Building brand is difficult but there are some simple things you can do to help. Over the past few months, rackAID has been pushing into social media, discussion forums, and similar engaging outlets more and more. One thing that we wanted to be sure of is that when our staff offers up good information (or bad), we get the credit (or blame). To do this, we are doing a few simple things to help keep our image consistent.
Consistency is Key
Whatever strategy you select, be consistent. I used to have a half dozen different forum handles, avatars and other account names. As we ramped up our social media efforts, I realized that consistency is essential. Due to network effects, something Amy Shuen, describes very clearly in her Web 2.0 book, people often visit multiple sites within the same niche. If you’re participating across this niche of sites, a consistent image, handle or profile will allow people to recognize you and your business more easily. I know when I zip through forums or blog posts and see a name I recognize, I slow down and actually pay attention.
Your avatar or profile image is very important. Certainly you can go cutesy and post a picture of your cat, but if you are using this for business purposes is that really the image you want to portray? We recently just had an office photo shoot to get good head shots for our key staff. We will be using these for our avatars going forward. Audrey, who does design work, even managed to drop our logo behind us like you see on TV. Perhaps going a bit overboard, but it is an easy way to get you and your brand communicated very quickly.
There is a great tool called Gravatar, which lets you establish a global avatar for blog and forum posts. Popular blog software can use Gravatar to add your avatar to your post, which further promotes your brand an identity. If you participate on many blogs, get your Gravatar setup today.
Try to pack your name or company name into your handle. I think this is useful for smaller companies. For example, our staff often uses a handle such as “jeffatrackaid” or “audreyatrackaid”. Yet it is long but it gives a lot of information. And it happens to be our email addresses as well.
Being consistent also helps you find your posts by searching for your handle on search engines.
Try to establish a consistent tone. Are you funny, sharp tongued or serious? While different outlets may have a different tone, try to be consistent within that outlet. This allows the people you engage to know what to expect. Some outlets, such as Twitter, are less formal than others such as ServerFault, where people expect helpful answers to their questions
I am certainly no brand or social media expert but I know when I find others using a consistent image and tone, I am more inclined to engage them in new outlets or actually read what they have written. Certainly want to hear your tips on this topic as trying to build a brand as a small company is very challenging.