Business · Consultations · Public Relations

3 Ways to Grow Your Social Media Brand by Sean Gardner

I participated in a social media panel at a conference back in 2011. After the discussion, a gentleman approached me and asked what I felt my social media brand was. Immediately, I told him “Inspiration, Information, Aspiration.” Why? Because when you are inspired to make a difference and informed about your options, that has a profound impact on your goals and aspirations. I uttered those words because I felt my content reflected it. That was the brand I had always set out to create.
Fast-forward to todayI am happy that I have not deviated from this. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal talked about the dark traits many use to rise through the ranks in the workplace. Traits like manipulation, narcissism, and antagonism are used more often than any of us care to acknowledge. And while they might be good for some, they have never been central to how I interact with anyone – online or off. Never.
I have always felt that the best way to leave a legacy I could be proud of, is to genuinely be the best version of myself. Yes, I surround myself with good people, and make a point of knowing who supports me in my endeavors. But it goes much, much farther than that. The following three approaches have seriously helped me grow and expand my social media brand over the last five years:
  • Take the long view – In a fast paced world, it is understandable that so many would want personal success right now, this very minute. But it typically doesn’t work that way. It takes years of networking, developing your talents into skills, some breaks, and tremendous sacrifice that most people will never see. I attended small events and blogged quite a bit to get some traction. But my big break was an interview with U.S. Olympian Apolo Ohno (my first front page Huffington Post article). And paying clients soon followed. It was quite a process to that point, and I am better for going through it.
  • Dare to be different – You will hear lots of people tell you that you shouldn’t use more than two hashtags in a social media post, or, that you should never schedule (or automate) posts under any circumstances. For years, I have done just the opposite of that. Hashtags are an important way to communicate your point and reach particular audiences, so yes, sometimes I use three, or even four. And let me say this: scheduling posts from time to time makes sense. Think about it. If money can work for bankers throughout the day, why can’t occasional scheduled posts on Twitter, Google Plus, and, Facebook pages do the same? Social media is international currency. Invest well.
  • Help others along the way – Throughout 2009 (my first year in social media), I was assisted by people who were gracious enough to help me understand a particular social network, a new app, or an analytics platform. It really made the difference. So I try to give that back to others whenever I can. As I always say, social media is a bridge, and every retweet, repin, like, and +1 of your work are the bricks that construct the pathway you’re walking on. So when you reach the top, don’t block or close off the entrance for people coming up behind you. Be known for helping others thrive. It’s a good feeling. Besides, you never know where you’ll be tomorrow, and who might be able to help you.
Whatever brand you are looking to create, give it real thought, and then put it to the test. In the end, it is what you will be known for. Along the way, you’ll make lots of mistakes and miscalculations. And that is quite alright. Just pick yourself up and make the changes and enhancements that will take you to the next level.
I mentioned “Dare to be Different” in this post for a reason. You should never let the direction of the wind determine which way you should go. If you need to be Northwest, then let the wind continue moving Southeast. Following the wind, or the crowd, is cool sometimes, right? Yes. But don’t be afraid to blaze your own trail and standout, too. Make your brand irresistible. The words of John D. Rockefeller come to mind here:

If you want to succeed you should strike out on new paths, rather than travel the worn paths of accepted success.”

Sean Gardner is an international writer, keynote speaker, digital consultant and business creative who splits his time between Washington D.C. and Seattle, WA. He currently conducts workshops and social media training for small business, nonprofits, celebrities and multinational corporations. You can TweetFriend or Instagram him, and/or circle him onGoogle Plus.


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