6 Ways to Approach Branding and Social Media for Your Business in 2012

For the past week or so I’ve been listening to the Miles Davis station on Pandora and channeling my creative energies as I chart my course for 2012. One day while sitting at my desk in “brand planning” mode, I came across a great book I read earlier this year. Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks Webinars (and More) that Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business (Wiley, 2010) is a treasure trove of ideas for how you can create content, recycle content and “feed the content beast.”

As I flipped through the pages and saw my own notes scribbled in the margins, I thought of how seldom business owners take this strategic approach. One of the things I’ve noticed when working with solopreneurs, small business clients and even non-profit organizations is the overwhelmingly ad hoc approach to creating content for the  web. I get it: small business owners are short on time and short on staff. We wear so many hats that it’s easy to forget the importance of planning. But planning is the best way that you stay on message and continually reinforce your brand.

Here are a few simple ways to approach your branding and social media in 2012.

Think Thematically. What’s your brand theme for 2012? My theme is leverage-I’m leveraging all the work I’ve done up to this point to get to the next level. Everything I do will in some way drive this point home. If you really want to go crazy and plan for great content, give each month a theme.

Think Daily. What brand-enforcing content can you create every day? You may love Twitter like I do, so updating your status daily (or even hourly) is no problem for you. But what if your audience is not on Twitter? You can always apply the same approach to LinkedIn or Facebook.  Love taking photos from your life or to show off your business? Share a photo each day on Instagram. The point is to do something you already enjoy. Make it fun and don’t overwhelm yourself.

Think Weekly. Every week is a new opportunity for you to supply your audience and potential customers with relevant information that, when done right, will lead them back to you. If you aren’t blogging, 2012 is definitely the year you should start!  But what should you write/blog about? I personally love meaty, how-to information that helps me solve problems. I create that kind of content and I look for that kind of content from others. What do you love to find on the web? Inspirational content? Funny content? Chances are, you will enjoy creating what you already love to consume online.

Think Monthly. If you’re in business, you probably publish a monthly newsletter. But are you recycling content from your blog posts or Twitter updates? Does your business host customer appreciation events? Maybe you should. Present much? Get some extra mileage out of those Powerpoint presentation slides, and share them to Slideshare and/or Scribd, creating a monthly presentation share.

Think Quarterly. If your audience can only get it 4 times each year, chances are, they’ll pay attention! What’s going on each quarter in your industry? You could publish a report on quarterly trends or a quarterly ebook with your latest case studies.  I love a good quarterly networking event. Last year, I started the networking organization ColorComm: Women of Color in Communications with my friend Lauren Wesley Wilson. We started in May and hosted an invitation-only networking luncheon each quarter following that one in Washington, DC. You could create a similar event to connect industry leaders in your town.

Think Semi-Annually and Annually. What special event can you create once or twice a year?  Does your organization coordinate a conference or annual meeting? Do you have an annual sale? Capture the content and create lots of info nuggets from it-tweets, blog posts, videos, etc.

As my New Year’s gift to you, I have created a free BrandCal Creation Tool for 2012 that will help you outline content direction. Get your free copy on my web site, millerlittlejohnmedia.com.

Happy New Year and Happy brand planning to you!

Amanda Miller Littlejohn blogs at Mopwater PR + Media Notes. She is the founder of Mopwater Social PR. You can follow her on Twitter at @amandamogul.