Many people mistake influence for popularity. These are two different things. Your brand must have popularity and influence in order to beat the competition. Popularity results from influence but not vice versa. Influence results from building trust; it is also an outcome of being seen as a solutions provider; a reputation building exercise is also about adapting to the changing demands of the target audience, and by consistently eschewing innovation at every step.
Difficult to do! Of course it is, but not if you’ve some great content helping your efforts. If you want to build and more importantly spread brand influence you need to take the help of useful, engaging, relevant, actionable and diverse content. A well-worked out, clearly defined content strategy is best placed to drive influence especially of the online variety and these days that is what counts.
So let’s see how content helps you build influence:
1. Content Helps Showcase your Expertise
If your brand is selling baby’s clothing, wouldn’t it be a good idea if you are able to showcase expertise in this domain. So, if you’ve got a blog integrated on your site, you can start displaying your proficiency by developing content around the kind of clothing a baby needs, the dangers of buying the wrong clothing, and anything else that you can think of, that offers target customers (in this case your readers) more information about buying the right baby products (which in this case is clothing). You aren’t selling your brand, but essentially selling your expertise through the content; this will reflect positively on your brand. Your reputation as an expert will rub off on the brand and increase its acceptability.
2. Content Helps you Engage with Customers
You don’t just engage the attention of a target audience with content, you engage with this audience, as in you interact with them. Interaction is not one-way traffic any more. You can’t expect that your brand will broadcast information and your audience will listen. Customers want a conversation and you can tap your online presence on social media networks to interact with them and facilitate dialogue. But in order to start a mutually beneficial interaction with your customers, you need content. Great content is the starting point of an interesting discussion, a heated debate, or a sharing of honest criticism. This content represents your brand and by engaging with it, content consumers are essentially engaging with your brand. As customers continue engaging with your brand, it will keep influencing their decisions vis-à-vis your operational domain. What’s more, the more the engagement, the more this influence will spread.
3. Consistent Content Sharing Helps Build Brand Appreciation
You need a reason to interact with your customers. The ball needs to roll all the time. Content will help you make a case for your brand all the time, and that too without making it look like a desperate attempt to build your brand. You need to keep at it to ensure your influence doesn’t wane after a period of time. What’s more, the fact that you are producing and sharing content with your readers is actually appreciated by your target audience. This appreciation is again something that helps build social media influence.
4. Content helps you Innovate and Keeps Brand Stagnancy at Bay
It’s difficult to grab the attention of the target audience, and it’s even more difficult to keep holding this attention for a sufficient period of time. A section of your audience might even get tired of coming across the same visuals on your website. Now, we all know you can’t keep changing your website design. In such cases, content helps you keep the attention of the audience rooted on your brand. The reason for this is not hard to find. You can innovate with great content, and as mentioned before this content represents your brand. Constant innovation creates sustained interest in your content, which by association generates more attention for your brand. You can’t reinvent or reimagine your brand regularly, but with content you have no such restrictions.
And what’s more, innovation helps you explore new possibilities for brand building. It helps you target a wider audience. For e.g. you can vary the content formats that you’ve been sharing with your target audience just to mix things a bit.
5. Content Helps Build Trust
You wouldn’t believe it but all that content you’ve been sharing, is building brand trust one word at a time. If you push solutions based content to your target audience, you will be giving even more reason for this audience to trust you and the products and services you are selling. The idea behind content is to show people (your target customers) that you care. You care about their needs and that you are willing to satisfy their needs (through your content), irrespective of whether they buy your products and/or services or not.
Content also includes the various interactions you have with your audience, through the comments section of your blog or your Facebook page, Twitter, or responding to negative reviews etc. It is this content that allows you to get feedback from customers and respond to their needs better. As can be imagined, such content in the long run delivers immense value for your brand in the form of increased influence.
You won’t be wrong if you call content the single most important building block of a solid brand identity; the kind of identity that influences people to make positive decisions vis-à-vis your brand. Content helps you craft the kind of brand influence that is not overt and in-your-face. It is below the radar influence and something that will always be at the back of the mind of your target audience.
What’s more the better your content, the better your competitive edge so you ignore it at your own risk.