Anybody Out There? 5 Ways to Build the Right Online Audience

Personalizing online content often means creating stories that make people feel connected to a business or product. However, while it may be easy to make up stories that help people feel connected, creating an audience might be a bit more difficult.

Creating online content is like standing on a stage at a talent show. The different audience members like different kinds of acts. Some prefer music while others want to watch magic. The internet is similar to this since you are trying to draw in a multitude of diverse interests.

Finding ways to grab people’s attention can seem difficult and frustrating. However, with the right approach, any business can create a new audience, the key is to create a musical magic act.

Make your website mobile friendly

Most people read website on their phones or tablets while they’re on the move. Making a website mobile friendly is one of the easiest ways to create an audience for your product or service. In addition, Google made mobile-friendliness a ranking signal in April 2015.

  • Find a conversion platform
  • Use mobile plugins
  • Use a web design that is responsive to mobile

Use the right hashtags

Customers looking for products are going to be searching under hashtags. Think about the diversity of your customer base. FM Digital Group suggests marketing to multiple demographics can expand customer base by thinking of different categories of hashtags that can help.

For examples, just because you are a nail salon doesn’t mean that your manicures are just manicures. When tagging the designs on Instagram, go beyond the traditional nail art tags and decide how to market the actual designs. Think about the cross postings that hashtags can give across multiple social media sites.

Choose the right social media channel

Different social media networks offer different audiences and opportunities.

  • Facebook has the broadest range
  • Twitter works best for moving information quickly
  • Pinterest’s users are primarily women and works best for DIY projects, fashion, exercise, beauty, photography, and food
  • Instagram which is entirely pictures and video works best for food, art, travel, fashion and other products that are visually appealing
  • Tumblr is mostly young people with half its visitor base under 25, but if your product is a niche product, this where the audience lives

Find your influencer

Influencers vary by business, but each can become your brand ambassador. In your industry, think about the voices. Building a relationship with one of them might be the best way to build an audience.  This strategy takes time. To make it work, you need to build a genuine relationship based on mutual respect and understanding. If it’s not real, neither the influencer nor the audience will stick around.

Read what others are talking about

Be involved in the conversations that others are having about your industry. Follow up on your competitors to be just as involved as they are. Competitors are just other people with the same audience as you. This means that the customers you want to engage may be engaged with them. By analyzing where your competitors find their audience, you can find your own.

Building an online audience sounds daunting. However, in the same way that the musician at the talent show is able to get the music fans to applaud a good show, so can you become capable of establishing a name for yourself.

Image source: Pixabay

Branding Your Business in 2016: Quarter 4 Highlights

Branding has increasingly become more mobile-friendly, focusing on stronger online presence, increasingly more visual marketing and straight-on communication. With detail intuition being the closest thing to making an impact in your industry, the question is how to brand your business better and more efficiently?

Discussion points:

1.       Branding Yourself – the Highlights

1.1. Why You Should Create a Brand

2.       Tangible Brand Fundamentals

2.1. Visual Branding – Detail Intuition

2.2. Visual Identity through Design and Graphics

3. Marketing Highlights

1.     Branding Yourself – the Highlights

What is Branding to You?

Don’t panic if you don’t know the answer – that is why you are here. For a business, branding means adding personality to the "needle in the hay", and making it stand out. Simply put: you pick a name for your business and want people to recognize it locally, nationally and/or internationally.

1.1. Why You Should Create a Brand

There are at least 3 major reasons:

a)      You want to become visible and stand out from the rest

b)      You want to share your message with the world

c)       You want to sell: B2B, B2C, B2D* (*business-to-distribution channel), H2H* (human-to-human); because there is either a gap in the industry or competition isn’t delivering enough quality.

d)      Bonus: There is room for everyone. Or you just simply can!

2.       Tangible Branding Fundamentals

First off, a brand is a long-term commitment and like every commitment, it relies on "doability" (the ability to make and build), which does not happen overnight. Tangible elements refer to the actions we take to build a certain brand identity. These include:

  • Brand architecture
  • Brand voice and tone
  • Brand logo and visual vocabulary
  • Brand security

2.1. Visual Branding – Detail Intuition

A few words on each. 

Brand architecture means mission and vision: what you promise to your customers, clients and fans and how will it serve them. 

Brand voice and tone is related to how you translate the brand to your brand consumers and potential consumers and in what way you wish to communicate your mission and vision to them (friendly, formal, business jargon, close communication, or a combination of all). 

Brand logo and visual vocabulary refers to the Typography used (i.e. Arial, Georgia, Times New Roman) in CAPS or Non-CAPS, the Fonts (Regular, Bold, Italic, mixture of two or more), the colors to define the visual identity (primary brand colors and brand accent colors), the Logo that allows the design to "breathe", the road from Mark to Trademark. Let’s not forget how details make the difference and include here the Minimum size display and the Clearness grid.

Notable enough, every brand should have a human face to display near an email signature.

Brand security and protection refers to domain name market registration and management solutions, as well as digital measures to ensure that your brand’s digital assets and identity are safe from harm (i.e. online theft).

Detail intuition combines all the resources and allows you to determine details in future trends. This enables companies to gain a real advantage in the way they position the brand, services and how they address potential customer needs.

2.2. Visual Identity through Design and Graphics

This is the focus part of building an online brand. Visual identity principles are closely related to the way we define the look and feel of a brand.

First off, every brand should have a "most recognizable" mark that represents the company: a typed drawing, a specific figure, an element in a deliberate font and color displayed in a series of renditions (each appropriate for every context). A rendition can contain just a logo or the trademark (when the case), additional words and phrasings such as "powered by", along with a tagline, in different sizes and patterns.

Contrast plays another role in how the visual identity stands out. Dark bold backgrounds can be the "make it or break it" point, and it all depends on the amount of good contrast and clear legibility between background color and the mark. A color-based or black version of a logo should only be used against light or white backgrounds, whereas a white or light color-based logo versions should only be used with dark or color-stroked backgrounds.

The Graphics also play a vital role, think of every social media profile, every picture on your blog, every banner, every infographic or graphic material your team produces – each contributes to how the audience perceives you.

3. Online Marketing Highlights

Online marketing is on the brink of change as well, on a clear and simple premise: people’s trust cannot be won with pushy sales strategies. Inbound marketing is the only way to go, combined with social listening and brand sentiment.

Core principles of inbound marketing include a consumer-oriented approach, where the mission is to live where your audience lives, and attract new potential customers, as opposed to hard selling techniques. The content you create circles the idea of providing real solutions and addressing customer needs, instead of blatant advertising of your services. A brand will win customers over by answering their questions, solve cases, involve and promote the audience, and start a long-term relationship with them.

Trending Ideas to Boost Your Marketing

Here are a few creative ideas to use in your marketing strategy:

  • Create heat maps with local resources to answer your customers’ local needs
  • Compile a resource page based on customer data
  • Optimize your newsletters as a weekly issue where trending information and creative solutions are listed, instead of just your product or service updates
  • Organize regular video/audio webinars for live interaction with your customers
  • If customers use some of the social media platforms as CRM channels, then structure your social media content as an addition to customer support
  • Do short surveys to better understand your audience
  • Keep it simple, keep it personal – this is the human-to-human principle
  • Embrace the new: Instagram stories, the new Facebook pages format, Snapchat videos
  • If possible, meet your customers face to face, take pictures with them, and use this as fresh content
  • Invite your customers to add and create content of their own. This will enhance the voice of your community.

These are our recommendations in terms of taking your branding to a higher level in quarter 4. The year is far from over, and in many industries, autumn means a new business season. So take the lead, and do not lose to competition.

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Roxana Nasoi
Roxana is an online community builder and marketing consultant with 8years of experience in startup branding, community building (former Elance.com ambassador, between 2012-2015) and marketing consulting for Fortune500 companies. You can read her blog, SERPlified, and connect with her on Twitter (@roxanasoi). She enjoys traveling, dancing tango, running and reading good books.
Roxana Nasoi