The Value of online, off-topic, Communities.

Crowd Of PeopleSo we’ve all read a million articles about social media marketing, but can you build a brand online? Better yet, should you build a brand online, and why is branding more important than marketing?

Marketing is great, but if no one likes what you have to offer, then your marketing efforts are worthless! Building an identity for a product, service, or content, and instilling a recurring image in prospects will pay off in multiple ways. To show this more clearly, here’s an example of building the brand online, rather than just promoting it.

A gaming company wanted to spread the word about their brand, and realized that their customer base was always online. While your prospects may not be there at present, they are there for some reason, so the following Case Study still applies.

Our gaming company started its own community on Google +. If most prospects are online anyway, keywords that they use will attract these consumers that want to keep up with new products, gossip, graphics, etc. Don’t think that your prospects aren’t like gamers. Look at the success of the social site Instagram. People like looking at pictures and information of what they like. By starting an online community, it is your choice what to add to it, but you know that you will attract those that enjoy the subject (Which should be your Unique Sales Proposal), and you can find out more about them from their own profiles and posting history. Facebook and Linked In also offer the same opportunity, but – of course – they come to the industry with different viewpoints: Either fun, or professional.

Your own brand, your online communities are, and should be, named differently but your plan should be to make both names recognizable to those that will become members of that community. You do not want to link the two names, but you do want to place the idea that the moderator of these communities may be a brand name, but it is also a fan of the product, or service, and its power. Even if your brand name isn’t well known, yet, you want to place these ideas into the experience of your prospects.

You are going to share information with your communities, but not sell your brand. To become trustworthy, the last thing anyone wants is to be sold to. There is nothing wrong with accepting some of your competition into the community, in fact you can learn from them, if they do. You are there to listen to your communities, what they feel, and what they want.

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