How To Start a Social Network and Promote Your Brand

October 4, 2017

7:15 am

You probably know that Geico Insurance Company has a mascot – the Geico gecko.

He has his own Facebook page and Twitter account. And he posts every day, sometimes several times a day. Followers check in regularly to see what he has to say and to read stories about his adventures. This little critter, in fact, has almost 500,000 followers.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could create your own social network that is as large as his?

But Geico is a big company with the resources to maximize social networking to promote its brand. You may not be in that same position, but the influence of social media and communities on purchasing is huge. You need to get in on this if you want to promote your brand successfully.

Here are just a few stats that should provide an incentive:

  • 40 percent of social media users have purchased an item after sharing it with others
  • 71 percent of consumers are more likely to make purchases based on referrals via social media
  • 78 percent of consumers say that companies’ social media posts impact their purchases

It makes sense, then, that you should take every step you can to create your own social network to promote your brand. Here as some easy steps you can take right now.

Build a Brand On a Few Social Media Platforms

You have probably already done this and are posting regularly, following the 80-20 rule. Perhaps you’re following is growing, and that’s a good thing. You have done the research and know where your target audience hangs out, and maybe have even placed some ads. But beyond this, you will want to “jump-start” a larger following that goes beyond just your presence.

Your next step is to investigate existing communities related to your brand. Join them and jot down the observations.

The most popular social media communities typically share the next characteristics:

Appealing to the User’s Needs/Wants

Specifically, great communities are typically designed to anticipate what’s members want to get out of participation – new knowledge/skills; get entertained; make new personal/business connections etc. The functionality and content should be build to match those needs.

Offer Tools for Self-Expression

Lenses, filters, stickers – these small things build up the engagement. According to Adweek, Instagram boasts the highest engagement numbers as it encourages every user to be creative with photography.

Use Push Notifications

The average engagement rates for users who enable push notifications soars to 88 percent. These quick updates help you retain users and encourage them to access your network more frequently. The best part – push notifications can be enabled for web browsers too.

Create a Social Network Website of Your Own

As your following grows, consider creating your own social network website. You can drive followers and group members to it by providing great content and discussion forums on your website, as well as incentives for them to “join.”

From the tech perspective, you will need to decide between either of the two options:

Hire Developers to Build a Social Network From Scratch

According to TheNextWeb estimates, a Facebook-clone will cost you around $500,000. A simpler community built using CakePHP or Django framework can cost you between $50,000-$80,000 to develop though.

Use a Ready-To-Go Solution

Arguably the most popular choice is Ning – a drag & drop community builder, offering sleek community designs and a your average social media network features including user profiles, content creation tools and like/share functionality. However, you may still need to hire developers for advanced customization.

Your Content Will Determine Your Success

You have heard this before, but every piece of content you produce has to support your “brand personality.” What is the personality you want to project? Geico uses humor, and it works. You will need to identify the personality you want to portray and stay consistent with it. This does not mean, though that you will not use variety of content that will educate, inspire, and entertain. Just make sure that all of it supports your brand image and will be well-received by your target market.

  • Using visual content whenever possible – it is preferable to walls of text. Content with images gets 94 percent more views.
  • Establish relationships with influencers and conduct interviews. These make great podcasts.
  • Use your current customers and followers as brand ambassadors. Offer incentives for them to share your website and content with their communities

So, these four actionable steps. They begin with establishing your presence on major social media platforms where your market hangs out; the move into joining groups then forming your own. From there establishing your own social networking website can make you the “go to” brand for information, for benefits, for discussions, and for great entertainment or inspiration. Finally, get others to promote you – influencers and brand ambassadors. All of this takes time, but “steady wins the race.”

Remember, too – social media is the great equalizer in terms of marketing. You may not have the financial resources that the big boys have, but you have the great universe of social media for free.

Read about more social media strategies at TechCo

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Solopreneur, digital nomad and freelance writer. Elena runs a popular blog where she shares her adventures and cultural escapades. When not on the road, she lives in a charming French town, lost in Jura mountains.

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