I swear it was just January. Like, a month ago. Well, apparently not. Another year’s sped by and we’re about to see in 2018. So what are your resolutions? Maybe you’re going vegan… and actually attempting to stick to it. Maybe you’re going to reserve drinking strictly for the weekends. And maybe Wednesdays. And sometimes Thursdays.
But what about your brand? What lessons has 2017 taught you about the best and worst ways to get the word out there? Have you been thinking about incorporating video into your content marketing strategy but not sure where to start? Has Facebook’s changing algorithms led you to try different social media strategies?
I’ve rounded up 18 ways to build your brand in 2018. How many are you going to try?
Review your 2017 analytics
Before you even think about your plans for building your brand in the year ahead, I’d suggest taking a moment to reflect. Which social posts performed the best this year? When is the optimal time to post? When does your website tend to see the most traffic/sales? A full audit of your 2017 stats will help you tailor your plans for 2018. Whatever you do, don’t skip this step.
Start using video (if you haven’t already)
If something’s been holding you back from dipping your toes into video, 2018 is definitely the year to dive right in. HubSpot reports that 48% of marketers plan to add YouTube to their marketing plan in 2018, while 46% plan to add Facebook video. If you don’t have the budget to hire a videographer, get creative and use your smartphone to leverage live video on Facebook. Or use a tool like Promo by Slidely to create and edit your video with ease.
Create content that goes beyond your brand
I get it. You’re passionate about your brand. You want to share your product or service with as many people as possible. But in 2018, simply blogging or creating ads to promote your brand just won’t cut it. You need to be creating content that potential customers will genuinely engage with. It needs to be relatable. Original. Shareable. Too much to handle on your own? Hire a copywriter or content strategist to do the hard work for you.
Build direct connections with your audience
Ever since Facebook began making changes to its algorithms that saw a decline in organic reach, many business owners have stopped relying on the platform as an integral part of their marketing strategies. Although you obviously shouldn’t ditch social media completely, 2018 is definitely about building direct connections with your audience. Think membership sites. Targeted emails. In-person events (if applicable).
Try paid social media advertising
If this had been a couple of years ago, or perhaps even this time last year, this tip wouldn’t have made this list. But social media evolves, so we need to be just as adaptable. I’m not saying to spend your entire marketing budget on paid social media advertising, particularly if you’re a small business owner like me. But why not make 2018 the year you test the waters if you haven’t already? You might be surprised with the results (if not revenue, maybe new followers).
Take advantage of your customers’ need for instant answers
Studies show we touch our phones anywhere between 2,617 to 5,400 times a day. Scary, right? Remind me to check myself into digital rehab this year if I fall into the compulsive higher end (working in digital, it’s highly likely). This means customers want information at their fingertips. Make sure your website stands out from the crowd in search engines. Ensure your SEO is up to scratch, capitalising on those all-important keywords.
Create personalised emails and CTAs
A survey ran by HubSpot back in 2013 analysing nearly 100,000 CTAs on their platform revealed engagement was over 40% higher with customised CTAs instead of generic messages. Make 2018 the year you start thinking much more outside the box with your emails and CTAs, ensuring they’re tailored to your audience.
Start using actionable Instagram hashtags
Although this can be leveraged across all your social media platforms, actionable hashtags see the most impact on Insta. Nike’s #chooseyourwinter and #runfree are obvious examples of this technique done right. And I know, I get it, you’re a small biz – not Nike. But that’s not to say the concept won’t still achieve effective results. Relatively speaking, of course.
Build better backlinks
Add value to your customer’s experience in 2018 by building quality backlinks. One of the most effective ways to prove to Google you’re a trusted and genuine website, backlink building should be a fundamental part of your SEO strategy next year (and beyond). Focus on quality links to reputable sites to see the best results.
Focus on mobile optimisation
Google changed ranking rules back in 2015 to favour sites that were mobile-optimised. Since then, many companies have ensured their sites were updated, but insanely almost 40% of websites still haven’t been upgraded! If your website isn’t optimised yet, you’re genuinely heading into digital dinosaur territory. Make the change ASAP (ideally before the new year even kicks off!).
Ensure your website has fast-loading pages
We’re all becoming more and more impatient with website loading times (c’mon, don’t pretend you’re not). To avoid the horror situation of potential customers getting bored of waiting and leaving your site before it’s even loaded to show off your fantastic product or service, make sure your site has fast-loading pages. Google has a great free tool that you can use to analyse your site with suggestions on what to repair.
Be ready for voice search
Spoken command apps such as Siri and Google Home are on the rise, and this is only set to keep climbing in 2018. Your 2018 SEO strategy needs to figure out a way to weave in more human key phrases, such as ‘Where’s the best place to get sushi in Sydney?’ Gone are the days when we could rely solely on these old chestnuts: ‘Best Sydney sushi restaurants’. Ok, now I need sushi…
Seek out influencers in your industry and begin to build relationships with them; they are the ones who will help propel your brand into a wider audience. The trend is leaning more towards seeking out a diverse pool of influencers, instead of just one key ambassador. Even if a lesser known influencer has a smaller audience, their followers might be more engaged. This is ultimately far more important.
Start thinking about VR
Nope, virtual reality is no longer some futuristic fantasy. With Oculus releasing its first consumer product this year, VR is getting closer and closer to being a mainstream commodity. Make sure you’re ahead of the pack by brainstorming how virtual reality could play its part as the next channel to grow your business. Virtual retail shopping, anyone?
Use Instagram Stories more
In 2017, Instagram Stories has set out to do exactly what it promised to do. Devour Snapchat whole. Roughly 250 million people use Instagram Stories every day, while Snapchat has yet to cross over 180 million users. And I have a sneaky suspicion this will continue in the same direction. If your brand isn’t utilising Instagram Stories yet, I’d suggest not getting left behind in 2018. Your competitors are probably already using it.
Keep a close eye on your competition
Speaking of those nasty competitors (jokes, there’s enough room for everyone, right?), it’s essential to keep a close eye on what they’re up to. Insta’s expected to surpass 1 billion users at some point in 2018 (think about that for a second… Now continue). That means it’ll soon catch up to its parent company, Facebook. What does this mean for your brand? Increased opportunity, but also increased competition! Learn from them, it’s paramount.
Start thinking 360-degrees
Facebook recently started supporting 360-degree photo and videos, adding more depth to your visuals. They can be posted on your timeline, or used as your page’s cover photo. It doesn’t take a psychic to predict it won’t be long before Instagram rolls out something similar; the technique would suit the visual platform perfectly. I’d suggest thinking about ways you could incorporate this into your brand, such as offering a behind-the-scenes look at your company or immersive snapshot of an event you’re holding.
All the quality content, tailored emails and paid social media advertising won’t mean anything unless you keep consistent. This means, if your goal is to start blogging more in 2018; great. But don’t let it trail off by April. If you’re planning to start testing the waters with video – don’t limit yourself to one or two attempts. Even if you’re not seeing the results straight away. Like everything related to building a successful brand, it’s a long-term thang. You need to be patient, consistent and look ahead. The fruits of your labour aren’t far away!
Happy New Year, folks! Here’s to a happy, healthy and successful year ahead.