Entrepreneurs are known for hustling hard, working beyond the typical nine to five to achieve success. Indeed, we continue to see lines blurring between what is public and what is personal when it comes to small business owners and their businesses. With identity so integrated between businessperson and brand, strengthening your personal brand is crucial for bolstering your business’s brand.
Social media may have begun as a fun method of sharing via online platforms, but it has rapidly evolved. Today, it is the cornerstone of an effective marketing plan and branding strategy for any successful enterprise. However, we continue to see social media marketing and branding as an optional extra for so many small business owners, and we are here to tell you why that needs to change.
The power of social media
Online interactions have increased during the pandemic, and with the ever-accelerating pace of the digital age. The bottom line is that if your customers are online, then that is where you need to be. If used effectively, social media can be a powerful tool to connect with existing and new customers and showcase the value that your business offers. If done well, it will help build trust, and make it easier for your customers to make the decision to buy from you.
It is essential to choose the online platforms that work best for you and your business. Let your understanding of your product and customer base inform which platform you use to reach your audience. As an entrepreneur who is hungry for opportunities and exposure, develop a content strategy for social media to hustle smart and drive loyalty to your brand through your own personal brand.
The Entrepreneurship Development Academy (EDA) at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) specialises in growing entrepreneurs by enabling business owners to navigate the challenges of running businesses and equipping them to grow sustainable enterprises. We have significant experience working with thousands of entrepreneurs at various stages of their business development.
Through our work we have seen that personal branding for entrepreneurs is more important than ever to increase consumer engagement and loyalty. People want to know the entrepreneur behind the brand, the face behind the name, and the voice behind the business. Consumers see brands and businesses as a personality; and the way to be most authentic, is by tying the brand to an authentic identity – and there is no better voice than yours. For distinctive brand identity, it is crucial that your personal brand is tied into your business brand and that you are consistently present and proactive in engaging and interacting with your audience, even if you only do so occasionally.
Leveraging social media
As part of our endeavours to support our alumni of entrepreneurs, we often feature their work and projects on our social media platforms to help them to leverage off our network. With a simple click, our network of followers can access and communicate with our featured alumna if they have an online presence that we were able to tag them in, on the featured social media platform. This is the same principle used by influencers and it has been proven to work. You can and should leverage off exposure like this to participate in conversations that involve you and your business and increase awareness of your brand.
An entrepreneur who is not leveraging social media is likely missing out on the opportunity to engage their customers and drive brand loyalty.
We are all aware of how we dress up for a first date or a business interview. Social media is pretty much the same; we must ensure we stand out from the crowd when making an impression. Every choice we make, every post we share, is an extension of our identity and will set the scene for the image we are portraying.
While we encourage authenticity, we strongly urge our network of entrepreneurs to also portray their personal brands in the way they want to be seen, whether that is as an accessible entrepreneur, a powerhouse, a prodigy, or a humble hustler that is hungry for opportunities.
Want to take things a step further? Step away from stills and move to video shoots. Firstly, videos on social media have gained immense popularity over the last few years, particularly through the proliferation of platforms such as Instagram and TikTok. Videos are a great way of providing personable and engaging posts that can also lead to future speaking opportunities.
Take Mbali Nwoko as an example; a GIBS EDA JP Morgan alumnus. She is a green entrepreneur and first-generation farmer. Mbali has fully embraced what it means to be present and active by owning her personal brand online through social media and podcasts. Chances are if you are a green entrepreneur, or if you work within the agribusiness industry, you have come across Mbali Nwoko because of the work she puts in to ensure she is part of the conversations that include her or the conversations that should include her.
Do not underestimate the power of online clout when it comes to ensuring you are seen, heard, and approached for opportunities. Of course, you want the right opportunities, so always be strategic about what you are putting out there, because that is exactly what is going to come back to you.
Do you want your skincare brand to appeal to a younger audience? Then attract a younger audience using the platforms they prefer and engage in conversations that matter to them like acne, teen insecurities and bullying. Do you repair mobile phones? Then ensure you are searching something like “screen crack” on Twitter in surrounding areas so you can proactively respond to tweets before your potential customer even reaches out to you or a competitor. Want your stilettos to be purchased by high-flying women? Then ensure you are strutting your stilettos with skyscrapers and stairs in every shot. It is as simple as being strategic about what you do, so your audience and future business opportunities come to you.
By Faiza Mallick, Marketing Manager for the Entrepreneurship Development Academy at GIBS