Today’s post discusses the use of social media tools to build a business brand. With so many choices out there, I had to dig a little deeper to decide which social media tools I would entrust with my business development. There are two tools that I consider worthy of discussion, but before divulging which tools I would use for business branding; here is some background information that pertains to this topic.
According to an August, 2012 article in the brandpapers review section of brandchannel, there are currently over 450 social media platforms for businesses to choose from in order to build their brand and make consumers aware of their online presence. When you think about it, that’s an incredible number of platforms, and according to brandchannel, the list is growing exponentially every day.
With such a rapidly expanding market, companies have to consider how they will fit into the social media domain. They have to assess which social media platforms they will use to promote their company, and which platforms will distinguish their company from all of their competitors. http://www.brandchannel.com/papers_review.asp?sp_id=1480
While some small business owners are still novices to the social media revolution, larger and more established companies understand the dynamics behind, and the impact of, social media for the purpose of expansion. Social media platforms have proven to be an excellent and cost-effective way to promote companies; however, businesses have to have a clear-cut strategy in order to take full advantage of all of the tools and opportunities that today’s social space presents. With this in mind, I have chosen to examine two social media platforms that have exploded onto the social media scene. Both Pinterest and LinkedIn appear to perform exceptionally well in helping to develop company awareness, enhance company branding, and create effective social networking with existing and potential customers.
In 2008, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research released one of the first studies on social media adoption among the F500, and the university has repeated that study every year. The study has been expanded over the years to include the usage of the fastest growing social media platforms and tools, as well as indicators of engagement. Within that study is an examination of the, almost exclusively, visual content sharing site Pinterest. The study stated that interest in Pinterest has grown in membership since its debut in 2010, and it is beginning to show up in the F500. In 2012, 11 (2%) of the F500 companies were found to have Pinterest accounts. These companies include: General Electric, Lowe’s, Starbucks, Nordstrom, Whole Foods Market, Bed Bath & Beyond, Dollar Tree, Dillard’s, American Family Insurance Group, Eastman Kodak and Live Nation. http://www.umassd.edu/cmr/socialmedia/2012fortune500/.
Even though Pinterest is a relative newcomer to social media websites, Pinterest leverages the fact that we live in a visual world and uses this concept to their advantage to develop their website. By the end of 2011, its popularity had grown by leaps and bounds and Pinterest had increased its membership to over 10 million members, and it saw a 40-fold increase in traffic. These numbers alone are one of the reasons to jump on this visual delight band wagon to promote a business. Additionally, Pinterest is engaging, eye-catching, creative, artistic, colourful, multi-faceted and informative. As the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, and Pinterest is very good at promoting this concept. However, the one obstacle that they continue to face is the multiple of competitors, with the grand-daddy of them all, Facebook. Only time will tell.
The next social media tool that I’ll examine is LinkedIn http://ca.linkedin.com. Founded in 2003, this professional social media tool is probably the best known and most widely used business networking site on the Internet today. With about 135 million users and growing, small business professionals and career professionals utilize this site to further their career and business goals. According to LinkedIn research, LinkedIn offers many opportunities to connect with others, and if you thoroughly complete your profile, you and your business will have a 40% greater chance of connecting with others. This little tidbit of information has been duly noted by the information site About.com. The site explains the fundamentals and benefits of using this social media tool such as, job searching, hiring, company research, and connecting with affiliates, including alumni, industry, and a variety of other business related groups. The most important aspect of using LinkedIn is to:
- Thoroughly complete your profile
- Use a professional image of yourself
- Describe you company effectively
- Make your profile visible to others
- Add a link to your Twitter or Facebook accounts
- Join Relevant LinkedIn groups or create a LinkedIn group
So, how important is Pinterest or LinkedIn for business development? Well, according to the stats, social media tools are a necessity for building any business brand. Without them, most companies are dead in the water, and behind the times, if they expect to increase their market share by using outdated conventional marketing. Both LinkedIn and Pinterest have strong branding capabilities, and both of these social media tools should be part of any business marketing development.