I know one of the FIRST things that pops into mind when we get an idea for a new brand or business venture is: buy a domain and build a website. Right? It makes sense. You want a place of your own to house your product or service and build out your brand voice, aesthetic, and offers.
But… building a website (at least, a good one) can take some time and talent unless you’re well-versed in that arena. Now, if you’re all gung-ho to knock it out, be my guest—but if the idea of building out a website from scratch is a tad jarring, worry not. I actually believe you can (and should!) begin to brand yourself in other ways first, before ever creating that .com corner for your biz.
Namely? Building your brand using social media. Now I know social media can be a tough space to stand out, especially for newer businesses. But there ARE a few key ways for you to begin inviting in engagement, garnering awareness, and starting to share your story around what you’re doing and why.
And, it’s important to remember that you’re not trying to get EVERYONE’s attention on socials… just the people who most prominently need what you’re offering. I’ve found that going in with that attitude—seeking out your people > the masses—is a way to show up more genuinely attract attention and grow your audience. Speak to them, and they will come. Here are my top methods for how to brand yourself using social media!
01. Run through this content checklist before posting.
Something I teach in my Instagram program is ABCDQ: Aesthetic, Brand, Connection, Diversity, and Quality. When it comes to posting any content on any platform, I run through this acronym to briefly ensure what I’m posting makes sense in terms of the brand, my audience, and the content itself. Is the aesthetic aligned with my vision? Does it fit the brand I am building? Is this post focused on connection? Is it diverse content that will reach my audience in a new way than the last post? If this post stood alone, in terms of quality, is it what someone can expect from me?
Sometimes I think we get so desperate just to post SOMETHING… anything… that we grasp for straws and post something obscure or random that doesn’t really serve a purpose. Ummmm, been there. No shame if that’s been your game, too. But this simple checklist will help you stay connected to a deeper purpose behind each post. I run posts through the ABCDQ filter making sure that what I am sharing is aligned with what I want my brand to be and be known for and that it’s serving and connecting in a way that reaches my dream clients.
02. Don’t post without a call to action.
In every single post, make sure you are the one initiating and inviting connection. One of the biggest reasons people have websites is to have a place where people can connect and contact you, right? But if you don’t have a website yet, think through ways people can get in touch with as LITTLE hassle for them as possible. Your posts can still have a CTA or a “call to action” and it should! Invite people to DM you or email you via the button in your Instagram bio (did you know you could add your email address right there?) so they know clearly how they can get in touch with you.
On top of extending that invite to connect, make sure your other posts include calls to action that make people want to engage. The trick? Getting into the minds of your people and knowing what they’ll relate to. You can use CTAs like, “Double-tap if you’ve ever felt this way,” or, “Leave a comment with your own unpopular opinion on _____.” Focusing on understanding and inviting that next step will help your followers get used to taking action with you. At the end of the day, we connect by sharing our own experiences, so encourage your followers to get in there and communicate with you—AND make sure you respond! They’ll be more inclined to engage repeatedly if they feel like you’ve noticed them and care about their participation.
03. Treat captions like website copy.
When you’re posting on social media, you’re writing copy. Maybe you’ve never thought about it like that but all the words you’re writing as captions is really copy! Think of your caption copy as copy that you might find on a website. Since you may not have a website yet, that means you’ll want to share more about who you are, what you do, and who you create for(because about pages are one of the most clicked pages on any website). Don’t be afraid to let people into your world in different ways.
The other thing that effective website copy does well is understanding and touching on the ideal client’s pain points, challenges, or objections. As an expert or in positioning yourself as one, you’ll want to speak in a way that allows people to know that you understand their problems and are ready to offer help and solutions. Now, you don’t have to be all Negative Nancy and only talk about your people’s problems in every post—but there IS something really powerful about demonstrating that you understand what they’re going through and showing some empathy. And, then you can point to the solution: your product or service!
04. Take advantage of the JK5.
If you haven’t tried the JK5 method yet, it’s essentially my signature approach to diversifying your feed. It’s a way to extend your brand from just being a business. Your business is your offer, what you sell in exchange for money, but you brand is the personality behind those offers. When you use my method, you’re focusing on building something bigger than just what you sell. It’s allowing you to build a multi-faceted brand that connects and gives people a reason to follow you even if they aren’t currently on the market for what you’re selling.
Basically, you choose give-or-take 5 topics that your content cycles through. For example, someone’s topics might be: postpartum workouts, family, easy recipes, home organization, and body positivity. It’s a way to help you not run out of things to post and to not just post about the same one or two things (which, for businesses, is usually the business). These extra categories give you additional opportunities and ways to connect.
Use the JK5 method so that you’re serving your audience 80% of the time and selling/inviting only 20% (or less) of the time. This method will also give people a reason to follow you even if they currently aren’t in the market for what you’re selling or what your offer is. It just gives you more of a well-rounded feed and creativity to talk about things other than your business/brand, which makes you a more interesting follow!
05. Create cohesion within your images.
It might seem silly, but… on visual platforms like Instagram, consistency is everything. That doesn’t mean you need to buy $100 editing presets and invest in a professional camera or photography to get great images, though! Simply establish a consistent routine for the treatment of your images so that there is cohesion there. It might be tapping the same filter every time or finding free presets on VSCO that suit your fancy.
Also, consider the content in each image… do your photos feel cluttered or is there plenty of white/blank space? Aim for natural lighting as much as possible, simple subjects, and you can even work to include some of the same key colors or tones within your images. My vibe is very neutral: burnt orange, tans, whites, olives, soft grays. It may help to think of your grid as an online portfolio for people’s eyes. Use the same filter or edit for each photo to create a vibe and a visual brand that they can come to rely on when they see a new post from you.
That is it, my friend! A few simple things to incorporate into your social media game, without a ton of stress (or having to design and create a website from scratch!) so that your audience can get familiar with your brand and offers. With a handful of little tweaks, you’ll be on your way to creating a brand that people adore in no time—website or not!