If you want your blog, website, social media presence or business to be successful, you need to be authentic. This starts with knowing who your brand is and how you get it across. You can’t be genuine without knowing who your brand is. And I’m not talking about the rapper. He’s a class act onto himself.
No my friends, if you want to actually be “authentic” online (aka successful) you need to reach deep inside yourself – or at least your brand identity – and get it out there in the right ways. One of THE biggest concerns I hear from my website design and social media clients is that they don’t know how to get more followers, comments or sales. Sure, we might build them a fabulous website design or set them up with optimized social profiles, but they can be at a loss as to how to use these in ways that actually get results. Here are 5 tips on how to actually be authentic on blogs & social media and reach your goals through fostering an online presence.
1. Find your voice. Or rather, use it. The thing about online media is there is no auditory tone. You have to communicate through images, copy and graphics that convey a story or message in the clearest way possible. Forget top-down models of business power dynamics because websites, blogs and social media aren’t hierarchical; They’re friendly and social. If you try to maintain a blog or presence on social media in a voice that isn’t authentic – in a voice that’s “business pro” forced, dishonest and un-true to you – you’ll lose interest. And if you lose interest, you’ll lose motivation. And you know what that means? Shit all. And you’re better than shit all.
2. Find your audience. Or rather, help them find you. Pick your topic niche (hint: choose something you’re passionate about), figure out who your audience avatar is and then go get ’em! The social media platforms you choose to be on are tools for you to connect with potential readers, sponsors, brands, clients and followers. Do a bit of digging – or pay someone to do it for you – and find out where the people you want to reach hang out. Then be there. Be social.
Side note: It’s true, you should know your audience before you start writing because your tone and voice will reflect who you’re speaking to. No doubt aboot it. But I list this as point two (not point one) because ultimately, though you want to appeal to your audience, you need to appeal to you first to maintain passion and drive.
3. Brand the shit out of your website and social accounts. I spoke at the Food Blogger’s Online Summit last Fall and while my talk spoke specifically on how to uniquely brand your food blog, it’s really relevant for any and all websites. Make sure it’s visually pleasing, mechanically intuitive, SEO optimized (for search engines) and generally awesome. Your website design and social media profiles matter. How they look, how they function and how they’re found. Invest in these – they’re your very first impression you make on your audience and you generally get less than 10 seconds to do it. So make sure you do it right. Right?
4. Use social media the right way. In other words, I don’t want to hear about you. I’m tempted to leave this link here and tell you to go read this post. End of story. It’s THAT important if you want to be authentic in your online presence (aka see successful engagement, revenue and results). But I’ll summarize (because I’m cool like that): Unschedule and unsync your accounts, listen to me, cut the bullshit, invest in your community and start giving back. Think of social media like a cocktail party – if you walk up and start talking about “me me me me me”, no one wants to be near you. Instead, inspire them to invest in you by investing in them first. Be social.
“Let’s put the social back in social media!”
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5. Empower the hell out of people. How do you do this? Listen. Think. Respond. By empowering people and treating them like equals – this is reflected in your quality content – you encourage trust from your audience. With trust, comes a relationship. With a relationship, comes success. Whether you’re looking to forge friendships with like-minded peeps, develop professional opportunities with peers or generate income from sponsors or clients, trust comes first.
Think cocktail analogy again; Networking – simply flashing your business card and saying “hey, I’m XYZ, call me!” – doesn’t work. It’s inauthentic and too used-car salesman. No offense, used-car salesmen. But no one wants to be around that guy and you certainly don’t want to BE. THAT. GUY.
Instead, create and nurture relationships built on trust over time – just like in real life – and you’ll see your voice, presence and influence bloom. Hello, super successful amazing authentic awesome person. AND super successful amazing authentic awesome audience. Win win, right?
Are you authentic on social media? How do you foster an authentic presence? What’s the most difficult thing for you when it comes to being authentic online? What has worked for you online? What hasn’t? Share your thoughts below and I promise to respond personally.