Branding through the Online Community

Gone are the days when online marketing was just a one-time gig of SEO.  Now, in order to stay competitive online, marketers must expand their skillset far beyond the average professional.  They have to be personable, charming and poetic.  Marketers have to make the most of their word choice in order to be effective at connecting and relating to people in first impressions, oftentimes with the limit of 140 characters.  In addition, marketers must be in touch with the latest and greatest.  The world of SEO and that which surrounds the Internet is constantly changing.  Internet marketers must keep in touch with all the newest social platforms, as well as the latest changes in the Google algorithm.

But that’s far from all it takes.  Online marketing requires individuals to be highly analytical and technical; a skill set that usually doesn’t go hand-in-hand with those that are personable.  Marketers must be able to understand the extremely complicated functions of the internet from coding to any sort of computer work, as well as have the ability to analyze all key performance indicators of a website or campaign.  Finally, a skill I think is frequently underrated in marketing is the ability to grasp aesthetic appeal and usability.  Visual first impressions play a huge part in the acceptance of a product or website and it is the marketer’s role to make sure that first impression is a positive one.

Why does the profession of online marketing require these individuals to be so multi-talented?  It’s because each of these vital skillsets has a huge impact on whether or not a brand will perform well online.  The technical and analytical side correlates to the SEO job functions.   The personable traits are necessary for Social and Outreach functions.  But that’s no longer enough to perform well.  The term “inbound marketing” is now beginning to take precedence over SEO and covers all facets of Internet marketing with a primary focus on connecting a brand to its community through content – one that stretches far beyond the typical use of social platforms, Facebook , Twitter, and Reddit.

To understand inbound marketing a little better, here’s a previous post I wrote which explains it power to help a brand.

There’s a clear SEO benefit from creating content relevant to your brand’s followers.  If you are always producing intriguing content, people will continually come to see what else you have to offer and they’ll share it with their friends.  But it’s hard to gain exposure naturally… you have to work for it! There’s no better way to create awesome content than by interacting with your community, getting to know what they care about, learning what they’re interested in and how to get them to spread the word.

Fortunately, there are a ton of communities to be a part of; that offer amazing opportunities to boast your brand’s online reputation. Here’s my comprehensive list:

Video Communities:

Video content is becoming an increasingly essential factor for brands as its impact in search grows.  Now with Google’s blended searches, users are more likely to see video content taking up a significant portion of rankings.  As a marketer, it’s important to remember that the content isn’t all about the brand.  It’s about video that the community wants to see and share.  Focus on the content first and then allow a small spot for your own branding.  Your rewards will be significantly greater.   The biggest communities to be a part of are Vimeo, YouTube, Daily Motion, and MetaCafe, all of which allow you to upload your own content.

Image Communities:

Trends come and go, but it appears that image sharing is here to stay.  Some of the Internet’s biggest social sharing platforms revolve around image content which more and more websites are focusing on.  This proves aesthetic appeal is a big player in the viral nature of content and by publishing a few high quality photos of your products your brand can skyrocket from anonymity to a household name.

Here are a few communities that have active members across the nation sharing, “repinning,” and building links to your brand.


We’ve all heard of this.  Share your images through a free online portfolio.


Starbucks has done really well in branding their company through Instagram.  By creating their own hashtag #Starbucks, they have developed a community of individuals who all share their own images and experiences with the international coffee retailers.


For an idea of who has utilized this platform well, follow the Travel Channel’s pinboard.  Their images of foreign locations have captured the attention of nearly all pinners! And with an average 11 million users per week since their introduction in 2008, you can be sure your brand needs to be bookmarked here.


The masculine version of Pinterest.


This is a new platform, but I have high hopes for it.  Brands that adopt Oink early could really benefit when it takes off.  Create a company account, and develop “street cred” as an expert on a given topic and share images and content about your company’s products.  You could also allow your employees access to the account and let them share their own experiences.  This will help your company gain more natural rapport between other users and a positive community surrounding it.

Music Communities:

While music communities don’t provide that link value that is highly regarded in traditional SEO, there are still ways to benefit from brand exposure.  Create playlists for your company and share them through your site, and all your social outlets.  You could cultivate a community willing to include a hashtag of your company every time they share music from the playlist.  For instance, SEO’s could share a playlist of the music they listen to every time they build links.  A great place to start is through these communities:

Turntable FM


Create playlists for your brand.  Connect more with your community.  Trevin has created a great post on how to brand through Spotify.

Hopefully with this list, you will be inspired to connect with an audience and community that will help build your brand from a nobody to a world class brand!  Now go and reach out!

  • Brad

    I already use a lot of these services personally…never thought of using them for my business as well. Nice ideas.

  • Shane Jones


    Thanks very much! I definitely think there is a lot of opportunity in these platforms, which is great because we all probably utilize them anyway. So why not put all of those hours to good use for your own brand!

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