Figuring out how to build a brand on the web is a valuable skill to master. The internet has created an endless number of opportunities for creative professionals. All you need to become your own boss is a creative skill and a domain name, or so the popular refrain goes. In the early days of the internet, it was even true. But today there’s an endless amount of competition on every website, and no amount of skill or talent will ensure the success of your career.
Today we’re going to take an in-depth look at how to build a brand on social media as a creative professional.
What is a creative?
Since these businesses are built around an individual’s creativity, most creatives build their brands around themselves. Some have a business name, like The Creative Penn, but many simply use their own name, like Jenna Moreci.
How to build a brand as a creative
Today we’re going to walk you through how to build a brand as a creative entrepreneur on social media. For most creatives, this means your personal social media profiles will also be your business’s social media profiles.
Using this method comes with some distinct advantages:
- As an individual, you will have an easier time building a personal connection with your customers.
- You don’t need to maintain multiple accounts on each platform.
- You can attend events and take advantage of other networking opportunities tailored to individuals.
However, there are also some disadvantages to using your personal profiles for business:
- You need to be hyper-aware of what you post on your personal pages; if you post about subjects like politics, you need to be aware of what that might do to your brand’s reputation.
- If you decide to hire someone to manage your social media, they will need access to your personal profiles.
- You may need to move your brand to a new account if your business grows to include several creatives.
In most cases, the advantages here outweigh the disadvantages. However, if you plan to grow your business to incorporate many creative talents, you should consider creating a separate name for your brand.
For the purposes of this guide on how to build a brand, we’ll assume that you’re using your own name as your brand name.
Use a professional headshot for your social media profiles
Using your personal profile for your brand’s social media is no excuse to get sloppy with your design. In fact, you want to go the extra mile with a professional headshot that matches your brand look.
The ideal image should use your brand colors to convey the emotions you want people to associate with your brand. I chose the above image for my author brand because it conveys a sense of timelessness and wonder. The red of my coat and the brick wall also complement the orange tones on the cover of my first book, Keeper of the Dawn.
Use the same headshot across all of your social media profiles so people can easily recognize you when they find you on different sites.
Develop your brand voice
You might assume that when you’re the brand, the voice is simply your voice. And you would almost be correct. Your brand voice should be the best version of your voice. Consistency is the key to success, even when your brand is based on you as an individual. Every post should have a goal, even if it’s just to update your followers on a recent project.
Here are a few questions to ask when developing your brand voice:
1. What emotions do you want people to associate with your brand?
What do you want people to feel when they visit your social media profiles? Should they feel inspired, comforted, amused? Write down 2-3 emotions you want to be associated with your brand. You can then use these emotions to guide your content creation.
Someone who does this particularly well is Jenna Moreci. Her YouTube channel is a great place to find no-nonsense writing advice with a satirical bent.
2. What problems do you solve for your customers?
What exactly do your customers get out of your products or services? How can you demonstrate your understanding of these issues on social media? What terminology can you use to root your persona in your expertise?
At this stage you should also consider how sharing your personal struggles can show your audience that you understand what they’re going through, and how you can use those struggles to help your audience. Again, this is something Jenna Moreci does quite well. In October 2018 she published a YouTube video with advice about how to become successful in spite of mental illness, with tips rooted in her own experience of mental illness.
3. How do you want to interact with customers?
The final piece of the puzzle in learning how to build a brand is figuring out how you’ll interact with customers when they respond to your posts or ask you questions. Can your followers expect responses within a certain timeframe or at a certain time each day? Do you have pre-written responses to common questions, maybe including links to content you’ve created to tackle those questions?
One creative who has truly mastered authentic communication with their audience is Chuck Wendig. His responses are genuine and often provide useful advice, but they’re also wrapped up in his creative, humorous voice.
And these questions only scratch the surface of your brand voice. If you want to go even deeper, check out our guide to developing your brand voice.
Understand social media etiquette
One of the most important aspects of understanding how to build a brand is understanding what you shouldn’t do. This is particularly important when you are your brand, as the rules for social media etiquette are more likely to get blurred.
Here are a few things to remember when learning how to build a brand with your personal social media profiles:
- Personal profiles have marketing-related limitations – Some social media platforms like Facebook prohibit marketing activities on personal accounts. Using your personal profile inappropriately can lead to suspension or even permanent deletion of your account. Understand the rules for each social media platform, and work within them.
- Everything you post is automatically affiliated with your brand – Personal posts can affect your brand if you have a separate company account, but they always affect your brand if you are the brand. You want everything you post to show clients why they want to work with you.
- Always focus on personal connections – In social media marketing, your focus should always be on building personal connections. This is especially true if you are your brand. Remember that sales will come from your relationships, but don’t make them the focus of your relationships. People can tell when all you want is their money.
Once you know the rules, you’re ready to learn how to build a brand as a creative entrepreneur on social media.
Market your personal brand on social media
Social media is a great tool for businesses, but it was originally built for individuals. Many of its features still work best for individuals. As a person who is also your own brand, you’re ideally positioned to take advantage of the best aspects of social media.
Here are a few unique ways you can use your personal profile to boost your personal brand:
1. Join groups
One of the best ways to network on platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn is to participate in groups. You can find Facebook groups for every kind of community. LinkedIn has professional groups for people in every industry. In both cases, participating actively in groups can put you – and therefore your brand – in front of hundreds or even thousands of eyeballs every day.
How to use this strategy: Focus on groups that are relevant to the work you do. Participate authentically. Join community discussions, answer questions when you can, and follow the rules about linking back to your own work.
2. Participate in events
People might look a little strangely at a company attending certain online events, but as an individual, you’re welcome at any social media event. And there is a huge variety of social media events to choose from, allowing you to mingle with both colleagues and potential clients.
How to use this strategy: Some social media networks are better for events than others. For example, Twitter is home to many weekly chats, where people gather on the platform for an hour or two to discuss a specific topic. Find the events that actually sound like fun to you, and attend them with a goal of making personal connections, not sales. If these events provide an opportunity to share your links, do so. Otherwise, let people go back to your profile if they want to know more about you.
3. Participate in a wider range of social media platforms
Some social media platforms, like Reddit, are far less open to company accounts and branded content than others. As an individual, you have an opportunity to participate in these communities and draw eyes to your work without being perceived as a company.
How to use this strategy: Try out a wide variety of social media platforms, including those focused on individual users. Put links to your work in your bio and participate authentically. If the platform provides organic opportunities to share your work, go ahead and do so.
4. Collaborate with influencers
One of the most powerful forms of marketing in today’s social media landscape is influencer marketing. As an individual with a social media platform, you have the opportunity to approach this in a different way: as a collaboration. Instead of hiring your favorite influencers, ask if they would be willing to create content or run an online event together. This works particularly well on YouTube, where channel collaborations are quite popular even in small niches.
How to use this strategy: Approach influencers you admire. Compliment their work honestly, and ask if they’re interested in collaborating. Pitch a specific project you would like to collaborate on, and make it as simple as humanly possible for them to participate. And if they refuse, be polite – the last thing you want to do is get on an influencer’s bad side.
Final advice on how to build a brand as a creative on social media
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