Are You Still On-brand?

Branding is a vital part of developing loyalty and trust around your products and services. But straying away from your preset branding standards is also very easy to do. This is especially true if they don’t represent you or your brand in a way that interests you. 

How do you check your branding?

I suggest starting simple and looking at your visual identity and tone to see if you applied them consistently over the last six months. As a social media strategist, I will be focusing primarily on branding on social media

Does your brand have a style guide?

A style guide will make creating content faster and more consistent. The goal of producing consistent — but not dull — visual content on a platform like Instagram is having people recognize your content as yours without seeing your name or logo. 

A basic style guide should include your fonts, color scheme, and a mood board that encompasses the style you want for your brand.

Your style guide should come from competitor research and acknowledge the psychology behind the colors you choose and the styles of type to be truly effective. You feel different when you see something written with a script font as opposed to a display font, right?

Do you have a set tone?

Some brands are funny and light-hearted while others are serious. For example, Moon Pie on Twitter has a hilarious persona. It would be jarring if they suddenly started tweeting as if they were a more serious brand like Politico.

In that same sense, if you switch between wildly different tones and do not have a strong reason for doing so (i.e. commenting on something serious and values-based as a comedic account) it can disarm your audience and make them distrust your voice. 

Are you keeping your content relevant to your goals?

You may be catching a theme here which is that consistency is key for maintaining your brand. Similarly, your content needs to help promote your social media goals (and business goals) consistently. 

This means you need to talk about things that are relevant to your brand. As an example, we are a digital public relations firm that has a sister publishing company. Therefore, we talk about social media, publicity and branding tips for authors that are published by small publishers or independently publish. 

In addition to the tips, we also share content that jumps on trends that relates to books and the reading community. (Check out our blog about bookstagrammers to see how we leverage Instagram to create digital publicity for authors.)

 

 

 

Design 101: Fonts

Design is a critical element in most aspects of marketing, PR, and social media. It’s the thing that catches people’s attention and draws them in. It could be a book cover design, a flyer, or a graphic you plan to post on your social media feed. If you’re diving into designing things yourself, you’re sure to run into a very important choice at some point – what sort of font will you use? If you’ve never done it before, it can be intimidating. Many programs come with a set of default fonts that you can use freely when you’ve bought the license. However, this can be very limiting. People who have been designing for a long time can often recognize popular fonts on sight. If you want to use font effectively and stand out in whatever you’re making, here’s where to start.

What to look for in a font

The styles of fonts out there are endless- from creepy to elegant to academic, there is something out there that can fit your project perfectly. The first step is understanding what kind of a message you want to get across in your graphic. If you’re designing a book cover for a children’s series, you might choose something rounded and fun. For an invitation to a virtual event, you might want to choose something with looping, cursive-like elements. If it is a more casual event, something with a hand-written print look might be appropriate. If you’re unsure of exactly what you want, try a few different ones and see what fits the look of your graphic. Looking at examples of graphics you like and finding fonts that are similar can be a useful starting point when you’re at a loss.

Where to get fonts

I’m a huge proponent of DaFont, which is a repository of custom fonts where people with a passion for design can upload their work. It’s where I start my searches. Not only is it a large database, but it has fonts clearly sorted and labeled. There are distinct categories for every font to help you find the perfect one. The designers also put their usage terms upfront on DaFont. This is important because to legally use some fonts, you may need to purchase them beforehand. Some are only free for personal use but might require payment for commercial use. Others are 100% free for both personal and professional use. Some may not be used commercially at all! Make sure to check this out before even downloading the font. Beware of fonts that might imitate popular IP (the Harry Potter font is a popular one), since this could also land you in legal hot water. 

Google Fonts is also a place to find fonts that are licensed for both commercial and personal use. It has less choices in terms of categories and gets a bit more technical in its filter system. It is still a comprehensive resource, and you won’t need to worry about whether a particular font is licensed or not.

There are a lot of choices out there – so happy hunting! If you do plan on making your own graphics for social media use, make sure to check out our social media tag for helpful tips!

Book Marketing 101: Create Visibility for Your Book with These 5 Tips

You’ve written a book and published it — but the sales just aren’t happening. The biggest likely reason for this is that no one knows that you or your book exists, even if it’s been uploaded to Amazon. There are thousands of authors on Amazon vying for people to buy their books. That’s why authors need to create visibility so that they can stick out from the crowd.

It can be really tough to put yourself out there and talk about yourself and your work, but if people don’t know who you are, then they won’t buy your book!

Here are some ideas for authors to create visibility for their books:

  1. Visit your local bookstore, retail stores, or library. Dropping by and leaving a copy of your book for the bookseller or librarian will help them learn who you are as a person and give them the chance to look at your book before deciding to purchase. Many indie authors shy away from selling books on consignment, but sometimes it’s the best that your indie bookstore can do, especially if your book is not available through the proper distribution channels or is unavailable for return.
  2. Have a release party or event. Invite friends and family to celebrate your new book at your house, and have them purchase copies there. Or you can have it at a restaurant where you can incorporate the plate price with the price of the book, so everyone who comes is guaranteed a copy. You can also see if your local bookstore will have an event for you, if you are positive you can get enough attendees to come. (Read more about authors events in this blog post.)
  3. Ask family and friends to review on Amazon or BN.com. Supposedly, those with more reviews on Amazon are more likely to be included in the company’s email newsletters and receive more visibility overall–although to be honest, nobody but Amazon knows how their algorithm works. It’s still worth having friends and family post reviews so that it will generate interest for others to read your book. Books with no reviews whatsoever will likely be passed over by shoppers.
  4. Put yourself out there at festivals and conferences. Start visiting local book festivals and writers conferences and hand out cards or copies of your book. See if any of them will put you on a panel. Many festivals have the option for author signings, although you most likely have to pay for that privilege, at least in the beginning.
  5. Make sure it’s easily accessible for purchase. Even though Amazon is the most popular online outlet to purchase books, readers do have other shopping preferences–whether it’s a local store or a Barnes & Noble. Make sure that your website, blog, and social media pages have links to these sites and to Indiebound, so that your audience can purchase through their favorite indie bookstore.

It’s important to get yourself out there in some way, shape, or form to create visibility–whether it’s by putting yourself out their physically or through online channels. You may not sell hundreds of copies at first, but you’ll be on your way to make yourself known. The readers will come–you just need to put your foot out the door.

If you’re an indie author, do you use any of the above ways to create visibility for your books? Tweet about it to us @McKinneyPR!

Social Media 101: 4 Reasons Why Buying Followers is a Bad Idea

buying followers
This office dog is confused and upset about why he is seeing so many disturbing spam followers on a Twitter account that is supposed to be family friendly!

A recent article (February 1st) on BuzzFeed said that the Newsweek Media Group has been buying followers and manipulating traffic on some of their websites, and that they are being accused of ad fraud.  The ad fraud part of this story is not my area, but I do have something to say about the other part—buying followers—as it relates to marketing and branding using social media platforms.

There was a time when having 200,000 Twitter followers looked impressive to the naked eye, but those days are long gone.  Now it isn’t very difficult to look through someone’s following on various platforms to find out that many of those 200,000 are spam bots and other kinds of cheap “friends”.  In fact, the people who have more modest numbers of active followers, who engage with them, and build more solid relationships over time, could have the upper hand in social media marketing.

Here are some reasons why buying followers is a bad idea:

  1. The internet is not an alien universe.  The people using the internet and social media are just that—people.  And the rules of engagement apply just as they would at a cocktail party or a business conference.  If you want to grow as an influencer on social media, your audience needs to feel like you are a real person —not a virtual identity with no substance, which brings me to the next point.
  2. Trust is more important than ever. The internet, the very tool you want to use to market your products and ideas, has eroded trust in its own population.  This is partly due to the “bad apples” in the bunch who have figured out how to buy and sell cotton candy entities and canned content.  If someone takes more than a cursory look at who is following you and they find porn (true story) in the form of bots, it will not make a good impression (unless that is what you are selling).
  3. Relationships rule! When there is trust, the chance for a relationship to grow increases.  In a relationship with good communication, the other person believes what you have to say, appreciates your advice and counsel, and may even talk about you with others in a positive way.
  4. Protect the brand. Would you wear dirty clothes to a job interview?  Why sully your brand with ineffective and questionable marketing practices, like buying a fake community?

Perhaps we think that, because we are typing on a keyboard or a phone in our own private spaces, that our anonymity allows us to behave in any manner we want.  Well, it doesn’t.  Companies who engage in buying followers or traffic in order to beef up their potential advertising power may not be doing something illegal, but it is certainly unethical.  If an individual wants to be an influencer, it needs to be clear that community and engagement are a priority.  If bots are all we see, we assume that you aren’t real either.

Check out our other social media blog posts here.