Social branding optimization: Optimizing a brand’s value through social media

Even 2 years back social branding as a profession was so na├»ve that, nobody would give it a serious look, and a few social branding experts, who were into it, used to be considered as just a bunch of net freaks. Well how quickly times changed! All the brands (big, mid or small) are now flocking to these “net freaks” to design their online branding strategies and to enhance online user engagement, which has become so much important for a brand these days.
These days, no matter whatever the vertical of a business is, it should have an online social presence, because if you are not engaging your customers online, then someone else will eat your part of the cake and you could be left starving. So irrespective of the nature of the business, everyone is taking the social media branding plunge.
Now the question is if everyone is getting conscious about the social media presence of their brands, then why the success v failure ratio is so low? Different social branding experts have come out with different reasons and opinions; some social branding experts have put the blame upon faulty strategy where some social branding experts are blaming the selection of inefficient Internet marketing companies for the job. Yes, you cannot disagree with the validity of these two points, but I dug down a bit deeper to find out the exact root of the problem.
Let us put a line through the stack of the brands and divide them into two simple stacks.
Stack 1:
Business Size: Large
Business age: Old
Offline Presence: Strong
In this stack we have brands that are real big; they have gained this reputation well before even the dotcom boom. Brands like, Pepsi, Coca cola, Nike and all come in this stack. So well before the social media came into the picture, the people already knew about them. And all that they did was just propagating their offline presence to online, and strengthening their overall brand value through enhanced customer engagement. So for them creating an online buzz was relatively easy. For them it was the product that came first, then came the social media branding. It still worked for them, because they already had a strong “Offline social presence”.
Though it’s an entirely personal take, but still I DO NOT find the Pepsi logo good enough. Now had Pepsi been a new product trying to penetrate the market and popularize its logo through Social media branding, I don’t think it would have been successful in its effort. In that case people wouldn’t accept that DUMB logo and the overall product could have been a disaster. But since we have been seeing this logo for ages now, we somehow have got used to it and in turn started liking it as well.
Now what I’m trying so say here is, for an already famous product or service, designing a social branding is comparatively easy and this strategy cannot be copy-pasted for an unknown or fresh product or service.
Stack 2:
Business Size: Any
Business age: Zero
Offline Presence: Zero
The real challenge comes in while doing social branding for a fresh product or service. Nobody knows about your product or service, so your social branding strategy should be strong and convincing enough to draw public attention.
And for this, the most important feature that a social branding strategy should have is, flexibility. A non-flexible social branding strategy can never survive in the longer run. Because with an ever evolving market, your business plan should also pass through a continuous evolution curve to stay with the stream.
Now several times, I’ve seen that a product, in spite of having very strong features, do not see the dawn of success. There’s a difference a good product and a popular product. A popular product must have something good in it, but a good product does not necessarily have to be popular. And many products get caught in this thin line of separation.
So what I believe is, it’s always better to build a product keeping its social branding and other online marketing aspect in mind, rather than building a product first and then worrying about its social branding and online marketing. Some may raise a concern with this theory as; in some cases this approach might make a developer compromise with his creativity. But at the end of the day, if you are building a product for people, then you must also consider their thoughts as well while building the product.
Most of the people do not do this and thus even before the social branding or online marketing campaign for the product gets started; its black fate gets sealed.

Google social search is getting bolder

Google has made their social search or real time search bolder by directly including the social search results in to their SERPs. By this they have confirmed that they have now seriously started to consider Twitter and other real time social medias for their regular search results and not just for the results that you get to see after using Social filter. They are now mixing the article or blog results that are shared using the services like Twitter or Google Buzz with the regular organic search results. For an example while searching “A Beginner’s Guide To A/B Testing”, I came across a Twitter result that Smashing Magazine shared with their Twitter account, and since I am connected to their Twitter account, I was dished out their twitter result along with other regular search results by Google.

And at present, we can see only Twitter and Google Buzz results for the search queries, so no facebook invasion as of now. But if the things go this way, we may soon start seeing the long awaited facebook public profile results in SERPs. That might change the total social search approach for the search engines. And we might not have to wait long for start seeing a complete mix of real time results and traditional results for relevant search queries. That only means that Google is going to give more and more importance to the freshness of a content. The fresher the content and the stronger presence it has in the social media channels, the better the chances will get for it to rank for a relevant search query. So no matter how good a content you have in your web page, you must circulate it in the social media to make it rank in the search engines.

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