Today’s internet runs on a bargain economy: we trade our engagement and attention for digital content that entertains and/or instructs.
But a savvy social media user knows that one of the best tools you have is something that is way under-used online: authenticity.
Yup, good old fashioned authenticity. You know, the opposite of click-bait titles, salesy promotions, and fake news.
What I’m talking about today is how to be honest and genuine in sharing your offerings online, without feeling totally icky about it. Self-promotion is a fine line to walk, but it can be done in an organic and thoughtful way that your followers won’t mind.
Step 1: Posting with Authenticity
Your authentic voice is what makes you a reliable and trustworthy source for content. Start with authenticity, and you’ll earn your followers’ trust and appreciation.
Know your brand voice
Starting with an authentic brand voice is key to establishing and positioning the brand that is you. Before you can begin to promote yourself without feeling gross, you should have a sense of who your brand is, and by extension who you yourself are.
I’m not suggesting you take a wilderness hike to find yourself or anything (although go for it if that’s your thing), but I do recommend starting with a clear idea of how you want to be represented.
If you blog about local cupcakes, you may want a fun, upbeat tone in your branding. Less so if you’re an independent lawyer or a private investigator.
A great example of brand voice is Caitlin Bacher. I took her Fab Facebook Group course earlier this year to launch my Facebook group and fell in love with her voice. Her authenticity is through the roof! Her videos are so real and don't have all the “fluff” that other industry professionals love to tout. The proof is in the pudding, just look at her follower count on Instagram:
Be authentic with images
This is an extension of your branding, really. Your imagery should reflect the tone of your brand. Stick to a visual style that’s on-key with your messaging and try really hard not to stray too far from it.
A pro tip: don’t use bad stock images. In today’s era, there is just no excuse. Check out free sites like PicJumbo.com and PikWizard.com for an amazing collection of images you can use for free! My personal favorite site for stock photos is Adobe Stock! And yes, that's an affiliate link because I love, love, love their variety.
And if you can, make your own graphics! A branded image to accompany social media posts about your recent content looks so much more professional than a someone else's photo. I have an entire course that walks you through how to create amazing social media graphics that are totally you.
P.S. If you want a short cut, I also recommend looking at some templates like these from Bluchic:
Don’t buy followers
Just don’t do it. Just. Don’t.
It’s against the rules and it’s gross.
I go into full detail why here. (P.S. I've done it before and it's not pretty.)
Most importantly: tell the truth!
If you’re worried about promoting yourself because you feel it’ll make you look like you have an inflated ego, I think the most important thing you can do is to make sure that whatever you do to promote yourself and your work, you’re honest and up front.
Tell people why you think they should read your blog (or watch your video or listen to your podcast or insert promo here), and don’t sell yourself short.
Whenever you’re posting something, just ask yourself: is this true? Would I make this claim to someone who knew me personally? Could this help someone else in some way?
If you know that you’re providing good content, and at the end of the day you’ve got a good product or service, no hidden or sneaky fees, and an intent to help people, then you can’t go too far wrong in the world of self-promotion.Your authentic voice is what makes you a reliable and trustworthy source for content.Click To Tweet
Step 2: Network Like You Care
Networking can seem like a seedy business if you approach it wrong.
Successful bloggers, influencers, and gurus never make connections with people purely for profit or social advancement. There’s another name for that: using people.
Don’t do that.
A successful networking exchange benefits both parties and often results in something of use or value to your followers.
No social climbing necessary. Here's how:
Get into a community
One of the most authentic ways to build a network is to join an already existing one.
Which Facebook groups and online message boards are the biggest in your field? Which ones are the most fun? Don’t be afraid to join up and make a post that introduces yourself and what you’re about. If you have a large enough following, you could even start your own!
When you join a community, you contribute to organic and fun relationships with people. Be an active contributor and listener and people won’t mind if you share your successes and useful content with them when you want to. The key is to give way more than you ask for something.
Remember that online communities are just like any other: you have to be authentic, patient, and invested in them to earn results.Your #socialmedia actions should result in something of use or value to your followers.Click To Tweet
Respond to your comments- and not generically!
Guess what? You need to be responding to your comments and emails.
I’m #sorrynotsorry but this one is non-negotiable. If someone takes the time to leave a comment on your content or engage with you, the only reasonable and polite thing to do is to respond with a gracious comment or email in return. Unless you're #famous like Oprah, the you get a pass. The rest of us need to respond to all comments & messages.
Ignoring messages is a great way to make yourself look arrogant or disinterested, which is, last time I checked, not a good branding strategy.
Build in 15 minutes every day to check up on your social feed and respond to comments in a specific, tailored way. Take time to address the specific comments someone has left you and suggest something that might help or amuse them.
It doesn’t take long and it does a lot to build your reputation.
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Share the love and share gratitude
One of the most fun and organic ways to promote yourself is to praise others! When you come across content that you enjoyed and think your followers might enjoy, don’t hesitate to share it with them. Tag the content creator or drop them an email to tell them that you shared it with your followers as well.
Not only is it lovely to promote the hard work of others, your followers will also be able to see that you’re involved in your industry and that you're not above sharing the love. The person you’re praising might consider taking a look at your work or sending some love your way as well.
Once again, share content that makes sense for your niche and be authentic in your intentions! They may not ever share your content or return the favor, and that’s okay too. The idea is to be helpful, useful, and friendly in your space. That kindness will speak for itself.Share content that makes sense for your niche and be authentic in your intentions!Click To Tweet
Step 3: Be Consistent
In the world of social media as business, you really can’t afford to just share when you feel like it. The reality is that most of your followers won’t see all of your content, so posting regularly and consistently isn’t an act of vanity, it’s a necessity.
You have to keep your feeds updated to ensure that your followers have a chance of seeing what you’re putting out into the world. If you don't, you run the risk of being forgotten.
Here's my advice for maintaining that consistency with out spending all of your time playing on Facebook:
Use a scheduling software
First of all, get an automation program. Using something like Buffer, Sprout Social, or Hootsuite is perfect way to get your content queued up well in advance. If you book a few hours a month to get third party content queued up can save you a lot of time and hassle, and it will do a lot to improve engagement rates.
Here's a peek inside my Hootsuite:
You can also keep a bookmark folder on your computer and bookmark any content you want to share as you encounter it throughout the week, then queue it up all at once. Doing anything in batches saves tons of time. It's how my team and I work on client work so I personally recommend this method. This blog post from Problogger goes into more detail for how you can be more productive by batching.
Put social media on your calendar
In addition to batch scheduling, plot out time in your calendar for when you’re going to respond to comments, queue up content, and do other social media housekeeping tasks.
I personally cannot LIVE without my Google calendar and Asana. I use both together to make sure that I have enough time to do all the things I need to get done in a day, this includes queuing up my social media posts for the following week.
Unless you magically get your work done with no scheduling at all, you should approach posting with just the same rigor you apply to any other aspect of your work. Be intentional and be thoughtful about it! Set aside time and you'll get it done!Be intentional and be thoughtful about the content you post on social media. Plan it out!Click To Tweet
It’s okay to reuse content!
If you have heaps of content you’ve only shared once or twice, it’s okay to re-share it! In fact, I highly encourage you to re-share it. The vast majority of your followers haven’t seen it yet, and even if they have, it’s not going to upset them to see it twice if they happen to remember. (and that's a huge “if”)
If you want to freshen it up, make a new graphic or tie the copy you use when you post it into a recent theme you’re exploring. Try relating some of your old content to current trends or news articles if you have something relevant already published.
If you still feel uncomfortable re-sharing content, you can even own up to the fact that it’s from the vault! You could create a hashtag that you use to share old content, or just tap into the classic #throwbackthursday to own up to it. But really, re-using is no big deal and you should be doing it.
One of my new favorite tools for re-scheduling older content is RecurPost.com. I have all my old blog posts queued up to post once or twice a week as well as quotes, social media tips, and promos to join my mailing list. Below, I've got an example for what that looks like on my Facebook page:
To Wrap It All Up
As you think about your social media strategy, remember to approach your posts with the same philosophy you use to do any work: do your best, be authentic, get your work in consistently, and be useful to the people you’re working for. When you re-focus your attention on providing value (and overall, acting like a human), it takes the icky feeling out of promoting your offers.
So tell me, how are you going to promote yourself on social media this week? Leave a comment below to continue the conversation.
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Andréa Jones is a social media strategist who works with lifestyle brands to build their online presence through targeted social media and content marketing solutions. She's also the founder of SavvySocialSchool.com – a membership community with everything you need to achieve visibility, growth, and engagement on social media.