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Ross McGarvey/Business /Brand Yourself Through Social Media


iphone photo of Ross's office wall

Brand Yourself Through Social Media

Presenting a personal brand can be daunting; it’s something that requires a lot of personal reflection, and conscious thought about the messages you want to share. For me, I felt like a clean ‘social slate’ was the best way to proceed. I took a hiatus from posting, to allow myself to consider some important branding questions. What do the people that follow me, want to hear about? How do I use one platform, versus another? How do I remain authentically ‘me’ whilst consistently conveying a brand?

Taking the time to really think about the kind of content I wanted to share was huge, and forced me to evaluate what my unique value is as someone that works in marketing, and as an entrepreneur.

When you look at the top people in social media, there are some definite things that they all have in common. Your first thought might immediately jump to ‘they’re famous’, but I challenge that by asking, ‘were they famous before they started social media, or did social media make them famous’? Look at Logan Paul, the Rays of the world, any of the YouTube celebrities or ‘Instagram models’ with massive followings, and of course, ultimate social media entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk. I’ll argue with anyone that their notoriety and fame came because of social media, that social was the mechanism for their success.

I’m pretty sure if it wasn’t for the easy to use social platforms of the internet, we wouldn’t know Logan Paul’s name.

In any medium, building a brand requires consistency. Posting daily (multiple times daily if you have that much value to share), having a clear message, being honest, giving behind-the-scenes insight, these are all the ways to build loyalty and trust. But you know what else these things are? Painful. Really painful.

Trust me, I do this for a living for other brands. It’s easy for me to make strategic recommendations and come up with a plan of execution for a brand, saying ‘hey, you need to do this, this and this’, but executing for yourself is much harder. I have never been in my own head more than I have been the last few months, coming up with my strategy.

It’s probably because I’m Scottish, but I have always worried that definitively proclaiming to have expertise in an area, could come off as a wee bit arrogant. I don’t want to come off as egotistical. I don’t want to sound like I think I’m better than anyone else (which I don’t), but I do think my experiences since moving eight years ago, have been quite remarkable. The goal of my personal brand and content is focused around my genuine desire to help other people realize, and recognize, that they are probably built for more. It’s just up to you whether you want to tap into it or not.

We are often plagued by doubt and think ‘I sound like I’m full of myself’ or ‘I’m kind of tooting my own horn’, and doubt is the greatest hindrance to progress in existence. I think it’s hard for a lot of people, and especially so for those that come from predominantly blue-collar places, to have the confidence to put themselves out there. Getting your head down, and working hard, and keep said head out of your own arse, are the fundamental rules of survival in many places, and though all good things, that doesn’t give a lot of room for different methods of expression, nor does it foster a strong desire to be vocal about your expertise or achievements. This has been a tough one for me to get past mentally, but it’s something that I have had to learn to move on from. It comes down to this… do I have enough confidence in myself, and in the value I can provide, to risk sharing my knowledge with the world? Truly ponder that question, and if the answer is yes, I have some practical advice that will help you formulate your brand strategy.

As I mentioned before, when it comes to brand representation and what you’re doing online, consistency is the golden rule. This I am sure of, and by the time someone reads this, I’ll probably be several posts deep on my site. Producing a large quantity of valuable content can be intimidating, but it gets so much easier to work on over time. When you get into a rhythm, you’ll stop overthinking it, and it’ll flow. The biggest barrier to success is going to be your own head.

I’ve had the same SM conversation three times this week with some smaller brands, startups, and even a mature brand that has just never delved into social. We talked about social media, audience activation and understanding that your content should be value driven. Try to think of how to provide something useful, entertaining or engaging for the person reading it. Less bragging, virtual high-fiving yourself and heavy sales focused content. Stop trying to convince everyone how great you are, and let the decision makers pass judgment. If they like you, great! If they don’t, they don’t. At least you have presented your authentic self.

I’ll be honest, with this whole social experiment thing that I’m embarking on, I’m sure there’s going to be negative feedback and criticism. People will say ‘What does this guy know? Why does he think he can tell me?’ and I’m sure there will be more than one eye roll.

I certainly don’t know everything, nor do I have any desire for people to think that, but the purpose of doing this is to say… ‘It’s not about my agency and what I do professionally, it’s about what I’ve achieved personally. And the good and the bad that comes along with that. It’s not all rainbows and unicorns.’

So, for me, starting was the big thing, as was being consistent with it. You need to make a plan. I think social media can be compared to the ideals held by Alcoholics Anonymous… one day at a time. Just one day at a time will make a difference. Don’t overthink, don’t worry about your six-month strategy.

I’ve done it all that. Too much planning can lead to too much overthinking, which generally results in too much stress. It doesn’t work. There is no place for perfectionism in building a successful personal brand using social media; you have to take action. You have to pull the trigger.

But how do you know if you are doing well? The most obvious form of validation is going to be social feedback. Did people like it? Did people care about it? If people don’t like what you post, do you care? That then leads to other questions about your motivation for the brand generally… Why are you doing it? Are you doing it for likes? Are you doing it for fame? Are you doing it for recognition? No one can answer these latter questions, but you, so take the time to ask yourself them.

I’ve spoken to so many college kids and startups that have got these big ideas, but, they’re looking for help on execution. ‘What can I do? What should I do? How did you do it?’ Well, I didn’t launch a product; I launched a service, which is really different, but here is my advice, as someone who has created several companies…

Set milestones. Be diligent. Be patient. Do it for the right reasons.

Per that first point, having realistic milestone is essential. If you watch any Gary Vee stuff, he says he has an army of 17 people working on his personal brand. Holy crap! I don’t have 17 people in my whole agency! It’s easy to have overblown expectations for ourselves because a) we wan to do everything perfectly, and b) we fail to recognize the work, the time, the effort, and patience that has to go into a successful brand.

Something else to note, is that being diligent isn’t enough, you have to do your due diligence. Where do your customers congregate? Is it Facebook? Instagram? Twitter? If you don’t know, ask them! Look at similar brands and see where their fans congregate. If your goal is to be useful and informative, because you have great value to share, go where the people are. Also, put yourself in the customer’s position. If they hear about your brand, and they go to your website, chances are they are going to click on the Facebook icon in a hunt for social proof. What do they find there? Do you have posts? Are you active?  Are you attentive? Because I think subliminally they’re going, ‘well if you don’t care about your brand’s social, or the attention to detail with your brand, why are you going to care about me?’

Be patient. It took Gary Vee YEARS of doing Wine library to make it big on social media, and look where he is now.

Finally, doing this for the right reasons is essential. If you honestly feel like you have something great to share with the world, do it. If you are simply trying to make a cheque that will be apparent to your fans. Have genuine interest in sharing knowledge, or if you do have a product to sell, educating people on your industry.

This all sounds easy, but it’s the commitment to consistency and value that is hard, as well as getting over that initial hurdle of expecting perfection. Forget about having the impeccable content, and just start! I, myself, am just starting, even though I do this for clients every day. Have I just been too lazy to pull the trigger on my own stuff? Has it been fear? Who cares! Whatever the reason, I’ve started now. I have a huge amount of new content coming soon, with videos, podcast and more informative blog posts.

If I can make an impact on a person, just one, who can then learn from my mistakes and my past experiences… AWESOME. But it’s not for everyone, and I have to be okay with that. I’m your typical immigrant… Moved here, started with nothing, worked hard. That’s not everybody’s lives. Most of you reading this have likely have had it a lot easier because you already have a network. Most of you won’t like hearing that. My point is, you’re already farther ahead than you think.

So join me, let’s start today.

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