By Nicole Bremner.
The importance of building a personal brand and using it to raise your social media profile is hardly news. But used cleverly it can do more than raise your profile, helping you engage with potential partners, form strong relationships of trust and ultimately do business.
Build a personal brand
Reams of articles, podcasts and blogs have been devoted to the subject of brand-building via your platform of choice, because it’s free marketing that really works for those who use it effectively. But the message about brand-building isn’t always getting through – or being acted on – by businesses that would really benefit.
For example, there are loads of people in property development who remain invisible because no one knows the person behind the brand. By making themselves clearly visible, people will buy into and trust that person rather than a faceless corporation.
Not everyone knows the multinational holding company Berkshire Hathaway, but everyone’s aware of the company’s chairman and CEO Warren Buffet, because his personal brand is so strong. That’s why people do business with him. Everyone wants to know about these high profile people and then work with them, because they know what they stand for. So get your brand out there.
Educate and disseminate
Social media is also vital for educating and disseminating information about the industry – for example, in my case how the property process works and how to raise funds through crowdfunding. So give as much information and advice to your customers as possible.
You may think giving away information for free will make them less likely to work with you but actually it’s the opposite. The more they consume your information and can see you’re an expert who’s generous with your time and information, the more they’ll choose to work with you rather than someone else as they’ll already have that relationship of trust with you.
Pick your platform carefully
When planning your social media campaign pick your platform. If your business is very visual, use Instagram. If you’re more verbal go for Twitter. If you’re good with video choose YouTube.
You don’t need a presence on every media platform. Pick the ones that are working well for you and that you have time to maintain. Consistency is essential if you’re to build a following and engage with them in meaningful ways.
Build up a story that people want to listen to. They don’t so much want dry information about your company but your own story, preferably a funny one. In my case it’s the story of how I met my business partner, Avi Dodi, who walked into a property and within 30 seconds said ‘Yep let’s buy it”. It adds a bit of colour to something that could be quite dry. And people remember that.
Storytelling is very important right now on social media. You’ve probably noticed that Facebook and Instagram put stories right at the top. Stories are being prioritised, so bring yours into the conversation.
Engage with your community
Social media has to be a two-way conversation, you have to engage with your community. You can’t just use it as a PR machine, but for discussion and being social with your community. So don’t just blow your own trumpet.
In this way I met Robin from prop-tech company Bamboo Auction, who contacted me in response to one of my tweets. We started a discussion and from there developed a business relationship. We have now co-launched online property auction site Duomo (www.duomohq.com), which is revolutionising the property market for women. Many opportunities have arisen in this way and if I hadn’t engaged with my community on social media it’s possible they would have been less interested in working with me.
I also connected with the estate agent Knight Frank and eventually appointed them to sell our development in Harrington Gardens, Kensington. This was all because of the incredible social media profile of the company’s super prime estate agent Daniel Daggers. I wanted to leverage off that. So it works both ways. For me choosing business relationships is all about whether they’ve got a good social media profile. I want to work with people who get what I’m doing and equally get the whole importance of social media. For me it’s importance just can’t be ignored.
Playing safe serves little purpose. There’s no point being on social media if you’re just going to be generic and neutral in what you post. It’s vital to get across what you’re about on social media and make sure your bio stands out from everyone else’s in their market. Show that you’re unique.
And avoid being too ‘corporate’. Yes, it’s about business and credibility, but you have to make yourself memorable. If you’re into skydiving talk about it on social media so people see a multi-dimensional you. If they then meet you at a networking event, how are they going to remember you otherwise? If you remind them that you’re the one who jumps out of planes, they’ll engage with you far more easily, because you’ve already caught their eye.
7 Simple Tips
Respond – if people comment or follow you keenly, respond to them.
Engage – don’t just ‘like’ but also comment, ask a question, or offer insight to your followers and those you want to connect with
Follow back– unless their content looks suspect, you need to reach out and not expect everyone to come to you after you post your content
Follow hashtags – on Instagram you can follow specific hashtags so you can view accounts that post similar content or ideas
Ignore negativity – judgement or criticism can come with the territory. But if someone is challenging an idea, join the debate!
Get creative – play around with apps and tools to make your content vibrant and fun. You won’t regret it.
Don’t take it too seriously – social media is fun and just about meeting people and creating connections
Nicole Bremner is a property developer, founder of East Eight (www.east-eight.com) and bestselling author of BRICKING IT: From Stay at Home Mum to Millions in Property. She is passionate about making the world of property more accessible to women, recently launching online property auction site Duomo (www.duomohq.com) in partnership with Bamboo Auction.