It’s now recognized that online branding is more than banners ads to raise awareness. As marketers looks for ways to stretch advertising dollars, the web has become mainstream for branding online, but with little information on just how create an Internet branding strategy, this post hopefully provides its readers a place to start for the vast opportunities of online branding.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is the process of on-page and off-page optimization to improve your rank in the search results for keyword phrases that have been targeted. This practice is highly recommended for online branding as once you rank your customers will associate you with particular phrases. The SEO process is not a fast track to branding online and often have marketers questioning how long does SEO take?
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
Also known as Contextual Advertising or Pay Per Click (PPC), this is one of the fastest ways to launch a campaign or raise awareness for your brand. Although the amount of clicks approximately 20% of what you might receive via natural/organic search results, Search Marketing is often used until an SEO campaign starts to work.
With online video views increasing so much, marketers are looking at ways to include this in the mix. While it’s no small feat to create a successful viral video, you can create your own videos inexpensively (which can also go on your blog) that will be available for others to find. A recent report suggests viewers of online video are on the rise.
Also see Nielsen – Three Screen Report
Online advertising allows many options, but display advertising (i.e. banners) is still the most popular. Available as both static and animated, recent advancements now include video and interactive advertisements. For the latest news see the IAB website.
Online advertising often mirrors offline publications in advertising options, and classified advertising sites like Craigslist and Kijiji allow almost everything to be posted, often for free. Although not commonly used, classifieds provide another opportunity to promote your brand.
A fast developing area, this includes forms of advertising such as with game/video, banners, it is mostly dominated by SMS advertising. A recent report by Gartner suggests mobile ad spending will increase significantly in 2011.
This can include either marketing communications with your own list of customers or placing ads in email newsletters. This form of communications can be an effective form of communications to keep customers and fans informed of company developments.
By creating an affiliate program for your product or service can extend your reach and marketing efforts by way of compensation to others for promoting your offering. This is typically provided as a per lead or per sale basis.
Most social networks focus on connecting users to share interests, information or activities. With tremendous growth in the last few years, these types of sites are looking to monetize their user base and often have various ways of segmenting their audience due to the information at their disposal. Ad performance is said to be average, but the more advance targeting options make it a viable option. Some of the bigger Social Networking sites include Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Friendster, LinkedIn and other social media sites.
A popular way for web users to share sites of interest, social bookmarking also allows users to vote and comment on the sites, blogs, videos, articles and other media that is submitted. As opposed to search engines, which rank websites based on an algorithm to determine what site is most relevant to the search query, social bookmarking sites allow their members to vote can which bring a particular site into the popular category. There are numerous social bookmarking sites covering many categories. Some of the most popular are Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Kaboodle, and Slashdot.
Short for Web Log, blogs are online journals on just about every topic which allow its author to write entries and include images and/or video and allows readers to comment on blog entries (AKA posts). There are several platforms like LiveJournal and Moveable Type, but the most popular is WordPress. A free blog platform usd by many is called BlogSpot. Many blogs have become some of the most popular websites on the web. Blogs went through some blowback from journalists for re-reporting the news, but have gained credibility in recent years. To see some of the top blogs you can refer to the Technorati Top 100.
A condensed form of blogging, it allows users to create brief updates which followers of that user can see. Entries are smaller in size and usually limit the author to one or two sentences. Some of the more notable options being Twitter, Tumblr, and Identi.
As social networks caught on, many spin offs developed evolved to cater to who wanted more specific groups and conversations of interest. An extensive list of niche networks covering everything from booklovers, artists, lawyers and more is available at Mashable.
Available in many formats, some of the more popular being text, audio, video, animation, and images. Sites like Youtube allow for video sharing, Scribd allows users to shares documents and presentations, and Flickr is a popular site for sharing photos.
Reviews and Opinions
These types of social communities allow members to share comments and vote on assorted products and often include price comparison options. With little policing of postings, their popularity has diminished due to debate of authenticity for some posts. The features of reviews and ratings have since been incorporated into many ecommerce and social media platforms.
Social Media Tools
See more Tools For Engaging In Social Media at SearchEngineLand.
If your organization hasn’t taken the leap its time to get started. Besides making announcements on company news, sharing viewpoints on interesting articles and online resources can prove valuable. Some corporate blogs are run by CEOs and others have multiple contributors to carry on the conversation. List of top corporate blogs.
If you want to be effective at online branding, you’ll need to get others talking about you. Bloggers are a great channel to get your story out, so long as you follow some PR pitching guidelines you should be able to include them along with mainstream media in your online branding strategy. Some of the more important ones include being relevant in your pitch. Taking the time to find the right bloggers will pay off in more mentions in the long run. The old “throw it at the wall and see what sticks” method never works. Also, a personalized pitch is far more effective than drafting a one size fits all email and using BCC to blast away. Keeping it brief and to the point with a sentence or two (think elevator pitch of 15 seconds) and a link to where more info is available is usually one of the best ways to get buzz. Much better than pasting a press release of 500 plus words that will never be read.
Video News Release (VNR)
Regarded as the video equivalent to a news release, these are often used by corporations and agencies to inform on products or services.
Social Media News Release (SMR)
The social media release consolidates many of the options available today into a single page that combines traditional and emerging forms of communications such as links, social bookmarking, multimedia, video, and other communications tools.
Overview of a Social Media Release
Monitoring your brand online and the conversation on blogs, forums, websites and in the news used to be an almost impossible chore, but with social media and reputation management tools in your arsenal you can spend more time building your brand online.
You can also make use of Google Alerts for media mentions.
One of the things to keep in mind for online branding is you’re seeding the idea to pave a path to your website. Whether you choose SEO, Social Media, PR, or all of them, the idea is to engage and be part of the conversation or search.
There’s no end to the real opportunities of Internet branding and online marketing. Some of the opportunities worth investigating include mobile applications, social network applications, widgets, crowdsourcing, video blogging, lifestreams, virtual advertising, sponsorships, and more.