One of the biggest misconceptions we are told when building a brand is that followers equals exposure. It is easy to get caught up in trying to get as many followers as you can on your social accounts, but having thousands of followers doesn't mean you're brand is gaining real exposure to an audience. Real exposure occurs when people engage with your brand, which means more than just following it.
Engagement comes in the form of likes, comments and shares on any social media platform. While having thousands of followers allows for greater potential in engagement, the follow alone does not equate to someone engaging with your brand. You need your followers to respond and interact with the content you are putting out.
The best way to create engagement with your content is by asking for it. You can try all the tricks in the world, but asking your followers to share their opinions, to share a post, to comment their answer to your question, is the best way to create engagement. Being straight forward and asking your audience for what you want, allows your audience to know how to interact with your post and gives you the result you are looking for. More often than not, people need a little encouragement to engage with brands.
By creating content that encourages people to interact with your brand, you are allowing your audience the chance to build a relationship with your brand. If the content you are putting out is interactive and worth engaging, your audience will feel connected to your brand, instilling a lasting impression and relationship. Brand loyalty and engagement is when genuine exposure for your brand occurs.
For most athletes, building upon their personal brand seems like the most logical thing to do because of their largely followed platform. It's almost an unspoken responsibility for all players once they've reached the professional level. While building a brand is necessary to optimize potential growth off the field, it's important to know the reason for posting content beyond just wanting to make a profit.
We all know turning a brand's story into a profitable business is the goal, however, there is something more to be said about the importance behind a brand's story. Anytime you post content adding to the overall message behind your brand, it has to be done with purpose. Why are you posting a certain picture today? What is going on in your wold that motivated a post? Everything we do is intentional, and knowing those intentions fuels a more genuine brand with the potential to add value to yourself and your audience.
Purpose drives our everyday lives, so it should be driving our work too. We all have had experiences that have shaped who we are and what defines us. Allowing these experiences to drive our content allows a story to be told. Personal brands are the accumulation of stories that define a person, and knowing how those stories can positively influence others gives our experiences and brands a greater purpose.
Figuring out the impact your brand's message can have will foster more content, more genuine content, and instill a clear message of what defines you and your brand.
We've talked about defining the core values for your personal brand, the values you as a person live by. So, how do you keep yourself aligned with those values to make sure your brand and values never come into question? At LW, we think surrounding yourself with people who also hold the same values as you makes staying true to yourself and your brand a little easier.
They key difference between a personal brand and the brand of an organization, is the reputation damage done when a personal brand goes against its core values. When an organization does something that doesn't align with their values, the whole company takes the blame. However, when a personal brand goes against its values, that person's values and reputation is put into question. It's personal.
Surrounding yourself with positive people and influences, who hold the same values as you makes staying true to these values easier. When you surround yourself with these types of people, you will find these are the same people who encourage you to be the best version of yourself. They keep you on the path towards success; a path fueled by the core values you have linked to your brand.
For athletes, living in a world where your moves on and off the field are under constant watch and judgement from others means the stakes are high. Living the life of an athlete means treading waters filled with temptations steering you away from your core values. Having a platform with the potential to reach a large amount of people, comes with a lot of responsibility. This responsibility becomes easier when you have a core group of people behind you pushing you to stay true to yourself and your values.
While defining who you are and what your brand stands for may seem like an easy task, living by these values proves to be a daily test for anyone. Surround yourself with positivity. Surround yourself with positive people. Create an environment where you and your brand have the ability to continually grow and stay true to the values you align yourself with.
We've said it before, and we will say it again, content is king. The content you put out not only defines your brand, but it allows users to relate to your brand and create a personal connection. For athletes, the easiest way to create this personal connection for audiences is to provide them with as much behind the scenes content as possible.
Behind the scenes content could come as photos at practice, videos from a training session before the season begins, or a picture of an athlete and their family. Any time an athlete can show their audience who they are and what they do outside of playing their sport, they allow themselves to be seen for more than just an athlete. They become relatable and they expand their brand.
Not only does behind the scenes content provide your audience a chance to relate to you, but it also offers insight into a world many people don't experience. To be a professional athlete involves having a skill set many people don't possess, meaning the majority of people will never know what it's like to be a professional athlete. People see content of athletes playing their respective sports all the time, they want to see what happens in an athlete's life when they aren't playing their sport. People want to see how rigorous training is, what their pregame ritual may be, or what type of activities an athlete likes to do in their free time, and so on.
Content is king, but quality content offering exclusive insight into an athletes daily activities is what builds strong and effective brands.
While we talk about branding needing to be consistent, it is important to realize that personal brands can grow and add dimensions, because people grow and change. While core values often don't change, people may introduce additional core values to their life as their surroundings change.
An athlete who enters the league at age 20 or 22, will most likely have different focuses at the beginning of their career than what they are focusing on once they are retiring at age 27 or 30. Most often a young adult entering the league is focused on training to make a name for themselves on the field. They may also associate their name with a philanthropy project they believe in. While years pass, and players begin to build families, or other passions, their values also build.
Our own company recently went through a re-branding phase. While our core values of faith, positivity and personal growth remain the same, as a brand we decided to emphasize them more in our work and implement them into our daily routines. Our company grew both in size and values, which means our brand needed to represent this same change.
Reflecting on who you are as a person and what your brand represents is necessary to do so your brand is consistently reflecting the values which define you. Growing as a person means your brand should grow as well. Authentic, genuine and transparent brands prosper.
Change happens to everyone, and embracing that change is what humanizes your brand. No one is the same person they were ten, five or even a year ago, which is why your brand has to change with you as well. Consistency is key, but being consistent only happens when you are consistently aligning your brand with your authentic self.
There is no doubt that putting consistent content on your social platforms creates brand awareness and helps define your brand; but what type of factors create brand loyalty? What can you do on social media to keep your audience engaged and create a lasting audience who believes in and supports your brand?
Interaction is the answer. It is not enough to post to social media and log off for the rest of the day. Audiences want to interact with your brand on a more personal level, and one photo a day on Instagram will not suffice as effective interaction. Taking the time to comment on someone's social media profile, or to respond to someone's comment on your content creates a more personal interaction.
Audiences will connect more with a brand if they feel they are being listened to. Depending on the size and following of your brand, you may not have the time or resources to respond to everyone who comments on your content, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't respond to a few comments. If someone can take the time out of their day to respond and react to your content, it would be the human thing to take time to respond back and create a real interaction between yourself and your audience.
Once this interaction becomes more regular, and your audience realizes that your brand interacts and engages with their followers more so than other brands, loyalty will occur. Your audience will feel a connection to your brand because they will have experienced the humanization of your brand, as well as associate your brand as one that listens and cares about its audience.
Being an expert in social media is much easier said than done. No one becomes an expert overnight and mastering a medium that is constantly changing requires, patience, an open mind, as well as a trial and error process.
Have you ever felt once you finally understand a feature on social media, that platform quickly adds another feature you have to learn? Platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are constantly adding new features and layouts to their sites and apps so users can have new and innovative experiences on social media. The only thing you can do is slowly and patiently adapt with the platform as well.
This is best done by practicing new features with an open mind and using trial and error to figure out what works for your brand and what features you can optimize in your favor. Social media is all about staying current, so not implementing your brand into new features will leave your business in the past and most likely forgotten.
Don't be afraid to put content out and see how your audience reacts to it. Try new mediums and try new features. Do your research, play around with the features and implement them into your social media strategy slowly but surely. The only way to figure out a new feature on social media is to jump in and try to use it. Through a process of trial and error, you will eventually master the tool and see your success transfer into added value for your brand and your audience.
Collaboration and transparency.
When we work with our clients on establishing and defining their brands, we believe collaboration and transparency accomplishes this task best. At LW we incorporate these strategies into our work and brand, which is why we know it is a process that works.
Collaborating with your team leads to greater success because you are learning and evolving thoughts from individuals with different perspectives and insights. When we meet with our clients, we want to be a resource for them. A resource which shows them the potential their brand holds, as well as a resource that sees their brand through the lens of someone other than themselves. Ultimately, for our clients, it is their brand and they define what they want their brand to be, who they want it to be associated with, and what they share with the world. Collaboration allows our clients to have this say, but it also as allows us to share our knowledge with them and teach them how they can optimize sharing their brand and the story behind it.
Transparency is not only important for sharing a brand's story, but it also allows collaboration to happen more productively. Primarily, it is our job to help our clients tell their story, not make their story. This can only be done when we are transparent about ourselves and our mission, allowing our clients to feel they can be just as transparent with us. People follow brands that are authentic, genuine and possess a humanization factor. Encouraging our clients to be transparent about what their brand stands for and what inspired that definition is how we successfully create this type of brand.
At the end of the day, there are many factors for creating successful brands, we believe collaboration and transparency are at the base of these factors. Without either of these strategies, brands may not live up to their full potential. A brand is only as strong as its continued growth, which is a process we believe in strongly and work to implement into our brand and our clients' brands every day.
For the first time, most young athletes who are either beginning their careers or early in their careers had social media in their early teens. Think about that, players in their early to mid twenties have had an online presence for so long, there is tangible documentation of how they thought and acted throughout their adolescent years.
Since social media has become an inevitable factor in our daily lives, the importance of checking your social media content annually is more important than ever before. We are (hopefully) not the same person we are today as we were in our early teens. We most likely don't have the same mindsets, same goals, or even the same personalities. If all of this is true, then why would you want your social media to reflect thoughts and opinions you do not hold anymore?
The biggest question you should be asking yourself is: does my social media reflect who I am presently? If the answer is no, than you should immediately be taking steps to clean out old posts, pictures, likes and comments which do not reflect who your presently and the values you define yourself with. For athletes especially, this is an important task for ensuring fans and those who look up to you know who you are presently. In order to successfully do this, we suggest recapping your social media at least once a year and cleaning out any content which does not reflect who you are presently.
Another important aspect of social media etiquette is to not spew negative thoughts, comments, shares or opinions on your social media. Most of us speak negatively when we are upset or angry, often in a heat of the moment situation. Think before you post. While posting has become a sort of journal for many, a medium in which we can share every thought which pops into our heads, it is important to think about the impact a post may have the next day, week, or year. While it can be so easy to jump online when something upsets you, take a moment to think about if that thought falls into one of the values you align yourself with. Doing this will not only keep your brand consistent, but it will prevent you from having to jump on the defensive when those posts may be brought to light.
Lastly, keeping your content consistent means changing your social as you change. We are always growing, evolving our thoughts; as this occurs, so should your social media platforms. Since athletes are typically seen as influencers, if one of your values or opinions changes, it is important to make sure your social media reflects this change too. Whether we want to believe it or not, people will search through your social media including years past. It is hard to display and preach a consistent message if you have conflicting content.
Overall, whether you are an athlete or not, it is important to reflect on who you are and what values define you as a person. Change your social media as you and your values shift. Cleaning out your social media at least once a year will help you present theses values and show a consistent message. Don't spew negativity online. Think about the impact of your posts before you post them. It is never a good idea to post when you are feeling something in the moment. Make sure your posts reflect who you are presently and what you value. Most people don't know who you are outside of social media, which is why maintaining a present and true representation of yourself on social media is essential for representing your brand.
Reflecting on your social media analytics is important for improving your content and determining what is working and what isn't working for your brand. While doing this with your social analytics is important for improvement, personally reflecting on the content you put out is important for remaining consistent and ensuring your are practicing what you preach.
A personal reflection on the type of content you are putting out to define your brand also allows you to reflect on if you are practicing what you are preaching. People follow authentic brands. Authenticity comes when brands practice what they preach. If an athlete posts on social media about maintaining sportsmanship throughout their career but on game day does not practice good sportsmanship, they will lose their credibility and authenticity.
You can't just post and speak about things you want your brand to be, you have to live by those standards as well. Why would an audience practice what your brand is preaching if your brand is not even doing it? They won't. When a brand doesn't act on their messages, an audience won't believe that the advice or message actually works.
Everything is about outcomes. When a brand puts out advice or tips, the audience expects these posts to come from experiences a brand has had, not advice about something which should work in theory. People follow brands who post content which is creative and reliable. The only way to do this is by practicing the content you put out and making sure you provide your audience with follow up about those experiences.
Follow up is key. You have to practice what your preach and also show your audience when you are actively doing this. Post on your social media behind the scenes insights into something you have posted about in the past. While a follow up post about the subject is important, so is posting real time content of practicing something your brand promotes.
Overall, a brand is only as good as it is authentic and genuine. Practicing what you preach will not only add these characteristics to your brand, but it will make it easier for you to come up with content to put out. You will have more experiences to pull from and you will be able to show your audience through real measurable outcomes that your content is effective.