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Dear Readers,

I hope all of you have had a wonderful and restful holiday and are stepping into 2017 with a renewed sense of inspiration and passion.

Over the holidays, I could not help but to enjoy the many heartwarming and funny posts posted by those in my network. I also enjoyed sharing my special moments with friends and colleagues. One had a bit of a bone to pick with me – my editor, Brenda, follows me on both of my accounts and faux-scolded me for not sharing my Walking TALL posts with my personal network and for not giving her some of the photos I posted on my private account to share with my Walking TALL followers. I explained that, even though I’m a personal branding specialist, it seems a little self-indulgent to do this! That’s when she asked to spend an hour on the phone with me to explain why it’s important to reach out and ask for support, and also how it can add a real benefit to those in my network (and the people in yours).

 

I have to say that I left the conversation with a different point of view. Though it is a new way of branding to “put it all out there” (even your desires for people to follow you as you do), the reality is that social media is not only a great way to connect with friends and loved ones and share your travel and food photos, it’s also a key driver in authentically building your business, expanding your brand and connecting with your consumers in real time. When it comes to gaining access to editorial opportunities, acquiring new followers and customers and showcasing your product, your follower count matters.

 

Now, if you’re like me, you’re thinking, “How can having 1,000 people I know help my business?” The answer is simple: Social media platforms are set up to support brand expansion. For example, Instagram allows people to see what those they follow like and hashtags lead to easy location as well as allow you to show up in suggested posts. If your neighbour appreciates a post you put up and shares it, you have just gained access to their network and they have gained access to you.

 

So, how important is social media? Here are a few facts to put it all into perspective:

 

  1. There are 3.419 billion active internet users in the world and 2.307 billion are active on social media.

 

  1. The UK, Germany, South Korea, USA, France and the UAE are the 5 countries with  the highest percentage of e-commerce shoppers.

 

  1. 91% of retail brands use 2 or more social media platforms consistently.

 

  1. There are 48 million daily users of social media and they spend an average of 5 hours on the internet and 3 and a half hours on their platforms (daily).

 

  1. Over $3 billion was made on social media last year.

 

  1. Engagement and connection is important. Think about it: the average adult checks their phone 30 times a day and Millennials check it over 150 times a day. This tells us there is a very real need for connection amongst the latter group, especially.

 

  1. Millennials do their research and take brand loyalty seriously. You need to stand for something and give them a positive brand experience. Your platforms are a great way to showcase your values while also allowing them to connect with you in real time.

 

  1. Spamming on your platforms is a no-no. 70% of your content should be engaging and consumer focused, 30% sales.

 

  1. Social media allows brands to run real time market research that offers clear feedback on business practices, concerns, products and services.

 

  1. Social media should follow the same rules as being social in real life: be respectful, engaging and share your opinion without dominating the conversation.

 

So, my challenge for all of you is to not only join the conversation, but don’t be afraid to ask those in your network (including me) to follow you and to like and share the content they appreciate.

 

Let’s make 2017 a year of real engagement!

 

Lesley

 

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