Let’s face it – social media isn’t the future of communications. It’s happening now.

Social communications are now so intricately woven into our ecosystem; the question becomes not if you should use it, but how. How will you use this powerful and necessary tool to build your brand?

I recently spoke at the Black Enterprise (BE) Women of Power Summit, which fittingly is during Women’s History Month, sharing the stage with some brilliant women who are blazing their own paths across various industries: Morgan DeBaun, Founder & CEO, Blavity, and Jai Stone, Award-winning Master Brand Coach and blogger. 

We spoke to an enthusiastic group of professional women, sharing insight on social branding and using social capital to advance in business.

The Backdrop

We, as humans, have a history of hunting the best ways to communicate and tell our stories since the beginning of time.  The internet is no different in this regard.  It has always been about social interactivity and sharing knowledge or stories.

We can trace social media back to the internet boom of the late 1990s with SixDegrees.com. It was one of the first social networking sites to allow users to create profiles, invite friends, organize groups and search other user profiles.

Today, top sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Snapchat drive personal and professional communications across the world. These sites help us connect to each other, share critical information and catalog memories for a lifetime.

The Biz

Social media is often perceived as instinctual, especially for millennials. But, that’s not always the case. There is a science that must balance the art. There must be a strategy and goals behind using social media to truly achieve its full potential.

Here are my top tips for building your brand through social media:

  • Personal and professional go hand in hand. It can be difficult to separate your personal and professional life on social. Always ensure any content you put up represents your best self. You never know who will come across it.
  • You have to speak in order to be heard.  Social gives anyone and everyone a platform to share ideas and connect with others. Regarding risks being greater than rewards; know that you and you alone are in control of how deep you go with social.  You can just listen. You can engage. You can decide, but you must be on social to have a choice.
  • Always be you. You are your biggest selling point.  When building your brand on social, it’s best to focus on no more than three topics in one handle I get it, you are complex with many different facets, but it would be hard for followers to get to know all of you.  Most importantly, it must be meaningful and true to you.
  • Determine appropriate platforms. You are unlikely to reach the right people or engage them successfully by posting content in the wrong place. Be sure you understand your audience and the platforms they use.
  • Use relevant (not just popular) hashtags. The right hashtags can increase viewership similar to keywords used for search optimization. They help people discover your content based on their needs and likes.
  • Content may be king, but context is where the power lies. Bottom line: if your content is not useful, your brand is not useful. While it’s important to have a consistent flow, avoid content that confuses your followers, or worse, want to pass over you completely. Eventually (or immediately), you will lose their attention.

The power of social media is real and tangible. I’m excited to see it evolve and find out where it will take us in the years to come. 

Joy Hays, Director of Digital and Social Media at AT&T

Joy Hays
Joy Hays Director of Digital and Social Media at AT&T