Among many other things it can do, social media is a powerful tool for brand communication and marketing.

One would think this might go without saying, but many businesses still aren't quite sure how it fits into their traditional marketing plan.

First, it's important to understand that brand isn't what you say it's what your audience says it is. You can only shape their definitions by the way that you communicate with them, and social media can be a huge part of that process.

Second, a key element to understand is that brand communication and marketing through social media is most effective when it is focused on the audience first and foremost.

Social media provides a way of communicating to your audience at a deeper level what your company truly is and everything it stands for: mission, values, products, passions, community involvement, character, the people behind the company, and more.

It's a way of telling your story so that it resonates with your audience and reveals the deeper side of why your company is here and why it provides the products or services that it does.

It's about being real.

Social media is an extension of everything else you do to shape your brand - website, print collateral, signage, business cards.

All of that works together to shape how your audience sees you and to tell your story,  so as you craft your brand communication plan, it is important to develop an overall strategy (and budget) that involves all the pieces working together.

Conclusion:  Social media also allows your organization to gain exposure to a large audience (thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands) at a very low cast. Five years ago it would have cost you tens of thousands of dollars to reach those kinds of numbers .

With social media you have the opportunity to spread the word about your company to anyone and everyone online, and when your communication plan is audience-focused, over time they start doing your marketing for you. One person comments on your post, their friends see it, they like your page, they comment, their friends see it, they like your page, they comment, their friends see it...and over time they start buying.

That same type of exponential audience-led brand exposure doesn't happen with billboards or magazine ads. That doesn't necessarily mean you don't need billboards or magazines, but it does mean you need social media as part of your overall plan.

An ad provides one message. It offers one solution to solve one problem.

The messages you can send out on social media are endless. As your company grows, so can its social media change and adapt with it. It's thousands of messages, each one giving just a bit more of a glimpse into what you are, what you do, and why you're the best at it.

Social media is so powerful because it allows you to build relationships and foster loyalty and trust with your audience. You can't buy those relationships - you have to develop them over time by communicating in an audience-focused way.

And the best part of it all is that when you use social media effectively as part of your marketing process, the value you bring to your audience goes far beyond the products and services you can provide for them.



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