Granite 999 Fine Art Reproductions

Social Media and your Brand

For about the last 8 to 10 months I have been involved with a variety of social networking platforms. On Facebook alone I have connected with almost 800 artists and I spend a pretty good chunk of time interacting with them.

Over the last two weeks there have been little games where everyone changes their avatar. Last week was retro-week … post an old picture of yourself and this week is doppleganger (or something like that) … post the celebrity's picture that you have been told you look like.

It's all been fun but I have to say, I could not make a visual connection with some of the people I usually look for. They had essentially changed their brand…altered their identity. It  dawned on me that in the business world this is not a sound practice.

Establishing a brand or identity is critical in any good marketing campaign. For branding to be successful it must remain consistent. Changing your avatar today may seem like a lot of fun, but is it a sound business practice? If a potential client, who has been following your posts, decides that today was the day to contact you, will they be able to find you? Maybe not … you have in effect changed your storefront sign.

It is important to remember that everything you post on the social networks either works towards establishing and solidifying your brand or confusing and degrading it. Before you post anything ask yourself this question, "How will a prospective or existing customer view this post?" Consideration for something as simple as your avatar can be crucial.

A good example of an effective avatar is used by Michele Mikala Ross, an artist on Facebook. Click to see. Michele has included her picture and several examples of her work arranged in a square. Michele's avatar functions as a cyber business card, it is recognizable and it represents her brand every time she posts.

Other activities and posts can also impact your brand negatively. I am amazed at the number of people who have the time to play the never ending array of applications on Facebook. Is this practice sending the unintentional message of…they have so much free time they may not need or want my business?

I get a barrage of announcements to keep me informed of the players' every move, John and Jane Doe have successfully completed level 150 after only 700 hours of tending their farm. They have raised a huge flock of pigs and would like you to adopt 1. Huh? What does one do with a virtual pig? Just today I was invited to "Suck a lollipop!" What? I am not sure how my wife would view me sucking a beautiful woman's virtual lollipop…

It may all seem harmless but how will your customers react to your activities and posts? Will your latest comments win a prospective client or cause them to go elsewhere? Facebook and other Social networking platforms are basically a cyber stage and you are performing on it for a huge audience of potential and existing customers.

Even if you are just communicating with your immediate friends, a comment on your topic by one of your friends is posted to their friends' pages (who may not be included in your group). A long running thread may touch many more people than you originally intended. An entire book called Six Pixels of Separation has been written on this subject.

Imagine that every time you sit at your computer you are actually attending a business networking luncheon. Chances are if you would hesitate to make a statement in that environment you should hesitate to type it on your computer keyboard.

Social networking platforms can provide you with friendship, fun and hours of entertainment. At the same time they can be a very effective tool for building your business and increasing sales as long as you remember … current customers and future prospects may be watching.