Increasing brand awareness and engagement online via communications

Festival Ticket Co

Many businesses and charities face an ongoing challenge of how to increase brand awareness and engagement with their audience. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the focus towards online communications. But there is a lot of content in the public domain that is just noise. How do you achieve cut-through and engagement in a congested digital world?

Communications Strategy

Getting a communications campaign up and running can seem like an overwhelming task. But as with most projects the key to success is good planning and project management. 

It is crucial to plan and devise a communications strategy before embarking on creating and distributing content. Creating content and distributing it publicly without a carefully considered plan is highly risky and could confuse your audience and cause your brand reputational damage. Before producing a strategy, you will need to conduct detailed market research. 

If the objective of your communications activity is to increase brand awareness, reputation and engagement it should be aligned to your overall business objectives. A communications strategy should also align to your brand’s values. 

A key area to scrutinise to define who you are is to unlock your why’. So, if your business is in healthcare for example your why might be helping improve the lives of others. Get this right and everything will fall into place and you can create a positioning statement that pinpoints your business, or charity. 

Investing resource into this first stage is invaluable. Once you have your positioning statement you should define your target audience and profiles, market position and segmentation, strategic considerations, public sentiment, and key messaging. Once you have done this you will be ready to produce a content plan that creates various content themes and maps out your activity. All the content should be in line with the strategy to ensure it reflects your brand and communicates it effectively to the right people in the right way and is consistent with other communications and marketing output across the business.

Planning will focus your company, improve effectiveness, encourage a long-term view, demonstrate value for money, minimise issues and conflicts, and facilitate proactivity. 

Make content relevant 

Following the planning process will help ensure you establish relevant key themes to communicate, how to communicate them and to who. It is important to produce content that your audience will want to engage with. Therefore, it must inform, educate and if appropriate entertain. It must be relevant to your brand and help communicate your key messages. 

Think about what your audience want to know and consider what they have engaged with previously. Do some analytics to establish what they are searching for online and what content they are spending time consuming. By collecting and examining data on an on-going basis you will be able to establish trends and better understand your engaged audience and what topics and type of content resonates with them. 

Remember your content should be relevant for your brand and to your audience. It does not necessarily have to achieve huge engagement online to be successful. 

Making your content relevant also means making sure where you share your content is also relevant. So, for example, do not be unnecessarily influenced by the latest trends. TikTok is suddenly all the rage. But if you are targeting an older demographic then it is highly likely it will not be the right social media platform for you. However, if you wish to communicate with a younger audience it might be, alongside working with influencers, for example. 

Deliver quality content 

At Fortitude we place a great emphasis on producing quality strategic content. It should be researched, well written or produced, have a purpose and a strong hook. A lot of organisations seem to communicate on social media when they have little of value to add. Creating a content plan will help ensure consistency of message and maintain quality. It also means you are in control and removes large void periods that reduce your engagement and create the temptation to post weak content. 

Delivering quality content consistently will help build strong engagement with your audience, as they gain confidence your content will be of value and therefore worth checking. Plus, by making sure your content adds value and is informative it will help your company or charity rank better on Google. Content should include copywriting, video, graphics and photography. 

Remember your content reflects your brand. Make sure it is of high quality and is something people will want to engage with and when they do it leaves a positive impression. 

The power of contemporary content 

Any content plan should be used a working document, that allows for the opportunity to respond to the needs of the business and to maximise trends and market conditions. 

Publishing or broadcasting responsive content that is highly topical can be very powerful. It might be responding to a major market shift in your sector or providing insights to a topical issue which provides your audience with information of value and positions you as an expert. This can be an effective communications tool for supporting business development. 

For example, providing a fast response to a breaking news topic with a relevant expert industry insight is a powerful way to gain media exposure and position your company as experts. 

On social media providing contemporary material may be a simple case of producing timely content that taps into a major global story in a humorous way, if displaying personality via social media is right for your brand. For example, at the weekend Southampton Football Club went top of the Premier League on Friday night, for the first time. After the match it tweeted the league table with simple message: stop the count” – playing off Donald Trump’s earlier political tweet in relation to the US elections that went global. It won the internet’ on the day. At the time of writing the tweet had attracted a staggering 396,000 likes and 93,400 re-tweets. 

The club’s The Southampton Way’ philosophy is to challenge convention, innovate, defy the odds and remain humble. The tweet exemplified the club’s identity and resulted in a huge increase in brand awareness and engagement. Sometimes quality can be in its simplicity and sharpness. The club’s retail team have since launched a stop the count’ t-shirt, such was the response to the tweet. 

Focused communications

By defining your audience, you can hone down where to communicate to stand the best chance to reach and engage with them. One key way to communicate effectively across multiple platforms is to repurpose content so it is suitable for each platform. It will mean adjusting word count, style and format. For example, data has demonstrated most people on Facebook tend to watch video with the sound on mute. Therefore, it is important to add subtitles to video for created for Facebook. While a lot of internet and YouTube searches are from people seeking answers to questions. Therefore how to guides’ are effective. 

Long-read features work well on company websites and it is important to optimise each article to help your site perform well on Google search results and rankings. Compelling visual content is a key part of the mix and is crucial to grabbing attention, especially on social media. Therefore video, photography and graphics should form part of your output. 

By understanding where your audience spend their time you can also identify the right media to pitch stories and news to. 

Storytelling

Storytelling is an artform. It is the process of using fact and narrative to communicate to an audience. In the commercial world is can be used to persuade people to buy goods or services, or colleagues to embrace a new policy. But too often it is laden with corporate jargon. 

Telling good stories is much more effective. People enjoy stories and sharing good stories is a proven way to engage. Telling stories with emotion, vision and via people is authentic and a compelling way to engage and build trust. For example, if you are a healthcare company human interest stories from practitioners or patients, will be more powerful than a standard corporate press release. 

PR

Developing your audience on your owned platforms is important and can be achieved via consistent strategic content. It will develop engagement, brand awareness, trust and support your business objectives. 

An additional highly effective way to improve your brand awareness and engagement online is via PR. Effective PR can earn you compelling content on highly regarded news websites that your audience read. This will also improve your reputation. Furthermore, being mentioned or receiving a no-follow link to your website on a highly ranked news website will also boost site’s Google ranking. This is a powerful way to develop your brand awareness and engagement. 

Video

Social video content on YouTube is now reportedly consumed by one billion people globally per day. Video is versatile and engaging. It is easy to share online and is easy to digest. And high-quality video can provide a strong return on investment. 

There are various types of video and it is important to ensure any you commission fits into your communications strategy. Make sure your video communicates your purpose, appeals to your audience, and is created to suit your chosen channel’s format. 

Video can be fun and is one of the best ways to give your audience a real insight into what you and your business, or clients are doing. It is important to communicate something about your culture and values and remember to tell your story or offer some valuable information. If you try to sell you run the risk of the viewer switching off. 

Effective engagement

Be careful with social media analytics and remember engagement is meaningless if it is not effective. It is why quality and relevant content is important. To create and maintain your voice make sure your communication has purpose and you tell stories that highlight your organisation. 

To maintain successful engagement consistently it is important to listen to your audience. Always listen to what they are saying, read comments and examine what they are searching for. Assess how your content has performed and what has resonated well and adapt. The beauty of having owned platforms is we can learn and adapt quickly and there is room to push boundaries and experiment. 

If you would like to discuss how to improve your company or charity’s online presence get in touch here.

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