How do you get to be not just a good brand, but a great brand…a followed brand…a loved brand?
In his article “6 Keys to Getting Users to Love Your Brand”, Bubba Page gives us some hands-on tools to develop a business personality that will be invited to all the birthday parties and picked first for the kickball team.

Let’s start with the fundamentals for any business – provide a service or product that is actually good. No amount of social media, marketing or sales wizardry will sustain a brand if they’re trying to sell sub-par products. If you’re starting off with quality merchandise or services, you’ll be ready to move forward in building a loyal following.

Next, use content to build community. Content can be created internally by you/the company, or externally through your followers. For example, I manage social media for a small startup in the health food industry. There’s a roughly 60/40 split of where content comes from; 60% being directly from my creative genius, and the other 40% coming from users posting reviews, “tagging” us in related events (such as hikes, health fairs, etc.) and engaging with us directly through comments or product photos. What we enjoy doing is collaborative efforts; if there’s a run for a certain disease awareness, etc. we’ll try to provide some free samples for runners to enjoy. This builds brand awareness for us, builds a more robust presence for the event organizers by having giveaways, and gives something back to the runners and participants.

The third step is to always be listening to your consumers. You may have preconceived ideas about your product, however a direct response from consumers determines how it is actually being received. Depending on your item, things such as taste, time, “fun” level, quality of service, etc. are all reflected by the consumer, but determined by the producer. If you’re receiving a lot of negative feedback, then it’s time to hit the drawing board. If you’re getting all positive feedback, then keep on doing what you’re doing!
 At the same time, while you listen to feedback, it’s important to create converation and reply to comments. Nothing looks worse than a complaint ignored… and, in fact, negative responses on social platforms can be an amazing opportunity to show you really do care and will make sure your customers are validated.
If you are responding to positive feedback, a gracious “thank you!” is always safe, but it’s also a great chance to connect personally with a consumer. I have created real-life friends from engaging with them on social media. These personal connections are considerably more likely to recommend your business to a friend down the road, which brings us to the next point:
Let your users advocate for you!

Once you’ve got a good following going, your users will stand up for you when critics come along, and will be able to answer questions, engage with interested parties, etc. While you shouldn’t have a “let’s just sit back and watch how this unfolds” approach, if your community wants to stand up for you, it holds a lot more weight than if you try to stand up for your own company. (just be sure to chime in at least once with a “thanks, you’re right on there!” or any other clarifying points).
 
You’ll also want to make sure your marketing tailored to your audience; does it appeal to them? Does it add value to their decision making? Who is your marketing aimed at? For the small health food business I work for, we’re about to unveil a whole new branding…new graphics, new style, new focus, based upon our audience. If your marketing isn’t working, try exploring what works for your competition, and don’t be afraid to make some dramatic changes to keep your company moving forward.

Finally, encourage your users to give back – whether that’s charitable donations, volunteering, getting involved in events like runs or walks, or using their skills to help others. Not only is this intrinsically good for everyone, it helps build your company up as not only about profiteering, but caring for people, animals, and/or the planet we all live on.

These six steps should help you build a brand that people don’t just “Like” on facebook, or “Follow” on Twitter, but they will actively engage with, will think about first, and will be excited to recommend to their friends, which is what this is all about.