This is dedicated to all the personal profiles with business names on Facebook, and all the Linkedin contacts with no photo:

Before I accept any contract from any business for social media marketing training either in UK or Thailand I dig really deep to find out what the client understands about branding and whether they understand that social media is really about them and their company rather than just advertising their company as a single entity.

I am in the school of thought that if you are running a business you must accept that people are going to see YOU as the business, after all we are a few years away from robots running the community. I for one can never see the day when you listen to a robot and you go with your gut instinct and purchase from it.

Yet many people still feel they can be anonymous, why would you want to be? OK there is the security aspect of social media and I would understand if you had been hacked or was trolled etc., yet you must make all the necessary security measures and get on with your life, and Social media is bigger than anyone’s issues! I was hacked once and it was a horrible stressful time, but I used it to my advantage and made a blog out of it, which became one of my most read articles to date!

 One chap I taught last year was really averse to Facebook; it was like it was cursed. Many times during the course of the day he asked must he really have a profile to have a company page. Eventually he understood and we created a personal profile, that was so secret, even he could not find it today, yet his Facebook business page is alive and growing, makes me wonder what people have done to be so reclusive.

To be successful with social media you have to be human and have feelings and emotions period. You have to be prepared to understand that you, your persona and ego will be tied inexplicably to your business. That is the entire point of Social media. And to this day I cannot understand how anyone could outsource their social media to any company.

One thing I was taught in business was to be consistent in everything you do, from the birth of your business and the first time you hand out your business card, you are beginning a branding journey, and the branding journey only ever stops when your business closes its doors for the last time.

People need to satisfy many things in their head before they decide to trust you enough to purchase from you. Like how established you are, and how many clients do you have, sure these are simply academic steps we all follow to make sure we get the best for our money. But when all is said and done it’s rapport that seals the deal, and if the potential client has seen you before and seen your writing and blogging, or  for example has seen you have a son of similar age, then you have a far better chance of closing the deal. In fact science tells us that over 78% of people make up their mind in the first 10 minutes of a meeting and you can grow that success rate massively by getting into their heads before they meet you.

You can begin to blog once, twice a week on a SEO optimised site, publishing and sharing to all the social media like I have taught you in all of my blogs, but unless you are selling something no one has sold before, it will take you months of work before you even get a single like on a blog and you will go through a phase like everyone does of thinking you are wasting your time. Like every business, you will need to do this stuff or your competitors will, and it’s not the best team that wins each time it’s the team that wants to win!

 It is so difficult to put a ROI on branding, sure you can see through analytics where your hits are coming from and visits to your site are growing, and you can put a goal and KPI in, to say for example ‘In December we will have 5,000 visits a month to our site,’ but only when you know that your sales have gone up because people have read about you and feel they know you will you be able to find your ROI.

The first time someone said to me:

“You are Alan Johnston, are you not? The Social media blogger? I’ve read your stuff especially that blog about Business Incubators in Thailand, please tell me how you go about helping a company like me find more leads online,”

Is priceless! and those lonely days when you thought you were writing for fun and no one was listening, all seems to fade away and the warm glow of inner success pats you on the back and says see I told you to keep at it and be consistent! That moment right then is you know what branding really means!

 If you chose to remain anonymous behind a silhouette rather than your photo and never share a personal story on Facebook about your life, or someone else has written your blogs for you, you are going to struggle to ever brand your business effectively online!