January 26, 2023

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The internet has changed business almost beyond recognition. Gone are the days when business cards, a yellow pages listing and thoughtful display advertising were necessary to be present to potential customers. In the 21st century, digital marketing has replaced many traditional marketing activities. Social media networks are among the most effective channels to have an online presence.

The importance of social media for your company’s online presence

Since the advent of the World Wide Web in the 1990s, having an online presence has almost become a requirement for successful businesses. Customers search for products and services online and many have become accustomed to online shopping. Granted, there may be some local businesses that manage to attract customers through word of mouth alone, but most businesses rely on online connections.

For the first year and a half of the Internet’s existence to the public, building an online presence relied on creating a corporate website and perhaps using email marketing. Since then, digital marketing has grown and diversified, with social media networks becoming one of the most important marketing tools. Being visible on social media allows brands to connect directly with consumers and build trust between a company and its potential customers.

In addition, leading social media networks offer marketing tools explicitly designed to help brands connect with their target audiences. By 2021, more than 90% of US companies with more than 100 employees used these tools for social media marketing. However, your brand can be small to take advantage of an online presence. Most social media marketing tools will scale up or down to accommodate businesses of all sizes.

Related: How To Make Social Media Marketing Effective For Your Brand

Building a successful online presence

Building a successful, effective online social media presence requires a strategic approach [perhaps link to the previous article here]. Before we get into the details, it’s worth defining what we mean by social media presence. The term refers to a brand’s visibility on social media and connections with the public.

Three key pillars to help establish this presence are branding, public relations (PR) and digital marketing. For all three, a strategic, well-planned approach yields the best results. Adding a post now and then isn’t enough to build a recognizable presence or build a lasting connection with your target audience.

Related: Why Effective Content Marketing Will Transform Your Social Media

1. Branding for social media presence

By the time they start building their online presence, most companies have created a brand identity and developed a branding strategy. If that is the case for your company, your brand must remain recognizable on social media.

The company’s brand voice and aesthetic should be easily recognizable across all digital and analog marketing channels. In practice, this means that a social media user scrolling through their feed should be able to recognize your posts without seeing your brand logo or your account handle.

Aligning brand messages across all channels helps amplify and reinforce them. Alignment also helps build trust and credibility with potential consumers. On the other hand, if your brand voice, messaging and visual presentation differ between outlets, the differences will create confusion. They dilute the brand’s message and damage the credibility you’re trying to build online.

2.Public Relations (PR)

Strategic PR is another channel brands can use to engage their audience. Public relations traditionally relied on the media to spread brand messages.

However, using social media allows brands to directly reach an audience, including journalists, and start a conversation. If the conversation is relevant to other audiences, social media platforms make content sharing easy and increase reach. As a result, new audiences become aware of the brand, leading to an increased social media presence.

Another way to use PR to increase a brand’s online presence is by contributing to other media outlets as an expert guest or regular contributor and linking to your brand’s social media channels.

Related: What’s hot and what’s not in public relations for 2023

3. Using digital marketing to increase your social media presence

Brands with a successful social network presence use all of their digital marketing channels to build that presence. These synergies between marketing activities do not arise by themselves. They should be included in your digital marketing and social media marketing strategy.

In practice, your marketing and branding team should actively seek opportunities to highlight your social media presence and drive engagement. Here’s an example: If your brand has successfully used email marketing to connect with consumers, encourage readers to reach out to you on social media. They benefit by establishing a more direct and immediate connection when they need support – your brand benefits by being able to connect more often.

Other digital marketing channels, such as blogs, can delve deeper into a topic introduced on social media and encourage readers to join your brand’s community on a specific channel. The key to using other digital marketing channels to support your social network presence is creating connections between your brand’s channels.

Related: How to Build on Your Digital Marketing Momentum in 2023

Consistency is important

Building a successful online presence through social media networks requires a consistent and strategic approach. Leveraging existing digital marketing channels and ensuring close alignment with the company’s overall branding supports a growing social media presence. In addition, strategic PR activities can also increase a brand’s social media presence across all its channels. Delivering consistent, relevant content that aligns with overall brand goals is key to growing and maintaining an engaged audience on social networks.

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