Take control of your brand’s story with a unified approach to content, SEO and social media
The discoverability of your brand is a make-or-break operation. The first page of your SERPs (search engine result pages) is a vital snapshot of your brand narrative. Before visiting your website, a prospect scrolls through an initial set of web browser search results to get a 10-second elevator pitch of your brand. They’ll subsequently either click on your website or the first SERP result. (Your website should be the first result when someone searches your brand.)
Whether B2B or B2C, brands must have complete control over their narrative in a digital-first environment. Here, we discuss the three digital channels that are essential to your brand and the strategies that you can implement to control your brand narrative.
1. Search Engine Optimization
According to Jorge Leger, founder of Astound.Media, search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of making your website’s content relevant to the keywords that your customers are searching online. “SEO is vital to a brand’s strategy and digital brand positioning,” Leger says. “If your customers are searching for the products or services that you offer and you are not in front of them, they won’t buy.”
Leger says that consumer behavior has shifted to associate organic ranking (Google SERP) with trust. Users are clicking and entering the digital conversion funnel for only one of the companies that show up first. “Why click through five pages of results when the best options are on top?” Leger says.
Leger suggests these steps your brand can take to implement a successful SEO strategy:
- Start small. If your website is new or you’ve never had it optimized, start by doing so with existing pages and posts. On WordPress, my favorite tool for this is the Yoast SEO plugin.
- Measure. It’s essential to measure where your website ranks and how often it fluctuates. Tools such as SEMrush enable you to see what keywords your website is ranking for, what your competitors’ site(s) are ranking for, and much more. It is also a best practice to research the keywords you are targeting to determine they are feasible to compete for on SERPs. Also, keyword stuffing, or overusing keywords to try to rank for them in a post or article does not help.
- Know when to outsource SEO. Once you understand the gist of SEO, you will need to determine if it is practical for you to focus time and energy on it. Most times, it makes more sense to outsource Search Engine Optimization so that you can focus on driving your business at a higher level.
2. Social Media
Social media is crucial for brands because it allows for direct customer communication. Building a social media strategy helps the brand to project a “personality” and build rapport with the target audience. Murray Newlands says, “Integrate personality through humor and emotions into your posts so that your audience can relate to your brand.” Along with understanding the different social media platforms, it is equally important to understand which platform is more concentrated with your target audience. Sites such as Sprout Social provide a helpful granular demographic landscape for all social platforms. Along with your website, your brand controls your social media platforms, so it’s important that content across all tools you own reflects your brand.
Here are some strategies to put into place to ensure an effective social media strategy:
- Scheduling. Consider putting together a social media schedule for all channels, complete with post topics and visuals. This will help with frequency level of posts on all channels, while also ensuring consistency of messaging across all channels. It’s important that all social channels speak to each other without conflicting messages. Tools like Hootsuite help significantly with social media scheduling.
- Customer Engagement. Increasing the number of followers is always good, but engagement will always be a top metric within social media. Are people liking, retweeting or sharing your posts? Are consumers commenting about your brand posts? If customers are tweeting complaints to your brands social media handle, are you responding in a timely fashion? Answering these questions is essential to an effective social media strategy. It’s important that the channels are monitored regularly and properly.
- Content. As mentioned earlier, your brand’s social media channels are an extension of the marketing channels that your brand owns. Don’t just store your brand whitepapers, blogs and other promotional materials on your website—extend these materials to your social channels. This strategy will lead to increased traffic to your website as you are expanding the amount of people that your website content will reach. Also, if budget allows, consider boosting or sponsoring your posts on your social channels to further increase the number of people that your post reaches. This can be relatively inexpensive, starting at $100. A suggestion here would be to promote only original content and choose descriptive words and visuals for headers that are appealing to consumers.
Why is content king? Other than product, content is the key piece that positions your brand as an industry leader. Leger also adds that content marketing in turn helps with SEO. “Embrace content marketing. The more useful content that you create for your prospective customer, the better. It not only gives you the means [content] to optimize and get ranking on search engines, but it also provides something useful to your users.”
Here are some elements for strategic content marketing:
- Informational whitepapers and blogs. Original content that your brand researched, created and provided for a case study or module establishes you as an industry and thought leader. Think, be innovative and write it down for all to see.
- Webinars, podcasts and webcasts are all great uses for recycling your content. These channels are also all in high demand and boosts a significant level of engagement—consider this a unique part of your content strategy.
- Customer reviews. For all intents and purposes, a customer review is persuasive content. Consumers tend to lean more toward publicity as opposed to public relations. Encourage customers to leave reviews about products, services and their overall experience.