I started my business, Hunk-O-Mania, before the era of social media. It was actually during the very early days of internet marketing and I was a pioneer of internet-based advertising. I neglected my own personal brand for several years, as I was building the company and aggressively expanding. In the last few years, I’ve fully embraced social media channels as a way to build my own personal brand outside of the business.
In my case, I started my Instagram a long time after I was already successful. My goal wasn’t so much pushing the business but instead to build my own personal brand authentic to who I am — with unique skills and insights in business that led me to success, and a deep desire to inspire people to become their very best selves.
Crafting a strong social –based personal brand takes some time, but it comes with significant benefits. Here are my thoughts and tips for people looking to build long-lasting and authentic social media brands:
Limited only by Your Imagination
Compared to the promotional methods of the past few decades, social media is truly transformative. Imagine building a name for yourself before Instagram. You could take out magazine ads, write a personal blog, or run TV commercials. For TV you were constrained by a producer. There are limits to what you can say and the visuals and written content you use.
With social, there are no limits. You can showcase your El Capitan hike one week to give people a way to connect with you personally, and then share posts about the awesome fruit smoothie stand in your neighborhood so they can see life through the story of your life as it happens. This is why I use Instagram more than Twitter because it’s so visual.
Instagram allows you to tell immersive stories. In my case, I hope my stories help people realize they have no limits and can accomplish legendary things. Think about what Instagram provides—a free service with unlimited bandwidth in terms of potential followers that reaches a global audience. All it takes to successfully use this free tool is imagination and time. I encourage entrepreneurs to dive deep into social because there’s no other tool like it. People have built empires with social by gaining followers, become brand ambassadors, writing books, or launching their own global products.
Visualize Your Own Success Via Instagram
During my frequent speaking engagements, I talk a lot about visualization. I used visualization techniques to become a nationally-recognized artist and an award-winning bodybuilder. I look at the Instagram accounts of other inspirational people in order to further visualize success and positivity. There’s a lot of negative noise on social channels, but there’s also positivity. I push away all the negative talk and seek out people that are striving for improvement, whether getting fitter or traveling the world to discover opportunities and insights from unique cultures.
A Strong Personal Brand Gives You Options for More Success
When you build your personal brand you develop options to win. It allows you to freely explore other avenues and open more doors. This is especially important for entrepreneurs. Why? Because entrepreneurs must embrace failure and be willing to try new things. As an entrepreneur you have to possess a strong personal brand because you might need to change the direction of your company and career. You’re the face of the company, so you should talk about the firm and its products, but also present yourself as an innovator and strong personality. As your career progresses you might be under consideration for board seats or other advisory roles, so a strong personal brand gives you a leg up on the competition.
Your Own Brand Helps You Transcends Your Industry
If you’ve already put in the ground work to develop a large social following, then you’ve established yourself as a success. You certainly can’t put all of your eggs in one basket. The demand for your business can change. Think about people working in real estate and banks before the housing crisis. Everyone’s doing great and then all of a sudden firms are going bankrupt and people are foreclosing left and right. The point is the future is uncertain. Prepare your own brand that transcends your industry so you can go from running a software firm to managing a restaurant chain. It’s your brand that inspires confidence, competence and trust – all crucial for success in business and with people.
Engage One On One To Keep It Human and Real
I like to respond to people directly, especially those people that are positive and pushing forwards to success. I receive hundreds of DMs every day from people thanking me for helping them and asking for advice. I could use a service to respond to these messages, but there’s no personal touch in that approach. I advise entrepreneurs to put real thought and effort into their social media interactions. I lean towards companies that are responding directly to people and engaging with them as actual people with compassion and some humor.
Communicate With People like You Would In Person to Drive Meaningful Engagement
Talking directly to followers is one of the best ways to form relationships. You of course need interesting content and great pictures, but the one-on-one communication is vital, especially when you’re starting out on social. Engagement with followers shows you’re an authentic person and care about establishing a rapport with people, not just building your follower count.