Social media has taken the world by storm. We live in an age where having a social media profile is no longer a choice. It’s a must. Online branding and personas are no longer limited to large businesses and companies, rather every single representative - be it a representative for oneself or a representative for a larger group - is required to have an online presence. Though it may not be required by ~law~, societal pressures and norms demand an active and exuberant online showing from anyone and everyone. From networking, to branding, to skill building, social media is a must. However, the reasons may not always be clear. FL+G is here to explain and outline the reasons social media is important, as well as how to make the most out of your social media presence.

The Importance

First Impressions
In today’s internet savvy world, social media profiles are often people’s first impression. Whether it’s as simple as a new crush or as big as a potential business partner, social media is the first thing we turn to when we’re trying to figure someone out. I don’t know about you, but I have stalked countless social media profiles, and I rely heavily on them to give me social and professional cues about people before I even meet them. Whether we realize it or not, we make first impressions of people before we meet them because of social media. I no longer need to meet you to decide whether you seem like a nice person. Of course first impressions can be overcome, but it is a lot harder to overcome a bad first impression than it is to just create a good first impression. Therefore, it is imperative to make sure your social media profiles establish and support your brand and capabilities. I have personally perceived people as less professional if they didn’t have strong social media. That doesn’t mean that you need to ‘ball out’ on every social media platform there is, but choose a platform and make it work for you. Arguably the most important in the business realm is LinkedIn since it boasts your accomplishments and legitimacy.
Make sure your profiles are well kept and support your brand so that your first impressions work in your favor.

As mentioned above, social media platforms - LinkedIn most especially - are amazing tools for networking. Whether this be with coworkers, friends, family, potential employers, or even potential business partners. The possibilities are endless. Social media has not only made networking much easier, it has also stripped away at opportunities for in person networking. While in person interactions are still extremely important, social media networking often precedes any in person meet ups. LinkedIn and Facebook messages now open doors to real world contacts whose doors might not have been closed before. Social media is no longer just a tool in networking - it is a necessity.

Providing Value
Though celebrities might be able to get away with just posting selfies of their bedhead, most of us are going to need to provide our followers with some sort of value in order to gain a significant following. This is important because if you are able to provide value in a way that others have not, you will gain a large, loyal following that can help you achieve personal or business related goals. Furthermore, providing value on social media is a great way to convince people of your ability to provide value in other ways. If you’re a business looking for more customers, showing them that you can provide value on social media will support your statement that your business can provide value in other ways. Use social media as a means of establishing yourself as a valuable source of information and an important contact to maintain over time.

Distinguishing Yourself
The world is full of people who are full of great ideas. Therefore, as amazing as your product or company or brand might be, it’s highly unlikely that it is completely unique. While the combination of your team and services might be unique in its own ways, you likely face some form of competition from people who are trying to achieve something similar. As such, social media can be a great way to distinguish yourself from competition in the eyes of potential customers. Not only will it allow you to network better and allow you to create your desired first impression, it can also be a way to establish yourself as different from the competition. You can create personal relationships with customers, create alluring posts, fill in social gaps that you see in your competition, and advocate for yourself all through the power of social media.

Building an online community is great for you as well as for your followers. To start, if you’re able to connect people and get them talking about you or because of you, then you have a major tool at your disposal. People who feel included in and excited about your ‘online community’ will end up doing lots of marketing for you - for free. They’ll want to tell their friends about you, and those friends will want to tell even more people. If you can create an avid community from the start - even if it’s small - their enthusiasm will do wonders for marketing your social media and personal brand.

Tips and Tricks

Oddly enough, simply reminding others of your existence is a great start to building a strong social persona. Every post doesn’t have to be perfect - as long as it is consistent with your brand then you’re golden. Tailoring your perception so that you don’t view social media as a huge stressful ordeal is a great way to increase the frequency and easiness of posting. The more you pop up on someone’s newsfeed, the better they ‘get to know’ you. This primes individuals to like you more, as well as to reach out to you first if they are in need of any of the services you provide. This is especially important for businesses trying to gain a client base or trying to differentiate from competitors.

Being unique is much easier said than done. However, once you find your niche and hone in on your interests, you can truly start getting creative. Allowing yourself to explore new things, and even build off of other media that you believe could be delved into further, will set you apart from everyone else. A great way to start is to truly define your personal brand. Truly figure out what you stand for and what you want to provide your followers with, and then go from there.

Brand Consistency
As mentioned above, your brand is a huge tool in achieving success through social media. Not only is defining your brand important, but so is remembering your brand and making sure each post supports your brand in some way or another. Brand consistency comes in varying degrees, so don’t feel like you have to state your punch line in each post. However, you should make sure that each post supports your mission in some way, and make sure to avoid brand-inconsistent posts as much as possible.

Strategic Partnerships
Strategic partnerships can be especially helpful if you’re just starting out. Convincing other social media influencers to advertise for you (you can pay them or offer services in return) can connect you with large followings faster than a traditional ‘mutual follow’ approach. Finding influencers in the same realm as you (i.e. with similar missions) will put you in touch with audiences that are already interested in what you have to say. Plus you can make some friends along the way! Two birds, one stone.

Be Yourself
This is cliché, but no one wants to follow a robot. I’m not saying post all your deepest and darkest secrets to the internet, but let your personality shine through. This makes posting easier on you and your followers. It means you are less stressed since you're not trying to figure out how exactly to word things to come off as ~cool~ as possible, and it means your followers see someone genuine worth following. If you’re on your LinkedIn profile maybe edit out a few F-bombs, but otherwise be yourself. You’ll be amazed at how well it works out.

This post can be a lot to take in, especially for those who struggle with social media. Social media can be very controversial, and can even seem negative at times. However, it has many gifts to offer us and keeping up with social media is truly the key to getting ahead. Remember that change doesn’t have to happen overnight, and that there are varying degrees of a social media presence. Not everyone is going to be the workout fiend with 10 millions followers. But making sure that you have some sort of a presence, one that you are comfortable with and feel represents your brand is extremely important. As frustrating as it may be, social media is now everyone’s first impression. Having a LinkedIn that is well put together might be determining factor in you getting that interview over someone else. Having clean, thought out Instagram and Facebook pages might make you more approachable and more legitimate in the eyes of new coworkers, possible employers, and future business partners.

If you’re confused or uncertain as to how you would like to move forward contact us! We love meeting new people and helping our clients grow their businesses - big or small. We have an amazing strategy team that would love to meet you!