I have written many blogs over the years on branding, personal brand, messaging, and best practices for social media. However, as good as I am at giving advice and instruction to others, I am not as good at applying it to myself. This summer I took a deep dive into social media and personal branding to see what I could do for my business(es). This is what I learned.
1. We are in a marathon, not a sprint. I have been saying this for years and yet people come to me and want to build their fans and followers by the hundreds every month. It just does not work that way, especially when you are building organically.
2.“Snackable” content is not useful. Although there are companies out there selling cheap social media services based on uniform, but consistent posting, generic content is not effective. There are too many people on social these days for any of us to blend in.
3. You need a plan. Without a strategy and a plan, your social media efforts will not get great results. You might gain some traction here and there, but it will not last and you will not grow your brand. And when you are developing your plan you need to spend the time to find…
4. Your target audience. It is of primary importance that you have a clear picture of your targets and where they are. One of the things I found for myself is that the people I want to reach are accomplished professionals. While it is fun to post animal pictures on Instagram and Facebook, that content on those platforms is not going to help me reach my goals. More focused information and insights on LinkedIn and Twitter are better options for my business.
5. The vast capabilities of the platforms. Before I started hiring people to do social, I did it on my own. The leaps and bounds that these platforms have taken since then are awesome. It literally seems like if you dream it, you can do it. Video, graphics, live tv, ads, templates, analysis—there are so many tools that can help you put together a great campaign.
6. Fear is not your friend. Entering the social media space requires a certain amount of risk-taking, especially if you are promoting your personal brand. Do you like talking about yourself? Putting yourself out there? Tooting your own horn? Well, get used to it, because that is what you will have to do. I love promoting other people and products. It is much tougher to do it for myself.
7. Eventually, we all need to pay for ads. I have been tracking my posts as well as those of some of my competitors. The engagement for business-related content seems to be consistent for most of us and it is not very impressive. My analysis suggests that it is the number of impressions we are getting or the reach of our content, that is lacking. As I said, it is very crowded out there and you need great content, but you also need to have the opportunity to be heard. Paid ads will get you greater exposure.
8. It takes a lot of time. The number of hours it takes to curate content, develop strategies, plan your calendar, schedule posts, monitor your results, shift strategies, develop new plans, and repeat, is significant. I really underestimated what it takes to do a thorough job, and I know there is still more to do. Unless your brand and business are dependent upon the success of social media marketing, you may choose to scale your work accordingly.