Christopher Appello
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How To Build a Successful Digital Brand of Your Own

In 2020, an estimated 3.6 billion people are currently using social media, and that number is only projected to increase exponentially in the next five years. As social media platforms establish interconnectivity among those billions of users, ordinary people have the ability to transform themselves into influencers, small business owners, food bloggers, and more.

Tapping into Instagram’s bountiful potential for doing just that, I have created a digital brand of my own that has already amassed nearly 250 followers within its first month of creation. Under the username nonnas_cuisine_, I take on the role of a fiery Northern New Jersey Italian grandmother, incorporating classic Italian-American slang into every post that I upload to the page. At first, I only uploaded recipes and food reviews, but after witnessing a growing interest in my homemade pasta sauce, I started selling jars to the Syracuse University community and have already made over $150 in profit.

When creating a digital brand of your own, there are key elements that need to be integrated at all times. Without cohesion and consistency, your brand will quickly fall apart at its seams. If you are interested in building a digital brand of your own, walk through my following tips for guaranteed success:

1. Establish a Voice, and Stick with It

When creating a digital brand of your own, the first and most important step to take is establishing a unique, authentic voice that is cohesively present in all of your content. For example, if I began speaking in a British accent on my Nonna’s Cuisine page, my audience would be both confused and less likely to engage with my content because that would be an unexpected behavior from my brand. To optimize viewership among your target audience, your messaging needs to follow a consistent voice and tone so that your audience knows what to expect from your brand. Without this cohesiveness, your identity becomes lost in translation to your consumers, thus minimizing your content’s receptivity tenfold.

2. Select a Target Audience

When developing strategic communication, the receiver of that messaging is the focal point for determining whether it was effective and convincing. To generate exposure, your target audience must be receptive to your voice, word choice, overall product, and marketing strategy; thus, it is imperative to focus on a niche group of people that will respond most energetically to your brand’s content. You don’t want to waste your time uploading posts for a target audience that pays no attention to them, and so you need to be certain that your selected audience is the perfect fit in order for your content’s metrics to be optimal. In the instance that a target audience resonates with your branded content, they will provide you, the creator, with a number of digital interactions, including likes, comments, and shares, all of which hold the potential for gaining new followers.

3. Talk With Your Audience, Not At It

Traditional advertising models followed a formula of brands consistently marketing at consumers via media channels like television, radio, and print, solely communicating what they wanted those consumers to know about their products. In the past 20 years, these advertising models have proven to become ineffective due to the power of social media platforms. Consumers are now content creators of their own, and they know now more than ever what they need. Therefore, today’s consumers seek brands that communicate with them to better understand those needs instead of the tradition of brands shoving unwanted information in their faces. When developing communication for your digital brand, pay attention to your target audience’s needs, and listen to what they say. Through this listening, you will know exactly what you need to communicate as a brand to your target audience.

4. Prioritize Earned Media

The best way to grow a following for your digital brand is through the accumulation of earned media. When I say earned media, I mean getting word-of-mouth exposure for your brand. If people are talking about your brand, you are receiving free advertising that directly supports your brand’s growth and content exposure. As sponsored advertising on social media platforms can tend to get expensive, generating free, earned media should be the ultimate goal for propelling your digital brand towards greater recognition among your target audience. By focusing on your product’s quality and establishing a cohesive brand image, you are more likely to get people interested enough to talk about your brand with others. It only takes one person to spark a snowball effect of endless conversations about your brand, so continuously polish it until you see some positive results.

By following this helpful guide, you should be able to construct a digital brand of your own successfully. As a digital advertising major at Syracuse University with a love for food, I established an authentic brand persona targeted at a specific audience. When uploading content to my nonnas_cuisine_ page, I am always speaking with my audience to gauge what food-related items they need as full-time college students. By doing so, I have over 100 people currently talking about my brand, granting me the earned media I need to develop Nonna’s Cuisine into a successful small business.

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