How to create your online brand

If you’ve been online for a while, you probably have heard of buzzy terms like “brand,” “content” and “influencers,” but you may not be sure what they mean. Capen Media was created to help everyday people and small businesses understand the online environment, and we’re here to help educate and move you forward. Today let’s talk about brands.

  1. What is a brand? Simply put, your brand is the way you present yourself online: how your site and social media looks, what message you are sending (or product you’re selling) and the voice and tone you’re communicating with. Ideally, you want to think through these points before you go publish, so all of it is consistent across all platforms, regardless if it’s just you representing “the brand,” or multiple people.
  2. How do you create a brand identity? Step one is to decide upon a name, ideally a single consistent name that can be secured for domains and social media handles. Using for your domain and @Business123 for your Twitter is going to be confusing for your audience. If you’re a start up, the good news is that you have more freedom to name your business in a unique way and secure your space in the digital world. If you’re an established business, it’s trickier, but it can be done through creativity, and using the available tools to modify your existing handles for establish consistency.
  3. How do you create a brand strategy? Start by identifying your goal and reason for your existence online. What are you trying to do? What outcome do you want to achieve? Establish a digital mission statement for your platform, and then create, develop and curate content that speaks to that mission statement. When thinking about content, remember that while various social media platforms have some similarities, there are also differences, so frame your work so it’s appropriate to the platform. Posting lots of quotes on Instagram is ineffective, just as publishing pictures on Twitter. Once you create a regular routine with your content, be sure to listen to your audience feedback and analyze post performance, as it is a great indicator of what your audience likes (and doesn’t like) about you, and adapt accordingly. 
  4. How do I build myself up as a brand? The key here is to create and deliver quality, consistent content to your audience. You don’t have to post every day on everything you do, but create a content schedule for all of your platforms so you can make sure every avenue is being attended to on a regular basis. Again, recognize feedback and performance data along the way, because it will help guide you to success. It might be slow going at the beginning, but if you publish good, engaging content on a regular basis, the audience will come. 
  5. What tools should I use? Perhaps you’re looking at somebody else’s online platform and think, “Wow, I could never do that, or afford somebody that could.” The good news is that there are many content creation tools available to consumers at a low cost that offer dozens (or hundreds) of modern templates that you can customize for your brand. For websites, WordPress and Squarespace have great tools available for beginner sites. Meanwhile, Canva and Hootsuite offer services to help design great visuals and social media post scheduling. It’s not as complicated as it once was, and many of these services are intuitive as well.
  6. Can I change my strategy? Absolutely! It’s actually bad if you don’t. Nobody expects you to have the perfect strategy out of the gate, but if you keep up on reviews, comments and post engagement data, after a month or two, you’ll have a good idea of what’s working. Adapt when needed, and don’t be afraid to be experimental as well, whether it’s posting on different days and times to see how well content performs, or sharing or creating the oddball meme you think is funny. The more “you” you can inject into “your brand,” the more engaging and authentic your platforms will be. 
  7. How do I determine success? Go back to your original goal. Are you trying to raise awareness of an issue? Check how many shares and likes you’re getting. Are you selling a product? Find out how many sales are being made by how your audience is coming to your website. Set goals, and find ways to achieve them. If you’re not seeing the results you wanted, try a new strategy and keep experimenting until you get hits. The wonderful aspect of the digital world is you don’t have to invest a lot of money so you can make mistakes, so save your budget until you do strike gold for an even bigger boost.

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