I was a guest on a virtual platform for entrepreneurs recently to talk about leveraging social media to gain visibility for brands. I approached the topic based on practical experience with what has worked for me so far. In this age of information overload, getting your target customers attention requires skill, dedication, and some money. I presented the visibility strategy in ten simple steps, highlighted as follows,
Before you jump on the social media train, stop and ask yourself what you are trying to achieve. Why exactly are you getting on the train? Do you want to sell a product or a service? Do you want to sell an idea? Do you want to project a cause through your personality?
All these reasons are valid, but you need to define your why properly and work out a plan on how to communicate this. Will you want to be known as “Sade the branding expert” or “Nonso the photographer” or “Bunmi the exotic fashion stylist”? All of these go a long way in helping you plan your strategy as you take on social media.
Defining this also helps you decide whom to follow and engage in the early stages of your foray into the social media world.
The reason why a lot of people fail even before they launch on social media is that they don’t have an identity that is theirs. One thing I have observed and often tell people is that social media is an extension of you; it’s only a matter of time before the real you shows up. It becomes increasingly difficult to sustain a fake Identity because people see through “BS”.
Authenticity helps you attract your tribe. Your tribe is more likely to stay loyal to you. Not everybody needs to like you on social media, accept that and focus on the ones that your message is for, those who need what you offer, those whose pain points you understand. Quality trumps quantity every time, so focus on building a following of people who are actually interested in what you offer. A thousand followers who are interested in what you offer is far better than a hundred thousand followers that have no interest in your offer
Just as the title suggests, it is important to secure your brand name across the main social media platforms. This is important for consistency and to minimize the risk of identity theft. I understand that it’s hard enough managing one platform for most of us; there are ways around it. Link some of the platforms like Instagram, facebook, and twitter. You can be lean on the others, but ensure that your brand name is secure on them.
Once your brand name is secure across the key social media platforms, make use of the Bio Section and do justice to it! Before I follow page on social media, I want to know what they are about, what their values are and if I have anything to benefit from their platform.
Don’t leave your Bio section blank; it’s your chance to make the first impression. The image in your profile display too should be well thought out. A sharp, clean and clear image that shows your brand means business and says something about what you are about should be on display when people visit your page for the first time.
Now, branding is a broad term and that is not what this post is about, but let me use the term visual branding loosely to describe how you present information and content generally on your platforms.
You want to be consistent in all you do. You also want your content to be visually appealing, memorable and recognizable – hey! It’s a competition for attention. Make every single thing you put out count. Put in the effort to brand your images (be subtle).
Consistency is one of the key things to note when trying to get the attention of your customers. There’s so much going on online that people only remember your brand when you put it in their faces consistently. Why do you think a giant like Coca-Cola still spends money on advertising? It’s because they know that people forget you easily. The moment you are out of the people’s faces they move on to the next best thing.
Post and be present, don’t just post and disappear. Be there to respond to inquiries and comments on your content within reasonable timing. Don’t just come post and go off for a week only to come back to unanswered questions and requests.
Engagement is the new order of the day. Even big established brands now use social media to engage directly with their customers. It’s not just about the engagement that happens on the shop floor, you have to be available online to respond to your customers who can’t reach you otherwise. Social media helps put your brand directly in touch with your customers and if you don’t engage them, another brand will.
As a new brand on social media, we can be under the pressure to be all about selling! Bombarding followers with pictures of our products and talking about our services all day every day! This approach puts people off and over time they tune off and stop listening to you.
Focus on the problem your brand solves and tell stories around that. Share stories about how your followers will benefit from your product or service. Tell stories that will appeal to their emotional side and drive them to take action.
Your main aim should be to provide value to your audience, something that makes them keep coming back for more.
We can’t ignore the fact that certain people command a lot of respect online and drive engagement that moves people to take action. Find the influencers in your industry or genre and engage them.
An endorsement by an influencer goes a long way in giving your brand credibility. The question most people ask is how do I get their attention. One of the most obvious ways is to offer money, but where money is not a motivation or where you do not have a lot of money, you can offer a value exchange.
Be sincere when you reach out to them, don’t flatter and don’t be forceful. Most influencers are extremely busy and you have a small window to get their attention and make an impression. What do you have that might be of value to them? Think deeply about it and offer it.
Finally, spend that money! There is the place of organic growth, but it gets to a point where you cannot grow further unless you put in some money on advertising. Amplify your content and messages to expand your reach. Set a budget for advertising and spend it.