What do Obama, a 6-year-old Girl Scout and a 93-year-old grandmother have in common? They are leveraging social media tools -- tools like Facebook and YouTube -- to promote their "brands." Whether their motivation is to be more transparent about what they are working on, to share cooking tips that might otherwise be locked up in a recipe box, or to show their leadership qualities by finding innovative new ways to sell their products, they all recognize that the traditional business models for reaching their audience and creating a brand needed to be jazzed up a bit.
Wondering what they did? Well, they utilized Facebook and YouTube to market, promote and share information. Not only are these tools effective in reaching mass audiences (YouTube), and even targeted audiences (friend lists in Facebook) but they are also free.
So, how can you use social media tools to leverage your brand? Here are a few steps we'd recommend to get you started:
Research - Uncover the success stories and challenges others have faced when using these tools. To get you started, this Forbes article is a good read about how Dell is navigating through the digital world and using social media tools to connect with its customers.
Track - Before you can start engaging with your audience through social media, you must track what has already been said. Try searching Twitter for topics that are relevant to your business and also check out Alltop to drill down into what's being said in the blogosphere on a variety of topics.
Prepare - Social media is about having conversations and engaging with your audience - you must be authentic. There are many different social media platforms. Pick one or two that are right for you and your audience to start with first. Next, you should pick a few people on your team that you'd like to be the voice of your company to ensure there is an actual contact for your audience to engage with - @comcastcares does a good job of this on Twitter.
Engage - Reaching out to your audience doesn't just involve posting to your own blog or uploading videos, you should start leaving comments on other people's posts and engage with the community. Join Twitter, follow interesting people and your favorite news organizations. Search Engine Land just published this Twitter 101, which breaks down Twitter to the must-know basics.
How are you using social media to promote your brand?