Sunday, March 1, 2009

How Viral Is Your Brand?

Sounds kinda gross, doesn't it? However, if your business brand is what needs to be spread, you'd better make your brand is as viral as possible! The more viral your brand is, the easier it will be for people to share your work, talk about you, and bring your brand to a larger community where it can be found by more potential clients and supporters.

You already know how viral blogs can be. In fact, you probably found out about this blog from someone linking to a particular post or talking about it somewhere else online. Yet, in this Web 2.0 world of "everyone has a blog", why do some blogs NOT have an RSS or ATOM feed (or don't make it publicly available)? People are becoming increasingly efficient about managing the information they get and consolidating that info into things like feed aggregators so that they don't have to frequent a list of bookmarks just to see what's new. If people can't easily get your RSS feed into THEIR preferred feed aggregator, or if they prefer to get email updates and can't easily subscribe to your blog via email, than chances are that they won't be viewing your conent as much as the blog that makes these subscription methods easy to find and use.

Let me take feeds a step further by suggesting that you make sure your blog feed allows the ENTIRE post to be viewed by an outside aggregator and not just a snippet that then requires people to click through to your blog. While it may be easier for you to track your stats and visitors, how annoying is it for the reader who starts one of your posts in their aggregator only to have it cut off after so many characters? Do you want that annoyance to be associated with your brand? Is the hook & bait communication method part of your brand identity? What subtle suggestion does this send about you as a person or business?

... where I'm at. If I'm your client and I'm on facebook, meet me there. If I'm on myspace, meet me there. If I'm on linkedin, meet me there. By letting potential clients discover your brand and connect with you on a platform that they're already using on a regular basis, you increase your chances of being referred to your next great client through that very same platform.

If you're setting up a calendar, are you going to set it up on a platform that can easily be exported, downloaded, subscribed to, or transferred to my preferred calendar so that I can view your events side by side with my regular schedule? Or, are you going to force me to look at your site or manually enter all of the events I'm interested into my calendar? What's going to make my experience better as a person interested in your product, service, or brand? How much more likely will I be to attend your events if they're easy to add to my own calendar?

One of the worst things you can do for your brand is to make your potential clients feel dumb or confused. Common sense, right? Then why do some companies insist on creating sites that aren't user friendly? Creativity and uniqueness is valuable, but only if it's done in a way that makes people feel smart. If your potential client has to spend more time trying to figure out how to simply use your site, find the information they need, or decipher what you mean by the words you choose to use rather than just experiencing your product, brand, or content with ease- than your desire to be unique may be adding layers of confusion and frustration to your brand. Are you making yourself more or less accessible in the way that you structure your site? In the words that you choose? In the information you make available about yourself and your company? Is your ideal client easy to identify through your branding and content?

Some people don't want to be easy to access, which might be you if you have more work than you can handle. However, if you find yourself lacking in inquiries, than perhaps it's time to ask yourself if you've made your brand too inaccessible or difficult to understand based on any of the things I've mentioned above. The more accessible your brand is, the quicker it will be spread and shared with potential clients that would normally be out of your immediate reach. There are plenty of smart and savvy people who will simply not waste their time on something if it seems like it will take additional time to navigate or investigate. They aren't dumb, they just have little patience for things that take too much of their precious time. If your navigation is easy to use and your information is quickly understood, than you've created a positive experience with your brand that makes your potential client feel smart and savvy- which in turn, makes your brand feel smart and savvy.

Anne Ruthmann is a lifestyle & wedding photographer from Boston, MA. She spent 10 years practicing marketing & management in corporate and non-profit businesses before pursuing her passion for photography as an independent small business. She loves helping others find creative and low-cost solutions to business problems. Follow her on Twitter to see her daily adventures and thoughts.


  1. Excellent advice as always - thank you Anne! I've just started Twittering too

  2. Thank you Anne! Very insightful.

  3. great advice.. thanks so much

  4. awesome insight...thanks for sharing


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