ADVICE: The Secret to Online Presence Is Being a Great Date

by Lizzie Cernik | Marketing and Branding

brand awareness

Editor’s note: Lizzie Cernik is a friend of Media Orchard whose lifestyle blog, Baggage Magazine, is focused on “holidays, heels and cocktails.”

We’ve all seen that bikini-clad glamazon on the beach. She’s sexy and toned with the raisin-a-day washboard stomach that makes men drool. The message is clear: If you’ve got it, flaunt it.

But for brands, the prospect of putting it all out there can be intimidating, especially online. It’s easy to see why — one little slip of her teeny bikini and our beach goddess is revealing far more than she intended.

So what’s the secret to revealing enough about your brand online to be enticing without revealing too much? It’s simple: Be a great date.

Think about being on a date. You want the other person to get to know you, but you want to make sure you’re revealing the right information. There are certain things you don’t share on a date, and others you might want to save until you’re married.

Coyly confess to your date that you’re a little scared of the dark and he’ll think you’re sweet and vulnerable. Tell him the story of that time you contracted an unusual gynecological disorder and you can expect a text that says, “I’m busy forever.”

Know your audience, accept some risk

In brand awareness, transparency and vulnerability can go a long way. Customers don’t want a painted picture of perfection, especially when they know it’s not real. They want to see the genuine article, warts and all. But how do you make sure your brand doesn’t suffer a serious wardrobe malfunction in the public eye?

First, know your audience. It doesn’t matter whether your company is three months or 50 years old, market research is essential. Your customers are your brand’s community; they need to be understood and, more importantly, heard.  If you’ve had a fantastic new idea but your audience isn’t feeling it, don’t push it.

Second, remember that transparency, though necessary, is always risky. The minute you hit Publish, that’s it. Your thoughts, your words, your ideas: They’re all floating in cyberspace for anyone to read. But if you’re displaying the right information in the right places, exposure and transparency will work wonders for your company image.

As you craft your messages, be aware that since YouTube and Twitter stole the show, a viral video of smiling kittens or people snorting cinnamon for a bet is likely to get more hits than a carefully constructed $20 million campaign. Queensland’s “Hamilton Island Best Job in the World” campaign was both inventive and intriguing. Rather than constructing a traditional promotional video with hours of footage, the clever marketing scheme constructed a unique competition, offering all entrants the chance to win a year in a tropical paradise. Who wouldn’t check that campaign out?

Brand Messages and Bikinis

Amid all this sharing, every brand needs at least one secret to keep its customers coming back for more. The Coca-Cola Company recently revived the tale of its mysterious recipe, moving its famous “Vault of the Secret Formula” to a public display in Atlanta. The brand is reminding everyone exactly what makes it so special. Of course, the vault remains firmly closed. Customers can guess, ponder and speculate, but they’ll never know the true secret behind the success.

Like that string bikini, your online marketing campaign needs to be suggestive enough to grab attention in an oversaturated market. That said, there’s some information you’ll always want to keep private. But if you display the best, they’ll want the rest.

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