Make Sense to Your Target Audience in the Context of the Medium
Differentiating your brand or product/service on social media might seem challenging. On the one hand, traditional marketers will tell you that bad news sells. On the other hand, however, numerous studies seem to support the theory that good news travels faster to more people and with more positive results. In fact, some people (Bianca Bosker of The Huffington Post, for example) are arguing that social media are wired for happy messages.
Successful marketing and selling in any decade requires you to differentiate your brand or product/service from your competitors. Building trust, earning respect as an expert, and demonstrating an interest in your customers and potential customers are important goals of creating a social media presence. How to differentiate your brand or product on social media can be confusing.
Most business owners have encountered the “differentiating ideas” of traditional marketing. You have encountered them in writing a business and/or marketing plan or working with a marketing strategist. The weak differentiating ideas are quality, customer orientation, creativity, price, and breadth of line. The strong differentiating ideas are being first, attribute ownership, leadership, heritage, market specialty, customer intimacy, preference, how your product is made, being the latest, and hotness.
Differentiating your brand or product/service on social media requires you to think outside the traditional marketing box. Some people are uncomfortable in situations that demand ingenuity and the kind of creative thinking that is outside every box they have ever known. Yet the first step in differentiating your brand or product/service on social media platforms must be to make sense to your target audience in the context of the medium.
Even on social media platforms, you must differentiate yourself from your competition. You must know what your competitors are (or are not) doing on social platforms, as well as how their presence and activity is perceived by your target audience. You need to understand how the audience perceives your competitors and what they believe are each competitor’s strengths and weaknesses. Next, find out how this audience perceives your strengths and weaknesses.
The second step is to discover the idea that differentiates your business or product/service in a positive way from your competitors. What separates you from your competitors might be some outstanding characteristic of your product or service, it might be something about the way you do business with customers that is different from your competitors, or it might be some characteristic that shows you to be unique in the market. Next, determine how you can use that difference to create a valuable difference for your customer.
For example, some tech firms differentiate themselves as always being first to market with the new product you didn’t even know you needed (Apple). Amazon is the one-stop shopping place you can access from anywhere and buy almost anything at a discounted price, and have it shipped to your door. The Wall Street Journal differentiates itself as the premier source of business, finance and investing news. Little Black Dog Social Media & More chose to differentiate itself with its affinity for dogs (and other animals), by discussing what we learn from Romeo (the little black dog), and by supporting animal welfare programs with a portion of our profits.
(Romeo is a very social little black dog, he is a key differentiator for our business)
The point is that on social media the goal is to engage and build a relationship with customers and potential customers. One way to stand apart from the crowd (your competitors) is to do something and discuss something that gets the attention of your target market. You might accomplish this with something business-focused, something product-focused, or something that interests both you and your target audience. Then help your audience see that this difference is valuable.
The third step in differentiating yourself on social media is to have the proof to support your claims. In other words, if you claim to be different in some way, show your audience the proof. Depending upon the differentiator, you might show credentials or certifications, you might prove your claims by demonstrating your competence or uniqueness. If you differentiate your company on a product/service difference, show the difference on social media platforms.
The final step is to communicate your difference to the market. Effective marketing is really about perception. Your marketing task is to communicate your difference in everything you write, say, or do. In every communication on social media, you should be communicating that you are different in the key way you identify. Communicate the differentiator again, and again. There is no such thing as over-communicating differentiators.
Social media offer the opportunity to connect with target customers by differentiating you business in any way that allows you to connect with that audience on a deeper level. Once you identify the differentiator, determine how it can be valuable to your audience and communicate that difference.