Social media branding is still a misunderstood phenomenon. It is, however, the greatest opportunity for individuals to reinvent themselves and build new empires. Winston Churchill once said that the empires of the future are the empires of the mind. He could not have been more right. We live during a period when we have all the tools in our toolbox to grow individual and corporate brands. The dilemma is that most of us do not realize that we are living during an era of unprecedented abundance and this is only the beginning of the democratization of wealth creation.
To understand social media we need to know a little bit about numbers and the economies of scale. I know that some of my friends become disillusioned with having so many friends on social media that from time to time, they offload the excess baggage. I respect that decision. What I have noticed though is that some people are digital introverts and are not comfortable sharing their views with total strangers that they befriended on a social media platform. When you meet them in person, it is an entirely different experience. Even some of those who are tough talking on Facebook, when you meet them in person, you wonder if it is the same person.
Back to numbers. Numbers bring about economies of scale. When you unfriend individuals, those numbers go down. The reason you even post something on social media is to share what you think may be of interest to your friends. You could be sharing content that you have come across elsewhere, in which case you’re playing the role of a curator, or you could be producing original content like what I am doing with this article. People will engage when they find it in their best interests to do so. Individual posts will always attract the same persons to the comments. When a post gets a lot of observations, it encourages the author to write more of the same.
So what have numbers got to do with economics? Well, this is where social media comes in. Social media has democratized wealth creation. It is now possible to repackage the same activities we are doing a product or a service which we can sell. Remember you are spending time on social media. What if you could spend time and get paid for it? The challenge is in how to package your social media engagements. A great example is Instagram. You can become an Instagram influencer. When you become an influencer, big corporate brands are willing to pay you if you post about their business. An analogy to this is sporting influencers. An individual like Usain Bolt gets paid by brands like Virgin Media because of the number of people he attracts to a personal brand. There are much more examples of this arrangement. Michael Jordan, the Chicago Bulls basketball legend, had a sponsorship deal with Nike and had the Nike Air coined after his court exploits. Athletes have numbers because of the value they bring to the entertainment industry.
Now I am not saying everyone is an entertainer on social media, but you can see moments of brilliance in some individuals who demonstrate mastery in particular fields. They post consistently on certain topics and can be considered to be influential in their right. In the old world of radio and television, such people would have been your regular talk show, hosts. What does Oprah Winfrey do? She tells stories and asks people their stories. No more than what most people spend the entire day doing on social media. The only difference is that Oprah has figured a way of getting paid for her time. We haven’t. People like Oprah had it very hard. It was not easy to break through the way that she did. If she had the same tools that we have today, Oprah would have been even more phenomenal.
To understand the impact of social media influencers, you only have to ask small children what they want to be when they grow up. They want to be YouTubers or video gamers. These are now million dollars per annum occupations. Some still want to be doctors and engineers, but it is interesting to note the emergence of Vlogging and Gaming. There are more ways to be influential on a global scale than the old Schoolmaster and the Vicar.
Numbers are important. Suppose you are a budding musician. There are now many ways to grow your brand. You have Snapchat. You can sing 10-second songs to showcase your talent. You can do the same on Instagram and Facebook. You can also use YouTube. You can produce content and distribute it on a daily basis. All you need to get started is a smartphone, some apps, and an internet connection. The cost of getting started is next to nothing because you already have a smartphone and apps and an internet connection, but you’re not taking advantage of the opportunities this presents. The challenge is to learn how to package your daily activities into sellable products and services.
You can now decide whether you want to publish a blog, run a radio station, or run a television station. You can even do just two or run all three. I am going to repurpose this blog post into a podcast and a YouTube video. That is how easy it is to blog, podcast, and vlog at the same time. Your smartphone can do all three. If you are an organized person, you can compile a book with some of your blog posts. Some people are already doing all three, but they have not figured out how to monetize their time. I have helped a few individuals to start. I said you would be doing what you’re already doing. You just need to put a price on your time! Time is the only currency.
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