[Editor’s Note: This article was written by Angela Mastrogiacomo.]
Does it sometimes feel like you’re shouting into a void?
Like no matter how much time you take to craft the perfect post, share the message that means the most to you, or connect with your audience in new and valuable ways, you just can’t get anyone to actually pay attention?
And don’t even get me started on the “likes”. I’ve spent hours (HOURS! Yes, that’s embarrassing to tell you, but it’s also the truth.) on a single Instagram post, trying to get the perfect words, the perfect hashtags, post at just the right time of day, interact like crazy on Instagram so it sees I’m active and shows my post to more people, only to get 30 likes (IF I’M LUCKY) and zero comments.
It’s completely crushing.
Maybe you’ve even taken the time to really try and get a handle on your brand. After all, you know how important it is. (hint: this gem of an article has a few simple tips for getting started and identifying your brand, including my favorite TED talk ever.)
But what if you’re still getting stuck? Still spending way too long on those social media posts, or nailing down what kind of merch to offer or what your promo photos should say about you?
Gaining clarity in your brand is one of the single most important things you can do, and it’s not an exaggeration to say it can be the difference between skyrocketing your success and wondering “what happened?” So how do you begin to gain that clarity?
Step 1: Know what your brand isn’t
Just as important as knowing what your brand is, and perhaps a bit easier to identify in the early stages, is knowing what your brand isn’t.
Sometimes, we’re honestly better at identifying what we definitely do not like vs. what we do like. Think about some artists or brands that just plain get under your skin, (or scroll Instagram or Facebook for five minutes to see what starts to irk you), and pay attention to that. In this one instance, it’s not just petty complaining, it’s actually useful.
For example, does it make you cringe when artists get super woo-woo in their photos or messaging? Great, odds are you want a more tactile approach.
Do you feel like artist’s are phoning it in when they post a super cute photo and just have a one liner caption underneath? That might be a clue that you prefer deeper, more intimate content.
Step 2: Make a list of your favorite things
Seriously. Go crazy here. If you love ice cream, dancing in the rain, roller coasters, and cotton candy at the amusement park, write it down.
Then, go back and try to see what all those things have in common—because when you can brain-dump all the things that make you who you are, you can see in black and white simplicity who you are at your core.
For instance, if you wrote all those things down, I’d say you seem like a pretty fun-loving, adventure seeking, free-spirited, embrace-all-life-has-to-offer kind of person. And then, if you said “how do I translate that to my brand”, I’d recommend creating content that reflects that spirit.
Instagram posts that promote making ‘play’ a priority or show you eating an ice cream cone and simply asking your audience their favorite flavor.
I’d say create your own candy flavors or candy containers for your fans (yes, this is totally a thing and not too pricey), or a branded squirt gun for summer water fights.
I’d say play a show with a beach theme, or a summer celebration theme.
Once you can look back at that paper and see your core qualities, it’s just about learning how to share them with your audience in ways that feel fun and natural for you.
Step 3: Instagram Roulette
If you’re still feeling stuck, you might want to try this easy trick: sometimes, it can be easier to learn by example, which is where Instagram Roulette comes in. Simply get on Instagram and start scrolling. Through your feed, through artist hashtags, or through whatever hashtags make you happy (#cottoncandylife is totally fair game). Take note of what jumps out at you and why.
Is it a really vibrant photo or is it in black and white? Is there a person in the photo? What’s the feel of it?
Then look to the caption—what pulls you in? Is it short and sweet? Silly and fun? Deep and introspective?
This is where you begin to learn what it is that you naturally are drawn to—once you know that, you can begin to incorporate more of that into your own messaging. And trust me, the more aligned it is with who you really are, the more authentic it will feel, and the more fans will take notice.
Plus, it’ll get rid of those dreaded hour plus caption writing sessions, which, let’s be honest, are a real time suck.