One of the biggest issues I hear from bloggers and content creators is how to create an effective social media brand strategy. They want to know how they can build an authentic brand, and grow their Instagram following. With all the new changes and algorithms, it’s important now more than ever to have a clear and focused brand. Why? Because there's no guarantee that your audience will see your content when you share it (yes, even if they’re following you). Instagram will simply only share posts on your feed that it believes you care about or is actually relevant to you.
So if your audience isn’t connecting with your brand, they probably won’t engage with your content either. And if they aren’t engaging with your content, Instagram will assume they believe it’s irrelevant and won’t share it on their feed. And if that happens, well, I think you get where I’m going with this. But of course there’s a way around that, that doesn’t involve launching a grenade of hashtags, and joining multiple comment pods (which are both fine). But those, of course, can be quite overwhelming. So if you truly want to build engagement and organically connect with your audience, here are 7 branding mistakes to avoid on social media.
1. Trying to Be Everything, For Everyone
Your goal as a blogger is not to reach EVERYONE (yes, it sucks to know not everybody will like you). In fact, I’ve found that you reach a lot more people when you talk about a lot less things. So trying to please every type of person that visits your page in hopes that you will reach more people or grow a bigger following, is actually counterproductive. Instead, what you're REALLY showing people is that you're not trying hard enough to connect with your "true audience." This is why having a clear focus for your brand is important.
Focusing your content on a specific target audience helps you attract the right kind of people who want to learn from you, and they often times stick with you.
So don’t drive away your true audience by addressing things they don’t care about with unrelated or off-brand content. Your posts shouldn't be so broad and ambiguous that it applies to everyone. Remember who your avatar is, and create work that caters specifically to that person. And yes, that sometimes mean fewer subscribers, followers, readers etc. But that’s okay. Because when you remain consistent in doing so, not only will you grow rapidly, you'll be growing in the right direction.
2. Always Saying Yes
I know as content creators it's easy to be seduced by the allure of paid sponsorships, free products, trips etc. (which are not at all a bad thing). But the biggest disservice you can do to your brand is saying yes to everything. It not only shows that you’re not clear on your brand’s focus, but it also confuses your audience as to what you really stand for and they may lose confidence in you.
For example, if you've built a community around wedding photography, and suddenly share a sponsored post of sweat waist belts to wear on your next work out. Your audience will more than likely overlook that post and maybe write it off as an anomaly (unless of course, you can find a way to tie it back to your brand). But if it happens often, they may just turn away for good.
So when you're clear on your vision, you become more decisive of what you say 'yes' to and don’t take on projects simply because they are available. If the product, brand, or platform you’re promoting doesn’t fall in line with your brand's message, then simply say no. And if doesn't solve YOUR audience's problems or pain points, then again so no. This is why it’s important to set a clear focus for your brand earlier on. Why? Because when you know what you really want, you'll be willing to pass up on even 'good' opportunities when they distract you from your overall goals.
3. Sharing Completely Unrelated Content
When you’re creating a brand, you’re telling a story. And although your posts don’t always have to have a single theme (all food, all beauty, all fashion etc.), they should flow organically and tie back to your brand’s story.
For instance, imagine if you’re watching The Lion King and a random clip from Game of Thrones pop up? Weird right?
Yeah. That’s precisely what happens when you post content completely unrelated to your brand. So if you’re a food blogger who shares bright and airy photos of warm holiday dishes, then you’re probably not going to post a dark grungy photo of you at the Celtics game last night. I’m a huge Celtics fan, but again, if it doesn’t fit in with your brand story, then don’t share it.
Now, this doesn’t mean you have to post about ONE thing, ALL of the time. Because your brand isn’t just about what you do, but who you are. People are interested in seeing your journey, and the behind-the-scenes of the cute and quirky things that make you unique. Even if it has nothing to do with your work! I mean sure we get you’re a beauty influencer, but showing us that you eat sleep and breath all things beauty is kind of, well, boring. And no one loves that. Which brings me to my next point.
4. Hiding Behind Your Work
It’s so easy for us to hide behind our work. We want to have this abstract image of perfection in hopes that people will take us more seriously and buy into our brand. But here’s the thing, you don’t have a brand, you ARE a brand. And that is what people buy in to. Not just your work life, but your real life. Branding is not about marketing products and shoving your ideas down people’s throats. It’s about building real organic connections. And it’s hard for people to connect with you if they don’t even know you.
Sure you are a great photographer, but so are millions of other photographers out there in the world. Your audience may come to your Instagram because of your content, but they often times stay because of YOU. They want to know your likes and dislikes, and all the fun things that make you unique!
Now sharing your behind the scenes isn’t to be confused with unrelated content. This is why it’s important that the things you do post remain a reoccurring theme in your story so people tie it back to you, and not mark it off as a random filler content.
So if you’re a fashion blogger who loves avocado, be a fashion blogger that loves avocado! Make it a part of your story so people get that avocados aren't just random (even it seems like it), but part of what makes you, well, you. Sure at first glance they may seem like two totally unrelated things. But part of branding is being a great storyteller. And sooner or later when people are walking down the avocado aisle at whole foods they’re not thinking 'oh nice fruit.' They’re thinking oh * insert your name here* Get it? ok
5. Having Private Accounts
Private accounts are one of my biggest pet peeves with content creators looking to share their work or promote their brand. I’ve come across several instances where brands reach out to me to collaborate, and their page is private. I mean why share valuable content, when no one can even access it?
If there are certain parts of your life that you prefer to keep private, then do just that. Keep it private. As in, don’t share it on social media at all. But don’t use that as an excuse to run a private account when your goal is to build an engaging community and grow your audience. People like to get a feel of who you are, what kind of content you create, and how you can add value to their lives before they decide they want to follow you ( let along engage with your content). And having a private account doesn’t assist in that journey at all.
So if you’re a "private accounter,” do yourself a favor and switch that pretty little button to public!
6. Not Establishing Best Practices
Okay. So what in the world are "best practices?”
The technical version? It’s your brand’s framework for a variety of situations that dictate the recommended course of action. In layman terms, it’s how you do you.
I know. I know. You’re probably thinking, it’s just social media, I got this. Well, the thing is, unless you have a concrete plan set in place, you really don’t.
Ever heard of internet trolls? Yeah, it’s practically a full-time job these days. So unless you have a clear line of action of how to deal with negative comments, you’ll probably find yourself lashing out at some random person online. For them, it’s just another day’s work. For you, it’s a PR nightmare. You know the saying you never get a second chance to make a first impression? Well, imagine if your potential follower’s first impression of you, is you engaging in an online mortal combat with some random person when your brand allegedly speaks peace, love, and self-awareness. Get my drift?
Now best practices aren’t just about dealing with conflict, but how you approach all aspects of your brand. Because how you do anything, is how you do everything. So it’s important to have a written vision you want your brand to reflect to others. Because people connect with your brand when they find themselves aligned with your vision. So never mind if your content doesn’t show up on their feed. They’ll make it their business to look for you!
7. Playing The Comparison Game
This is probably a no-brainer. But since it’s such a reoccurring theme in the “bloggersphere” I’ll reiterate it for nostalgia’s sake.
Don’t compare yourself to other people.
Don’t compare yourself to other people.
Don’t compare yourself to other people.
There is no clear way to success, but the quickest way to failure (in any line of work), is constantly comparing yourself to others. It’s okay to draw inspiration for other people every now and again. But if you get sucked into everyone else’s journey, you’ll find your brand and vision shifting right along with every trend you’re following.
Part of building an authentic brand is highlighting the things that make you, you. And using those things to your leverage. If your brand’s aesthetic, voice, style, and content looks and feels exactly like everyone else’s, then people will have no reason or incentive to follow you and join your community. So don’t try so hard to be different. And don’t measure your brand’s success based on somebody else’s journey. The right kind of people will find you, and if you avoid these mistakes, more than likely, they’ll stick with you.
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