Are your social media or content marketing efforts under performing? Before you spend any more time tweaking your content strategy and online tactics, ask yourself honestly: How engaging is my brand? Content doesn't engage an audience, brand identity does. And that is the first place you should look if you're not getting traction online.
Nothing will reveal a weak brand strategy faster than a strong online presence. That’s why one byproduct of the social media revolution has been a renewed interest in brand strategy. Most brand strategies functioned well enough when the brand had total control over when, where and how it would present itself to the public. But today, a brand with an active online presence is exposed 24/7 in ways that were unimaginable when the strategies that govern them were created. Online, the brand will need to improvise on a daily basis and, thus, will require a much more nuanced identity and more dimensional personality than traditional brand strategies deliver.
Any professional brand strategy should include a well-defined value proposition, category, position, personality and attributes. If it's well written then simply reading such a strategy should give you ideas for content that are relevant and differentiating. If your brand strategy does not inspire content ideas there is a good chance it's not going to inspire your audience either.
Another feature of a professional brand strategy is a crystal clear idea of who the brand is talking to. It defines what makes the audience tick, what are they into and not into. It helps you see them as a real person. To appreciate the power of this consider these three questions: How clearly can you picture the audience for your brand? How clearly can you picture the audience for Harley Davison or Greenpeace? Which would be easier to generate content ideas for?
And no matter how big your online audience, a professional brand strategy is still needed to drive engagement online. That’s because while you can buy awareness, you have to earn interest. That comes with innovative content that is highly relevant to both your brand and your audience. Again, the byproducts of a solid brand strategy.
Like actors working off a poor script, content marketers and social media mavens working from a weak brand strategy tend to be flat and unconvincing online. For the audience, this means lack of interest and engagement. Is your brand the real culprit behind your lack of online engagement? Only you can say for sure, but here are seven symptoms we usually observe when weak brands are put online:
- The team struggles to find topics for content
- Online followers seem unengaged with your brand
- Content is “safe” lacking a clear, distinct personality
- Content seems very similar to competitors
- Online assets tend to attract the wrong people
- It's hard to judge which content ideas are right for the brand
- It is not clear how the brand should react to news or comments online - so it doesn't
Trying to compensate for a bland brand strategy with exciting content is a losing proposition. Your online presence can only be as differentiating and engaging as your brand is. Dull brand strategy = dull web presence. If you recognize any of the symptoms above then you may drive yourself crazy trying to generate new content concepts to make your brand relevant, enticing and engaging. Consider that it may not be a deficiency in concepting ability. Your time may be better spent revisiting your brand strategy to ensure it is suited for the brave new world of online marketing.