How to Establish An Engaging Online Presence
By. Jeanelle Johnson, Communication & Social Media Strategist
We’ve all experienced the impact of a strong brand…
➢ They’re grrrrreat!
➢ I’m Lovin it!
➢ Have it Your Way
➢ Eat Fresh
➢ Taste the Rainbow
Without even mentioning the brands tied to these slogans, it would be safe to assume that you’re probably thinking about food right now. Therein lies the power of a strong brand. If you’re looking to market your own product or service, it is essential to establish a strong brand of your own.
In this digital age where most questions can be answered with a quick google search, developing a strong online brand is an easily-accessible and cost-effective place to start.
Social Media provides a unique opportunity for you to market yourself and your brand. All you need is a username and password and you can start posting content to whatever social media platform you choose. With the right research and understanding of social media algorithms, you have the opportunity to access a large audience. That being said…so does everyone else.
According to a global social media analysis captured by Kepios, there are 4.74 billion social media users as of October 2022, making up 59.3% of the global population. Additionally, platforms like Facebook (2.934), YouTube (2.515), Instagram (1.386) and Tiktok (1.000) lead the pack with more than one billion monthly users each.
To put that into perspective, if you’re looking to create content on any of these platforms, how do you make yourself stand out amongst the billions of others doing the same?
As a personal brand, how do you fight through the noise to reach your audiences? How do you make your skills or services pop? The key is in the branding.
Here are a few things to consider when establishing your personal brand:
1. Find your focus
To market your brand effectively, you must first decide on a key message and stick to it. The more specific you are the better. For example, if you helped tutor high school kids in math, qualifying yourself as “a tutor” or “a high school math tutor specializing in algebra I and II, geometry and pre-calculus” are both acceptable descriptions, but the latter saves you time having to field inquiries about english, history and science. Remember, the goal isn’t to reach the largest audience possible, but to find your optimal audience.
2. Be authentic
An easy way to get lost in the sauce is to create marketing based on what others are doing. Audiences can tell when you are not being genuine, and getting fed the same form of content can be tedious. Instead of copying the trend, find your own unique angle to better engage your audience. The best way to find a fresh perspective is to lean into what makes ‘you’… you.
Finding your angle also helps establish you as a thought leader in respect to your product or service as you can provide specific knowledge and insight to your audiences.
3. Tell your story
When building your online personal brand, the story you tell may prove most important. It’s not enough to just plug your product or service. If you want to reach your optimal audience, you need to tell the why.
A great place to tell your story is through your website.
Your website helps convey the most essential things about you and your brand to your audiences. Who are you? What product or service are you providing? Why do you do what you do? What makes you unique? It also serves as a home base for all of your digital branding efforts (e.g., digital ads, social media).
For example, say you are a pastry chef. Posting pictures every day of the pastries you have for sale may get a few likes from your audience. However, telling the story of your day-to-day process of making your pastries is far more engaging content, and is more likely to result in an order on the website. Use your story to start the conversation that will lead to your desired result.
4. Be consistent
Consistency is key to building and maintaining an audience online. Figure out a schedule for when you plan to post your content and follow through with it. Make sure to be honest with yourself about what is feasible for you. It’s better to post 3 to 4 times a week on Instagram — and do it consistently — than to post multiple times a day for a few days, disappear off the face of the planet for a week, and then pop up again randomly.
Just the same, if you plan to post a new blog to your website each month, try to keep it consistent to the same day/week each month. If you plan to post a video to YouTube each week, pick a day and promote it. For example… “New videos, Sunday @ 3p.m.”
Whatever you decide, you want your audience to know when to expect your content as that increases the likeliness of consistent views. To optimize your time, there are great tools available online to help you plan and schedule content in advance such as Buffer, which allows you to manage up to three social media channels for free.
5. Embrace Failure
Failure is an essential part of growth. We learn valuable information through trial and error. So don’t be afraid to try new things. Keep in mind social media is an ever-evolving entity; the algorithms are constantly changing. What works today may not work tomorrow, so be flexible.
6. Have Fun
Managing your online presence can sometimes feel like a chore. As best you can, try to find ways to keep your content interesting; not just for your audience, but for you. Be creative. The more excited you are about the content, the more enjoyable it will be for your audience.
Remember, a strong brand doesn’t develop overnight. Be patient with yourself and trust the process. As Steve Forbes once said, “Your brand is the single most important investment you can make in your business” so embrace the journey, determine your why and get started!