As more and more marketing relies on the use of social media, and more and more customers use social media outlets as a primary means if communication, companies have to make more of a concerted effort to integrate their corporate identity into their different media outlets. It is no longer enough to just “Be” on Facebook or Twitter you have to be recognizable to your customers and potential customers but how to do it?
As social media has evolved so have the platforms on which they were built allowing users more and more control over the message they are sending. But not everyone is taking advantage of this personalization. Too many businesses make do with base templates rather than customizing the experience for their customers.
WordPress is arguable the most prevalent blogging platform out there with literally thousands of free themes available to customize the look, feel and functionality of any given blog. Themes are easy to install, and easy to modify (OK, maybe easy is not the right word, and not all themes allow customization through the admin area but you can at very least change the header graphic to make it more in line with your current identity). Unfortunately, many site owners do not even get this far. Changing out that header graphic should be done at a minimum but with WordPress you can take it even further depending on your need.
So how do you know if you could benefit from a custom word press theme. Well, riddle me this, Batman – Do you have an established identity for your company? Wouldn’t it be great if a customer reading your blog KNEW they were reading a product from your company rather than having only a vague notion that they might have some affiliation with the writer (like their best friend’s sister’s boyfriend’s brother’s girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who’s going with the girl who is pretty sure she once had an out-of-body experience that possibly involved a company like the one who was writing all this great content). Well then what you might need is a custom theme. Custom themes can be as simple as a unique design and layout that is specifically created for your company and as involved as a great deal of custom functionality that allows you to show and maintain everything exactly they way you want it, in other words something that “ain’t your mammas blog”.
You can also take it a step further while you are at it. Word press has evolved into a full on CMS (content management system) and as such it is good for more than just blogging anymore. If you have a site and a blog hosted separately and would love to have it all under the same roof, now is the time. You can have a custom theme created to match your existing site (if it totally rocks) or if it is nothing to write home about and you are apt to put on your best John Cleese and say “now for something completely different”, you can just go with a whole new design. Either way you will be able to have the best of both worlds with your regular site pages and your blog posts all housed in the same easy to use CMS you have been used to. And depending on your functional requirements, the costs can be very reasonable too. Just think, a new site with built-in blog all while removing the need for a Web professional for ongoing updates. And if you are updating your site as often as is prudent for SEO that can begin to add up.
I would bet that a day has not gone by of late when you have not heard about someone “tweeting” or how many followers someone might have but even if you were the one doing the talking, have you ever given any thought to what people see when they come across your brilliance while searching twitter for the absolutely most current info on your area of expertise? Chances are you are like far too many twitter users, you set up your account using the defaults and just started spewing your wisdom to anyone who would listen. This is not a bad thing by any means, after all as I have stated many times before, content is king. But in order to increase the number of subjects under your thought leadership you have to pay at least some attention to your identity so they when someone happens upon you, they’ll tell two friends or at very least be able to figure out how to learn more about their newest addiction…you.
In order to feed the masses chasing the dragon of your wisdom, you need make sure they can find your blog (I mean you can only get so much across 140 characters at a time) or better yet, your website so they can tell all of their friends about this great new resource for products and services. The best way to do this with twitter is by creating a custom theme for your twitter profile. There are a number of tools available to edit your account look and feel with something as simple as a color scheme that matches your corporate identity and something as involved as a custom background image that has your logo, photo and/or other pertinent information staring at your users as they soak up your brilliance.
Many companies have bitten the bullet and setup a fan page for their company or product but like with their blogs, very few have taken the time to take advantage of all of the resources that are available to enhance the experience for their fans.
At very least, anyone with a Facebook fan page should use a custom profile picture that includes your logo as well as other pertinent company information so when someone arrives at you Wall page they know exactly where they are and how else to get in contact with you and although company info is available on the “info” tab, it is always better to make sure that your customers and potential customers do not have to hunt around for ways to get in contact with you.
When a sweet profile picture is not enough, and getting them to the wall is not the goal, it is time create a custom landing page for your users. Making use of Facebook’s HTML Application allows you to add completely customized content to your fan page so you carry your corporate identity right into your fan page as well as add custom forms and more. And for those of you who want your fans and wannabe fans to land right in the middle of all this greatness, you are I luck because Facebook allows you to decide where they land.
The Networked Blogging application allows you to syndicate your blog content so other Facebook users can subscribe to it while at the same time displaying it for your Facebook Fans on its own tab of your Fan page.
These are just three examples of ways to enhance the user experience with your social media. Identity consistency across all marketing mediums helps customers and potential customers to know they are in the right place right away so they can concentrate on the pressing business of engaging you in conversations that will help them while providing you with valuable interactions that will ultimately help you grow your business.