Digital Media for Personal and Business Branding

A wall of photographed pictures and pictures with Kathleen and her sports-industry clients in the Sports Media Challenge office in Charlotte, NC. Photo Credit: Zuri Ward In the digital age, the use of social media and other digital tools is almost necessary for building a business or personal brand. Maximizing on a current audience or fan base, providing the general public with information about a brand and maintaining that brand’s culture or reputation almost completely depend on implementing some form of digital element.

When it comes to developing a personal brand, social media is important for individuals of any industry or profession. Professional networks like LinkedIn has made it easy for individuals to show off their skills, experience, and expertise.  Whether a person is a music artist or graphic artist, these types of sites can help build a professional or personal brand.

South Carolina-based music artist, Willie Winns Jr. uses social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter and mobile marketing to engage with his fan base on a regular basis. “ I wake up and the first thing I do is check my phone then log onto the Internet, so I figure others do as well.”

Winns has part one in the pocket. In “Two Birds, One Stone: Building Professional and Company Brands,” Mike Sweeny notes that showing up is half the battle. However, it’s not just enough to tweet and post aimlessly. The old term, “content is king” holds true in the social media realm as well.

While the nature of the content depends on the audience, it is necessary that companies and individuals post information that is useful to their audience. For example, a local arts and crafts shop may share DIY projects and instruction videos their customers can find online, while an individual trying to sell his promote his personal training services might share an article about the positive psychological effects of working out with a partner.

View the image below for ideas on how to engage effectively with an audience using social media for branding, and provide useful and relevant information to users.

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Unplugging

In a time where people often jump ship for the next best thing, Winns still feels strongly about maintaining a brand offline. “The same adds and fliers I display online, I have posted in any local store or gas station that will allow it,” Winns says. “Not everyone is on the Internet all of the time, so working both is essential.”

Yet again, based on a May 9th article posted on Acuracast.com, Winns may just be on the right path. “10 Expert Tips To Social Media Success,” an article that includes 10 tips for social media strategy from professional social media campaign manager. The 9th tip, “supplement your social strategy with traditional marketing,” basically states that social media is simply not enough.

Social media expert, John Leo Webber of Geek Powered Studios suggest that individuals draft traditional press releases and send them to news and radio outlets, as well as online distributors like PR Web. It doesn’t have to stop there. Artists who are looking to promote their latest project or an upcoming event might include a QR code on their flier or album cover.

QR codes are also useful tools for job seekers or individuals looking to brand themselves. Handing someone a business card could link him or her to an online portfolio or digital resume.

James “Hoot” Gibson has worked as a salesman at Bobby Murray Chevrolet in Raleigh, North Carolina for over 20 years.  A long-time fan of new and emerging technology, Gibson has made constant strides to keep his business in line with the changing trends.

Gibson maintains a website, hootsellscars.com, separate from the main Bobby Murray Chevrolet website. With such an extensive work history, many of Gibson’s customers come as referrals or individuals simply looking for another car. He tries to keep in contact with his past and customer and potential clients through his email and mobile marketing, special promotions and other good-faith gestures.

“I try to keep in contact with customers by sending advertising from time to time, and I'm also considering sending birthday notices or other special moments to them as well.”

Using text message and email blasts allows Gibson to share photos and other time sensitive information with his customers. He also adds that email can be used as a back up for keeping his records updated. “If the customer has moved from their physical address we can use the email address to contact them for updated information.”

Gibson believes that his business and personal brands are one in the same. “I would like to think that it allows me to be somewhat unique in my profession,” he adds.

Getting Involved

While Gibson can appreciate digital media, he is not that eager to go social. “I think that in some ways social media can have you in a position of venerability, to even your competitors,” says Gibson, “Being in this position is a risk that one takes, even with the strictest of attention given.”

This risk is one many businesses and individuals have to weigh constantly. In February 2013, Fast Company and Danielle Sacks published “Can You Hear Me Now,” an article that featured 23-year old Arielle Calderon, who is currently managing the Denny’s Twitter account.

Denny’s made a bold step by placing its brand in the hands of the recent Florida State University graduate and giving her the authority to engage with the public in order to build the company’s online presence. While the article chronicled one of Calderon’s success stories, Sacks warned that using social media for your brand could be dangerous as she recalled several “social media disasters” that had the potential to ruin several brands. Now lies the question: is social media more necessary than it is dangerous?

7 ways artist misuse social media to promote their music,” outlines 7 common pitfalls artists experience when it comes to promoting their music online. With social media being so new to people, especially of past generations, lots of people struggle with how much information to share. Even individuals with goals that will put them in the public eye have to force themselves to engage with their audience online.

Singer/songwriter, Iyabo Lawal is currently living in Charlotte, North Carolina and working on her first album. Lawal, who goes by the stage name, Incognita is an engineer by trade and (until now) has to maintain a rather modest online presence. In the new podcast series, “The B Spot,” Lawal describes how she is now engaging with her fans online and how she plans to incorporate this with her brand offline.

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On the second episode of “The B Spot,” Internet Marketing Strategist, Matt Harding shares tips to make DIY online reputation management a breeze.

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He also notes that responsive web pages and mobile marketing are just as important and sending the right tweet or posting the right status. “Mobile is becoming more and more synonymous with web search.” In fact, the Google-produced video below says that 95% of smart phone activity is searching for local information.

Metrics and Management

Kathleen Hessert is the Founder and CEO of Buzz Mgr. and Sports Marketing Challenge.  She provides monitoring services for governments, inviduals and organizations in order to track what people are saying about a brand.

When introducing a brand, Hessert says that it is important to understand the community, even if it is simply a social media platform. Introducing a brand to the world is a lot like bringing a business to a new market.

“Find where people are talking, listen to what they’re saying and become a part of that community and add value to it before you try and extract from it,” says Hessert. “Then you earn the right to engage and lead those people in a social media sphere.”

Hessert’s team also provides crisis management services to help manage the reputation of her clients. Sometimes she faces the task of solving issues in the wake of scandal. “When there’s a crisis, go for the quick hemorrhage, not the slow bleed,” she says.

Other times, Hessert identifies potential problems and creates action plans for solving them if they ever arise. Although the task and clients sometimes differ, Hessert says reputation and crisis management follow the same procedures across the board.

“Whether there’s an individual athlete or a coach that’s under a cloud or whether there’s a corporation under a cloud or a country under a cloud, it makes no difference. Crisis management best practices are still the same.”

Sometimes issues can spread like wildfire and in the case of Hessert’s clients; the DIY PR won’t cut it. “Lets face it,” she says frankly. “Countries have fallen because of what social media has allowed those protestors and others to do in terms of amassing support.”

To hear more about how Hessert handles these issues and measures her success, tune into the third episode of “The B. Spot” below.

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For more digital and social media branding tips, look out for more episodes of “The B Spot.” Also feel free to join the Facebook group,“Branding Tips For Creative Minds.”

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