Two of my friends asked me for some advice about starting online projects. It made me realise that over the years I have gathered some tips and tricks and I am the type of person to share my knowledge, no matter how limited.
Firstly, I’m going to blow my trumpet a little and tell you all why I am qualified to be giving out this kind of advice. This blog, this very blog you’re reading, is five years old this summer. I have been in the YouTube world for just over three years. I have been ‘online’ since 2010 and pretty much have an account on every social media network worth pursuing. I’ve worked with lots of different brands and groups, on both sponsored and non-sponsored content. And the icing on the cake is that I study Journalism Studies at the University of Sheffield, so I basically get taught all this stuff too!
People, Faces, Names
People react more to people. A lot of the time, when someone is trying to use social media to promote their business or brand, they are reluctant to promote themselves. While the business or brand is the thing actually making you money, you, as a person, is the thing attracting people to that business. You are the face of your brand. People are not only investing into your products and services, they are investing in you because they believe in you.
Linking this to social media, you will need to create social media accounts for your brand/business/service but also for yourself. You need to establish a personality for yourself and a separate one for your business.
People like to see the face behind a brand but they also appreciate the differentiation between the two.
Continuing on from the last point, you need to create online personalities for both yourself and your brand. When we were younger on the internet, parents, teachers and the government would constantly warn us of the dangers of the internet. “Don’t use your real name!” “Don’t tell people about yourself!” “Don’t say where you live!” and to be honest, they were right. The internet was uncharted territory then and everyone was weary of it. Nowadays, we can be open, while still being careful.
Some people go down the whole pseudonym route and will create a whole persona for being online. Many of the first ‘YouTubers’ and bloggers did that – y’all didn’t think Zoella was her real name, right??
On the other side of the spectrum are people who really blossom because of how open they are about their lives. We’ve watched my girl, Patricia Bright get married, have her first baby, move into her own house, and all the while felt like we’ve been on the journey with her!
Both of these, or even a mixture of the two, can be effective and have their pros and cons. Find the balance that works for you. Using myself as an example, I am fairly open – I say where I go to Uni and share a fair amount about my life. But I go by Paula Melissa and not my actual surname and withhold a lot of details.
That’s my balance. Find yours.
Formally Known As
Continuing (my GCSE English Language and Literature teacher would be so proud of my structuring here because they’re all linking and flowing), you need to decide what tone of voice you’ll have on your social media.
- Will you be formal and only use it for business and networking?
- Will you be totally informal and write like you’re speaking to your friends?
Again, both have their perks but also their qualms. Here’s where I slot my opinion – a mixture of both is needed!
When I started to work on my Paula Melissa brand, I consciously decided to change the way I tweet and post. I could not be writing in slang (Lord forgive me for ever writing like this in the first place: “yo wuu2 b??xxx” *gags*) and expect brands and companies I wanted to work with to take me seriously.
But at the same time, the USP (unique selling point – GCSE Business Studies, come throughhhh) is that my brand is based around me. My bubbly, friendly personality is my brand and potential clients need to get that through my online presence. So again, it is a balancing act. You can tweet about things that interest you and retweet funny videos of cats singing all while still tweeting updates about your products/business/content professionally.
Find your voice and showcase it, unashamedly.
The title of this section is paying homage to an old-school trend on Twitter – if you know, you know;)
It is important to learn who to follow/contact when starting your brand. This is obviously specific to what online project you are creating. For example; starting a YouTube channel. Subscribe to other people creating similar content to what you’d like to make. Drop some genuine comments (oh, and by the way, we can tell when a comment is genuine and when it is just there to get me to sub back. Girl bye.)
On Twitter and Instagram, follow people posting similar things to you or in the field you want to be in. In terms of using social media to networking and find jobs, I’ve done a detailed post here.
The gist of it is, do not be afraid to contact people. Message them. Tweet them. Most of the time, people want to talk to you.
Which One’s Right?
Lastly, I want to talk about which social media network is the best for you.
When I started and in the first few years, I took the ‘bull in a china shop’ approach, meaning I just made every single social media network I could. I was hilarious. I struggled to update them all often and some of them where completely pointless for a teenage girl from London to be on at the time…
Social media can be so powerful if used right. People connect with brands and opportunities, get jobs and placements and can become self-employed through it.
TWITTER – Pros: instant interaction with audience, wide demographic of people (age, gender, race, class, geographical audience), Cons: can often be hard to get a following immediately, can be hard to stand out from people doing similar things
Twitter can be used to find your audience (people who will buy your product/watch your videos/care about your brand) and promote yourself to them. I would not limit Twitter to a specific sector – it is definitely one I would say can be vital.
INSTAGRAM – Pros: Visually displays products and creates strong brand visibility, wide demographic of millennials, Cons: not very useful for people selling a service that isn’t visual, harder to reach certain demographic e.g. older generation, people in ‘developing’ countries
If you are creating something visual, like a YouTube channel, blog, product, IG is for you. Visual services e.g. hair styling and make-up artists, also work every well on IG as people like to scroll through pictures of what you’ve done before. If it is a service like consultancy or news-gathering, Insta may not be the best, although I have seen some brand making it work, so don’t quote me.
FACEBOOK – Pros: Most used social media network, wide demographic of users, especially globally, Cons: can be rigid, ineffective in sharing options, younger generations using less
The power of Facebook cannot be overlooked, as much as I (secretly) hate it. A large percentage of the world is on Facebook so you can reach such a wide audience, especially if your business is transnational. I would say be careful about privacy settings though or you will get random people adding you and seeing all your details. I made a separate Facebook page for Paula Melissa – the brand try and avoid this.
Also, Facebook and YouTube are now apparently rivals so if you are creating videos I would recommend making short versions (with subtitles as lots of Facebook videos play without sound) to upload directly to Facebook. Sharing YouTube links onto Facebook does not work as well anymore.
SNAPCHAT – Pros: Useful in creating a personal rapport with audience, effective for bloggers and vloggers who’s brands revolve around themselves, Cons: very limited demographic (only people who have actually added you so often just friends and family), mainly young people – ineffective in translating that to sales/money
Here’s my opinion again, I would avoid Snapchat as a form of social media branding. It just will not grow your brand as effectively as the others will. Of course, use it to promote your stuff to your friends and family – to let them know a new post video is out – but it is quite an inward facing platform.
Personally, I do not give out my snapchat as freely as I do Twitter and Instagram. I use it randomly vlog my day and share my spontaneous adventures etc. It is not one I’d use to find clients and brands – although it is looking like this may change too, with the addition of ads.
OTHERS: LinkedIn, YouTube, Soundcloud, Pinterest, Tumblr, WordPress etc
There are loads more social media platforms, all effective in some ways.
YouTube is obviously the best video platform but do not forget that all of the top four above can use video too. WordPress is the best blogging/content sharing platform (Yes I am biased but I’ve used others so whatevs) but don’t forget Facebook can take a large amount of text on its statuses. Twitter and Instagram have many blogging/content creator groups. Pinterest and Tumblr can be great for finding inspiration and designs – visuals that you can share on Instagram.
Don’t forget – Social media is powerful.
I hope this has been helpful. I am happy to help further – contact me. Make sure you connect with me!
Ya girl, Paula Melissa xx