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Social media has gone from internet oddity to one of the strongest tools in an online marketer’s toolbox. These days, social media presence can be just as important to your online marketing as your website. In some markets, social presence can be even more vital.

Many companies have already stepped up the the plate to meaningfully incorporate social media marketing into their brand experience, and they’ve found that the tactic can be a serious powerhouse for marketing at a fraction of the cost of many campaigns. The trick is knowing exactly how to use the medium.

The successful marketers on social media aren’t yelling about their products at every turn, they aren’t taking part in silly novelty marketing attempts (Chipotle’s recent Twitter “hacking” …), but most importantly they aren’t ignoring their customers. Social media creates a brand new opportunity for consumers to directly interact with the brands they purchase and create a real relationship between businesses and their audience.

Social media is new, and the companies finding success are experimenting and taking advantage of the real benefits the platforms provide, but they aren’t playing completely by ear. There may not be a rule book set in stone for social media marketing yet, but there are definitely some guidelines.

MarketingProfs tried to tie down some of these guidelines and guiding traits of successful social media marketers, and they put the results into an infographic (seen below). If you’re struggling to find your brand’s voice in the social arena or simply haven’t lept into action yet, this infographic will help you develop a useful approach.

10 Superpowers of Social Media Marketers

Bing LogoWhen companies take the leap to establishing their brand’s reputation online, the focus is always on taking advantage of every opportunity Google gives you to try to connect with potential consumers.

However, any SEO or online business who is only paying attention to Google isn’t completely controlling their online reputation. Online reputation management requires understanding a complex ecosystem of sites where users are able to connect with your brand, and those include other search engines, social media, local search platforms such as Yelp, and business accreditation sites like those for the Better Business Bureau.

Of course, taking control of the first page of Google is the best first step for a company hoping to take the reigns on their online brand, but it isn’t the only step. Google controls roughly two thirds of all search traffic, but that also means you’re missing out on a third of all of the marketplace.

The second most popular search engine is Bing, and they’ve been making notable gains lately, rising to 17.4 percent of the market share from 13 percent last year. Microsoft has been marketing Bing rather strongly and it is clear the search engine will only keep gaining ground for the near future. Once you’ve taken control of the first page of Google, George Fischer suggests trying to capitalize on the often forgotten market of Bing, and he explains how you can do so in his article for Search Engine Watch.

Online branding ruins everything you thought you knew about branding. It is no longer strictly a marketing activity for multinationals with million dollar budgets. Online branding is simple and practically free.

The internet allows businesses of all sizes to participate with their webpages, secondary sites, social media outlets, and company blogs. These areas are also exactly where it is important to establish a successful branding strategy. But how?

It is first important to remember branding is a lot more than a name and a logo. It is a philosophy encompassing the values and way of doing things. Branding alone can increase the perceived value of any kind of product by creating an image that depicts the product as more than its actual value. Gucci is just a clothing designer, but because of the image cultivated around the brand, their products are perceived as higher value than most others.

Ray Vellest, writer for Web Designer Depot, argues the most important aspect of creating this type of image is consistency. Making sure all of your messages are on point establishes an idea in potential customers’ minds.

People associate Gucci with luxury because they only present images of their products with luxury settings. The people in their ads are always dressed in some form of high fashion, and in an extravagant setting.

Similarly, Louis Vuitton has had a long running campaign of images of pop culture icons with their luggage, and they choose these celebrities carefully. Sean Connery, Madonna, and Keith Richards have all been in ads for Louis Vuitton, and the imagery suggests that of the “rebellious” upper class.

When bringing this strategy online, think digital presence consistency. Start with your username, or profile. Using the same username across the web is a big step towards creating brand consistency online. It brings continuity to interactions customers have with the persona or company through various methods.

Another method of establishing consistency is visually. You begin working with the company’s logo, keeping it absolutely consistent across all platforms. But it is also important to design a secondary logo that will fit within the square profile image space alloted by social media platforms. The second logo has to be a visual continuation of the first.

When interacting with potential customers online, you need to be keeping a consistent voice as well. Many companies have multiple people handling their social media accounts, but their voice needs to match the voice of the company. To do this, define your tone by finding one that matches your brand image. Law firms should maintain a serious and formal tone, while a record store, for instance, has more liberty to be less formal and maybe opinionistic.

By creating a consistent image all across the web, you can begin to cultivate the type of branding that huge corportations spend millions on every year. It is as simple as keeping everything focused in the same direction, and sending the same message.