To build your freelance business and personal brand with social media, do these six things when creating your account pages and profiles.
Social media flipped the one-way conversation of traditional marketing on its head, making two-way conversations between brands and consumers possible. It has broken barriers, encouraged communication, spread word-of-mouth marketing like wildfire, and created a level of access to brands that people have never had before.
Considering the fact that more than 4.2 billion people use social media around the world, and those same people spend nearly 2.5 hours per day on social media platforms, your business can’t afford to ignore its social media presence.
The Sprout Social Index reports that 57% of people follow a brand on social media to learn about new products or services, while 47% want to stay up to date on company news. After connecting with a brand on social media, 91% of people will visit its app or website, 89% will make a purchase with the brand, and 85% will tell others about the brand.
So, if you want to build your personal brand or business brand and get more website traffic, more sales, and more referrals, you need to make social media marketing a part of your online brand-building strategy. And it’s not about being a part of every social network. It’s about being a part of the right social networks and online communities — those where your audience is active.
Build Strong Social Media Accounts For Your Brand
Getting started with social media branding begins with establishing a strong social foundation that makes a great first impression and supports your marketing.
Set up your social media brand accounts in 6 steps:
1. Secure Branded Social Media Handles
The first thing any new brand should do is buy the domain name and snag branded social handles. Securing social media handles for your own name and/or your brand name is as much about brand consistency and it is about brand protection. It prevents someone else from securing them first!
Imagine what could happen if someone else secured the handle for your name or brand name:
- People might confuse your brand with another brand and it could be a competitor’s brand, which could lead to lost business.
- If they engage in bad behavior, it could damage the reputation and brand equity you worked hard to build.
- You may have different handles or vanity URLs on each social media site, which makes it harder for people to find and recognize you or your brand.
The simplest way to create social media brand consistency is to secure the same handle on all social media sites.
For example, here are my handles/URLS:
As you can see, I am “jenniferbourn” on all social networking sites I am active on except Instagram. I was too late of an Instagram adopter to snag my full name. For now, Instagram is more personal content than professional content, so I’m not sweating it.
While it’s best to use a handle that matches your name or brand name, if it’s not available, don’t freak out! Pick a similar handle or a handle related to what you do or what you want to be known for. The trick is consistently using the same handle on every social media site.
2. Use A Consistent Avatar
One of the first things people consider when deciding whether or not to connect with or follow an account is the avatar. People want to do business with real people, so it’s no surprise that they also want to connect with real people on social media.
If you’re not sure whether to use your photo or the logo of your business for the avatar, here’s what I usually tell clients:
- If the handle uses your name or something personal, and all posts will come from you, use a friendly, approachable photo of yourself for the avatar.
- If the handle uses your business name, and posts may come from different members of the business, use your logo or brand icon as the avatar.
Do not use a photo of your pet, an odd object, or a general landscape for your avatar if you want to attract new people. Also, brand consistency matters, so resist the urge to change your social media avatar regularly. Your audience will associate your avatar with your posts, which means seeing your photo will help them quickly identify the content as yours. If you change your avatar too often, you’ll lose that brand recognition and confuse your audience.
3. Use A Consistent Cover Image
Sticking with the notion that people notice images first and first impressions are formed in about 17 milliseconds, branded cover images for your social media accounts create a big visual impact with a little effort.
When creating custom social media cover images for your brand:
- Create one master cover image that adheres to the brand guidelines outlined in your visual brand style guide to keep all colors, typography, and imagery on-brand and consistent with other brand assets and marketing materials. If you don’t have a logo or style guide to reference, aim to create a cover image that looks like it belongs with/on your website.
- Once your master cover image is designed, create variations at each individual size required by the social platforms you use. Be sure to follow any available cover image guidelines to account for potential cropping or overlays from the platforms.
- Be sure your cover images match your website design and keep your cover images simple, clean, and easy to understand and recognize. Don’t add too much text or make it too complicated, as many platforms crop/cut off parts of the cover image at certain browser and device sizes.
- Don’t be afraid to use your cover image for marketing and promotions. If selling a product, feature it in use. If promoting an event, highlight it. If building a personal brand, use a photo of you doing your thing. If using a brand hashtag, include it.
Remember, the goal is to ensure your brand is memorable.
When someone moves from your website to your social media page/profile, clicks from a social media post to your website, or moves from one social networking platform to another, you want them to quickly and easily recognize your brand. And the fastest way to do that is through a consistent presentation of your visual brand.
4. Write A Great Profile Bio Or Page Summary
Every social media platform gives you space on your business page or personal profile to tell people a little about yourself, your business, and your brand. Some sites like Twitter and Instagram keep the bio area short and sweet, while other platforms like LinkedIn give you an entire summary section to provide more detail and background.
Every social media bio you use must be consistent.
Noticing a theme yet?
This means using the same messaging and phrasing for how you speak about who you are, what you do, what expertise you have, who you serve, how you can help, and why someone else should care.
This is why, when working with clients to develop brand messaging, I create multiple professional bio variations:
- A long bio, typically used on the website about page, that tells their full story, shares their offers, and positions them as the best choice for their ideal clients.
- A medium bio, typically used for the LinkedIn summary, that shares a condensed version of their full bio and piques the interest of prospects checking out their profile.
- A short bio, typically used for speaking engagements, that highlights compelling credibility builders and reinforces expertise in a single paragraph.
- An extra short bio, typically used for social media sites with character limits, that communicates the most important information in 1-2 sentences.
The trick is starting with a well-written, complete, long bio then ruthlessly editing it to create each of the shorter professional bio variations. This ensures consistency in brand message, language, and voice across every social platform and your website.
5. Fill Out All Account Information
Each social media platform gives you a slightly different configuration of fields to complete when setting up your profile or page. Fill out all profile fields and complete your account setup.
Show your audience that you take your business seriously by building a strong social persona and making time to provide as much information as possible about your brand and business.
- On Twitter, provide your real name, a bio (and use all of the available characters), your location, and your website address.
- On LinkedIn, fill out every bit of relevant, helpful information. Summarize your bio, share your education and credentials, provide your work history and volunteer experience, highlight achievements and recognition, and ask for recommendations.
- On Instagram, provide your real name, a bio (and use all of the available characters), and your website address.
- On Facebook, provide a page description, your website address, hours, location, and phone number. If applicable add upcoming event information, ask for reviews, and invite people to join your group(s).
- On Pinterest, provide your real name, bio, websites address, and location.
You never want an interested contact or prospective client to attempt to learn more about your business, find out your hours, or get your contact information only to be left hanging because you never bothered to add it.
6. Prepare A Collection Of Kick-Off Posts
Do your social media accounts resemble a barren desert or a lush forest? Have they been ignored and left for dead or are they brimming with life?
If you’re like most of the freelancers, solopreneurs, and small business owners I work with, you’re already busy. Your to-do list is most likely bulging with too many tasks and there isn’t much room in your schedule (if any) to also manage your social media accounts and create marketing content on the fly, every day.
Preparation is the secret to success.
By preparing a collection of evergreen social posts, you will always have content to share no matter how busy you are. Evergreen content is timeless, always relevant content you can lean on and share when you don’t have time to craft something bespoke. It becomes especially valuable when it also reinforces your brand reputation, builds trust with your audience, demonstrates your expertise, and positions your offers as the best choice.
If you struggle with what to share or what not to share on social media, here are my favorite evergreen posts to prepare:
- A testimonial image and a post/caption about the project.
- Before and after stories of transformation — your own and those from clients.
- An industry-specific or niche-related motivational quote image and an insightful caption that includes encouragement.
- Valuable tips, statistics, and fun facts — and your take on them/why they matter.
- An offer promotion, for a free or paid offer, that highlights a benefit or desirable feature and includes a call to action.
- Promotional posts that highlight a past interview, podcast guest spot, speaking gig, webinar, etc.
With just a bit of work upfront, you can ensure your social media accounts are active, interesting, entertaining, and lively — and your brand shows up professionally on every platform, regardless of what’s happening behind the scenes.
Be Consistent On Every Social Platform
When using social media to grow your business, you need to be consistent in visual design, personality and voice, messaging, and action. Each of your social media accounts need to look, feel, and sound the same — as if they are all pieces of a larger puzzle.
The goal is to create a consistent experience for every person that interacts or engages with your brand, regardless of the platform.
It’s important to understand that your prospective clients are savvier and far more discerning than ever about who they follow and let into their social feeds, what email lists they subscribe to, and who they give their money to.
Before taking any type of action, they will first research your brand or business, by googling you, checking out your social media accounts, and visiting your website. So make sure your social accounts are complete, accurate, and up-to-date. If you can do that, you’ll build brand awareness, create trust, and make meaningful connections that lead to more website traffic, more sales, and more referrals.