In the Old West, a “brand” was an identifying mark burned directly onto the cattle with a branding iron. A brand identified the cattle as belonging to a particular owner. With the rise of production, packaged goods, and consumerism in the 19th century, marketers started “branding” consumer items with trademarks to distinguish their goods from similar goods. You know a soda was made by the Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta because the Coca-Cola trademark is printed on the bottle. Thus, we call Coca-Cola, Ford, and Microsoft “brand names.”

Today, a “brand” functions in much the same way – it identifies your business, non-profit, or professional practice – but a “brand” today is also much more than merely the product’s or company’s name. As consumer and marketing writer Jerry McLaughlin explains in Forbes, “Your brand name exists objectively; people can see it. It’s fixed. But your brand exists only in someone’s mind.”

WHAT IS A “BRAND” IN THE 21ST CENTURY?

McLaughlin defines “brand” in the 21st century as “a specific perception in customers’ minds concerning the qualities and attributes” of a business, non-profit, or professional practice. So how can you improve that perception of your work in the minds of your own potential clients? In other words, how can you most effectively market and promote your own brand on social media and other locations online?

Below is an explanation of six effective ways to promote your brand on social media and across the internet:

1. Take advantage of headlines: You may be the world’s best content writer, but if your headlines are not grabbing the attention of visitors to your blog and website, all of that excellent writing will be in vain.

Good headlines aren’t difficult; simply inform the reader that you are offering something the reader needs. A blog post titled “How to Avoid Income Tax Trouble,” for example, is far more likely to be read than “An Explanation of the Income Tax System.”

WHY ARE GRAPHICS SO IMPORTANT?

2. Take advantage of graphics: We know that posts on Facebook and tweets on Twitter get more attention – and get reposted and retweeted more – when they are accompanied by graphics. Snapchat, Instagram, and Pinterest are all graphics-driven sites. A visitor to your blog or website might easily ignore a block of text, but if it’s next to an interesting or compelling graphic, that text is far more likely to be read.

Sites offering free images include Wikimedia Commons, Unsplash, Pixabay, Photo Pin, Flickr Creative Commons, Getty Images, and the Folger Shakespeare Library. Some sites offering free images allow you to use the images without attribution, but others require attribution or a link back to the site.

Creating your own graphics and working with an internet marketing company are also always good ideas. Be careful, however, with graphics obtained from other sources, or you may encounter copyright issues.

3. Post content in a timely manner: A “timely” post is a post shared when people are online and active. Between midnight and five a.m., for example, is probably never a good time to post something. So when is the best time to post content to social media? There’s no definitive answer.

Different businesses may find different days and times work best for them. Consider the platform you’re using, who your target audience is, and the region or regions you’re targeting when determining the best time to post content.

Data compiled from a number of sources indicate that these are the peak hours of activity on the following sites:

  • Twitter: Noon to 3:00 p.m. Monday through Friday; 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Wednesdays.
  • Facebook: Noon to 1:00 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays; 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Wednesdays; and 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays.
  • LinkedIn: On Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and on Tuesdays from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

4. Post the same content multiple times: Multiple posting is the way to make sure that your audience has the opportunity to see and engage with your content. On Facebook, for example, something you post could very quickly be pushed far from the top of a reader’s Facebook feed, so posting at several different times over several different days is always a good idea. You should also consider using different headlines and/or different graphics when you post the same content multiple times.

5. Ask your audience questions: Social media is two-way, and you want to take advantage of that. You always want to strive to create a human connection with each member of your audience.

To generate feedback – and most importantly, to promote engagement with your brand – include a question that compels a response from your readers. Headlines in the form of questions are usually an excellent way to generate activity and responses.

WHAT CAN AN INTERNET MARKETING COMPANY DO FOR YOU?

6. Work with an internet marketing agency: When you work with an internet marketing company, you have the assistance of knowledgeable researchers and experienced professional writers who can create and supply the content that promotes your brand and meets your unique marketing needs. You can order blog posts written about specific topics and make or request revisions to any text, but the burden of creating regular content will no longer be on you.

An internet marketing company can provide you with a great deal more than written content. If time is an issue for you, an internet marketing agency can handle all of your online marketing needs while you deal with clients and run your business or professional practice.

An internet marketing company also provides you with the opportunity to work alongside experienced website designers, graphic artists, videographers, and other professionals who are dedicated to promoting your brand online and then keeping it promoted – and high in the search engine rankings – in the months and years to come.

Every element of your online marketing should be designed to strengthen and promote your brand. If you’re like most professionals today – just too busy – consider hiring an internet marketing company to create the content that promotes your brand, brings visitors back, and converts them into clients.

An internet marketing company can design (or redesign) and manage your website, provide you with valuable marketing insights, promote your brand, and handle all or any part of your internet marketing needs.