I grew up in the generation where social medial has formed and molded most of our social interactions. Well… I’m actually in that awkward generation where I was old enough to remember and have used MySpace, Friendster, and AIM Messenger; but am still young enough to have been in my early teens when Facebook and Twitter just started off. Even though my generation is quickly moving into our early-to-mid 20’s, we are always on social media. Whether it be to see what our friends are up to, share new places we’ve been to or things we’ve just bought, or share articles and opinions of recent happenings—we’re probably on some medium of social media. Through these many years on social media—with the help of a couple of digital media classes at my University and experience through building my own online website—I’ve learned a thing or two about creating a brand online, building it, and advertising it through social media.

Because of my generation and the generations to follow—this is a surefire way to advertise your brand because we’re always on social media anyways and the generations before us are socially pressured to learn to use social media to “keep with the times”.

So why not give these tips a try:

Share. Share. Share.

If there is one thing you want the most when building a brand, it is for people to see your content. If they don’t see it, how are they supposed to buy it? Utilize your social media to do so. Have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.? Use them. Don’t be afraid of some shameless self-promotion on your personal social media. Your family and friends are here to support you. Your distant cousin may have a friend on their Facebook, for example, who saw that your cousin liked your post about your brand, and may end up looking at your content as well. It is all a networking game to get your brand out there.

#Hashtag

Don’t be afraid to use hashtags. But use relevant hashtags. Hashtags are a great way to link your work with other relevant work on that social platform. With my shop specializing in Planner stickers and Paper crafts, for example, I use several hashtags including “#PlannerCommunity”, “#Planner”, “#DigitalArt”, etc. I also hashtag any branded products relevant to my brand. For example, I specialize in making stickers for The Happy Planner™ so when adding hashtags, I add in “#TheHappyPlanner” to the list. Anyone who is interested in The Happy Planner will then eventually stumble upon my post.

Use Photogenic Photos when sharing your brand.

People are more likely to stop skimming their feed to look at your product and the links you provide back to your website if you use photogenic photos. Not to say you need to use expensive equipment or hire a photographer. Use Instagram or Twitter to gain some inspiration on advertisement photography, then use your smartphone. Most smartphones have at least an 8 megapixel camera, allowing you to take great photos in certain lighting. Also, try to take photos in natural or white lighting. It allows for a more natural, professional look. Don’t be afraid to edit your photos either. You can use free editing mediums like Instagram, VSCO cam or PicMonkey to get the job done in the easiest way possible—you don’t need expensive Photoshop to make your photos look fabulous. Maybe you are more of an artist? Why not create some digital art to use along side your advertisement instead? PicMonkey also is a great website to make easy and free graphic designs and banners.

Grow Relationships

The special thing about social media is right in the name—“Social”—so why not enjoy that feature? See someone else sharing their brand on social media as well? See something that interests you or brought a thought to mind? Maybe a question? Message/Tweet/Comment! You’re not only taking your first steps in creating a relationship with the author of the post, but you are entering into a social sphere of others who may have the same ideas, thoughts, questions as you, forming more connections. Not to say you will suddenly become all “buddy-buddy” with these people—but it may cause individuals to visit your page, subscribe to your website, comment on your material, and gain you a couple of followers. You may even be lucky and find people to do collaborations with.

Be Yourself

Remember, despite what is popular on social media, stick to your roots and what you believe in. Just because everyone else is doing the Ice Bucket Challenge or the Kylie Jenner Challenge to gain views and followers does not mean you have to—especially if you don’t actually think it is cool. It may be popular on the internet, but it isn’t you. So what do you do? Instead, maybe if you are a comedic person, use puns or jokes in your social media advertisement to your webpages. Or if you are really artistic, use vivid photography, doodles, or videography in your brand advertisement to catch people’s attention. Are you an awkward person? Use that to your advantage—because everyone is awkward and everyone will be able to relate. Be you and people like you or with similar interests will eventually find you.

Join Communities and Groups of Similar Interests

Again, with the emphasis on being social. Groups and Communities are a great way to find others with similar interests as you and your brand. It is a great place to share work, get some inspiration, and receive some advice. But, in joining a community, you must also remember to return the favour—don’t join a community for the sole purpose of views and followers. Because you won’t gain as many followers or views that way. For this method to be successful, you must also meet your fellow community members half way. Does this mean you have to comment and like every single post they share? Absolutely not. That is almost impossible, especially in groups with 1,000+ members. But if you do find someone whose brand sparks some interest to you, let them know you liked their post. If someone has a question and you have an answer or a suggestion, feel free to give advice! Maybe, next time you post ads for your website or ask a question, they will comment back.

Encourage your viewers to share/like/comment.

This is probably the best way to engage and grow a connection with your viewers. Like in a community, you must try to meet your viewers half way, as well. If you see a comment you like, “like” or “share” it. If you really like it, comment back. This will really make your viewers feel special, making them want to come back for more. They are not only growing a relationship with your brand, but with you. This relationship with your followers may lead to them recommending you and your brand in the future to their followers, friends and family. By sharing, liking or commenting, that information is also shared on their social media where their followers can see it. Their followers may, then, click that notification and end up visiting your post or your website. Social media–and the internet in general–is like an interconnected web where we are all somehow connected by a thin string. People are bound to come across your social media platforms, advertisements and website through their friends and those who they follow–even if they do it on accident. The most shares/likes/comments you get, the more your online presence grows.

I hope these seven social media tips help you out if you are interested in growing a brand. Of course growing your brand does not happen overnight. It takes time, consistency and commitment. Nevertheless, social media is a great platform to advertise your brand in the cheapest way possible. Is it as effective as hiring an advertisement company? Probably not, but it is your first steps in getting your foot in the door and growing your audience.

Even if you aren’t growing a brand, it is also a nice way to gain some followers or likes on social media—and who doesn’t like that?

About the Author

Jennifer Liwanag is a fourth year Legal Studies student minoring in Communications & Digital Media Studies at the University Of Ontario Institute Of Technology. While her childhood dream has been to pursue law, she has an undying love for writing, creativity, discovering new gadgets and learning new software. You can keep up to date with her digital and creative lifestyle on her personal blog (www.jennibearrxo.com/) where she shares her new favourite gadgets and crafty projects.