platform is the demographics of its users. According to Sprout Social, Snapchat is hugely popular with those age 13 to 17. People 30 and older are far less inclined to use it. That 30 and over demographic are much more likely to own a home and need plumbing services. For what it’s worth, nearly 70% of all adult social media users are on Facebook, so the platform is a boon for businesses of all types. If you’re interested in reading more about the different demographics of social media users, Sprout Social has more details.
Be Consistent with Your Branding
Think of the logos for the most iconic brands you know. Ever seen them stretched thin, placed upside down or printed in a crazy color? Probably not, because a logo is part of every company’s brand, and consistency reinforces good branding. If you want to use social media to develop and strengthen your own brand, choose a color palette that’s consistent with your company. From uniforms, fleet vehicles, invoices, and your website. Make sure you’re also using the same logo across the various channels so customers can recognize you when they see you.
But consistency should extend beyond just visuals. The content you provide, more specifically the tone of your posts should remain steady as well. It’s OK to display some personality on social media, but try not to ebb and flow too much. It can be both off-putting and confusing to users. More than anything, customers want brands to be honest, helpful and friendly on social media, so consider the channel an extension of your customer service efforts at all times.
Be Active and Be Persistent
While we’re on the topic of consistency, let’s talk about how the frequency of your posting plays a part in building a brand. Quality is certainly more important than quantity, but if you aren’t posting frequently enough or you’re letting customer questions go unanswered, it can look like you don’t care to engage with your audience. And that’s bad news for any brand.
If you’re posting regularly, customers will also have an expectation that you’ll be using the channel to share news about promotions or specials. As a result, they’re more likely to proactively visit your Facebook or Instagram accounts even if they miss your posts in their feeds. Using social media to increase your brand awareness is a great idea, but it can seem like an overwhelming exercise at times. Someone who is concerned about devoting the time needed to post daily should take advantage of one of the many tools that allow you to schedule your posts. By doing so, you can post them in batches and check-in remotely to monitor for questions or comments.
Read more about branding in our blog post
Brand Building Isn’t an Overnight Venture
You probably didn’t build your business in a day, and you can expect the same for building your brand. It takes time to develop the type of equity and recognition that well-known companies have, so don’t fret if you don’t see immediate success. The key is to follow the tips we talked about here—find the platforms where your customers are already hanging out, be consistent with what you say and do, and post frequently enough that customers can find you.
If you’re a home service business looking for ways to organize your operations and customer relations, WHERK can help. Our new software makes tedious tasks like scheduling, dispatching, invoicing and data entry more efficient, saving you time that you can spend on more meaningful activities. To learn more, schedule your free demo with WHERK today.