I’ve noticed that a lot of people want to jump right into social media branding when they start their business.
And it makes sense… in theory. 53% of consumers say they’re likely to buy from brands that are transparent on social. This means, the sooner you get on social, the sooner you can start selling.
But not so fast; there’s a reason that I have coaching sessions with my Stratus Branding clients before anything else. In fact, social media doesn’t even come into the picture until month two. And even then, we start by optimizing your online profiles before we jump into the actual content.
Your brand on social media should be given some serious thought. It is way too much work to go back and rebrand your entire business because you jumped into the game too early.
Instead, what you should be doing is identifying your brand (your logo, aesthetic, website, etc), generating enough content (i.e. photos) to last you a few months, and then start brainstorming your social media strategy.
How you choose to represent your brand on social media is very telling of your business. If your captions and photos are too casual, you might not be taken seriously as a professional. On the other hand, too many stock images and impersonal content can turn potential clients off because, well, they don’t know you.
Social media gives you the perfect arena to showcase yourself as a person and an expert. You want to create the right balance of professionalism and friendliness to create the ultimate like, know, and trust persona that consumers are looking for.
It’s a lot to take in all at once. That’s why I’m breaking down what social media branding is and how you should be using it to highlight your personal brand.
Social Media Branding Showcases Your Identity
So what is social media branding, exactly?
Social media is your personal piece of internet real estate that showcases you or your business’ identity. You want to create a persona through which your followers will view you.
Now, I’m not saying to fabricate a totally separate identity. There are too many “fake” people on social media as it is. That’s why it is vital that you really analyze the message and persona that you want to get across. You want to be authentic while still showcasing your professionalism and particular knowledge within your industry. You can do this by establishing your brand identity.
It’s your job (and mine) to figure out what that identity is.
Social Media Content
Until you’re in the thick of it, you won’t realize just how much content you have to publish on social media. I recommend posting once a day, which means you need at least 30 pieces of non-repetitive content to display on your platforms every month.
That’s a lot of content.
During the beginning stages of social media branding, it’s ideal to hire a photographer so that you have content on hand. Your professional profile picture also says a lot about your personal brand. That, combined with your online bio, is truly what sells viewers on your brand and entices them to hit that “Follow” button.
Your Brand Should Be Consistent
As I said, social media is ruthless in demanding consistent content.
Because of this, plenty of online professionals feel the need to produce a high quantity of content that isn’t necessarily quality content.
And this actually creates a huge problem for your personal brand.
Messy selfies, lackluster blogs, or flat-out bad advice will impact your social media brand more than you think. It takes one slip up for people not to trust you, which is why the quantity of your content should be analyzed before you publish it. Make sure your message is clear and concise, and ensure that it isn’t straying away from the image you’re establishing across social media.
Regulating Your Branded Content
Your content should also be regulated across every social platform that you are using. If you choose to be on LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube, you need to be aware of how your content is generated across all platforms.
You will want to establish a specific voice and tone in your social media branding. Is your best personal trait your sassy attitude? Or do you take more of a casual, yet professional tone? Whatever it is about your personality that sets you apart, make sure that is presented regularly across your platforms.
Likewise, your brand should represent the same logo and overall aesthetic on your social media channels. You can use presets for your photos (if that’s your preference) and determine the main fonts and colors that you will use across your social media platforms. You want to strive to use the same name on each platform as well so that your loyal followers can find you on their preferred app without any confusion.
Perhaps the most important aspect when it comes to consistency is act of actually showing up for your audience. This is detrimental whether you are a professional looking for leads or you are a company selling products.
I know this can seem like a lot— especially since the expectation is to post quality photos daily. But that’s why companies like mine exist. Social media users are hungry for content, and if you disappear for a week or two, they will be on to the next company or influencer who is continuously establishing themselves on social media. My job is to help people get out of that hole and help them come up with content that is quality, on-brand, and consistent.
Know Your Audience
It’s not uncommon to rework your content strategy after a few months. In fact, you should. There is a plethora of competition out there, and if you’re just spewing out the same tactics or lifestyle photos as the next influencer, it can be hard to stand out.
That’s why such an integral part of social media branding is getting to know your audience. If you can establish a loyal following, your personal brand is guaranteed to skyrocket. That’s also why engagement strategies are imperative to a successful social media account.
If you are striving for better content (and content that your audience actually needs) then people are more likely to give you their attention. You need to take the time to engage with your audience on a regular basis. This is the only way you are going to learn what they want so that you can revolutionize your content for an even better return on investment.
How To Target Your Audience
One way you can do this is to target specific hashtags. For example, I love helping real estate agents with their personal brand. So I take time every day to engage with those types of profiles so that I can see the content they produce and the content that performs well.
And once you’re “in” those hashtag groups, you can start writing blogs, captions, and other useful advice that your audience will be interested in. Eventually, those people will start coming to you for input because you’re starting to establish your expertise through your social media brand.
Being active on social media also gives you the unique opportunity to establish customer service in real-time. If you can answer a question (whether it’s through comments or DMs) about a particular product or service within 24 hours, I guarantee that your audience is going to remember your quick care and service.
Elevate Your Content Strategy
When it’s all said and done, social media branding depends heavily on your content strategy.
As I said, there will come a time when you need to elevate your content. For your Personal Brand Foundation, I’ll give you a 30-day Social Media Content Calendar Template to get you started. However, you don’t want your social media growth to become stagnant by producing the same content over and over again. If this happens, you’ll want a personal branding expert by your side to help you come up with new content ideas.
One concept I like to recommend is incorporating your personal brand into your Instagram stories. For example, you can create templates to use as “filler” story content that stays true to your color scheme and overall aesthetic. Fashion influencer, Jen Griswold, is a fantastic example of this. She uses a few warm templates to showcase her “Try-On” wardrobe in her story highlights. She uses these templates in moderation (which is ideal) but it helps brand her as a professional because her social strategy is consistent, and now, it’s branded.
Another bit of content that is helping personal brands take off is videos. They’re engaging and they help consumers get a real feel of your own personality or products you might be selling. Just take a look at some of these statistics from Biteable:
- Viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video
- 6 out of 10 people would rather watch online videos than television.
- By 2022, online videos will make up more than 82% of all consumer internet traffic
In short, video will need to be a part of your social media branding at some point. Whether that’s through Facebook, YouTube, IGTV, or all of the above will be up to you!
How To Use Social Media for Your Personal Brand
There are so many social media platforms these days that it can be hard to determine which ones are best for your particular brand.
Each platform has its own special uses, but it’s not imperative that you utilize all of them. So, I’m going to give you some insight into what each social media platform has to offer to help give you an idea of where you want to launch your social media branding strategies.
Facebook tends to get a bad rep in that it’s only used by the older crowd. In my last blog, I mention that the current analytics show that Facebook’s demographic is primarily 25 to 34-year-olds.
Essentially this means that Facebook is a great tool to appeal to mass audiences. Pretty much everyone has a personal Facebook page and incorporating your social media brand into select groups is an easy way to find your target audience.
If your content plan involves blogs, videos, and photos, Facebook is going to be a great place to expand your local expertise.
Twitter is the place to be if you like to share your stream of consciousness. And if your brand is heavily influenced by the here and now, you need to be on Twitter.
This social media platform is where trending or breaking news lives. If you can get in on the action, Twitter is your go-to social platform. It’s also a really great place to interact with others in your niche if you want to build personal relationships within your industry.
Instagram is by and large the most popular social media platform today. While it’s heavily reliant on “pretty” pictures and aesthetic, Instagram has branched out. They now provide a variety of tools for your social media branding strategy.
IG Stories help your audience get a “day in the life of” your personal brand. Once you get to 10K followers, you can even easily redirect them to other platforms, such as your website. This is great if you’re trying to build website traffic, sell products, or encourage your audience to buy tickets to your next speaking event.
LinkedIn is the social media platform for professionals. It’s much more useful than say, Twitter, if you are in the business to business market.
What you don’t want to do is treat LinkedIn in the same way you would these other social platforms.
While the landscape here is changing, LinkedIn is better suited for those who want to establish a professional presence within their industry. LinkedIn is also ideal if you have blogs or video content that you want to share with other professionals who may benefit from your expertise.