The world of business can be quite intimidating, especially for first-timers. It’s no big surprise that it’s challenging for those who are just starting out to become really successful right out of the gate.
After all, they’re competing against tons of other entrepreneurs who just happened to get there first.
Naturally, these businesses need to set themselves apart from the competition. That’s why we have what we call personal branding — it’s essentially what makes you, well, you. It’s creating an image of yourself that you want others to see and think about when they look at you or hear your name. Take care of your personal brand, and people will be much more likely to trust you, or at the very least listen to what you have to say.
There are many effective — albeit costly — ways for a startup brand to make itself known to its audience. Marketing and advertising play a vital role in getting the word out about a new business; however, a business at the startup stage understandably won’t have enough funds to compete with their industry’s old-timers.
Fortunately, social media has levelled the playing field when it comes to marketing. Nowadays, whether you’re a small-scale startup or a large-scale enterprise, all you really need to have are a basic knowledge of what makes social media and the internet tick, a willingness to try a new method of marketing, and the patience to wait for long-term (and definitely significant) gains.
With a decent social media presence, you can build a pool of leads and partners, become well-known for your specific niche, and be known as a trusted figure in the community.
I’ve compiled some best practices for using social media to create a positive brand image for yourself, even during your startup phase:
1. Take the plunge — but only if your target market already has.
Let’s face it: with all of the social media platforms out there, it’s hard to be everywhere at the same time. Spreading yourself too thinly won’t do your brand any good in the long run; it’s better to concentrate and focus your time and efforts on a handful of social media platforms where you are absolutely certain that you’ll find your target audience.
Find out what they’re into — their interests, their hobbies, their behaviors and their preferences — and get into that, too. If you happen to chance upon a soon-to-be-trend that hasn’t become a trend yet, go ahead and embrace it. With any luck, you might be the first brand to have recognized it, which means you will certainly attract attention from the crowd that’s right for your brand. This is something you can use to build your community of fans.
2. Don’t bother trying to be everything at once.
You’ve probably already heard the saying “jack of all trades, master of none.” Well, that’s true — while you might be able to impress a handful of people by showing them that you can do everything, your branding will suffer in the long run, for the simple reason that you’ll end up having nary a single specific thing that your potential consumers will know you for.
Develop a reputation as an expert in three fields at most, and concentrate on one “main” discipline which you will focus all your attention on growing and developing. It certainly helps to have something you’re well-known for if you want to stand out. Don’t choose to be a generalist — think about what it is you really want to do, what you would willingly do even if you didn’t get paid, and by that time, you would have already found where you truly belong.
3. Have a consistent look and feel for your social media pages.
Part of the point of branding is in recognizability, and what better way is there to be recognizable to your fans than to establish a signature design for all of your social media pages, original content, and publicity materials?
On Instagram, for example, you can use a specific, consistent filter for all your pictures; on Twitter, you can come up with a hashtag that only you or your company will use.Hire someone to design a professional-looking logo for you, and work on making sure that your creative output, no matter how eye-catching, still remains aligned with your company’s intended guidelines.
4. Manage your level of social media activity.
Now that the world is aware of your existence, it’s time for you to mingle! Be active on social media — answer questions, commend fellow users for a job well done, sit back and tell them about your day, and other social media management things.Use a scheduling tool for your social media posts to make your lives a lot easier. If you’re still not sure about how often you should post updates in a day depending on social media platform, these figures should be helpful.
- Post on Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook 5 times per day.
- Post on Google+ 2 times per day.
- Post on LinkedIn and Instagram once a day.
5. Provide content that’s worth anticipating and coming back for.
Visual content is great too, as it has been proven that online articles with images are nearly a hundred percent more likely to be viewed than an all-text update. If it helps, think of social media for your brand as a nice pizza and your content as the toppings.
Social media platforms are arguably your greatest assets in establishing your brand and imprinting it in the consciousness of a lot of potential buyers. No matter which social media platform you’re on, it’s still a handy tool for your marketing strategy.
Liz Azyan is interested in the ways new kinds of social data and technology introduce challenges and opportunities to society. Get involved with Liz’s latest project here.