Constantly working on branding and IP projects means that I’m always coming up with new ideas on what I can offer clients to help them get more from my service. One example of this is my newest product and forthcoming book, provisionally called Brand Tuned – How to Create an Inimitable Brand to Win Business in a Noisy World.
However, one niche that always seems to be hit or miss for people when it comes to return on investment is social media. That’s not to say, I haven’t had some major successes personally, but, on other occasions, a piece of content will only secure a few hits.
The question arises – “Is social media even worth it?” The obvious answer is “yes”, but only with the right type of content – content that really reflects your brand and makes an impact with your target audience.
Gary Vaynerchuk knows a bit about that. That’s how he has managed to build a hugely successful social media agency with over 1,000 members of staff. His advice on winning more engagement with your own content is to interact with other people’s content
But getting the time to do that when you’re busy running your own business, managing a myriad of client projects, creating your own content, developing a new brand, and, in my case, writing a book about it all, isn’t easy. But, as we’ll see it’s worth doing.
Social media is a long term strategy
When, as someone recently pointed out to me, I wasn’t getting much engagement with a piece of my content, it could have been tempting to throw in the towel and simply not bother with social media. I even began to question if this perceived lack of social media engagement was harming my business, rather than helping it?
But, then I realised, it wasn’t.
Social media is a long term strategy. Likes and comments might be one way of measuring engagement, but it’s probably not the best way to measure total benefit. It’s not massive engagement that matters, it’s brand awareness.
So, I continue to be present on all key social media channels and began to focus more on just a few of them. Although I’m still figuring out what works best, both for me and my clients, the good news is, I’m seeing results in terms of new business. So, in the end, the investment and effort has been worth it. It says to me that, even if someone hasn’t engaged with my content, they’ve still noticed it – and it has showcased my expertise.
How do I know that? Because that audience is coming to me for help with IP and their brands. People often tell me, even though they might not have “liked” or commented on my content, that they had an appreciation for it. It’s a pleasant surprise when that happens.
Recently, I came across an interesting article by Jerry Daykin, It’s Beyond Time to Rethink Social Media Marketing,in the book Eat Your Greens – Fact Based Thinking to Improve Your Brand’s Health, edited by Wiemer Snijders. He says that through surveys, sales tracking, econometric modelling and other research methods, he has regularly seen it proven that social media advertising can influence the opinions and actions of hundreds of millions of people, the vast majority of whom will never “like”, comment, share or actively engage with the brand in question at all.
He highlights that some brands don’t chase (or even bother to measure) engagement. Instead, “they guarantee scale and impact through their media plans, and they measure success through actual business results, just like their other marketing channels. It’s a sharp contrast to the commentary I still see widely shared in the industry where tips are exchanged on how to tweak content to get slightly higher engagement, and ‘beat’ the nefarious newsfeed algorithms sent to challenge us.”
Stepping into the world of podcasting
This success has encouraged me to begin a podcast. I’ve called it Brand Tuned – Smart Thinking, Better Branding. My audience isn’t huge just yet. But, drawing from my experience of social media marketing over the years, I’m focussing on fine-tuning my skills and developing the angle of the podcast as I go. Again, I’m confident I’ll see the benefits further down the line, in terms of new business. Podcasting is a highly effective way to build your brand after all.
There are many different approaches to social media. One is to focus on just a couple of channels. For me, Twitter and LinkedIn would be the ones I would choose to double down on, although I have had quite a lot of business through Instagram.
On LinkedIn my Social Selling lndex Score is above 80, which tells me I’m doing pretty good – good enough to be given access to LinkedIn Live. That’s not something I’ve used yet. It’s a live streaming format and, for now, my uploaded videos are still serving this need.
Getting better all the time
While I’m going to concentrate my efforts more on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram platforms, the priority is to have a presence everywhere, including on Facebook, and YouTube for overall effectiveness, and brand building. Also, if something should happen to a preferred channel I double down on, then I would already have a presence on the others instead of having to start from scratch. I might go to Tik Tok too as it seems to be taking off as a social media platform.
I’m still learning. I’ve been reading publications to increase the effectiveness of my LinkedIn efforts, trying out some new techniques along the way. But there’s no single winning tactic. Again, Gary Vaynerchuk comes closest in a YouTube video on the secret to optimising engagement. Using this technique to identify posts and engage with them by creating comments several times a day for three months takes effort and may be worthwhile if engagement is what you feel you need for your brand. Engaging with other people’s content draws attention to your own. If you can include meaningful, salient commentary on other people’s posts, people will be enticed to find out who you are, what you do and what you can offer.
Of course, your content, in terms of what you do also has an impact on how successful you are at engaging new visitors. My business isn’t going to be as attractive as the latest iPhone, or a company that’s selling a fashion item that’s all the rage. Since my business is all about how intellectual property and brand affects people’s business, it doesn’t inherently have that same wow factor (of course, that doesn’t mean it’s not important). But I know that there’s a silent, invisible audience out there who are noticing my content and turning to Azrights when they have a need. I’ll continue to hone my content to engage the visitors I can’t see, as well as the ones I can. For some of the plans I have, such as to build online courses for the branding and legal industries, getting engagement might matter.
Why I do what I do
You might be wondering why an intellectual property lawyer is even creating content to help businesses promote their brands online. The answer to that is, it’s what my clients need. It’s what they come to me for. And, as outlined in my new book, it’s where my expertise lies.
Contrary to popular perception, intellectual property doesn’t just apply to inventions or patents, it encompasses a wide range of assets. Your brand itself is intellectual property, comprised of trademarks, copyright, livery, logos and colour. In terms of significance, IP is right up there with advertising and marketing.
Look at your brand name, for instance. This is the foundation stone of your business and your brand. If you don’t get this right from the outset, you could be wasting your entire marketing budget. You need foresight and vision to create a memorable brand and develop it. Which is why I created Brand Tuned – to focus on brand strategy for business success, making sure the IP fundamentals are there for a successful venture.
There’s more content out there than ever before and making yours stand out can be extremely difficult. But it’s more difficult if you don’t secure and differentiate your brand first. And that is why intellectual property and branding must come first. How you integrate all those details of your venture and your product will have a big impact on how you create and develop your social profiles.
The message is, get your brand and IP strategy right and you can make better use of the resources available to you and improve the delivery of your content right across the board.
Shireen Smith is an intellectual property lawyer and business advisor specialising in trade marks and brands. She founded Azrights Solicitors 15 years ago, which is now Azrights International. She writes extensively about brands, business and IP and is a regular speaker on these topics and the author of two books, Legally Branded and Intellectual Property Revolution, which focus on the impact of the internet on business IP.