Online Brand Marketing – 4 Ways to Use Social Media in Promotions

Social media marketing has earned its place as one of the fastest-growing, most competitive marketing fields in the history of advertising. People are gathering online in record numbers, finding and socializing in groups that cater to their interests; often, these interests neatly intersect with marketing and branding opportunities. The best social media tools combine simplicity with an extensive reach, allowing messages to target thousands of people in seconds, thus serving as an outstanding tool of brand promotion.

Briefly, here are a few of the more interesting and simple ways you can use social media to arrange a short-term promotion for your brand.

#1 – Flash Mob

A flash mob is an impromptu gathering of people arranged by SMS. Originally popular on message boards, the advent of texting and SMS powerhouses like Twitter has made flash mobs even easier to arrange. In the simplest terms, the originator of the mob sends a message to his audience, arranging a time, place and theme for a quick meeting and/or performance. Famous mobs have included zombie walks, unannounced pillow fights at major business centers and other assorted fun events.

As an example of using a flash mob for a brand, consider the following scenario: You own a cafe with a respectable Twitter following. You tweet out a time and place – say 2 p.m. in the park – and a short promotion code like ParkFrap. When everyone arrives, you’re waiting with a selection of your newest frappe drinks, and everyone who can give you a copy of the code gets a drink and a coupon for the next time they drop by the cafe.

This kind of arrangement takes a bit of preparation, of course, but the idea creates instant buzz, sticks out in people’s minds and can be an enjoyable time for everyone.

#2 – Couponing

People like to save money, and businesses like to make it. If your brand is tied into a business that offers product, you’ve probably already considered how to go about offering coupons to people. Social media offer many avenues to getting coupons out to people. Again, Twitter is an excellent tool here; in fact, there are several sites out there that are tailored to helping use Twitter for couponing. For example, allows you to combine a short tweet and an image into a coupon for your customers.

However, Facebook is also a good tool for distributing coupons. If your brand has a Facebook group associated with it – and if it doesn’t, why not? – you can leverage the service as both a coupon and a promotional tool. For example, post a message with a new coupon that’s only valid if a follower brings a friend along. In this one step, you get two people into the store, sell some product and have a chance to sign up a new follower on Facebook.

#3 – Cross Promote

Sometimes you don’t necessarily have a large following of your own. This is obviously the case in brands that are just developing their online identity. They’ve signed up for the various social media services, but haven’t really gotten a big splash together.

This is where research and legwork come in. Let’s continue with the coffee shop analogy, since cafes seem to be a defining feature of the modern set. You could look up a group that tends to associate with cafes, such as writers. If you find a local writing group on Facebook for your area, consider posting a friendly message on their board, inviting them to come in for a weekly “writer’s day” in which members of your newly-formed writing club get a discount.

Remember, of course, the key rules of social media: be polite and respectful. These are people you’re talking to, people with their own agendas and desires, and they can sense insincerity like a shark smells blood in the water. Your offers must be interesting and credible.

#4 – Picture Perfect

Images are powerful things. A well-done image can excite the imagination and catch peoples’ attention in a way that text sometimes fails to grasp. Consider sending images designed to give people an association with your brand.

Returning a final time to our cafe example, consider taking a picture of some fresh cinnamon rolls that just came out of the oven and quickly uploading them to your preferred social media service. This requires a bit of work to make sure the picture looks appetizing and appealing, but isn’t too difficult. Post that picture up along with a message about how they come with a free cup of coffee between 10 a.m. and noon, and you just might have a rush on your hands.

Even if you don’t have mouth-wateringly delicious pastries to offer, any brand benefits from visual associations. When you go to make a post in your blog or SMS, include a link to a relevant picture as often as you can. This will help people associate your brand with colorful thinking, with interesting things to look at, and the like. Text can appear awfully drab, so do what you can to brighten it up a bit.

8 Social Media Marketing Mistakes

The following eight mistakes are ones that people online frequently make. In no particular order:

1. Do not use a different photo on your social media profiles.

For example, do not have a professional photo on your LinkedIn profile with a link to your Twitter account that has a photo of you in sunglasses. You want a consistent professional image across all social media platforms.

2. Do not use a Gmail or Hotmail address for professional purposes when you have a professional email address.

For example, do not have a Twitter background displaying your business’ website URL and a Hotmail email address instead of [yourname]@[yourdomainname] email address.

3. Do not use offline marketing material that sends people to an unprofessional website.

If you are promoting a professional service or business, your image will be impacted by what people first see on your website.

4. Do not have a website that is completely Flash.

A Flash home page can discourage people from staying on your site. And then having to wait for Flash to load for every additional page can really drive people off your site.

5. Do not use references in your posts or articles to a specific date if you want the articles/posts to be evergreen (not to appear dated).

For example, do not say “Today, in 2011,…” when you can say “Today, in this era of online marketing,…” (Yes, sometimes the date will be important. But when the date is not important, do not include it.)

6. Do not use a period to end a sentence if the period immediately follows a link.

If you can’t rewrite the sentence to put the link elsewhere in the sentence, leave off the period. Many people mistakenly pick up the period when they copy/past a link – and then, of course, the link doesn’t work. (See recommended usage in bio at end of this post.)

7. Do not be penny wise and pound foolish when it comes to your online presence.

If you have an older website that is not social-media friendly and search-engine friendly, walk away from it. Either use a Facebook Page (NOT your Facebook personal profile) as your website for now, or get an effective website.

8. Do not link to Twitter from your LinkedIn profile if you only tweet once every week or so.

This is not an effective use of Twitter and there is no reason to showcase this to people reading your LinkedIn professional profile. Better not to have a link to Twitter than to link to an ineffective account.

In conclusion, everything you put online reflects on you. If you have a business, you want to reflect well on that business.

And NEVER EVER put anything online – regardless of what the privacy controls supposedly are – that you would be upset to have your mother, your client or your boss read.