How to Brand Yourself in the Age of Social Media
One of the most important aspects of being a business owner in today’s world is branding yourself and your business online, specifically on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. This isn’t an aspect that you can ignore; it’s an integral part of getting your message out to the world and ensuring that people keep coming back to you over time, even when you have competitors nipping at your heels. This guide will walk you through how to brand yourself in the age of social media so that you can continue to be successful as your company grows and new opportunities become available to you.
Brand yourself, not your company
The internet is a big place. No matter how big your company gets, odds are most people who come across it will still have no idea who you are. In other words, your job as a brand is not to convey what you do—it’s to get people interested enough in you and your product that they do some research on their own. To accomplish that goal, you need more than just a logo and a tagline. You need an internet presence and a social media strategy for all the platforms that matter most—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest—and whatever’s next after that.
Social media can be a powerful tool for business, but if your content varies wildly from one platform to another, it’s going to make you look inconsistent. Establishing consistency across social platforms is key. If you try something new and different on Twitter, don’t abandon that voice on Facebook and Instagram. This will help develop a consistent brand identity and an easy way for followers or potential customers to recognize you no matter where they see your name.
Invest in Quality Photos
According to Dan Schawbel, author of Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success, photos are important because they allow you to differentiate yourself from everyone else on your social media channels. In fact, Schawbel says photos are one of the top 3 most effective ways for a person or company to stand out and be remembered on Twitter, Facebook and other social networks.
So what does that mean for you? It means that you should make an effort not only upload quality images but also think about how you’re representing yourself online. Is it being done in a formal manner or is it more casual? Are there any filters used? How large are they?
Use Hashtags Effectively
Hashtags have become more than just a trend used by teens on Twitter and Instagram. They have grown into an important aspect of marketing and branding for many social media users. When utilized effectively, hashtags can increase your exposure, generate leads and build brand awareness. To brand yourself in the age of social media effectively, use hashtags that relate to you or your business.
Many popular brands include their main hashtag as part of their name. For example, including #IBM or #HP are smart ways to incorporate a recognizable hashtag into your personal branding efforts. Another way to find effective hashtags is to see what others are using -- simply look at other posts with similar content; chances are if it's working for them, it could work for you as well! Finally, make sure that when using hashtags related to your industry you're posting regularly so others will notice and click through from there profile pages!
Use Search Engine Optimization When Posting on Other Sites
The beauty of social media is that you can reach huge audiences, regardless of your following. And while reaching new audiences on other platforms may seem a bit daunting, make it easy on yourself by using SEO best practices when posting on other sites—that means using relevant keywords and having a compelling description (or headline) so people actually click through to read your content.
You’ll be happy you did when visitors land directly from an optimized post—not just because it helps with SEO but also because these social-media users may have come with their own ready-made audience! Don’t believe us? A recent study found that over 50% of users who engage with companies or brands on Twitter have followers larger than their own.
Build Credibility by Contributing to Relevant Discussions
You don’t need a massive audience, but you do need your first few followers. One way to get people following you is by contributing useful information (and links) to existing discussions on social media sites. For example, if you want people following your LinkedIn account because they're interested in health and fitness, look for discussions on LinkedIn around that topic and leave helpful comments.
Don't simply post your own links; share relevant information from other sites as well. When you consistently provide insightful commentary and engage with others, people will recognize you as an authority figure—which will prompt them to visit your profile or follow your work elsewhere. Of course, each network requires its own approach: Twitter users may prefer retweets over comments; Facebook users might like longer posts.
Track Your Posts With a Spreadsheet
If you want a transparent way to track what you’re doing and how many people are engaging with your posts, use a spreadsheet. Keep track of how much time you spend on social media each day, as well as how many followers you gain or lose over that period. This will give you a tangible idea of how effective (or ineffective) your efforts are.
Use a few different types of spreadsheets: one for Facebook, one for Twitter, etc., so that there’s less overlap in your data collection. For every platform that you choose to include, take notes on all relevant data—including when and where each post was posted—so that you can refer back if needed.
Get Customer Reviews Online
The best way for potential customers to learn about your company is through an unbiased review. Online reviews are valuable because they offer a glimpse into what others have experienced firsthand and can help inform potential clients. If you’re looking for more business, it’s time to ask your happy customers for a review.
You can easily create online surveys using something like SurveyMonkey and send them out via email or social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Even better, you can build something like Pulsate that automates everything and makes sure you get responses back! If a customer doesn’t leave a review, politely follow up with an email asking why they haven’t left one yet.
Follow People Who Will Benefit From Following You Back
Finding influencers and those who will share your content is a great way to boost brand awareness and follower growth. Spend some time looking at influencers within your niche, then follow people who are active on social media, often post relevant content and have an engaged audience. Keep track of them by using a tool like Crowdfire . For example, someone with 2,000 Twitter followers might be less interested in following back new people than someone with 50 followers - so find popular accounts that are also likely to reciprocate.