The recently concluded Social Media Week Manila brought in some of the digital world’s most important voices to talk about what they do best – social media. Some covered topics about building your social media presence, staying relevant, and the pitfalls and struggles of being an online content creator.

Here’s what I learned at Social Media Week Manila:

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1. You are what your social media shows.

In the often overlooked space of LinkedIn, you are judged first by what you present. It shouldn’t be news to anyone looking for a job that headhunters or human resources look through social media as part of your background check. People have lost job opportunities because their social media posts raised red flags.

But even if you’re not looking for a job, your social media presence still matters in this day and age. People will get to know you through your social media, so it’s important to bring and drive the message you want people to see and hear. My Instagram is a mix of food and travel posts for two reasons: 1.) because that’s part of my job and 2.) because it’s what I actually love.

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2. Consumer ROPO Behavior. Research Online. Purchase Offline.

As a consumer, I’m guilty of this. I discover a lot of brands through Instagram, and while there usually are substantial comments and feedback from previous buyers that make me believe they’re trustworthy, I sometimes don’t find that enough. I check their details for a retail location or a bazaar schedule and then make time for a visit. There is a certain satisfaction in being able to check the quality of the goods and knowing that my hard-earned cash is going somewhere good.

For sellers, offline visibility is just as important as online visibility. Especially when it comes to clothing items, accessories, and health and wellness items. This adds another layer of communication between you and the consumer, which helps build trust and furthermore, loyalty.

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3. Sell a lifestyle. Not a product.

Successful brands these days do not just rely on how great their product is. They don’t just sell products, they sell a lifestyle.

A perfect example is the Sunnies brand. What started out as an outdoor eyewear brand, Sunnies has now branched out into specs, food, and makeup. And each direction they take, they’re met with success. I would even go as far as saying that their following is almost cult-like. And it’s not just because their product is good. It’s because they’re selling a lifestyle. Who are Sunnies ambassadors? Young, ambitious, successful, and fun-loving individuals. Who are their consumers? Millennials and professionals who want to subscribe to the latest trends and this lifestyle. A slice of this lifestyle pie, served by the products of Sunnies, is enough for these consumers to feel like they’re in the same circle.

So don’t just sell me a swimsuit, sell me the beach babe lifestyle. (But make sure you have a retail outlet, because #ROPO)

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4. Why are you creating content?

Purpose drives your loyalty and trust. You can’t simply be creating content for no reason. Your reason could be as simple as: “I just enjoy being creative” or “I just enjoy telling stories” or it could be something deeper like “I want to inspire kids who come from the same background as me know that their upbringing should not limit them.” No matter what your reasons are, it’s important to keep it close and not lose sight of it. Loyalty and trust are not the only two things you can get from defining your purpose. More importantly, it gives you a strong, unbreakable foundation.

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5. The 5Cs of Personal Branding

The 5Cs of Personal Branding are listed and summarized as follows:

  1. Care – Ask yourself: What do you care about? What are you passionate about? 
  2. Curate– Curation is the art of finding the absolute best content. People don’t want MORE content, they want BETTER content.
  3. Create– Create content in relevant spaces. You can be the best content creator, but if you’re not posting in spaces relevant to your audiences, then you might as well be invisible.
  4. Connect– Connect with everyone that’s relevant in your niche. It’s not just about posting, but also engaging.
  5. Consistent – As they say: Beginners are many, but enders are few. It’s easy to start a blog or create a social media account, but you have to be consistent with producing content. Results are almost never immediate, and it won’t help if you’re easily discouraged by the uphill battle.

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6. Creating vs. Telling Stories

Brands thrive on authenticity. Instead of trying to relate your consumers to fictional situations, it’s much easier to tell stories of events that actually happened because they are true and authentic. All you have to do is relay the message. Readers are interested even in the most mundane of stories – because it makes you more “human.”

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7. Influencers are not magic pills.

These days, it’s almost immediate for brands to include hiring influencers as part of their marketing campaign. Most especially, if they’re starting to struggle with relevance. But influencers are not band-aid solutions. Influencers are message amplifiers. If you’re struggling to get the word out, then maybe your message is not strong enough. Hiring influencers is not going to remedy that problem.

If you are persistent about hiring influencers then do remember that they are not cut from the same cloth. Follower count should not be your singular unit of measurement. You also have to take into account their engagement. Some have huge followings but with small engagement, while others have a smaller following but with higher engagement rates. Hire influencers based on your One Metric That Matters. Do you need clicks, views, or sales?

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8. Blog comments aren’t dead. They just migrated.

Years ago, the comments section on blog posts were very active. Additional questions about the topic or simple form of thanks from brands existed in the comments section. These days, blog comments barely reach ten. However, this doesn’t mean that people are less engaging. In fact, engagement rates are at an all-time high. 

Blog articles are shared on Facebook, and by instinct, people are quick to tag their friends in the comments. So not only do you have to create readable content, but you now also have to consider how to encourage people to have organic interactions with your content in social media.

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9. If no one is talking about your brand online, then no one is talking about your brand.

Whether it’s in someone’s comments section, or a full-blown blog feature, you have to have an online presence. How else will you reach a wide network if not for the power of social media?

Take home-based food businesses for example. You can’t keep relying on the business cards you hand out at bazaars to build your following. In the beginning, you may be hesitant about constantly posting about your products on social media because it’s an added task on top of your cooking. But at the very least, have your contact details available online. A simple tag from a well-known food influencer can easily boost your business. And with your details available online, people won’t find it hard to reach you.

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10. Yes, you have reach. But you’re still not on Google.

It doesn’t matter how many followers you have. It also doesn’t matter how many likes your post on “Maldives Travel Tips” got. Because when I search “Maldives Travel Tips,” your Instagram post is not going to be on the first page of Google. I’m also not going to go on Instagram to search for #maldivestips, because that’s not going to give me the information I’m looking for.

Blogs are still very much alive. If you want your content to reach a wider audience and last for a long time, then put it on a blog – not a Facebook post, not an Instagram post, and definitely not a Twitter thread.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Attending Social Media Week Manila was exactly what I needed as an online content creator. Often, I get lost and build backlog because I get so overwhelmed with the volume of information I have to present. SMW Manila reminded me that it’s more important to tell storiesbe authentic, and define and rediscover your purpose. The root of it all is being human in the digital.

Live an Awesome Life,

Monique of Team Our Awesome Planet