Posts in building bold brands
How to become purposeful with your social media content

Your purposeful content should reflect who you are, what you do, and what you want to be known for. The next step once you've realized these three areas is to take your purposeful goals into the content you're creating. You should be creating social media content that reflects your values and speaks to exactly what you want to be known for.

While this may sound basic, it can become more intricate as you ask yourself:

  • How am I fulfilling the values I've set for my business?

  • How can I better fulfill the brand promise of [insert value] that my business is making?

  • What do people need to know in order to understand [insert value] better?

Purposeful Social Media Content Serves Three Goals

It lets people know what you stand for

Your brand should shout who you are and what you stand for from the rooftops. A picture says a thousand words and all of them should be in alignment or offering additional depth to the image you want to build. You should get to the point where people look at what you post or read your caption and say they know exactly who posted it.

This is a mixture of recognition and consistency. People know what to expect from you, down to the colors you use and the way you introduce yourself, so they begin to remember you. One of your largest goals with marketing is awareness (they know you exist!) followed by being top of mind (they remember you exist!) and lastly they are considering you as an option (they like you and you make sense!).

It uses imagery that creates emotion

Social media posts without an image don't do so well. It's why Facebook has allowed people to create post backgrounds when you have short text - people don't respond as much to regular updates without photos.

According to HubSpot:

Facebook posts with images see 2.3X more engagement than those without images. 

Live videos on Facebook have an engagement rate of 4.3% compared to 2.2% for non-live videos.

85% of videos on Facebook are watched without sound.

While you're content may be great, you still need to entice people with imagery that lets them know what you're all about. It should create an emotional response. That doesn't mean people cry at every photo, but it does mean that they should build an emotional connection or respond with what you intend whether it's happiness, excitement, anger, etc. 

It makes sharing easy

People should want to share what you have to say. The more valuable your content, the more likely it is that people will want to share it. When you're creating your content, keep the shareability in mind like:

  • Tag or watermark your photos so people can find your original content

  • Make what you have to say or tell valuable enough to share

  • What it means for the people sharing and what it does for their image (people like to share Harvard Business Review for this reason)

These are the three things that you should be striving for as you develop content. Likes are nice, comments are better, but shares are best.

Once you have your content structure and purpose in mind, it makes tailoring it to each platform that much easier. The pre-work you do to make sure posts, captions, and images align with your values creates a cohesive and consistent online message supported by everything your consumer can see.

Let's get real

I know this can sound difficult or even get you to the point of nit-picking. I am that person. I scan through stock images until one is perfect in color, feel, and purpose. It has to suit each social platform as well (I would never post the same image on Instagram as I do on LinkedIn because I'm serving my audiences in two different ways).

Look at the two images below. One was a "Yes!" for me and my business because it supported my values of fun, simplicity, and boldness. You want to take a guess which one?


(In case you’re wondering, I picked the first one. I never use yellow in my images and loved the simplicity of the image on the right.)

I did the same thing for one of my recent clients. She wanted to be seen as organized, professional, and approachable but with a more down-to-earth vibe (no marble flatlays in anything of hers!) I showed her all the stock images I pulled, before explaining why I chose the first one. The first one had the right colors, sent the right message of organization, and filled in the site with added value.

How are you creating purposeful content?

Creating a brand with purposeful content

One of the biggest struggles I see with clients is developing purposeful content that adds to a brand’s perception on a macro and micro level. By purposeful, I mean thought-out and planned so that your content comes across as coherent and organized.

Content should be:

  • Add to people’s understanding of your brand

  • Educating your audience about who you are

  • Lending evidence to what you stand for and what you’re good at

  • Developing a relationship with your ideal audience

If you’re content isn’t speaking to your audience, revealing more about you, and educating then it’s not doing the legwork it should. By creating a more organized framework for your content work, you can create content that converts as well as engages.

Macro-Level Content Strategy

Your content strategy is dictated by the form of content you’re trying to create and what your subject-matter will be.

Form of the Content

At a first level, you should be asking yourself, “How does my audience like to take in content?” This will decide if you’ll be spending time creating videos, blogs, podcasts, etc. It decides the form of your content.

Content Topics

Your content shouldn’t become a mishmash of different topics. People want to see continuity in what they’re digesting, it should build on itself and not just be stand alone pieces. One of my favorite examples of effective content strategies is HubSpot. HubSpot creates longer form pieces that pull together multiple articles, bringing more value to people interested in deep diving on certain topics.

Identifying Your Topics

Ask, “What topics should they hear about, or want to hear about, to solve their problems and learn more about what I do/who I am?” This is a mixture of content that solves their problem, speaks to your business’s capabilities, and shows off your best work.

I like to put together a list of at least three to five overarching types of topics that a business will talk about. That way, no matter how many pieces of content you put together, your business won’t seem like it’s doing everything or overreaching itself.

Putting your content type and topics together allows you to create content geared specifically to your audience. With these in mind, you can create a content schedule that makes sense for you to stick to.

Micro-Level Content Strategy

Even at the smallest level, each piece should fit into your overarching strategy, content schedule, and promotional focus.

Call to Action

Within the piece of content, whether it’s a video or blog, it should gear people up for how they can get more information from you. Their next step should be clear. It could be:

  • Signing up for your email list

  • Getting your free download

  • Subscribing to your course

  • Signing up for your event

  • Etc.

Any type of ask could be at the end of your post, just make sure that the topic and nature of the content should easily lead into what you discuss. For example, it would be strange if you wrote a post about time management and then tried to get people to purchase a baby toy. Neither are related to each other in a way that your audience can make sense of.

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Best practices for social media engagement

I know, social media can seem like a pain. But it's meant to drive engagement between you and other people.

Since the true purpose of social media is to drive connection, you're not leveraging social channels to the fullest extent if you're not engaging on an individual level.

Why is engagement on social media so important?

1. Because if you're not connecting and engaging with others then you're missing out.

You're not actually meeting the people that social media let's you get in touch with. No matter the country or time zone or interests, you can cross so many barriers easily and fluidly with a single post.

2. Algorithms want to see engagement.

If you're screaming, "ME ME ME" from the corner by only posting about yourself, for yourself, and by yourself, then you're not really on social media for the right things. You should be engaging so that no matter the channel you're on - Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or Twitter - people see you as someone looking to be social.

And the algorithms love it. I conducted my own social experiment: I continued posting to my work Instagram account and stopped engaging altogether (no liking, commenting, etc. on other people's posts) and watched my own posts decline by half. That's just how important engaging is.

So, you've scheduled all your posts in advance. What do you do next to jumpstart your social media engagement?

Scheduling your posts out allows you to take the pressure off of posting or devising new content everyday and puts you in the headspace to engage with people who engage with you first or who may be of interest to your business.

1. Comment on people's posts.

Spend your time writing comments that mean something. I "That's nice" or a "You're awesome" or "Follow me back" don't count for much in the game of comments.

Side note: Do not have a robot do this portion for you. Robots are not good at pretending to be human - their comments often don't make any sense - but by having generic comments you're showing people that you're not interested enough to be specific.

General Goal: 10 before 10.

I heard this in one of my accountability groups and loved it! 10 before 10 is an easy way remember to engage on social media. It means that you leave 10 comments before 10AM - you knock out your engagement before the day has even started.

2. Like other people's posts and videos is like being a good neighbor.

Genuinely engage with content you enjoy so that you can see more of it and so people know that you appreciate them. Especially if they're also putting in the time and effort, reward them with the likes and kudos you would want for yourself.

General Goal: Spend 10 minutes engaging per day.

That may sound like a lot, but if you spend your time starting conversations and not just scrolling, you'll be surprised what you can do in just 10 minutes! Or 5 minutes. Whatever your schedule allows, it's worth spending time relating to others.

3. Start a messenger conversation

Really love what someone has done? Send them a private message.

Really want to dig deeper into a post? Send them an individual message.

People love that you thought of them and want to speak further. It's like a handwritten note in a sea of emails.

4. Respond to people engaging with you.

If someone leave you a great Google Review, Facebook Review, or comment - thank them! It's not too time consuming and people will remember that you spent time engaging with them specifically - it makes them feel heard and appreciated.

Especially if your content is being shared or people are generating a lot of their own content and tagging your business or checking in to your location, this is a perfect opportunity to connect in another way.

5. Get involved with Groups.

Facebook and LinkedIn Groups can be invaluably to generating a following or traffic to your page. Whether you've created a group and are managing it, or have joined a group that has your target audience, both do wonders for your social media presence.

Keep in mind that in the group you're there to add value first, connect with others second. And a very distant third is to promote yourself directly and only in the manner approved by the group so you don't come across as "spammy."

What if I have a lot of social media channels that I need to engage with?

If you have Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Youtube, Twitch, and the list goes on and on then I would divide your time on what matters most and how you can be most effective.

If you comment best online, then block out time for LinkedIn, Facebook, and Youtube to tackle all at once. If you comment best on mobile, then block time for Instagram and Twitter.

I would recommend splitting your time between them so you're not only active on one. I love time blocking as well so you don't fall down the rabbit hole and engage for 8 hours (when you could be working on your business).

Does all of this even work anyway?

The biggest complaint I hear about social media is that, "It's all for show and I don't get any business anyway."

My response is that you will get a response where you show your effort. If you aren't spending your time and effort in social media, it's unlikely to reap any rewards. However, if you are cultivating true relationships and engaging you are much more likely to connect with people who can help you grow and may even be customers.

Branding generates revenue

How many of us understand the value of branding?

Branding is the process of developing a differentiated presence in the mind of consumers that attracts and retains customers.

According to research, the average revenue increase attributed to presenting the brand consistently is 23%. 

Having an understanding of your business vision and knowing your ideal audience can help you authentically connect and maximize your efficiency.

Authenticity is Key

91% of consumers say they are more likely to buy from an authentic brand. 

Branding is a method to showcase your business, founders, and value through mass means. Instead of communicating one to one with every prospect, branding allows people to understand who you are, what you offer, and how to relates to them.

However, branding needs to rely on authenticity to be effective. Developing a message that's not based in fact is the surest way to lose customer trust and loyalty.

Branding Drives Customer Loyalty --> Revenue

Customer loyalty can be worth 10x as much as a single purchase.

Increasing customer retention is a valuable part of branding, especially with the amount it's worth to the bottom line. By creating a place in the mind of the consumer, they both remember to purchase from you next time and continue to associate you with their positive experience.

Loyal customers can become brand advocates, individuals who share their enthusiasm for a product or company with others. Strong fan bases are typically seen in sports, but are prevalent in the way certain customers refer to brands (like "I only buy Nike" or "I'm a Nike girl/guy").

Branding Engages Current and Potential Customers

Customers who are fully engaged represent a 23% share of revenue compared to average customers.

Branding gives companies the opportunity to gain the attention and value of an engaged customer. These are people who are fully engaged in a brand, ready to share new information or be involved with upcoming information. These are the individuals that open emails, reply to social posts, and more.

Engaging customers through branding means showing up as yourself on multiple platforms (email, social, web, etc.). Without showing up to engage, it's hard to have a conversation with customers or potential customers. 

So, after all this research, why wouldn't you want to brand your business?

The cost of not investing in your online presence

I've heard a lot lately that some business owners aren't interested in investing in their online presence. Online dollars can seem like a lot when you "aren't getting any website leads anyway."

Your online presence consists of any messages you put out online and can include (but isn't limited to) your website, social media channels, Google My Business, news articles, videos, and anything else an individual might find when searching for your business.

However, what does it cost you when you don't spend the money?

1. Your brand presence

A brand without an online presence, or without a presence that resonates with its target audience, isn't helping you attract new customers. It's not helping you connect on an emotional level and not doing the thing it's meant to do - let people know that your business exists.

This sometimes looks like:

- People who exclude their website from their business card

- Being too nervous or ashamed to tell people they have a website

- Going out of their way to hide that they have a website from prospects

2. Online leads

If people can't find, navigate, or connect with your online presence then you are losing potential customers. People want to know more about a business before they show up to a storefront or reach out. At this point in the 21st century, not having an online presence is downright suspicious since it makes people question if you're a real company.

This sometimes looks like:

- A lack of any online materials for people to find and search

- A website or social media channels that don't rank well enough for people to find you

- A site that is confusing about what you want people to do

3. Credibility

One of the things that a website gives your business is credibility. It shows that you've invested in your business enough to care about potential customer's impressions when they actively are looking for people that offer your types of services.

This sometimes looks like:

- People not picking up the phone because a brand or website looks like outdated

- People feeling skeptical about a business's expertise

- People looking for additional ways to validate your business's expertise (i.e. maybe I'll check the reviews feelings)

4. Trust and Interest

Despite what you may have heard, customers are paying attention - especially to video and content. Investing in these types of methods to boost your brand presence can be very effective when increasing customer interest and engagement.

81% of video viewing sessions capture people’s attention.
— Google/Ipsos, “Video Mobile Diary,” U.S., 2017

This sometimes looks like:

- Loss of interest in a category or business

- Deciding not to return to a website or social media platform

- Choosing a competitor to give their business

So, at what point does it become worth it to you?

And if you're not going to invest in your business, than how can you ask customers to?

How you can incorporate the most important thing (hint:yourself) into your social media

Why should you do this?

People need to know you’re a real person.

On the internet, people have the opportunity to craft amazing profile which may or may not be real. By showing your face and giving a face behind an organization, you are literally showing people that their is a real person behind your presence.

Familiarity builds liking. Liking builds trust. We do business with people we like and trust.

If people never see you or get to know you, how can they be expected to purchase from you? Without incorporating your personality into your posts, they will never get a sense of who you really are and why you are the right person to do business with.

Think of it like owning a physical location - wouldn't it be weird if you never met anyone helping you?

Can you imagine going into a store to buy a new outfit and hearing a voice over the PA answering your questions? Would you feel comfortable not knowing who's behind all of the words and messages?

Probably not. Stand behind what you're saying and help your customers understand who you are so you don't end up with a Wizard of Oz situation.

Incorporating yourself into your social media is especially important when you own your own business or YOU are your business.

You are not a corporation, you should have a human side.

People want to meet the owners and people behind the scenes. That way they understand who you are, why you do what you do, and why they should be excited to work with you. No one wants the dry or boring copy. Or the answering service that hangs up on you. They want a human side to a company.

Big business is trying to humanize themselves, so it should be something easier for small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Humanizing brands and businesses is a way to get customers to care more about what you have to offer. You can read more about how you can be successful humanizing here.

Ways to infuse your personality and presence into your social media

Your brand palette

This should be a fun way to incorporate and show who you are with color and visuals.

Positioning statement

Your positioning statement summarizes what you're all about. It should be part of your Instagram bio and make people think, "This is the kind of person I want to interact with.

Photos of yourself

It doesn't need to be every photo, but incorporating pictures of yourself and your employees shows people (literally) who you are.

Write how you speak

Don't speak like a drone, actually write posts how you would speak so people can get a true hint of your personality.

Have days just for fun - share something

Not everything should be about selling on your social media. Spend some time getting to know your followers and sharing fun information about you.

Be yourself

Always be yourself! This is the quickest and surest way to make sure the people who get in touch with you will be the right match.

Share what’s really going on

Not everything has to be sunny days and endless mimosas. Be real with your audience about life, they will appreciate the honesty.

For more tips about infusing your personality, you can read on here.

Your brand is more than your logo

Branding is more than making your company look pretty.

It’s about conveying your spirit and personality to people who can identify with you. Brand identity, what you say and show, is a large part of that.

Brand image, the visual composition of your brand, is also a major consideration. It’s the visual story of what you bring to your customers. It includes your logo, any trademarks, particular colors, and anything else attached to your brand from spokespeople to packaging to in-store experiences.

Brand image is a lot to cover since it includes every way that a person sees your brand. This image should convey the aspects of your brand personality, especially your top brand adjectives.

Your image should get to the point where people recognize the brand even without the logo. For example, you see a baby blue box and you think of Tiffany’s. Or a bright red box with golden arches and think of a Happy Meal. These are obvious and effective signs of branding at work.

 

Here are some things to keep in mind:

These main considerations are essential to the success of your brand and should be maintained. McDonald’s is red and gold. Tiffany’s is baby blue. Brands event patent signature colors or the way they are used for this reason.

Your choices should be reflected in every place the people interact with you. This means your website, business card, social media and more need to reflect your brand personality, image, and identity.

Why is this so important?

Let’s say you’ve chosen a high-end restaurant to take you and some friends out to celebrate. Their website’s photos made you think of white tablecloths and champagne buckets. When you arrive, the white tables are actually linoleum and the champagne is only a dream. What you expected to encounter and the actual experience are nothing alike.

This incongruity between what people expect and what they experience can stop people from returning. Disappointment abounds and people decide to try somewhere else next time.

Now think of the opposite situation.

You read an online review about a pizza by the slice place that is so popular that is has a line around the block. It’s in a crowded area right next to where you like to go out with your friends. That night, you drag your friends with you and experience a wait (but not too long). You have an amazing slice of pizza at a picnic table nearby.

While this experience may not be mind-blowing, the difference between expectation and reality was positive enough to return.

Your brand image needs to show your at your best without representing you. Otherwise, your customers will end up with a negative experience instead of a positive one.

Need a brand health check to see how your brand is performing?
Check out my Brand Audit Package to see how you could be leveraging the power of your brand.

6 reasons why you should brand your Instagram

Instagram is one of the best places that you can promote your brand. It's not too crowded with brands, is great for showcasing a product or service in video or photos, and has an algorithm that makes it easier to reach your ideal customer.

Why you should brand your Instagram

6 compelling statistics on connecting with your following

  • Organic marketing reach on Facebook has been down 63% over the past 4 years, while Instagram's organic marketing has increased by 115%.

  • Instagram users are more than twice as likely as Facebook users to regularly engage with brands.

  • Instagram has 58% more engagement per follower than Facebook.

  • Only 36% of marketers are using Instagram (compared to 93% of marketers on Facebook).

  • Instagram has a higher average order value than Facebook ($65 vs $55).

  • Brands on Instagram reach 100% of their followers, compared to 6% on Facebook.

Statistics are courtesy of Selfstartr.

If you're not sure if Instagram is for you, ask yourself these two questions.

  • Does my brand lend itself to visual presentation?

  • Do I want to connect and engage with potential customers?

Those may be only two reasons, but they are two powerful ones. They could change the amount of people you reach quickly, and allow you to show your product or service in the best light possible.

Some quick Instagram etiquette tips

If you're not doing these things, it may be hurting your online branding efforts.

Ask before re-posting other people's content.

Make sure you ask someone if you can use their photos and then attribute them in your caption. It's only fair to give someone credit for the hard work they've done to brand their feed with amazing content. Give the compliment of sharing and tagging them, it's what you want others to do for you.

Be online to create relationships.

Comment on other people's posts. Genuinely engage with them about their businesses, brands, and services. The more you give in your relationships online, the more likely it will come back to you in a positive way.

Don't spam people.

We know that your account is about your business, but you shouldn't be yelling, "Buy from me!" in your captions for every post. It's too much to constantly be hearing about how people need to buy from you. Try sharing content from people outside your business and acting like a full brand (not just a salesperson).

Want to know more about how you can increase your engagement on Instagram?

Read more here about how to gain followers

Read on here about how to define your brand on Instagram.

Wish your Instagram presence was more consistent, cohesive, and effective?
Check out my Instagram Branding Package to increase your #InstaGame!

3 common missteps when meeting people where they are (and how to combat them)

Your goal with messaging is to reach people where they are. To do this, think about answering:

  • Where do your ideal customers eat?
  • Where are they located?
  • Do they commute?
  • What's their day look like?
  • What are they excited about?

These are just a few things you should know about reaching your target audience. Developing buyer personas for your product lines will help clear up targeting issues and bring more focus into who you are trying to reach for a particular advertisement. Your personas should be specific, understandable, and executable.

When deciding exactly where to meet your buyer personas where they're at, so they don't need to hunt for your information, there are three common issues that need to be considered.

What you need to keep in mind includes:

People have short - squirrel.

People needed to be grabbed and grabbed quickly. People decide whether or not they will continue watching an advertisement in 3 seconds (or 8 seconds max which is shorter than a goldfish). That means you have 3 seconds during a video advertisement to convince someone to continue watching.

Other types of advertisements, outside of digital, have little research into how much people are continuing to read or engage with them. Print magazines gauge impressions - number of people who they have likely reached - rather than being able to say someone looked at your ad for 10 seconds.

 
You only have eight seconds to grab someone's attention.

You only have eight seconds to grab someone's attention.

 

Ways to combat short attention spans:

  • Create content that engages quickly. Using cuts of video, attention grabbing headlines, and visuals can help someone decide an article is worth reading.
  • Make articles accessible. Minimize the number of clicks it takes to engage with your content. Like online shopping, online reading can be hindered by an increased number of clicks.
  • Create a brand promise around engagement. If your content is always engaging to your target audience, they will be more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt for a given piece of content. They will also come back for new content rather than needing to reach out to them every time.

Noise is everywhere.

There are a couple different types of noise. Noise can be that there are too many messages vying for attention in the same space. It can be literal noise when it comes to someone receiving the ad. Noise is what interferes with someone receiving a message as intended.

This is the Shannon-Weaver model of communication. It describes how messages have issues reaching a selected individual. More stressing is the Interactive Model of Communication, insinuating that there is noise around the entire process of communication.

Ways to combat noise:

  • Choose the right time and place to interact. Understand your target audience's limitations and biases to make sure you're reaching them at a prime time for minimizing noise. Do your research in advance and test your ads to see what's working.
  • Be engaging. Exceptional content can help cut through the noise of a overwhelmed psyche. It's one of the reasons Buzzfeed rose to popularity.
  • Be different. One of the issues with noise is separating quality from a jumble of messages vying for contention. Separate your content as much as possible from what's next to you on the magazine stand, in someone's News feed, or along their drive home.

Attention is limited. Use it wisely.

People have a limited amount of time and attention to spend on an advertisement. They may be present while their is an ad going on, but there's no guarantee that they're absorbing the information. Choosing a better time of day or method of engagement can help assuage this issue.

Be careful when choosing where you're reaching customers to take into account how they might be feeling. If they're workaholics, maybe they will be working during their commute and will only skim an ad. If they're single moms, maybe they can't focus on picking up their kids from school around 3 pm rather than watching the TV that's may be running in the background. These are example scenarios - and can severely impact people's reception of your advertisement.

Ways to combat limited attention:

  • Find a better topic. People engage with content they want to engage with. Simply because you've paid for air time doesn't mean people are listening. If you've chosen a paid way into impressions or reach, impress with content that grabs attention by being relevant.
  • Find a time when your target audience can focus. Is that late at night? Early in the morning? When they're taking a break at work? Maybe there's a particular medium they are able to focus on. Take time to know these places to make the best decisions for ad placement.
Brands are stepping in for Hurricane Harvey relief

It's been a hell of a week with Hurricane Harvey destroying large parts of Texas and flooding others. 

Some important things to realize:

  • This could be the costliest Hurricane ever with an estimated price tag of $190 Billion. To put it in perspective, Hurricane Katrina cost $49.8 Billion.
  • 53 counties were affected, around 11 million people, which is 46% of the Texas population.
  • South Texas received 19 trillion gallons of rain in the span of a few days. 

I live and work in Houston, so this past week has affected friends and coworkers. Thankfully, a lot of them were not significantly affected by the flooding, tornadoes, and storm. However, there are over 9,000 evacuees and many more displaced and needing help.

Some people I know were rescued on rooftops. Others were evacuated by boat. The week has been hectic, tiring, and stressful for everyone affected.

And while all of this is going on, people are stepping up to help. There are lines outside of shelters not for help, but to volunteer. People are pledging their support from New York. Mexico offered to help. The Cajun Navy came to the rescue.

Brands are stepping in to help out victims

Brands large and small are stepping in with company-wide efforts to help victims of Hurricane Harvey. 

  • HEB trucks were lined up outside the city to begin serving meals. Each truck is capable of serving over 6000 meals per day.
  • Waffle House stayed open to support first responders. My boyfriend's company has set up a fund to help employees affected by the storm.
  • Gallery Furniture has made it a hallmark of their business to step in when people need help. They opened their doors to shelter people affected.
  • A 2nd Cup, usually dedicated to fighting human trafficking, is organizing volunteers and raising money for relief.

Even more companies are sending or offering aid to those affected.There will be more work to do in the coming weeks in months, especially with FEMA estimating they will be in Texas for years.

And some brands increased prices

Memorably, there have been the brands and companies that decided to raise prices in response to a crisis. While the companies have responded saying there were "pricing errors" it still was a striking moment.

While I didn't witness it, I did hear through other people experiencing the flood that some tow truck drivers were charging around $600 for a tow. That even some people with boats were charging people to be rescued.

In times of crisis, it's important for everyone to step up and help

This is the moment that people will remember when someone stepped in to help them. It's a time to drop what you're doing and lend a hand or a dollar where you can. For ways that you can contribute, see here.

The contribution doesn't have to be large.

Companies large a small, from individual creators to larger corporations, have found different ways to offer aid. It can be a volunteer outing, donations, or offering shelter to people in need. It can be as simple as showing your own employees that you care about their well being and will be there to help them get back on track.

Brands have the opportunity to make a difference.

A brand can bring people together and organize relief that may be difficult to achieve at the individual level. Take this time to really show people what your brand stands for by contributing.

Don't help looking for a quick soundbite.

Real people have been affected. People have lost their homes, businesses, and friends. People are still missing. Help to genuinely make a difference, not to just look good.

There's a lot of work to be done. I will be out and about for the next few weeks - out of town and then returning to help out friends. See how you can also make a difference in the lives of people affected.

How can you do your part as a business or individual to offer aid?

Brands are getting political

It's hard to not "get political" for brands over the past few weeks. There have been terror attacks in Spain and the incident in Charlottesville that killed Heather Heyer. Civil and national unrest has prompted brands to respond with their own campaigns or strategy shifts.

Brands have varied in how they have responded to these types of crises. Some have already removed their advertisements from controversial sites, while others have created an active comment, policy, or campaign.

Brands are getting involved

The events at Charlottesville have caused more brands to get political, but brands started sharing their views before then. The immigration ban also prompted brands to become more involved to connect with consumers about topics they care about. While this can be done well, some brands did misstep (Pepsi). 

Uber, Lyft, Starbucks, and Airbnb have taken the opportunity to speak out in accordance with their values.

Honesty is the foundation of any relationship. As is being true to who you are, standing up for what you think is right.
— Saul Bedmead, chief strategy officer at Y&R Europe

Removing themselves from controversial content

Digiday covered brands pulling advertisements from sites deemed "too controversial." With media companies under fire for how advertisements are being placed, and the secrecy around their processes, brands are taking placement into their own hands. They don't want their ads shown next to political or controversial content they don't agree with. 

Companies working with agencies have "blacklisted" certain sites for their content. Sites include FoxNews.com, Breitbart, and Infowars. Some brands have singled out news sites like CNN and New York Times.

An anonymous exec commented, "Advertisers may just be using Fox News as a symbol of rejecting offensive content or ideas... [It’s] a pretty political move for a brand to publicly reject a publisher, but the calculation is likely to be ‘better safe than sorry.’"

Uber's response denounced hate

After the event's in Charlottesville, I received the below email from Uber. While Uber has not had the best PR lately, the made a point to denounce the events in Charlottesville and address how they are helping the Uber community.

The email reads, 

"Dear Sophie,

We were horrified by the neo-Nazi demonstration that took place in Charlottesville, which resulted in the loss of life of a young woman as well as two Virginia State Troopers responding to the protest. There is simply no place for this type of bigotry, discrimination, and hate.

As the country braces for more white supremacist demonstrations, we wanted to let you know what we are doing for the Uber community: 

We will act swiftly and decisively to uphold our Community Guidelines, including our policy against discrimination of any kind—this includes banning people from the app.

24/7 in-app support is available to answer questions and address concerns. You always have the right to end your trip if you feel uncomfortable or disrespected.

Now more than ever we must stand together against hatred and violence. Thank you for making our community one that we can all be proud of. 

On behalf of all of us at Uber, 

Meghan Verena Joyce 

Regional General Manager, US & Canada Cities"

Online discussion about what to do

In one Facebook group I'm in, there was an active discussion about how a brand can comment on tragedy or events like Charlottesville. It was interesting to listen to small business owners discuss why they wanted to make a statement, how they had already made one, and how to do so in an appropriate way.

Some decided to donate a percentage of their proceeds toward charitable organizations. Others posted signs on their stores. Some posted on social media. Each one took a unique approach to responding to political events.

What can brands do to lead with their values?

When a brand's mission comes in direct opposition to the beliefs or acts demonstrated, brands have to opportunity to comment and show their perspective. This doesn't have to be done in a large way, but something like donating proceeds is a way to put your money where your beliefs are. Voting with dollars shows customers and prospective customers your commitment to your vision.

 
 

Some ways brands can respond include:

  • Making a statement. It can be online on in-store. A statement regarding the business's beliefs and mission can reaffirm what the brand stands for.
  • Donate to a cause. Show people what you stand for by donating to a mission that is complementary to your own.
  • Open up a discussion. Speak to people around you and open up a meaningful dialogue about events.
Knowledge sharing builds trust

Sharing knowledge and transparency isn't simply a way to sell, it's a way to demonstrate your expertise. By giving back to the community through your knowledge, you can create additional trust with your customers and future customers. You can share knowledge through your own blog, videos, guest blogging, social media... the options are endless!

Sharing your knowledge:

  • Demonstrates your expertise
  • Builds a deeper bond with your audience
  • Can show individuals how your reputation, knowledge base, and approach is built (a look behind the curtain)

Share your personal journey

I wanted to share my own knowledge regarding unemployment, hustling for roles, and lay offs so I wrote a guest piece of content for Toronto FuckUp Nights. My goal was to shed light on failure, what it can do for you, and take some of the stigma away from failing.

Failure is embraced by entrepreneurs and small businesses. It lets you know when a product is doing well or when it needs tweaks. It lets you know what strategies are working and when you need to pivot. It can become a powerful tool for change.

Going into it, I was trying to share my own journey. I wasn't sure if it would resonate with others or what impact it had. I simply wanted to share what I had gone through and then realized.

I wasn't even sure that people would find my piece valuable. Through sharing, I helped humanize the situation and hope to bring light to the struggles of other young professionals.

Sharing your professional knowledge

Sharing your expertise doesn't have to be limited to shining a light behind the curtain. It can be demonstrating your knowledge on a subject you enjoy and work on. I also did a guest post for another blogger talking about melding your brand experience together.

I enjoyed getting to write it and it continues sharing in the marketing realm.

When you choose to share:

  • Choose a format you enjoy using. If you don't like writing, don't write. If you don't like being recorded, avoid video and podcasting. Unless your audience is explicitly demanding it, share on the format you're most likely to continue using.
  • Curate what you share. You don't need to share everything you've ever thought about to create a worthwhile blogging experience. Select specific topics and information you want to share (maybe even putting it in a content calendar).
  • Be personal. People want to read something that's written in your own voice! Don't drift into complicated techno-speak for the sake of sounding smart. Speak the way you would to a friend or colleague.