5 Tips for Building A Great Brand on Social Media

social_media_tips_frequently_asked_questions Almost every week, I get messages from people asking for advice on how to build effective personal and business brands online.

Most of them focus on social media–which courses to take, which platforms to use, and what or what not to post.

So, I thought I would share a few answers to the most frequently asked questions here. I hope you’ll find them useful.

Note: As digital platforms evolve and emerge, rules change, bend and become obsolete. So please take this as advice pertinent to right now and continue to keep abreast of trends and perspectives. I’ll be sure to share a few useful resources at the end of this post.

Q: I want more followers / likes. Should I be using hashtags to do that?

A: To gain more followers / likes organically, first create engaging content.

Also, use hashtags to get your content noticed in like-minded communities but don’t abuse them.

Hashtags help marketers track conversations about their brands and spot influencers.

You might also want to create your own to build a solid identity online, curate content in an organized way, or build your own community.

And if you want to be taken seriously as a professional social media manager or a solid non-spammy personal brand, avoid hashtag abuse.

Here are simple guides I use:

  • Limit to three hashtags per post.
  • If you can write it as a sentence/phrase, you probably don’t need a hashtag.
  • Use hashtags for humor or to add emotion, but don’t overuse them.

Don’t: Launching a new product today. #waittilyouseewhatitis #youregonnaloveit #comeseeustoday #opentil6

Do: Launching a new product today. Wait ’til you see what it is. You’re gonna love it! We’re open ’til 6.

Q: Should I connect all my social media accounts to save time? 

A: No. Consider that each platform has a distinctive style, voice and preferred primary media types.

For example, Twitter allows updates of 140 characters and no more, so a Facebook or Instagram caption that’s any longer and auto-posted to the platform will be truncated.

Facebook gives posts with video and photos more prominence, so your text-only update auto-posted from Twitter won’t get much traction there.

See what I’m getting at?

In short, auto-publish across platforms if you want your posts to be poorly received, annoying, or ignored.

To get the most of your content, take time to tweak and format so it makes sense to your network, shows you understand your audience, and fits the channel well.

Q: Should I create two separate accounts–one professional and the other personal?

social_media_tips_twitter Image: Copyright Marisa Allegra Williams (@marisa) for Twitter, Inc.

This is a question that comes up most often. Most people seem to prefer having two separate Twitter handles, for example—one for professionally focused updates and the other for more personal (and fun?!!) content. Typically, the latter account is private.

Here’s my take: if you’re concerned that your employer might judge you unfairly for what you’re saying on social media, something’s either wrong with them or with your content.

Employers shouldn’t expect employees to be dull, with no interests or activities outside of work. So LIVE tweeting during #TGIT, voicing your opinion on a topical issue, or thanking your favorite beauty blogger for that awesome tutorial they posted? Quite alright!

However, if you’ve still got reservations, a neat “views are my own” or “RTs  / reposts are not endorsements” clause in your bio should help.

If you’re an entrepreneur, it’s wise to have a separate account for your business–from a customer service and business brand identity perspective.

Q: Do I really need to go to school to be a social media rockstar?

Before I studied social media formally, I thought I was pretty good at it. I had managed and created content for two reputable companies; plus, I’d maintained a blog since 2006. That counted for something, no?

I wasn’t ready for the rude awakening that awaited me at Georgetown University. There, sitting at the feet of certified digital strategists and pioneers, I realized that I knew very little. I was learning that social media was a scientific study—more than just a few pithy captions and pretty pics.

I was learning how to calculate CPMs and CTRs, understand the nuances of content creation, and decode the algorithms that underpin social media platforms work.

So am I suggesting that you pay thousands of dollars in tuition to manage your personal brand online? No.

But if you’re planning to offer it as a service to companies who actually care about ROI in the digital space, for the sake of the profession and your reputation, take time to study the craft and earn a certification.

Give them something more than #afewhashtags and cute posts to build their reputation on (unless, of course, one of the brand values really is cuteness!).

Q: What should I read or where should I look for help with mastering social media?

social_media_tips_resources

If you can’t afford to take a certificate course or complete a degree focusing on social media, you can still learn a lot.

There are sites I turn to, to stay on top of trends and participate in webinars or training online.

Here are a few you might like:

Facebook for Business

Hubspot’s Marketing Library

Likeable

Mashable

PR Daily

Twitter Blog

If you’re reading this, have a question, or would like to share insights or other resources you find useful in managing your brands online, feel free to leave a comment.

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