You’ve probably heard the mantras from marketing experts: ‘People buy from those they know, like and trust’; ‘Be authentic and real’.
And they’re right.
But just how ‘real’ do you need to be? Should you share things about your personal life on your business page on social media? Or on your LinkedIn profile? And if so, how much?
In a recent webinar ‘How to create an authentic personal brand online that connects you to your audience’, presented to premium members of the Vegan Women’s Leadership Network, Melissa Scott of Divine Creative Agency said it’s essential for business owners to get more personal on social media.
“There’s nothing you can learn about social media that will magically get you a big following if you’re not prepared to be authentic, sometimes bold and show your unique self in your marketing,” says Scott. “You’ll just look the same as everybody else, hidden behind their cardboard cut-out personal brand. You’ll have a nice little following but that will likely never change until you get real.”
To put her money where her mouth is, Scott, at the age of 49, has resurrected her long-held passion to be a singer – a career path she left behind 30 years ago. She’s created a rock band which has released their first single and are working on an album.
Scott shared her new project on her social media accounts and as she noted in the webinar, you can’t expect everyone to love what you’re doing or agree with you. “Someone actually told me to stop over-achieving,” says Scott. “As if women nearing 50 and over are expected to just settle down and be quiet.”
My own experiences bear this out too. I share my love of bling, glitter and sparkle publicly as well as me and my wife Tracie all glammed up, dancing and strutting our stuff at a fabulous old-school LGBTIQ disco we love going to (or did, pre-Covid!).
Anyone who disapproves of us, our campness, or our relationship isn’t my client and that’s fine. If you spend time worrying about what people will think and trying to please everyone and offend no one, you’ll just end up stressed and unlikely to see your business grow.
Share your opinion and take a stand
Chances are you’re not the only one doing what you do in your industry, so you need to stand out. Share your opinions and don’t be afraid to take a stand on a cause or topic that’s important to you.
This year saw large corporations as well as small businesses state their support for the Black Lives Matter movement on social media. This didn’t go down well with some of their customers, but was appreciated by others.
By the same token, I’ve seen vegan brands proudly support LGBTIQ rights and been lambasted by some of their followers and praised by others. Decide who you want to serve.
That said, it doesn’t mean you have to share every intimate detail of your life. Be discerning.
What about politics?
This is a tricky one as it can be extremely divisive. If you’re a vegan business owner and you support certain political candidates that many of your customers find abhorrent, you have to make a decision about whether you share this in public. “If you feel you absolutely have to share something, even at the expense of your business, you have to decide if it’s worth it,” says Scott.
What kind of personal content is it a good idea to share?
Do you have a hobby that has nothing to do with your business? Share a photo or video of you doing it. You can’t go wrong with cat pics or videos (or dogs) so let people know what animals you share your life and home with.
Some people are happy to show off family activities that include their children, but not everyone is comfortable with that, so make a judgement call.
My wife Tracie, a clinical hypnotherapist and naturopath, loves dancing on pointe and reimaging classical ballet scenes from a vegan perspective.
Here’s a performance she did recently at Central Station, which she shared on her social channels:
As she helps people with their mental and physical health, this fit well with the ethos of her brand and also showed a creative, fun and different side to her clinic persona.
One exercise I do with my PR consulting clients or vegan business owners who are taking my Vegans in the Limelight Online PR course is to get them to write ‘5 Things Most People Don’t Know About You’ for their bios or About page on their website.
This can be a hobby, an activity, an achievement, a famous person you’ve met, or a funny anecdote. The point is that it needs to be quirky and a bit unusual (keep it legal though!).
As well as forming part of your ‘About you’ section on your website, these 5 (or 7 or 9) things can also be shared on social media and are likely to get more engagement than a ‘Buy my stuff now’ kind of post.
Make a connection
With Covid-19 changing so much our lives this year, people want real connection more than ever.
Yes, some people will buy because of the features or benefits of your products or services, but given a choice between similar brands, they’re more likely to pick the one they feel more of an emotional connection with.
Most people buy from emotion and justify the purchase with logic.
Think of your own buying habits: If you’re considering making an investment in a product or service, you’ll typically do some research to see what’s out there.
If a particular brand inspires you because of their purpose, makes you laugh, or creates trust and warmth, you’ll likely choose them over their competitors.
Make sure you continue the conversation with people who engage with you. Instead of just ‘broadcasting’ on social media, check the comments and reply.
Yes, this can be time-consuming but here’s something to consider: People don’t often remember what you said, but they do remember how you made them feel. So make your audience feel special, heard and seen.
And the only way to truly connect with someone is to be real.
Are you ready to get personal and up your connection marketing? Watch the ‘How to create an authentic personal brand online that connects you to your audience webinar by Melissa Scott of Divine Creative Agency.
Katrina Fox is an award-winning vegan journalist, publisher, speaker, PR consultant and media trainer who teaches vegan business owners, entrepreneurs and change makers how to get free publicity by sharing their stories. Katrina was a regular contributor to Forbes for a year, writing about vegan and plant-based business. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of Vegan Business Media, the host of Vegan Business Talk podcast, and the author of Vegan Ventures: Start and Grow an Ethical Business. Katrina is also the creator of Vegans in the Limelight: Online PR course for Vegan Business Owners and Entrepreneurs, the founder of the Vegan Women’s Leadership Network and host of the Conversations with Vegan Women Leaders podcast. For more information and to hire Katrina, email her at katrina [at] veganbusinessmedia [dotcom]