Strong Online Presence for Brands

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  • Tuesday, February 19, 2013
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  • Jennifer C. Jimenez
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  • Chances are, you already have a Facebook and Twitter account for your brand, but for some reasons that you cannot determine, leads are not coming your way. Many business owners are thinking whether going digital is really worth it or not. This article discusses the potential costs and benefits of creating a digital presence for your brand.

    Social Media and Consumers’ Conversation

    Social media greatly affects the consumer behaviors across different segments. A lot of prospective customers check the internet first for other users’ feedback on the product. Some ask for their friends recommendations on Facebook, while some, simply look at the fan page of the brand and decide whether to purchase or not.

     In the business parlance, this means opportunity for what would have been a “zero moment of truth” or ZMOT. Google, in its book, “Winning the Zero Moment of Truth” by Jim Lecinski, defines ZMOT’s role as “influencing which brands make the shopping list, where shoppers choose to buy and with whom they share the results”.

    Here’s the fact: people talk about brands, whether the brand marketer joins in the conversation or not. And in the online world, almost everything being posted about your brand stays forever. Clearly, there is a strong need for your brand to have an online presence, but will the benefits outweigh the cost?

    The only exception to this need is when your customers are not involved in social media. If this case is true, will the next generation of your customers not be involved in social media as well? How about the influencers around your customers?

    Costs of Web Presence

    There are different factors that must be considered when going online. In what media would you want to have a presence?

    Most brands utilize Facebook and Twitter, but not everyone is really successful. In launching a web presence, one should consider the cost of maintaining the online accounts. One could hire a social media manager at a cost of salary, or you could do it using your own time. Also, cost of frequent usage of computer and internet connection are vital when it comes to cost.

    Facebook is flexible and allows users to create strategies that could drive online engagement. But this is not free. For instance, setting up an online contest on Facebook is a good platform but there are several kinds of costs attached to it. The creative development is one: this includes the creation of assets such as the online ads, along with the profile and cover photo. The content and community management cost is also vital to ensure that the strategy does not backfire and actually builds the results expected from it. The voting module is also costly, along with the DTI Honorarium Fee which is usually needed as regulated by the Philippine law, to ensure fairness and accuracy of competition process. Some FB contest can include links to YouTube, and thus requires YouTube application development fee.

    Blogs are also good when it comes to communicating to your followers, and signing-up is usually free. But blogs, such as Blogger and WordPress are free only up to a certain point. The free storage is only up to 3 gigabytes, and once you exceeded, you would have to pay a fee. You might want to get your own domain name instead like, and that comes with a domain hosting fee. 

    Utilizing photos can also be costly depending on the source. If you have the creative pool, then you would only have to think of the cost of salary. But if you want to utilize photos from the internet, you would have to pay from particular sites, or hire a professional photographer for quality images.

    Must-have’s For An Online Presence

    Having an online presence does not guarantee that it will bring in the results. One must ensure that the online media, along with the strategies used, are all properly synchronized and effective.

    There are several factors to consider, but here are the main ones. To assess the effectiveness of these, you should consider who your target market is, and identify the social media where they usually hang-out.  The goal of your online presence should also be clear. Is it a short-term goal, a long-term one or a mix of both? Then determine your desired reach, frequency and the cost that you can handle.

    Once the proper steps are done, then you must participate actively, to measure analytics and find the trove of treasure behind the chunks of data. If you think this is easy, think again. “Simply scouring the fan pages and feeds every morning will not adequately educate marketing, sales and operations teams. A real time, automated, and actionable approach to social media analysis is needed,” says Crimson Hexagon in the article “The New IQ”.

    So, what should be done? In the same way that you cannot teach a kid to be a computer whiz in a day, you will also not be able to educate a traditional marketer of the social intelligence in a day. It takes a certain degree of experience and intense interest for a person to really manage the social media assets of a brand. But once you got the right expert, then you’re halfway done with the job.

    Potential Benefits of Online Presence

    A strong online presence is the catalyst engine behind a responsive social networking and equity-building digital marketing. Suffice to say that it is the most cost-effective among all the other media in the integrated marketing campaign mix. A strong online presence enables digital advertising to seamlessly fit in with the other promotions and trade tactics deliver quality leads, increased prospects for sales, critical real-time market research data, consistent channel integration for best customer experience and improved decisions.

    Some valuable data include the following: unique visitors, page views, cost per unique visitor, time spent per visit, search keywords, navigation path, contributed blog comments, sentiment tracking, Net Promoter score, satisfaction ratings, and web analytics.

    Some brands already started their online presence and came up really strong, with really outstanding applications and crowds of consumers raving good testimonials. These include Nestle’s Nescafe-- a coffee brand with several million fans on Facebook, Kraft that has a mobile platform iFood Assistant, Eloqua that owns The Blog Tree which turns at least 49 viewers into closed sales per wave of page impressions. Other brands that have very high engagement rates online are Blackberry, Starbucks, L’oreal Paris, Unilever’s Axe, Mars’ M&M and Red Bull. Looking into their journey to success will give you practical lessons in digital marketing.

    Going digital should be a decision fully considered, and once you’ve already decided, be sure that you have the resources and metrics to assess its effectiveness, along with an expert who will ensure a high return of investment.