Twenty years ago, digital marketing and brand building were done very differently than they are today – and very stressfully too. Newspaper ads, radio jingles, television segments, flyers, – with no way of quickly assessing your performance insights.
Today, the rapid growth of social media platforms has switched up the status quo. Recent statistics show that 57.6 percent of the world is actively using social media (about 4.5 billion people) and spending an average of two hours and 27 minutes daily. Social media has become the gold mine full of limitless potentials for brand marketing, and it’s a lot cheaper and faster for converting leads than traditional methods.
According to Canadian-born social media marketing expert and communications strategist, Blair Kaplan Venables, social media is the entrepreneur’s entry strategy to outstanding thought leadership. Kaplan Venables is the president of Blair Kaplan Communications, a social media marketing expert, and an online mentor empowering entrepreneurs to uplevel their social media skills and tell stories in the digital space. She pioneered the seven pillars of social media empowerment for promoting thought leadership and offering entrepreneurs an edge in their respective niches.
“EMPOWER is a word that inspires me and my goal is to be of service while empowering my clients,” says Kaplan Venables. “These seven pillars were born out of all the things I’ve been doing for the past 13+ years to build a six-figure business, multiple five-figure launches, and to elevate my clients’ businesses. These are pillars for thought leadership because they make you stand out with a discerning voice of authority and empowerment in your industry.”
The Social Media Empowerment Pillars are summarized below.
E – “Edutain”
M – Money
P – Personas
O – Other Players
W – Wins
E – Engagement
R – Realistic Goals
Edutain (all things content)
Kaplan Venables describes this initial step as the basal foundation of your marketing strategy. Instead of throwing out loud and jarring “patronize me” content, aim to educate and entertain your audience to build a loving rapport. The videos, articles, and infographics you put out on social media should offer some exciting and interesting value if your viewers are going to follow your call-to-action links and become prospective leads.
“This is my favorite step,” says Kaplan Venables, best-selling of ‘Pulsing Through My Veins: Raw And Real Stories From An Entrepreneur’. “On social media, you should tell, don’t sell. Your strategy should be based around telling stories and inciting genuine interest in your audience. Call-to-actions and so on can be inserted as subtle sell strategies, but everything you do on social media should be centered on telling a compelling story capable of influencing a viewer’s purchasing decision.”
Money (budget and goals)
Statistics show that an average of 82% of small businesses fail due to cash flow problems. These problems are usually caused by mistakes and inactions on the entrepreneur’s part – starting without a proper budget, not having financial goals, not tracking expenses and income, and overestimating the business’s profit potential. Identifying and rectifying money problems is an excellent way to set your business on a steady path to progress.
Understanding your target audience ensures that you do not waste marketing capital targeting the wrong people or creating unappreciated content. Your customers are THE REASON and getting your value to be useful to them is at the crux of all things marketing. While they may span through different demographics and age ranges, a solid grasp of your audience and their inclinations should boost your branding efforts significantly.
Kaplan Venables recommends setting up 2-4 customer personas and working with these figure boards to create suitable content. It also helps you decide which apps and platforms to prioritize based on your customer pool(s). For example, you’d be more visible to young people on Instagram and TikTok while elderly people tend to vibe better on Facebook, so target accordingly.
Other Players (competition)
In Kaplan Venables’ opinion, your competitors do not necessarily have to be your enemies. In fact, you are more likely to thrive in the field if you are on friendly terms with other players. Watch them and stay abreast of their activities without the debilitating hostility.
“You should know what your competition is doing, where they are posting on social media, who they are targeting on social media, and the kind of content they are putting out,” says Kaplan Venables. “They are not your enemies because there’s always a lot of work to go around. I often send my competition referrals because I respect the work that they do, and I believe in building business karma.”
Wins (PR + exposure)
This is the point where you leap the extra mile to maximize your marketing efforts on social media. It doesn’t just stop at spinning out content. You have to show your brand in other places, expose your value in physical events, and share these engagements on social media. You can write on blogs, forums, speak at public events, share opportunities with your followers, and in due time, share your wins as well. It’s also important to share your wins and your client’s wins on social media. How can people refer your business if they don’t know how awesome you are?
Far too many bands and businesses online today rely on automation tools for social media engagement. While these technologies make the process a lot easier, there’s a limit to the roles that should be assigned to uncaring software. You need to be a human with a real brand and solid value on the other end of that connection.
“You have to humanize your social media,” Kaplan Venables advises. “Don’t just schedule content. It’s never good to post and ghost. It is never a good idea to not engage your followers on social media. It’s very good for your brand that you’re a real person who cares on the other end of engagement.”
Realistic goals (the future)
Five to ten years from now, where do you want to be? What’s the future gearing up to look like? While it’s okay to dream big, don’t set unreasonable milestones for your business. It’s a process and not a one-time leap. Make a plan. Set goals by the month, quarter, year, and even decade. Set goals for social media, your business in general, your personal life, and your health. You need goals for perspective, motivation, and direction.
In conclusion, social media is an extremely powerful tool for business elevation when used right. It’s a real-time communication tool, fast and reliable, and when you target people who can be genuinely interested in what you have to offer, big wins all the way!