Brand trust — in everything from e-commerce brands to brick and mortar stores to editorial brands — is gone. Consumers — that is people who buy, click, visit, read and share — are more skeptical than ever. This is a problem ALL brands, businesses and individuals who share content on the many digital platforms face — and yet, it seems like we’re doing nothing to combat it. There are many, many things that can be done but the most important thing YOU can do? Be transparent with your audience every step of the way.
Editorial brands like The New York Times have spent decades refining their reputation. Television news brands, like CNN, ABC, NBC, etc. have done the same. And now? Now we have a generation of consumers — in all age groups and all phases of life — who are skeptical of everything they see, read, share and hear.
Where does that leave us?
These digital tools — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and more — are platforms meant to bring communities together. Like the meeting houses, bonfires and great halls, these platforms have become a place to buy, trade, sell and share.
And as trust in the information presented decreases?
Well, it stands that trust in brands trying to sell in the same arena would also decrease.
And you don’t have to take my word for it — Buzz Sumo recently analyzed over 880 million (yes, with an m) Facebook posts from brands and publishers and engagement is down by 20% — regardless of spending which, for many of these individual entities, increased dramatically over the same period.
As an individual, you may have noticed a downward trend too — and that makes sense because as the algorithm struggles to learn new ways of verifying real vs fake content, individuals and business pages, it puts a clamp on all information.
Organic reach still exists — if you have the right content strategy in place, you should be able to see an increase in reach with a few well-placed tweaks — but it is not the same as it was.
So what are online entrepreneurs to do?
Transparency is your friend
Sharing your success stories, case studies and launch stories is bread and butter of digital brand marketing when it comes to online personalities. The true key here? Is to break it down! Tell your audience how much you spent on Facebook ads, how much you spent with affiliates, where you placed your content and how much time you spent training your audience to be primed for purchase. Share your missteps (because nothing is truly a failure) as lessons learned to move forward.
Be the expert, own your space
Experts are a dime a dozen — but YOU have a unique spin for YOUR zones of genius and excellence. YOU get to decide what content you share and how your audience consumes it. And you get to shine in the darkness of unreliable content (otherwise known as fake news) by providing statistics, data and verified sources. You are a content creator 5% (or less) of the time and a content curator 95% of the time — curate wisely.
Own your missteps — see them as an opportunity
The New York Times prints corrections… every, single news organization in the world prints corrections. Humans are not infallible — we are HUMANS. It’s called Human Error for a reason and the best way to combat the problem of unreliable content on today’s oversaturated content platforms? Think like an editorial team — decide how, when and where you’ll acknowledge your corrections and make it public. Make sure that you’re owning these answers consistently in your messaging. Using a response grid (like the one I offer for free, here) is a great way to stay on top of this day-to-day and across a distributed team.
Every expert will tell you something different about what it means to build a digital business. This quick start guide will help you get the building blocks in place so you can expand as you go along without having to scramble for key assets and systems last minute, allowing you to take full advantage of all the opportunities coming your way.
Understanding what you’re going to talk about is the first part of building a digital brand. What key areas will you “own” as an expert? Will you create a blog or plan to share content on social media? Are you going to train your audience to expect a podcast, video series or to convert to a group program?
Here are a few resources to help you get started:
The Only Branding Cheatsheet You’ll Ever Need
Buzzwords and Your Digital Strategy
3 Content Objectives and 5 Ways to Achieve Them
Content Planning for Entrepreneurs
The 5 W’s and an H of Content Planning
Website or Landing Page — Or Social Media Page
No matter what your hub is, you need a hub to send your new audience to. That hub can be a website, landing page or series of social media profiles.
My advice? Start with a simple website (like these that we’ve created for clients) with a home, about, contact and services page. This allows you to start collecting email addresses quickly (to build your list from Day 1; even if you’re not sending them anything yet, it’s an important digital branding step!) and it will also allow you to employ some of that content planning you’ve been working on — on the About page, think about what you want to own, your why and how you can provide services and products to YOUR ideal client. That will help you start to inform your content strategy AND give you something to share on social media.
If you decide to start with a social media page or profile? Consider where your ideal client hangs out before deciding which one to focus your energies on. And if you’re not building a website at all? Stay off Twitter, you won’t have the content to support a solid strategy and then the brand building efforts there will fall flat.
Social Media Strategy
If you do nothing else when building a digital brand, you MUST reserve your business name (or your name) on all social media platforms. Even if you plan to NEVER use that platform to promote your business, you never know which way the tides will turn so reserve all of your handles on Day 1 to make sure you never, ever have to think about this again!
Then, it’s about deciding where your ideal client hangs out and how many times a day you can reasonably post.
If you’re only on Facebook, you ARE leaving money on the table, but if you’re just starting out, it is better to be focused so take the time to build a rapport with your community.
All of the resources we have on social media planning can be found here.
No matter what you’re doing, you want to get paid. Whether you’re a side-hustler, a naptime ninja or a weekend warrior, you’re starting a side business and digital brand to get paid. If you’re an influencer, you’ll be using your digital influence to get paid in a variety of ways… but you’re still GETTING PAID! Think about the easiest way for YOU to handle payments. Start by creating an excel sheet for expenses and income tracking so that when tax time rolls around, you’re not wasting valuable time scrambling for receipts and payment records.
A resource to get started:
3 Payment Systems to Rock Your Business
You may not know what types of content you’ll be sending via email but owning an email list is one of the most important parts of building a digital brand. Yes, all of these parts are important, that’s why they’re the building blocks! But having the ability to reach your customers 1:1? THAT is priceless. Always remember, the social platforms that we invest so much time, energy and money into are public (some are even publicly traded) and can go away in an instant. And if they do? How would you connect with your audience? This is something that the Vine influencers dealt with a little over a year ago and it was not pretty. Don’t ever allow yourself to be in this position! Get ahead of it from Day 1 with an email system that suits YOUR needs and can scale with your business.
There you have it! Of course, there are MANY more elements to consider as you build, scale and grow your business and digital brand, but this is a great way to get started.
In six months of careful, strategic curation, I brought my Instagram brand from 2K to 10K and got the coveted “swipe up” for more in my stories. It may not SOUND like a big deal but as a digital marketer with many offerings, products and places to drive my ideal customer, it SO is! In these six months, I can also directly attribute clients and conversions back to my Instagram looking the way it does — so that means I turned my Instagram followers into clients. This blog will share more on how YOU can do the same.
Instagram is a powerful tool for conversions — paid and free — if you use it correctly. It may seem like magic, but I promise you there was a lot of love (of self), sweat (of hard #werk) and tears (of joy) on the journey to 10K for me. A LOT of it.
If you only read this far into the post, I can tell you the ONE thing you need to do to grow an authentic following (because yes, mine is also verified by one of the hottest influencer programs, Fohr) is this: training your audience by giving them content they want to see on a consistent basis with your unique, authentic voice.
That’s really all it takes to grow your following.
Of course, there are many strategies to get there and many ways to deploy these recommended strategies for success long-term but that ONE thing IS the key to success… and now, for the rest:
Get Your Look On Point
Instagram is THE most visual platform of the current “cool kids” on the social media block. It’s all about getting an image that speaks to what you’re selling AND to your ideal client. You might think that an image is perfect for your brand but if it doesn’t resonate with your client? Don’t post it. This makes me CRAZY when I’m working with clients — I know, I know, I KNOW you love the photos you’ve taken and curated as you built your brand but I also am an expert at increasing engagement per post — promise me when I say I know what your audience wants.
How can you figure this out without working with me? Well, guess, test and review is one solid strategy (and you can download a freebie on how to do that here). You can also check out your competitors and see what their audience is responding to — chances are, if they’re in your zone of genius, their followers are followers YOU want to bring over to your tribe too.
And, you can also check out the Instagram patterns that play well for large influencers. There are proven strategies that get results — the key is to put YOUR spin on it to make it authentic to you and attract your tribe like bees to a hive.
Strategic Promotions are Necessary
Facebook Ads are something I’m quite passionate about. Investments tell the Universe that you’re ready for BIG things and that’s important on many levels.
In terms of “the woo,” it is important to have a mindset for success. It’s why I share daily mantras on my Instagram profile — to hold MYSELF accountable to keeping a positive and optimistic mindset no matter what else is happening in my world.
In terms of practical strategy, it shows Facebook (which owns Instagram and is the “holder” for Instagram ads and boosted posts) that you’re interested in using this tool as a business-builder and that you’re ready to invest to do so. That’s big in the eyes of the algorithm and important for you to understand as you grow your brand.
By boosting individual posts on your Instagram Profile and also setting up small, strategic investments in dark posts through Facebook Business Manager for Instagram-only ads, you’re creating a loop of promotion that will attract the right people at the right time, every time.
The more you grow, the more likely your posts are to show up in the Top Posts feed for the hashtags you use (and if you’re not using at least 1 hashtag, you’re missing out; two hashtags is best for most brands in terms of getting optimal engagement… but that really varies and I often do use the full 10 until you reach at least 15K followers) which will then put you in front of many, many more of your ideal clients and their friends.
Should. Struggle. Obstacle.
I am on a mission to erase these words from my vocabulary when it comes to my business and my business-building efforts. It’s working, I made 6 figures in the first 6 months of this year which is only my second full year of entrepreneurship, but it is a challenge. Which I now see as an opportunity for behavior change that is really resonating with my audience.
Why should you care about this? Because BEING AUTHENTIC is a huge lesson learned on the journey to 10K (over 10K now… insert GIF happy dance here, y’all!).
Sharing the ups, downs and #lifelessons learned is a huge part of what makes the most powerful influencers powerful. Sure, beautiful photos get a bunch of likes and comments but how many of those likes turn to business? How many of those comments turn to cash?
Being authentic is what brings in the PAID conversions from Instagram and it is what sustains a brand long-term.
You’re not a flash in the pan — you’re in it for the long-haul and your brand will reflect that if you are authentically you every time you show up on Instagram.
Engage the Right People
I refer to Instagram as a vertical network. Twitter and Facebook are horizontal networks — because I see something in my main feed and immediately share it to my profile, making a horizontal leap, whereas with Instagram, I see something, I like it and I move on. I may reshare down the road, but the way someone will engage with it is, most likely, in a vertical view on their own feed.
The way to get around that on Instagram is to actually LIKE, COMMENT AND ENGAGE users on THEIR profiles, their photos and their content.
Reply to a story from a big influencer, share an authentic comment on posts that resonate with you.
Dedicate time to actually engaging with the community you want to build. It’s a “woo” thing — showing up the way you want your tribe to engage with you — but it’s also a strategic thing. The more you comment, like and engage, the more your username shows up in the circles you want to play.
Timing is Everything
Did you know that I’ve built over 25 Instagram accounts from scratch? Most of them have at least 10K followers if not more within the first 4 months of my control.
Why? Because I am as strategic about WHEN I share as I am about WHAT I share.
This is where switching to an Instagram Business Profile comes in handy. There are many, many different viewpoints on this but in my opinion and experience, it is the ONLY way to go.
The “research” says you should post in the morning on Instagram and yet, for most accounts, I see (in all different time zones and verticals) 7pm-11pm ET is the most active time frame.
Check your times, guess, test and review and check ‘em again, I promise it’ll be worth it!
Stick to the Plan
If you’ve read this far, I applaud you. I know this one is long but it’s FULL of good information.
This piece is one of the most important pieces of information I can share.
I cannot tell you how many times I thought about breaking my pattern for something cool or more relevant to that DAY or EVENT.
And I stopped myself because I was committed to my strategy.
And guess what? It worked.
Curate content… share things in real time on InstaStory but for your feed? Treat it with kid gloves and, whatever you do, stick to the plan you’ve chosen for at least 6-8 weeks. By then, you’ll have an idea of if it’s working and how to shift if not (or you could just work with me in one of my 1:1 coaching + execution programs!).
Give the plan time to work and enough data to review. That is what will keep your brand healthy for the long-haul, I promise.
If you’re looking for Instagram support, let’s schedule a discovery call and see how I can help YOU get the BIG results I’m known for.
There’s no crying in baseball and there are NO guarantees in marketing. Marketing involves a series of strategies, tactics and content to promote your brand, service or product to your audience. That audience has to convert — or BUY — what you’re selling in order for all of the other elements to be successful.
Everyone loves a guarantee.
Unfortunately, in most businesses, you can’t give a guarantee. A lawyer can’t guarantee that you’ll win your case, a doctor can’t guarantee that you’ll survive surgery. A Rodan and Fields consultant can’t guarantee that their skin regime will save your face.
The only thing that is guaranteed in life? That there are absolutely no guarantees.
I deal with brands, entrepreneurs and influencers who always ask about guarantees for social media marketing efforts and that’s something I actually LOVE to do.
Most social media experts will see “success” as delivering clicks to your site from one or more social media platforms.
To me, that’s not enough.
And, luckily for my clients, I can guarantee that I will find all of the “workarounds” (or Vixes!) they need to not only deliver clicks but actually convert those clicks to clients to build their business and their bank account.
That’s why, these days, I’m choosing my words carefully and declaring myself a Chief Marketing Strategist for Entrepreneurs.
I’ve built dozens of brands from scratch, created businesses (profitable businesses) from nothing and teach my clients on a daily basis how to look at things from a different angle to increase their sales and, ultimately, help their businesses flourish.
My services are expensive, I get it. But the best part about working with me, or someone with my unique skill set (there aren’t really that many of us and none with MY specific background) is that you not only get someone who can create the right strategy for building your brand, business and bank account, you get someone who can execute on those strategies for you AND find the right people to supplement the execution (ex: the actual DOING of the strategy) as needed.
For example, a client of mine, a high-profile influencer, wanted to create a challenge to promote their new course.
They had an idea for the challenge but that was it — no content for the challenge, no images to promote the challenge, no emails for the challenge, no landing page copy.
In 45 minutes, we had a FULL promotion outline AND a rough draft of the images (also known as “creative”) needed to promote the challenge.
Forty. Five. Minutes.
In an hour and a half, we had the full landing page copy and basic themes for each email.
That level of speed only comes with years of experience and the guarantee there? The guarantee is that the content will be produced the right way, using the tactics YOU need to succeed.
The other guarantee? It will cost you half as much and deliver at least 2x as much in terms of success because if something isn’t working, there are many, many more tactics to deploy in real-time — giving you the best possible chance at success.
The moral of the story here is if someone in marketing offers you a guarantee, be skeptical. They are offering a guarantee that they can’t actually deliver on and that can be a costly mistake for your business and bank account.
The challenge is to understand what success truly is in this space and I’m offering you three key performance indicators for determining if your social media marketing and overall marketing efforts are truly moving your business forward.
More Followers, Influence and Audience
This is an easy way to measure if your Facebook Ads (and Twitter, Pinterest, etc) are working — if you’re getting more followers and a larger audience for your newsletter and group, your efforts are working.
Sales and leads for your business are a great way to tell if your marketing efforts are working. If you’re doing a print ad, you want to make sure you’re getting the impressions you were promised and this also rings true for social media ads. It is MUCH easier to track these on the digital side of things and important to remember that when deciding where to invest.
Every single time I tag a brand — from SoulCycle to the Backstreet Boys — I get a RT, favorite, like or mention.
Every. Single. Time. That’s because I’ve worked hard to not only create a brand that looks legit but also one that holds weight. It is important to measure your success in marketing efforts by how many people are reaching out to you for podcast features, Instagram highlights and more.
How do YOU measure key performance indicators (KPIs) for your business? What do you consider before you invest in marketing efforts?
I’d love for you to continue the conversation in my FREE Facebook Group — DIY Your Digital Empire.
Instagram is the social media It girl of the moment. It’s a great way to showcase the behind-the-scenes of your business and allows your audience to experience things only YOU can share with them… but it does also have its own unique language, customs and challenges.
If social media is a party, Instagram is the hottest club of the moment. It’s where everyone wants to be and where everyone who is anyone is “seen.” It’s the Meatpacking District of the 90s.
Ok, I get that it’s popular, but what’s the best content to share?
This all depends on YOUR goals.
The best content to share on Instagram is beautiful photos from a Mobile device with filters that work for your audience.
One general tip? Mayfair is the best filter for engagement. Valencia is high up there too.
ColorStory and VSCO Cam are great ways to tap into the filter communities (yes, there are filter communities) and allow you to give your photos a little more pop.
If video is your game, then it’s all about the quick hit. Sixty seconds, no more, no less.
But the best type of content to share on Instagram?
Geo-tagged, authentic content that will engage your audience.
It should be a mix of images, memes/quote cards and videos and should accurately represent who YOU are as a brand.
All in all, it’s about creating a dialogue through images and videos, telling the story of your brand in a way that SELLS.
And when you’re ready to do that, let’s talk. My #InstaGoalsPod Mastermind might be for you, click here to learn more.