How to Social Network for Self-branding
In today’s culture famous personalities exist in all manner of incarnations, largely thanks to social networks. From artists to musicians and politicians to PR people pushing their various interests, people are using social media to promote and create their own personal ‘brands’. By using this new marketing forum people are able to connect with a young adult demographic, who help to influence current trends and ultimately represent the future of society.
So, whether you’re representing yourself, your business or an organisation, how can you use the likes of Facebook and Twitter to get your message out there? A good place to start is answering the following three questions:
1) Who are you?
2) Who do you want to reach?
3) How are you going to keep their interest?
We look at each of these in turn…
Who are you?
If people don’t either a) already know or b) can’t find out about you then your social media strategy is never going to get off the ground. Make sure you’ve covered all the big networks including:
Each of these profiles will come with a public URL, which will be instantly accessible to anyone who wants to find out more about you. Once you’ve created your profiles you’ll need to populate them with your basic information and customise their appearance. The level of customisation will differ from one site to the next.
If you’re representing a company make sure the aesthetics – including background, icons and profile picture – tie in with the look of your company. If you’re using social networking as an individual your options will be greater, but you’re still a brand in essence, so make sure any touch points you have with your ‘audience’ fit with your persona.
Who do you want to reach?
Networking is key to any successful online social profile. If you don’t manage to connect with other users then adding updates to a social media hub is the online equivalent of muttering to yourself. Sending messages, adding others as ‘friends’ and leaving comments on their profiles is key to this.
Starting relevant interest groups and inviting people to join them is a great, pro-active technique.
Taking an active role in forums relevant to your brand can also be one way of becoming part of an online community and reaching people on an individual level. A word of warning though, don’t expect to get instant approval and warmth from a forum after a post or two. Forums tend to be tight-knit places, wary of scammers and fly-by-night marketers. Becoming one of them will involve playing the long game.
Competitions, interaction and live chats are all ways big brands have used social networking to make new connections.
Specifically, when it comes to Twitter you can use the search functionality to find people Tweeting about topics relevant to you and your brand. You can then follow them in the hope they’ll follow you in return. Hey presto – you have yourself an individual to communicate with, who you know has relevant interests. Every marketers dream.
How are you going to keep their interest?
Once you have people following you or registered as ‘friends’ the trick is to keep them that way. To do this you’ll need to walk the fine line between reminders that you exist and harassment-related overkill. Every update you make about you and your brand needs to be generally interesting – to more people than just you – and not simple pedalling.
The content you include and disseminate via your various profiles will differ depending on your motivation. Politicians may choose to share updates about public appearances and policy, while TV chefs may wax lyrical about the ultimate tiramisu. The golden rule though is to keep content fresh and relevant.
Diverse content, including photos and videos will help to keep things fresh. Widgets can also help. Creating a widget related to you or your brand that captures people’s interest can mean others will do your promo work for you; as they place your widget on their profile. If you decide to go down this path remember to include a link from the widget back to your site or profile, to maximise the traffic it can deliver.
Finally, remember that with social networking the key isn’t necessarily the size of your network but their level of engagement. Having a handful of very interested individuals, who will advocate you or your brand, can be a great core from which to build a larger following. Put simply, quality is a great basis from which to build quantity.