Before we begin, here’s my disclaimer: I am not a millennial-basher by any means. In fact, I’m a millennial myself and believe we’re often misunderstood and underappreciated for the many positives that we contribute to society. There is a trend that I find disturbing, however, which is why I bring you this post with hopes that it rings an alarm with a much-needed message. That message: While a personal brand can be quite impactful and lucrative, provocative selfies without a solid plan for growth are not a long-term solution for business success.
Can we just stop?
I’m sure I am not the only one tired of seeing duck-faced selfies with unrelated thought-provoking quotes on my timeline. Or worse, Kardashian-esque poses with Drake rap lyrics for captions from a new generation of entrepreneurs who, often with great intentions, believe they are running a sustainable business. When they are not posting selfies, there’s typically a flood of images pushing a product (usually a tea, shake, or tummy wrap promising weight loss) for followers to buy.
It is important to remember that likes on a photo do not automatically equate to dollars in pockets. Double taps and hearts also do not increase your impact made in this world. If you aren’t looking to make this world a little better and increase your bottom line, then what exactly is the point? While you have the opportunity, once your following has grown substantially, to be paid to showcase another brand’s product or service (prior to this, brands are likely to just send the product for free as compensation for sharing), even this is not a long-term solution for success for two main reasons.
With personal brands, creating relationships with customers that promote trust and as a result reap loyalty is of utmost importance. If you are sharing any product that a company sends, you are likely to get a few bad apples. This swiftly makes you lose credibility, causing your followers to begin doubting your authenticity. This makes them less likely to purchase from an advertisement you share in the future and the company less likely to contact you again. This scenario is incredibly detrimental if you’re looking to have your own product line or service-based business one day as followers will write you off as a fraudster selling inferior goods to get a quick buck.
To combat the above issue while still earning income from products shown, I recommend only sharing products that you use yourself and have been using for a while that you absolutely love and believe will be of value to your audience. If they do purchase (preferably through an affiliate link you organize with the company to provide an additional source of income), you can be more confident that they will be satisfied with their purchase and customer experience. A pro of doing it this way is that you will be able to answer any questions that purchasers may have about the product or service based off of your own experience using it. I also recommend readily sharing that the link is an affiliate link to garner an even deeper level of trust through transparency.
That body of yours will change, your looks will change, but your brain can carry you for a while. Translation: Less butt selfies, more strategic planning. If running a personal brand on looks alone, when people stop liking your posts because they no longer find your physical image appealing, you’ll need a backup plan. The key is to transition now from the endless array of selfies to more posts that showcase your personality, intellect, and provide true value to your followers.
In essence, as an entrepreneur, it isn’t about you at all, rather what you can do for potential clients. Show followers you care by giving them valuable information along with access to useful feel-good products and services that you trust and believe they’ll truly love (preferably your own). Having consideration for your customer while being authentic to who you are as an individual is the best thing you can do for your business.
When I’m not pushing products on social media (which is the majority of the time) I aim to provide value through motivational posts, success strategies, and solutions to problems millennial women often face. I frequently take to InstaStory to teach entrepreneurs and aspiring authors the ins and outs of the industry while transparently sharing failures faced along the way. Providing this consistent value makes selling my products and services effortless when the time comes.
Gone are the days when the only purpose of a business was to problem-solve or make life more convenient for the consumer. Now, along with the aforementioned, people pay to simply feel good. Customers will often purchase anything they find interesting enough as long as they feel a personal connection to it.
Translation: If your brand can sell empowerment, confidence, or any other feel-good product or service, you are on the right track.
Alex Wolf, founder of Boss Babe Inc. and author of the book “Resonate,” breaks this down perfectly in her recently tweeted video:
so if you want to pursue entrepreneurship (and actually make money), don't ask "what's the biggest problem I can solve?" ask "how can i learn to sell a water bottle?" see below to understand ... (look, i just want to make sure yall are really eating. tired of ppl misdirecting) pic.twitter.com/vgAo2YanTL— Alex Wolf (@alexwolfco) August 26, 2018
Personal Brands Need Clarity and Meaning
To create something meaningful get clear on not only what the goal of your personal brand is, but also where you see yourself in 2, 5 and 10 years’ time. Think about other sources of income that you can add that does not depend on another company’s buy-in. Determine what will be most helpful to assist your audience to feel better and brainstorm ways you can create that feeling for them through a product or service.
Know your niche. Are you a fitness trainer specializing in assisting new moms? If so, then that butt selfie may do you some good. Along with the occasional selfie, however, share some valuable advice that your followers can apply relatively easily to enhance their lives in some way. If, however, you fall in the large clump of entrepreneurs not in the fitness industry space, it’s best to lay off the heavy butt selfie postings as they can only take personal brands so far.