Whether you’re starting out, building a brand mid-career, or looking to up your game as an expert, entrepreneur – hey, even a bon vivant wanting to build an international following, you need to get noticed and build visibility.
It doesn’t matter what your business is. The end goal is to showcase your personal and professional brand in a way that tells the world who you are, what you have to say, and how you can help others. You might want to influence prospects to buy, encourage fans to attend an event, inspire webinar attendees to learn more, or fill a sales funnel so people can work with you.
When you get down to basics, you are a brand, and a brand is how you make someone feel. Sure, you might have a logo and graphics which is part of your brand-ing, but how you represent yourself and your business matters, especially in a digitally driven world. If your brand is tired, old, and outdated, you may lose out to the competition, even if you’re more qualified.
Social PR is an extension of social branding, and the two go hand in hand. Creating an authentic online personality – the ‘you’ that others want to know and learn more about – builds your like, know, trust, and believe factor on social media platforms and your own media channels. It’s an online cocktail party of sorts – networking, engaging, and finding out who’s worth spending time with.
Three Elements of a Social Brand
Social branding is about using your story, voice, and look to target a specific audience, share your message, and build like, know, trust, and believability to influence people to take action. So when someone checks you out online, he or she wants to make sure you’re the real deal. Do you look and act and sound like your social media profiles, posts, stories, videos? Do you live your brand?
If you use these guidelines in the online world, they’re easy to cross over in real life. Person to person, conference to conference, wherever you go. You are your brand 24/7 whether you’re at a networking meeting, a volunteer event, or at the grocery store. Be who you say you are and attract PWLY (people who love you).
Your social brand and all of the platforms you’re using to communicate tells your target market – and the world — who you are, what you do, and how you can help them. So your social brand must be determined first, before you create a Social PR strategy.
Your Story, Your Voice, Your Look.
What story do you tell? What’s your voice? Not the one talking to your dog and wishing him goodnight, but the voice that’s clearly the expert in your industry. Are you calming, encouraging, or bold? And your look? Whether you’re a company with a branded identity or have carefully crafted an online personality, you have a look and feel. That needs to be consistent across all platforms, too.
Social branding and an online PR strategy don’t have to be complicated. Start with clarity. A confused buyer never buys. Go back to the basics. Who are you? Who would you like to get in front of? What are your goals? And, two questions never to be overlooked: What’s important and why?
Simple Social Branding and PR Tips to Live By
- Become a credible resource.
You have one brand to protect and cherish, and that’s your own. Being trustworthy and providing valuable information, isn’t just a good thing to do, it’s good business. Get out of the WIFM mindset and shift to WIFT (what’s in it for them). Take time to connect and share your insights as you build your expert brand. Experts give, that’s one of the ways they build a tribe. Answer questions. Be of service. Although AI is a huge marketing trend, we still do business with humans.
- Don’t underestimate your value.
Sometimes you recognize your value because it’s been drilled into your head at B-School. For others, there might be a question of your own value because of past stories you were told and believed (which, by the way, aren’t true). As an expert, you’ve earned value because you provide the value. Maybe you forgot. Author Malcolm Gladwell talks about the 10,000-hour rule to achieve mastery. Whether you buy into that theory or not, you have to know your value. I’m here to tell you it’s an inside job. Flip the switch to turn it on.
- Create a strong personal platform.
Your platform is as strong as your personal connections — online and offline. On the real life side, you have colleagues, competitors, networking groups, Meetups, referral partners, vendors, prospects, customers, and the list goes on. Online platforms are just as varied: LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube to name a few — plus, target groups and a ton of apps that make connecting easy. A personal platform is as strong as you’re willing to make it. Put the effort in to make your foundation solid.
- Google yourself often.
When was the last time you Googled yourself? Make it easy by setting up Google Alerts for your name, company name and any common misspellings. As a brand, you definitely want to know what’s being said about you. Recent stats show that over 57% of reviews worldwide are posted on Google, and 72% of customers won’t take action until they read or hear feedback from another customer. So if you own a business, make it a priority to apply for a Google My Business account. You can use it as a free publicity tool to post content, FAQ’s, videos, and more. Take control of your Google results.
- Find your authentic voice
Have you ever had anyone ghost write for you, and when you looked at the email, blog, or social media post you said, “Wow, that’s not me.” One of the secrets to copywriting is to sound like you’re talking to one person, as if you were having a conversation. If you’re a professor, write like you speak. A literary agent, lawyer, fitness expert, health care professional? Speak and write in your language — one you’re comfortable with, and one that your target audience will pay attention to and follow — because you have something worthwhile to say.
- Look at life through your brand lens
Spend the time considering how your audience is viewing you and your brand from the outside in. Every time you share a link, write a blog, and interact with your following, ask yourself, “Is this on brand? Is this really me? Is this the image I want to portray?” It’s so easy to get lost in the humdrum of pushing out content or being caught up in the moment that you forget your purpose, your goals and who you really are. Social PR campaigns, content marketing, even responses to others should be part of an overall strategy to connect 1-2-1, even if it’s a platform that’s worldwide.
- If you don’t toot your own horn, no one will hear the music.
No one else in the world is going to advocate for you and your success the way you will, unless you’re a shrinking Violet, in which case, that’s got to change! If you achieve something you’re proud of, share it with your audience, even if it’s something as simple as getting recognized for your volunteer efforts, hitting 1000 Instagram followers or better yet, being published in USA Today, which deserves a virtual high five! Post it, share it, and engage with your friends, family and biggest fans. They’ll probably hit the “share” button, expanding your reach, helping to grow your audience, which will naturally increase your LKTB factor.
- Give followers a ROI
Your followers aren’t going to keep listening to you if you aren’t providing anything valuable. They’ve invested their social equity in you, so give them something in return — tips, interesting content, a new perspective, something to laugh about. Most importantly, be consistent in both who you are and what you’re sharing. Letting people get to know you (your brand) leads to them to be more interested in who you are and what you do. Plus, if you’re a resource, answering questions and delivering value, you’re well on your way to growing that following.
- Show gratitude
We all start somewhere and build our way up. Being grateful connects you with others on a core level. When you achieve a benchmark in your career or business, thank your followers — for helping you get there, for giving you reach, for encouraging you when times were low. Show your gratitude with some *exclusive* content — a new checklist you just created, a discount code to use on your website, or a sneak peek at your new book that’s about to come out. Share the love. Giving without expectation is an attractive quality, and creates positive PR and karma.
- Hop on the brandwagon
I’m not just talking about Chris Savage’s viral marketing “talk show.” Follow other gurus who know all about branding. Marketing, social branding and PR changes daily. What works this week, may not work next week. There’s so much to keep up with about personalization, trends in video, Facebook’s algorithm, likes, followers — it’s exhausting! As a small business owner, no one expects you to know everything, but it’s in your best interest to learn as much as you can from marketing experts you like who speak your language and have walked the talk. Take the shortcut and follow them to find out what social PR strategies are best for you and why.
Own your expertise. Be your brand 24/7.
Remember that you’re the expert. Share your knowledge. Don’t be afraid to promote your brand and live it with confidence. Be strategic when you put yourself in situations, publications, blogs, videos and when you write guest posts, get on stage, write books, or publish content on Alexa.
Think about everything from demeanor to reputation to your wardrobe. Be the leader, the influencer (nano or otherwise) and always ask yourself does this action, conversation, blue blazer or pair of leopard shoes align with my brand? Images on social media don’t die, so keep in mind the ‘grandmother rule.’ What would my grandmother (nana, yiayia, mimi) say if she saw this? Depending on her point of reference, she might LOVE it!
Don’t forget all of this comes back to your story, your voice and your look. Social branding and PR should just be an extension of who you are professionally IRL. Be authentic, share your wealth of knowledge, and always keep your brand image in mind as you build your business and influence your audience. Soon you’ll be increasing reach and building your LKTB factor like never before.
Robin Samora is a marketing and PR expert, and speaker from Boston, MA. She travels the world teaching small business owners how to rev up their brand online and offline to attract new clients, connect with customers, get media exposure, and increase sales.
Using a variety of marketing strategies, Robin helps professionals and entrepreneurs stand out, gain credibility, and bring in the business they deserve. Her blog, Robin’s Rainmakers, was recently featured as one of the Top 40 Small Business Marketing Blogs of 2019.
One of her newest and most exciting projects is Fast Marketing Minute, a daily marketing show and podcast on Alexa, Amazon’s cloud-based voice service. Sign up here to get bite-sized marketing and PR tips on how to grow your business and brand.
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