Althea wants to open a laundry shop cafe in her neighborhood. She plans to initially set up four pairs of washers and dryers where customers may choose to do their laundry or have the staff take care of it for an extra fee. There will be a lounge area for waiting customers where they are offered overflowing brewed coffee and Wi-Fi access. Althea’s idea is perfect for her town where a quarter of the population are college students and young professionals. She wants to know how social media marketing can help her stabilize Google rankings and improve her business brand equity.
How To Boost Your Google Rankings And Brand Equity Thru Social Media
Boosting page ranking via social media
No one browses past the second page of search results, making search engine optimization critical in digital marketing initiatives. How can a business make it among the top search results? The world’s largest and most powerful search engine currently uses 200 signals in ranking web pages. These include backlinks, content, technical SEO, mobile-friendliness, and keywords. A business is not expected to meet all 200 cues. That task not only daunting, it isn’t cost-efficient for a small business. The key is to focus on the signals that matter, such as those involving user experience and content.
Social media is not among Google’s 200 signals, but its indirect impact on ranking is undeniable. Website traffic, measured by the number and frequency of visits, as well as votes on social sharing sites, help boost page ranking. These cues can be influenced by social media marketing tactics. To boost traffic to her business website, Althea can post shareable content on her Facebook and Instagram account. She can write unique content about time management, which her on-the-go laundry shop accommodates. Althea can also offer promos and discounts to customers who post a selfie in her shop.
Building a positive brand equity
How can social media strategies help in creating a positive brand equity? Althea can build brand equity for her business by making her services memorable and top notch in quality and reliability. She has to create a positive consumer perception on her laundry shop through information dissemination (marketing) and user experience. A positive brand equity can be assessed through website reviews and feedback, in revenues and awareness. Althea can look for inspiration from mega brands like Apple, Adidas, and Target. “The success of social media marketing is its ability to engage online users, and developing a strong relationship. With the use of the electronic word of mouth via the social media context, companies can create and enhance brand equity of products and services and subsequently lead to attracting customers,” a recent study noted.
Brand equity and word-of-mouth
Social media is arguably the most accessible tool in building brand equity. It is also the most challenging. Facebook, Twitter, and other similar platforms can be used in electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM) marketing strategies which involve person-to-person contacts on the Internet. Althea can create a buzz about her business through blog posts and interactions with customers on social media. It’s not enough to stir a buzz. The talk must result to positive consumer perception and eventually bring in revenues and profits.
Online interactions and brand equity
Online interaction influences brand equity as much as reviews. Social media has revolutionized interactions between businesses and consumers. A buyer of sports apparel can easily make known his complaints on an international brand via a Facebook post or video on YouTube. It’s crucial for a company to immediately address complaints and negative feedback as a way of putting out a flame to prevent a forest fire. “Social networking sites have changed the way people interact with other members and how customers make purchase decisions. Social networking sites enable greater interaction with the online community through broadcasting up-to-date, consumer relevant information,” according to a study published in the Journal of Business Venturing.
Getting consumers involved
Even before the advent of social media, consumers’ buying behaviors are already influenced by other people’s feedback. A business shouldn’t take online reviews lightly. One negative feedback can lead to serious losses. Today, consumers are involved in making or breaking a brand. A business can capitalize on this by encouraging user-generated content (UGC). UGC encompasses videos, blogs, images and other forms of media created by end-users. These content are circulated and shared on various social media platforms, influencing consumers’ buying behavior.
How effective is social UGC? In 2014, Starbucks launched the White Cup Contest in which US customers were asked to doodle on their cups and submit photos as entries. The winning entry would be used for a limited edition cup. The program attracted nearly 4,000 entries, giving Starbucks the publicity it needs without spending a fortune.
Social UGC tips for small businesses
Visual marketing assets such as images and videos are exploding on social media. According to studies, image-sharing platforms like Instagram and Snapchat have higher engagement than other sites like Facebook and Twitter. User-generated photos also help a brand generate trust. “Over-pristine studio photography is great for magazine advertising, but if you want people to visualize themselves enjoying your products in real life, it is essential that you incorporate customer-submitted images into your social media strategy,” according to Adweek.
Another tip for businesses is to offer incentives to customers. It’s unnecessary to offer huge cash prizes. Starbucks creatively awarded its White Cup Contest winner with the “bragging right” to have their design be used as a template for a new limited edition. Electronic manufacturer Belkin incentivized winners of its Rent The Runway with customized iPhone cases and other phone accessories.
Technology is leveling the playing field for both small businesses and multinational brands. There are cost-efficient tools, some are even free, that can allow a local laundry shop or clothing retailer to build positive brand equity and target real customers who will bring in revenues. Social media is a game changer in marketing. It can indirectly influence page ranking by helping boost website traffic and establish an interactive communication channel between the business and its customers. Social media is also instrumental in building positive brand equity through electronic word-of-mouth, online interactions, and social user-generated content.