Experts Reveal Top Tips to Help Build Your Online Brand

Online branding is so much more than having a well-designed website or regularly posting to a Facebook page. It’s about creating a connection, establishing a voice, and making your business stand out from the pack. But where do you begin?

 

Online marketing experts unanimously identify two key areas that will drive your brand forward and deliver results: social media and blogging. These strategies not only serve as a starting point, but also as two areas of your business that need to be carefully maintained.

 

To help walk you through the process, we asked entrepreneurs, bloggers, and social media experts to weigh in on the importance of building an online brand, how to take advantage of social media and blogging, and pitfalls to avoid along the way.

 

STRENGTHENING YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA GAME

Think about why you started your business in the first place. What makes you emotional? What revs your engine? According to Cierra Savatgy-King, founder of social media marketing company Pigtail Media, those feelings can help turn your posts into social media gold.

 

“Social media gives brands the opportunity to really make someone feel something by the words you select, the characters used in captions, and the photos or videos you share,” says Savatgy-King. “When starting to build your social media marketing and branding strategy, ask your team, ‘How do we want to make people feel each time someone interacts with us?’ This is a great starting point for building every campaign and every piece of daily content.”

 

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Here’s more sage advice from Savatgy-King:

 

Why is social media important for online branding?
Cierra Savatgy-King:

Social media gives brands the opportunity to authentically create “soft sells” continuously. Because a good content plan includes providing audiences what they already want (resources or entertainment) in a space they are already hanging out (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.), brands can stay top of mind without encroaching on a user’s own experience. The result: You build brand trust with your audience, and trust is the most valuable aspect of branding and marketing.

 

What should brands avoid on social media?

CSK: The most common and most embarrassing mistake I see everyday is when brands think of social media as a second thought. It can be really obvious that they have hired someone without experience. Just because an individual knows how to use social media does not mean they know how to use it as a marketing, branding, and customer service vehicle. Social media is frequently the first way a user experiences a brand, so it should be given the appropriate level of importance.

 

What are some of the best ways to engage people on social media?

CSK: Be sure to connect the online and offline world to get customers to follow you. For example, if you have a restaurant, explain why someone would want to follow your brand (enters them into a contest, provides them with a discount, gives them secret menu items, etc.). If your brand has customer service relations, be sure your social media strategy includes a process for how questions are quickly and correctly answered with your brand voice in mind.

 

Instead of just posting about yourself, be sure to engage with others in the community. This can take a lot of time, so using social media management tools can be extremely helpful for efficiency and targeting.

 

THE BENEFITS OF BLOGGING

Blogging not only helps increase your SEO and drive more traffic to your website, but — like social media — it gives life and personality to your brand. We asked two seasoned bloggers, Kelly Stocker (Friday Five) and Laura Jack (LauraJack.com), about why blogging is vital to a brand’s survival.

 

Why are blogs important for online branding?

Kelly Stocker: It tells a story. A catchy name and tagline isn’t enough to convey your brand’s message. No matter how easily it rolls off the tongue, brands need to build identity through additional relevant content and blogs are a pretty simple way to do that. If you’re looking at it from an SEO perspective, having consistent dynamic content is key to being discoverable, especially if you can capitalize on hot topics in a timely manner. Linking your brand to highly searchable keywords makes it more likely you’ll get in front of a broader data set.

 

Like so many digital entities, blogging is basically free. Sure, you may pay a freelancer or someone in-house to come up with content, but the amount you’re spending on those words is infinitely less than what you’d be spending on actual ad buys.

 

Laura Jack: Blogging is a way for a business owner to share his or her unique voice, experience, and expertise in a way that provides value to the reader. Blog content gives readers a chance to get to know the business owner without risking any investment. Blogs are also a way to grow your credibility.

 

What should a business keep in mind when starting a blog?

KS: The look, feel, and voice should align it with your brand. Are you fun? Are you a subject matter expert? Are you big bright colors or are you monochromatic? Tie it into what you’re hoping to accomplish from a branding perspective before putting words to paper. Also, write like you speak.

 

Set up an editorial calendar of when you’re blogging and what you’re blogging about for the next couple of months. Creating deadlines helps make sure you have content. It’s easy for blogging to get pushed to the backburner. You’ll also want to be responsive to what’s happening in the market to optimize searchability, so set up a protocol for that.

 

Ask the question every time you put something out: What is the value to the user that has nothing to do with our brand? Will someone share this?

 

LJ: Your unique voice is the most important thing you have. Yes, it is helpful to read successful blogs and see how they do it. However, you are the only you who exists, and your experience and style are what make you unique. Just like with dating, if you start by trying to be someone else, it will be exhausting and won’t last.

 

It is also important to have very few mistakes to maintain the integrity of your work. Grammar is important, but spelling and typos are a big no-no because they immediately take away your credibility.

 

For a brand that is just starting out, it is just as important to guest blog for others as it is to blog for yourself. Write for others who have more followers than you and then redirect to your site. Always have some call to action at the end your blog to keep your readers engaged.

 

What is one of the biggest mistakes you see brands make on their blogs?

KS: Besides not using Hemingway App and Grammarly? Or even basic spell check? The biggest mistake people and brands make is thinking that once you push the content, you’re finished. That’s the beginning of building your mountain. Set up a social schedule, respond to comments, send to invested users, tag other strong brands to get them to weigh in. Figure out your avenues with the most eyeballs and push it like a damn drug dealer. This is most definitely not a “if you build it, they will come” scenario.

 

GO BUILD YOUR ONLINE BRAND

Now with a solid foundation of social media and blogging, you have the tools to take your brand to the next level. With so much information available online today, you need a way to be remembered, a unique and authentic touch to remain relevant and engaging. By using your blogs, social media, and brand message to achieve these endeavors, you will inevitably stand out, creating invaluable and lasting results for your company.

 

 

Cierra Savatgy-King is founder of Pigtail Media, a social media marketing boutique specializing in the hospitality, travel and entertainment space, and is co-founder of Reset Retreat, a travel retreat company. She is an avid explorer of nature, a recording artist, and has a bit of an obsession with handstands and cartwheels. Follow her social media marketing tips and life adventures on Instagram (@cierrask) and Twitter (@CierraJesperson).

 

Kelly Stocker is a creative consultant, freelance writer, DJ, event emcee, and all around extreme extrovert living in Austin, Texas. She has entirely too much of the internet crammed into her brain and shares it weekly in her Friday Five. If you have questions, comments or angry denunciations, feel free to let her have it on all the social medias @kellyjstocker.

 

Laura Jack, author of The Compassion Code: How to say the right thing when the wrong thing happens, teaches compassionate communication and how we can relate to one another more effectively during the challenging moments in life. Her mission through LauraJack.com is to cultivate a culture of compassion, starting with self, and to create a better understanding of loss and its accompanying grief.

10 Things Successful People Do Every Morning

 

Entrepreneurs, executives, and influencers know just how important mornings are to their overall success. Self-discipline and routine rule supreme for highly successful people, which is why many exhibit similar morning habits. After all, a productive morning leads to a more productive day, less stress, and better health.

 

Here are 10 things successful people do every morning:

 

1) They’re early to rise

Morning people tend to be more productive, and having an early morning can create more optimism and confidence in confronting the day. Most successful people wake up before the sun — some as early as 4:30 a.m. — to give a couple of hours of “me time” before heading into the office, attending a meeting, or responding to emails.

 

2) They make the bed

Making your bed is fast and easy, and often overlooked as something that contributes to productivity. According to Gretchen Rubin, an expert of habits and happiness, “Making your bed is a step that’s quick and easy, yet makes a big difference. Everything looks neater. It’s easier to find your shoes. Your bedroom is a more peaceful environment. For most people, outer order contributes to inner calm.” This simple morning routine establishes other good habits as well, and is also associated with achieving long- and short-term goals.

 

3) They hydrate

Hydration is vital to our survival — so why do we so often forego drinking water? Consuming water first thing in the morning (and lots of it) not only helps to rehydrate the body, it also boosts your metabolism and makes you feel more alert. Instead of reaching for a cup of coffee first thing (which dehydrates, gives you a temporary sense of alertness, and suppresses your appetite), try enjoying a large glass of water first.

 

4) They eat breakfast

Successful people understand that the key to a productive day starts with a nutritious breakfast. Some of the many benefits include increased energy, a better mood, and improved concentration. Furthermore, folks who enjoy breakfast every day have better metabolisms and tend to have a better diet overall, which helps maintain a healthy weight.

 

5) They exercise

Although exercise is important no matter what time of day it is, getting it out of the way first thing in the morning has many benefits. Getting up early to squeeze in a workout for as little as 15 minutes centers the mind and calms emotions — especially important for those in stressful work environments. Successful people who get their body moving in the morning also enjoy a better night’s sleep. Win-win.

 

6) They spend time with loved ones

Many successful people spend time with their significant other or children before getting down to business. This could mean cooking together or sitting down for a meal, reading aloud or going over homework, or simply talking about the day or week ahead. And if you live alone, scheduling a morning phone call or Skype date with one of your favorite people can help you be more present, get you outside of your own head, and ease the demands of work.

 

7) They meditate

Breathe in, breathe out. Successful people meditate each morning, which has proven to increase focus and improve your overall outlook. Some opt to clear the mind entirely, while others visualize what they want and how to achieve it. Set aside as little as five minutes, and let the benefits of meditation and visualization transform you. If you are new to the practice, here is a breakdown of guided meditations from renowned meditation teacher Tara Brach.

 

8) They read

Successful people are interested in the world around them, and most start their day out by reading the news so they can stay informed. Staying up-to-date on the news and how it may affect your business so that you can continue to grow and adapt to fit the world we live in is vital to the survival of an entrepreneur. But if you’re more into watching the news, reading an informative or insightful book first thing in the morning will also help to make you a better leader, and will also activate your mind.

 

9) They prioritize

Planning out the day helps successful people achieve the most productivity throughout the week. Instead of checking emails first thing in the morning, successful people start with the most daunting task to get it out of the way (unless email is the most daunting task). You usually have the most energy in the morning, which means you have all the tools to tackle a difficult project. And who doesn’t want to end their day with the easy stuff?

 

10) They practice gratitude

It’s easy to get caught up in life’s hardships. By practicing gratitude, you focus on the positives that are happening, which suddenly lifts the burden of some of the more difficult things. Many successful people spend five minutes writing down the things they are grateful for, which creates centeredness and perspective. Expressing what you’re thankful for also aids in getting more done during the day and increases overall happiness.

Must Read: The Best New Entrepreneurial Books of 2017 So Far

 

With such a wide array of resources catered to entrepreneurs, it can be difficult to wade through the myriad options to find the most beneficial, educational, and transformational business ideas out there. On top of that, opinions and trends shift and evolve constantly, and it is the entrepreneur’s responsibility to always be one step ahead.

 

In an effort to help aspiring, novice, and seasoned entrepreneurs achieve success, this essential reading list focuses on the best and newest business books on the market. From daily exercises and tips on growing your business to learning how to create lovable brands, these are the top entrepreneurial books of 2017 so far.

The Entrepreneurs Book of Actions

In The Entrepreneurs Book of Actions: Essential Daily Exercises and Habits for Becoming Wealthier, Smarter, and More Successful, author Rhett Power draws from his experiences as an entrepreneur by identifying manageable steps to bettering yourself and your business. Released in January, this book is a fresh take on a day-by-day action plan, teaching you how to grow your business through breaking bad habits, increasing productivity while minimizing effort, recognizing the key issues that affect your business, creating company culture, and allowing time for creativity and innovation — to name a few.

 

Inc. Magazine editor Jeff Haden offers high praise for the book, saying that by following Power’s advice, “You’ll find that you’ve done more than you ever imagined possible.” It definitely isn’t easy, but Power lays out the groundwork to put you on the right track to make your entrepreneurial endeavors sustainable and prosperous.

 

Lovability

“Love is central to business,” writes Brian de Haaff in Lovability: How to Build a Business That People Love and Be Happy Doing It (April 2017). As the CEO of Silicon Valley startup Aha!, and with years of founding successful technology companies and award-winning products, de Haaff shares his knowledge about what drives a brand forward: Complete devotion and adoration from customers. In addition to providing case studies and interviews from notable startup founders, product managers, executives, and CEOs at hundreds of big-name businesses to impart invaluable lessons, de Haaff delivers actionable steps any product and company builder can take. These include tapping into what customers really want, nurturing relationships with employees, how to turn business strategy into customer loyalty, and how to measure your business’s “lovability.”

 

”[De Haaff] lays out a consumer-oriented road map to success,” writes Publishers Weekly. “The author obviously takes great pride in having a positive work culture at his company, and he points out that a company needs to be lovable internally as well as externally. With sensible advice and a humanistic tone, this offering will encourage companies big and small to value both customers and employees.”

 

Hacking Growth

“Growth hacking” is one of the most popular business methodologies of our time, and is used by everything from younger startups like Airbnb, Facebook, and Uber to long-standing corporations like IBM, Walmart, and Microsoft. This tried-and-true approach is outlined in Hacking Growth: How Today’s Fastest-Growing Companies Drive Breakout Success, and is defined as involving “cross-functional teams and rapid-tempo testing” as well as engaging customers and motivating them to come back for more. Written by Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown, and released in April, the book provides a profound toolkit that entrepreneurs, executives, and team leaders can use to acquire more customers, increase their market share, and produce their own customizable growth hacking strategy for consistent and data-driven results. Brown writes that Hacking Growth articulates “the skill and rigor you bring to the process of growing something and the real value your sweat equity creates.” With millions of individuals and companies benefitting from the growth hacking methodology, this must-read is for anyone looking to take their business to the next level.

 

Rich20Something

The newest book on our list, Rich20Something: Ditch Your Average Job, Start an Epic Business, and Score the Life You Want, was released this June by 28-year-old entrepreneur Daniel DiPiazza. Not your typical business book, DiPiazza offers insight into his own unconventional path, and how to trade in your boring desk job for the career of your dreams. There’s a new standard on how you’re spending time, networking, and generating revenue streams, and this conversational and approachable book is packed tight with innovative secrets of success including taking your best skills and using them towards your passion, three questions to fail-proof your business idea, how to prioritize and focus, promotion strategies, and how to build an impeccable online presence. While Rich20Something is mostly catered to millennials, if you are interested in thinking outside the box and wanting to pave an untraditional road to success — this is the book for you.

Become an Entrepreneur Today: 5 Essential Steps to Start Your Own Business

 

Have you always thought about owning a business but don’t know where to begin? The road to becoming an entrepreneur can seem long and daunting, but it’s easier than you might think — especially with all the helpful resources available to entrepreneurs today. And the payoff is invaluable: You get to be your own boss, create value for others, and follow your passion.

 

In this article, we outline five simple yet essential steps to help get your business idea off the ground.

 

1) Create your business plan

Putting together a solid business plan is vital to your survival as an entrepreneur. In your plan, you want to tell a story to give an illustration of your business, goals, what makes you unique, and who your business serves. This takes time and research. We suggest starting with looking at the industry you are launching in and what other competitors are out there.

 

The U.S. Small Business Administration offers a comprehensive business plan template, and Microsoft Office provides many templates in both document and powerpoint forms.

 

2) Get your finances in order

Before you start your business, you’ll need to get your finances straight. You can begin by budgeting your resources: Think about whether or not you’ll need to hire people, if you need an office, and the associated costs. This will give you an idea of your startup expenses and what you’ll need from loans and investors. If you require funding, consider including an “ask” and the financial projections in your business plan. Additionally, there are many assistance programs available from your local, state, and federal governments to help launch your business.

 

3) Focus your marketing strategy

Having a clear marketing strategy will make everything more efficient. Figure out what approach you want to use — and then use it to your advantage. In today’s technologically focused economy, you’ll need a heavy dose of digital marketing to thrive. Create a website, and make sure to load it with keywords specific to your business to help increase your SEO and, ultimately, sales. You should also figure out what social media best fits your type of business. As you create these social pages, ensure branding is consistent in order to streamline and legitimize your online presence.

 

For more advice on how to focus your marketing efforts, take a look at this handy Entrepreneur service piece.

 

4) Set goals

Goal setting: You either love it or you hate it, and probably don’t do enough of it. Whatever your position, there’s no way around it as an entrepreneur. Set aside time each day to think about the different aspects of your business, allowing space for innovative ideas to surface, and incorporating those into your company’s goals. You’ll also want to take a hard look at the issues within your business for your goal setting so that you can continue to grow. Joe’s Goals is a great and easy — and free — place to start if you are new to the world of goal setting.

 

5) Register your business

There are a few different steps to take in registering your business. First, you’ll want to register your business name with your state government. You’ll also need to register as a legal entity, unless you plan to operate as a sole proprietorship. Next, you can register with the IRS and your state revenue office to obtain your tax identification number. Finally, you’ll want to look into getting the correct licenses and permits so that you don’t run into any legal trouble down the road.