As a result of taking this course, I have learned some new things and expanded my pre-existing knowledge on certain topics. My main takeaway from this course is about the importance of personal branding, but more specifically how to effectively communicate with my target audience.
Not all businesses or personal brands should utilize the same strategies, post on the same platforms, write the same way, or use the same forms of content. It’s critical to understand your target audience and learn how to tailor everything you do towards them. This course has really made me rethink what I do and factor in who my target audience is.
Storytelling is important in creating good digital content because it helps engage your audience and results in better performing content. Whether your goal is to teach something, get a point across, or encourage your audience to take a certain action, your content must be engaging, which is done by storytelling.
Before and during the creation of my content, I will always ask myself: “how does this add to, or support the story I am trying to tell?”. This makes sure my content is guided by story.
I love to inspire and educate my audience, to help better their lives. Sharing stories that tell people it’s okay to be different, tell people to persevere because everyone has struggles, motive them to work harder and ultimately live life on their own terms while chasing their dreams.
As an entrepreneur, something I get asked a lot is: “why did you start your business?” So after seeing how many people were curious, I figured it would be worth sharing the story.
Back in the summer of 2017, I finally reached the point where I decided to take a shot at starting my own business. There were a lot of factors that lead me to that decision.
I never was the type of person who enjoyed school, or any of the part time jobs I had. I would have done anything to not go to school or work the jobs I had. However, I was under the impression that was the only path to success. Get an education, get a job, start a family.
It wasn’t until I started getting to know one of my friends better that I realized there was another option. I’ve always been impressed to see the lifestyle he was living at such a young age – with his own house, nice cars, and other nice things – but I never thought about how he achieved it. He was later telling me that he dropped out of high school, and started a business, which is what got him to where he was. At that moment I realized first hand that I didn’t have to get a degree to make money.
I thought to myself: no school, no horrible job, but lots of money… sign me up. I knew it was easier said than done, but I was willing to try. It was then just a matter of what business to start. There was a particular market in which I was a consumer of, but was never satisfied with any of the options. So that gave me the idea to change that, by starting my own business that fills the needs of what I wanted as a consumer.
I took a leap of faith, gave it a shot, and I haven’t looked back since.
Personal branding is a critical component of today’s business world. It is even more true in the e-commerce space, where you need to look credible to get an edge on your competitors, which leads to more opportunity. This is the niche that I work in, doing everything from running ecom companies, to doing product photography for other brand’s social media and websites.
When it comes to my personal brand, the first three words that come to mind are creative, professional and growth. With everything I do, from the content I post on social media, to the way I run companies, I am always finding creative ways to differentiate myself. All the things I put out for the world to see also maintain a level of respect and professionalism. Even when I am sharing something casual and fun about myself, I still ensure it’s not to a point where I wouldn’t be okay with a future employer seeing it. To touch on the last main quality of my personal brand, growth, it can be summed up by the fact that everything I create is always better than the previous version. These characteristics contribute to why I’m on a level above my competitors.
Something I am extremely proud of is the quality standard I reach with all my work. This is trait that colleagues would say is great about me. If I am going to do something, I am going to do it right. Never “half-assed”, never cutting corners, never rushed. A combination of skill, perfectionism and dedication makes my work and reputation stand out.
“Being GOOD is not enough. I want to be the BEST that I can be.”
Jewelry is something that has been around forever, not much has changed over the years. What has changed is how jewelry companies engage with their audience. In today’s current society, using social media is very important for business. There is one relatively new jewelry company who I think does a good job of it – GLD.
Over the last few years, GLD (@shopgld) has focused heavily on their instagram presence and has grown to a massive 1 million followers. That is extremely impressive, especially for a business to do, as it’s much harder to gain followers compared to a personal brand or theme page.
They use instagram to expand their audience by capturing attention from other users of the platform who have yet to find out about the brand. This comes organically from their posts, from customers sharing their content, and from paid ads.
With this large audience, they share content of their jewelry and show off an attractive lifestyle in efforts to connect it with owning their products. They often use these posts to update their audience on new releases, sales and other information.
Overall, they clearly know what they’re doing and I think they’re doing a very good job. They understand their target audience and what they want to see, as well as how to attract new people.
I think they could improve by putting more effort into utilizing other platforms like TikTok and blogs. I also think they could do a better job of communication with their followers on Instagram one on one, for example in the comments.
One of the biggest marketing mistakes you can make is attempting to appeal to everyone. The best way to reach more consumers is to find your target audience – a smaller, more specific group.
For one of my companies, Gold City Jewelry, we have established a strong target audience though market research and customer data.
Some of the most important pieces of information about our audience that we use for advertising targeting and to shape our business decisions are the following;
Gender/Age: Our customer base is mainly male, and fairly young – usually in the age group of 15-25 years old.
Location: Although we ship to clients all over the world, 98% of our business is within North America. Surprisingly, even though we are based in Toronto, Canada, most of our orders are to the United States. California, New York, Atlanta, and Florida are among the most popular states.
Interests: Some common reoccurring hobbies that our audience enjoys are sports such as basketball, music, cars, fashion and traveling.
To communicate with and to grow our audience, we use multiple tools and strategies. For sharing content with them, the best choice for us is instagram. Due to the young demographic, they respond well to visual content and Instagram is the platform they’re all on. For reaching new people to expand our business, we find the most success with highly targeted Facebook ads and influencer marketing.
Being a good digital story teller is a very important skill to have in 2020. This week I’ve extended my knowledge on the topic from this course. There are a few key things which I learned that I think will be helpful for a lot of you guys reading this blog as well.
Get Their Attention
To me, the most important thing when sharing information is to keep it to the point. People have very short attention spans, so there is no way they’re going to read your long wordy paragraphs.
Breaking up the points with pictures and subheadings is a good way to catch their attention and have them read more. It takes them from the inspectional phase to the analytical phase and overall gets your point across better.
To further enhance your readers experience and the likelihood of them understanding your story, the inverted triangle approach is key. Start with the most important and concise points, then work your way towards the more detailed information and explanations.
Active vs Passive Voice
The other interesting thing I learned was the fact that an active voice is considered more interesting to readers than a passive one. I now know to pay attention to how I word things. For example, when I am talking about my recent snowboarding trip, I should say: “the snowstorm left the mountain covered in deep snow”, not: “the mountain was left covered in deep snow from the snowstorm”.
Did you learn anything new from this blog post? I’d love to hear other tips you guys have about digital storytelling in the comments below!
My most recent vacation was in Quebec at Mont Tremblant Ski Resort. I went recently this winter for 3 days and stayed in a suite right at the base of the mountain.
The weather was intense. Everything from the drive there, to walking around the village, to snowboarding down the mountain was much crazier with the massive dumping of snow that just happened. I found myself waist deep in snow several times over those few days. Also with some mild frostbite from the -30 temperatures.
Even though it was freezing, the gondolas helped a lot with that. Instead of a normal chairlift, Tremblant has enclosed gondolas to take you up to the peak of the mountain which eliminates wind and the helps to combat the cold while heading up the mountain. With a mountain this big it takes a while to get up, so the gondolas really come in handy. At some spots of the mountain, it even takes multiple different chairlifts to get all the way up due to Tremblant’s height.
Riding down from the top can take over half an hour with some runs, which is insane compared to the local hills near Toronto. There are so many different runs that it takes multiple days to find them all. On top of that, the difficulty, quality and views from the runs are far greater than anything near the GTA, which results in a whole different experience.
After a day of snowboarding, by around 4pm, my legs were completely dead. Luckily there are tons of stores, activities and great food spots in the village. So for the remainder the day, I spent it checking all of it out. Of course, I made sure to stop by all the bars at least once.
Later at night, I went back to our suite and got some sleep to be up early the next day to do it all over again. While some might think of a vacation as sitting on a beach, I’m happy riding down a snow covered mountain. It’s definitely somewhere where I’ll be back at again.
At one point or another, we’ve all somewhat obsessed over the engagement on a photo we just posted on Instagram which we are so proud of. We’ve experience the feeling of satisfaction when we refresh the app and see that we got a ton of likes, or the getting frustrated that it’s not doing as well as we wished. This creates an unhealthy habit of using the number of likes as self validation or to rank someone’s self worth. This leads to a whole world of problems like depression, false social status, and tons of others.
Recently, Instagram has decided to start testing hiding likes from the platform. You can still like other people’s posts and you can still see how many likes your posts are getting. The change is that the only person who can see how many likes a post has gotten is its owner. This updated has been rolled out in countries like Canada, Australia, Italy, Japan, Brazil and more.
The intention behind this change is to take away the pressure of how many likes your post will get. This will hopefully increase the authenticity and the variety of content on instagram. With the number of likes on a post being so important to everyone, people will only post the specific content that gets high engagement. This kills creativity, freedom and uniqueness. Often times the posts that “perform the best” aren’t what we want to see. Negative news, drama, photoshopped attractive women and other similar things out perform creative, unique or positive content because it causes a reaction from everyone, which helps it get more engagement. Hiding how many likes a post gets will help relieve the pressure to post this type of content that gets the most likes. It will transition the focus from likes to the content itself.
It’s not good news to everyone. A lot of influencers and small businesses that rely on Instagram for their income aren’t happy. They say that it has hurt their engagement and decreased how many likes they’re getting. Influencers also think this change will hurt the way the get brand deals since likes is a determining factor of the price they charge. Potential new brands that might be interested in working with them can’t see how many likes they get anymore.
I personally disagree with these two main complaints. Although both statements are somewhat true, it’s not really hurting anyone because everyone suffers equally. It’s not just one influencer or brand seeing a decrease in engagement. Each person/brand is still in getting the same engagement relative to their competition. As to brands not being able to see the number of likes an influencer gets, it’s really not a big deal because the all influencers are still on an even playing field. Influencers can still share the number of likes with the brands since the likes are still there, simply just publicly hidden. Overall, I think it’s a fantastic change with lots of benefits and a very welcome improvement in my eyes.
Do you think this is a good change or is it a bad idea?
With social media comes a lot of hidden rules. One of the most debated ones is around photoshopping pictures. Over the years social media platforms like Instagram have become more and more serious. Who looks the best? Who has the most aesthetic feed? Who gets the most likes?
With the competitiveness of social media rising, people will do anything to get an advantage over all the other users. Photo editing has become a common way to level up your pictures and have them stand out. This has been a part of photography for a very long time, but as of recent, it has become a more mainstream thing to do for social media posts.
Using software like photoshop gets very mixed reactions. Some people are strongly against it, and some advocate that it’s perfectly fine to use.
The side of people against editing pictures often bring up being “fake”, increased depression or natural beauty. They believe that editing your picture isn’t being authentic and that you’re faking the way things look for social media. From all the exposure to seeing everyone post perfect pictures, and from using apps that point out all the ways you can improve the way you look, there is a link to increased depression rates. To combat that, they think instead of editing photos, we should embrace natural beauty instead of going for perfection.
On the other side of the debate, a lot of people are totally in support of editing pictures. The common belief is that everyone should be able to have the freedom to do whatever they want. At the end of the day, social media is just entertainment, not a place to see realism. If people enjoy editing their pictures, or it makes them feel better, they should be able to do that without being judged. Photography is an art form, everyone needs to let their creativity loose and do as they please with their photos. Paintings don’t need to be realistic, neither should photos.
I personally am among the group of people who are in support of photo editing. As a photographer, it is a staple of the art. Often times I can express my emotions and vision just as much via post processing as I can with the original photo itself. Slightly adjusting the lighting and colours can completely change the mood and emotions from a photograph.
Youtube.com – MATTnSEB
Although the term “photoshopped” is used loosely and there are different degrees of it. Something as basic as a colour-grade is very minor. It is simply just adjusting the colours and lighting in a photo. The next step further would be fixing simple blemishes or removing distracting objects from the background like a piece of trash on the ground. I still think this is pretty normal and non-offensive. However, some people take it to a whole different level and completely change their appearance. Changing their eyes from brown to blue, taking 20 pounds off their waist, adding a more muscular stomach, removing cellulite, etc. The list goes on and on. I think this is getting close to crossing the line, but it’s still very common for celebrities and professional models.
With all that being said, I still believe there is nothing wrong with editing pictures. If we just keep in mind what we see on social media is often edited and not always realistic, there isn’t any reason why people shouldn’t continue to edit their pictures if they want to.
What’s your stance? Is it okay or is it wrong to do?
How do you perceive someones life based on their Instagram account? I’m sure 10x better than what it truly is, as it’s just a highlight reel of their life.
When they go on vacation, they post it. A fun moment from a Friday night out, they’ll post. A picture that they look flawless in, it’ll get posted. You won’t often see an ugly photo at a bad angle, a caption about a mental health struggle, or a video of someone alone doing nothing.
It’s understandable though. Even before social media, our parents wouldn’t go to school on Monday and boast to their friends about how they spend Sunday night alone, crying in their room. Everyone would be sharing the highlights of their weekend. I’m sure at some point in elementary school your teacher went around the class on Monday asking each student to share one thing they did on the weekend. Nobody ever talked about how bad it was, they would simply say the one most exciting they did.
With social media amplifying the sharing of positive life events, it becomes a dangerous situation. People often use social media to keep up with the lives of their friends, family and celebrities they like. This means they only get to see every time one of these people travel, reach a milestone, buy a new car, take a beautiful picture or something along those lines. They’re missing the full story of these people’s lives and get a very skewed idea of how it truly is.
This is damaging when we start to compare our lives to the “lives” we see all the time on social media. It’s easy to compare all the things we don’t like about our lives to how seemingly perfect these other people’s lives are based on what we see from social media. It’s a very unfair comparison but it’s so natural to do it without us realizing it.
Although it could be a positive change, I don’t think the route of the problem will change. I personally don’t expect any of you to start posting your failures, unattractive pictures or boring days on social media and stop sharing your highlights. I only ask that if everyone is going to continue using instagram as their life’s highlight reel, make sure you look at everyone else’s profile strictly as that. Remember, what you see isn’t always realistic, so don’t look at someone’s instagram profile as how their life truly is. Never compare their highlighted reel to your real life!
I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences with this. Let’s discuss in the comments below 🙂