Be Authentic to Build Your Brand

Red Pen just celebrated its first year in business, and I couldn’t be more proud of everything we’ve achieved. It’s been a wild ride, and one we couldn’t survive without our devoted clients, partners and support system.

We’ve learned so much since becoming entrepreneurs and working to build our brand. For me, the biggest takeaway is the importance of really engaging and connecting with people. It’s tough to be vulnerable and put yourself out there, miles from your comfort zone. But when you do, good things happen.

What Does Authenticity Even Mean?

As a business owner, you essentially sell yourself, not just your services or products. Using this type of approach actually came up during a local entrepreneurs meeting we helped organize. The whole group agreed being authentic, both online and in person, is vital to building a brand and growing a business.

Authentic and authenticity seem like such buzz words lately, but they deserve some attention in our present-day culture obessed with celebrities, social media, reality TV and the internet of things. Entrepreneur.com has published several articles on the importance of authenticity.

In terms of running a business, I think authenticity means being true to yourself and your company’s mission with honesty, transparency, and most importantly, imperfections. None of us is perfect and it’s our imperfections that connect us to others and inspire them to engage.

Promote Yourself, Not Just Your Business

family jumping for joy

For years, I resisted joining any social media networks. Part of it was my desire for privacy, but it was mostly out of fear. I hate putting myself out there for others to judge. I was also hesitant to leave myself vulnerable, given my job experience as an investigative reporter at newspapers and magazines.

It was risky to share personal details when you write about criminals for a living, and I knew first-hand just how much information about a person can be dug up online when doing research for newspaper and magazine articles.

Once we started Red Pen, I knew I could no longer encourage clients to post on social media without also doing it myself. We have to practice what we preach, right? We received a mandate to start social media accounts at our last job, which blended journalism with content marketing. The goal was to build author credibility and boost the company’s brand authority. Once I dipped my toes into the social networking waters, I started to see the power of sharing online. It’s essential to any marketing plan.

Recently, I started my own Facebook account and it’s astounding to me the amount of connections I’ve built in just a few months, reconnecting with old friends and family I haven’t talked to in years and building relationships with new people. I now use my personal Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook accounts to cross-promote our Red Pen accounts, and I get way more interaction on my personal pages. We also gain most of our new leads from these personal connections.

I’ve discovered people genuinely want to help us build a business and spread the word about our services. My experience has been 100-percent positive. I’m so thankful I took the leap to start promoting myself.

Engage With Your Online Audience

It’s not just enough to post on social media and expect all of your followers to share and like your content. You must engage with people by also liking their posts, leaving comments, and participating in authentic, respectful conversations. Share things that aren’t business-related to highlight your personality and what you value in life outside of work.

Videos are a great tool for adding authenticity to your brand’s message. People want to see the real you and all the messy truths that come with that, such as your dogs barking as you try to do a Facebook Live post or the pile of work stacked on your less-than-perfect desk.

With Facebook’s new algorithm change this year, engagement is critical if you still want your content to show up in newsfeeds. The whole goal of the major change is to encourage meaningful interactions with people, which means a lot less public posts from brands, businesses and media show up. It’s time for a new tactic if your business typically relies on impersonal, branded messaging that simply promotes your company.

family skydiving

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

This first year of business tested my resolve more than expected. My strengths are storytelling, interviewing people to get the best information and editing copy until it shines. I know how to use social media and traditional news outlets to spread the word for our clients.  

I’m no expert in sales. Accounting makes my head hurt. Leading an entrepreneur group with hundreds of members kicks my anxiety of public speaking into full gear. But, like I’ve learned through my own personal experiences, jumping out of your comfort zone (or a perfectly good airplane) is the only way to grow.

If the thought of telling your own story makes you skittish, let us help you figure out the best way to show off your authentic self and really resonate with your audience.

Like I’ve learned through my own personal experiences, jumping out of your comfort zone (or a perfectly good airplane) is the only way to grow.

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