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Five Dos and Don'ts for Choosing the Best Online Platforms for Your Brand

Online platforms are a great way to establish and grow your brand for two reasons: People are actively seeking out personal connections in the online space and marketers can pinpoint their target audience in an unprecedented way. But when there are so many viable options to choose from, where do you begin? Most marketers will tell you to be active on all the major platforms to compete, but this is not the same advice you will get from a brand strategist.

Listen, we only have a finite number of resources at our disposal. You will run out of hours in the day and money in the pocket if the goal is to attack all social media platforms at once. In fact, without time to customize messaging per outlet, and by creating content for many different audiences in a mass-produced way, your brand message will become weak.

So, which platforms should you choose? The truth is that I cannot offer a blanket response because whatever platforms a brand pursues should be solely dictated by the brand itself. Companies should be finding a unique way to share their unique message, and thus the brand will lead the company to their authentic marketing strategy. That strategy includes prioritizing communication channels like social media.

What I can offer is some advice to help brands forge their own authentic path into the online realm once they have solidified their brand pillars. Follow these quick dos and don’ts for choosing and prioritizing the best online platforms for your brand and you’ll start off on the right foot.

 

DON’T JUST GO WHERE THE PEOPLE ARE

Mass marketing is not useful day--day unless you have an endless budget. I’m not saying to turn down that Today Show interview; I’m saying to focus most of your energy on narrowing your mto directly hit your target audience.


If you choose a social media platform like Instagram or Facebook for the sole reason that they offer the largest audiences, consider asking yourself how much you may be drowned out by the noise. Noise could be your competitors, your non competitors, and even your best friend’s baby announcement.

Instead, ask where your target audience may be hiding in plain sight. Twitter skews older, Reddit skews male, and LinkedIn boasts a demographic with higher education. Dig in to the schematics and narrow down your focus to the top three that will best incite consumer interaction.

DO DETERMINE WHAT SELLS YOUR BRAND THE BEST

You have control over how to package your brand to your target audience, but there is an infinite number of ways to accomplish this using the three major elements of the brand: product, image, and narrative. Choosing the right platform that represents your brand authentically and elevates the brand story, is the goal. So, what sells your brand the best? One example to ponder is whether your brand is a more visual brand or a narrative-based brand.


If you are a more visual brand, like a cosmetic company or a graphic designer, you would be best served on platforms who focus on visual elements like the grids on Instagram or Pinterest. If you are a more narrative-based brand, like an author or politician, you may want to instead focus efforts on discourse-driven options like LinkedIn, Tumblr or Reddit. Concentrate on how you want people to interact with the content they encounter and that will determine where you should meet them.

DON’T FORCE IT

The common misconception is that it’s best to be everywhere and anywhere. WRONG! This thinking is not only detrimental to your brand, but also to your health. Instead, you should focus on platforms that feel like a natural fit. Forcing an influencer or company to create content for a platform they don’t understand will only cause inauthenticity to shine through. This generates a painful, endless cycle beginning with lukewarm content, followed by no interaction, followed by stress about the platform, followed by more lukewarm content, etc.

Some of my clients are downright fearful of social media and others loathe being involved so much they prefer to avoid specific platforms altogether. That’s perfectly fine. George Clooney is a powerful influencer changing the world without social media. He just uses other online communication channels like media websites. You cross the ones off the list that don’t make sense, or worse cause anxiety. There are still plenty of other opportunities to tackle at the end of the day.

The main takeaway here: Save yourself the headache and stay authentic to yourself because that’s why people will connect with your brand in the first place.


DO PLAN FOR DIVERSIFICATION

What happens if the platform you are 100% on goes away overnight? What happens if Facebook decides to suspend your account forever? I’d venture to guess you’d lose a major online resource to deliver your message and connect with your hard-earned audience. After spending years building, and thousands of dollars in advertising, you’d be losing a considerable investment. Time and money, both wasted.


I had a friend who spent day and night on a quest to become the King of Vine. Well, we all know what happened there. Tragically, he lost a year’s worth of fan building because the platform went bust after Instagram rolled out Stories.


A business cannot survive without financial diversification and social media should be treated the same. As with all things, you should diversify your communication channels. Again, focus on where you best fit, but prioritize to make sure you are in many places.


DO MAKE SURE TO DRIVE ALL TRAFFIC TO YOUR WEBSITE

This could be considered a continuation of the last “do,” but please make sure that all your social media and other online efforts direct people to your website. Your website is your online store and is your greatest online asset. Your offerings are not limited on your website as they are on third-party websites and you will never be shut down. You maintain complete control.


I saw a tweet once from a musician who was lamenting over why he should keep his website operating when it costs X a year to maintain for hosting and domains. His argument was that everyone was going to Facebook anyways so he should keep that as his official website instead. This rationale is short-term and lacks understanding of how to build a successful revenue-based business.


You should continuously offer CTAs (call-to-actions) to visit your website to sign up for your mailing list or buy a product. Both consumer actions will give you contact data for future marketing efforts. And Facebook or Vine won’t be able to take that away. If Taylor Swift had decided to use her biggest platform, Myspace, as her main website at the start of her career, we wouldn’t have Taylor Swift just as we no longer have Myspace. Poor Tom.

 

At the end of the day, only you can decide what outlets will work best for your brand. These quick rules, along with your brand pillars, will tell you where you need to go. Listen to them, stop spreading yourself thin, and focus only on the outlets that makes sense for your authentic brand and no one else’s.


To discover your brand pillars, be sure to pick up a copy of my bestseller From Individual to Empire: A Guide to an Authentic and Powerful Brand at any book retailer in paperback or eBook. And you can find me at my chosen platforms: Facebook (@laurabullbranding), Instagram & Twitter (@thelaurabull). But really, I’m just going to send you to join my newsletter at laurabull.com….so if you want to save a step…


Until next time….