Establishing Brand Identity on Social Media

Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of my friends creating their own brands and launching online shops and services. If you’re working to build a new company, you need a presence on social media. When my friends talk to me about their plans, I’ve been asking them:

“What’s your social media strategy?”

person holding white smartphone showing Instagram feed

One of the fundamental steps for developing a social media strategy is deciding on your brand’s identity, since this will shape aaaall of the content that you post relating to your business. The visual aesthetic, the tone of your writing, and the content that you offer to your followers are all part of your brand identity.

Let’s put it this way: Have you ever found a small business where you love their products or services, but won’t give them a follow because their content just isn’t all that? It’s probably because they don’t have a strong brand identity.

So how do you establish your brand identity?

Determine the message that you want your brand to convey

I’ve watched enough Mad Men to know that marketing is all about story-telling. What story are you telling through your content? What does your brand “say”? When someone scrolls through your Insta-feed, what will they understand about your brand?

Let’s pretend we have a skincare company: the primary content of our posts will be the products that we sell. It’s the secondary content that tells the story of who our brand is. We could use plants and nature imagery to show that our brand is focused on natural ingredients, sustainable products, and clean living. We could use close-ups of manicured nails holding our products, flatlays with gold accessories, and emphaizing the packaging to show that our brand is luxurious.
The images below are pulled from a stock photo website, but show how the same product can be represented in varying ways to establish different brands.

Our company can convey different messages depending on the way we choose to market our product. The message that we choose to convey becomes our brand.

Outline your target audience

Part of determining your brand is deciding who you want to buy your product. The best thing about social media marketing is that you don’t have to have wide marketing appeal – you can target a particular niche and make that your brand.
Imagine the type of person that would follow your brand on social media, and the type of person that would buy your product. Create a profile for them. Are they more male or female? What age range? What professional field are they likely to be in? Where do they live? What are their hobbies and interests?

Let’s go back to our skincare company. Brand A will be our nature-based brand, and Brand B will be our luxurious brand. With skincare, we can assume that our primary buyer demographic will be women. Brand A might appeal more to an older demographic, who are concerned with what ingredients are used, and have more interest in sustainability and clean living. Brand B’s luxury marketing could appeal more to teens who are interested in aspirational lifestyle and social media trends. While these are generalizations, they still give us an idea for our target demographic. You be as broad or as specific as you want. Brand A’s buyer probably owns house plants, and is likely to be vegetarian or vegan. Brand B’s buyer might have a skincare Instagram, and does face masks while watching teen dramas on Netflix for #SelfcareSunday. You get the idea.

The more you know your target demographic, the better you can establish your brand within their niche.

Use the info you’ve gathered to outline a style guide

Once you’ve got an outline of your brand’s message and target demographic, you can start developing a style guide. I’ll be sharing a post soon about what a Social Media Style Guide is, but here’s the Cliffnotes version: It’s your visual and written “aesthetic”.

iPhone 7 and brown case
Each image on this Instagram feed matches the others: White/aqua/orange colour scheme. Washed out/high exposure images. Content based on a healthy lifestyle.

Visually, it’s the subject matter of your content, both what‘s being pictured and how it’s pictured (colour scheme, photo composition, filter). It also includes fonts, colours, logos, and graphic style. All the content needs to feel like it is part of a cohesive unit, contributing to the same “story” that your brand is telling (as mentioned at the beginning of this post).
In writing, it’s the way that your brand “speaks” to its audience. Tone of voice is a big part of this – are you peppy, sarcastic, informative, conversational…? Also consider what language is acceptable for your brand (do you swear?), how you use punctuation and emojis, and any other elements of text that you find relevant.


Once more, let’s look at our skincare company: Brand A uses lots of nature imagery, and a dominant colour scheme of greens, blues, and brown. Maybe they use a filter to saturate their pictures with rich colour. Their captions are informative and approachable, and they don’t often use emojis (remember the older target demographic?). Brand B’s luxury visual branding is emphasized by a dominant colour scheme of white, gold, and beige, which we often see in branding for luxury goods. Their pictures havev the exposure hightened, and maybe a trendy filter added. Their captions are also informative, but maybe a bit more detached. Maybe they throw a “bitch” into the caption every now and then, but never in a derogatory way. They use emojis, especially the crown.

person holding Android smartphone

There are a lot of elements that go into creating a brand. The accessibility of social media marketing means that, for small businesses, it’s likely to be the only form of marketing used. We’ve seen how social media has allowed businesses to boom purely from online word of mouth. Glossier has achieved cult status purely from tapping into digital communities, and The Ordinary has harnessed Tik Tok and Instagram trends to become a staple in skincare routines. By establishing your business on social media with a strong, cohesive brand, you will be better equipped to build the online following that your business needs to grow and succeed.

Instagram vs Reality: Travel Photos

Instagram and travel content go hand-in-hand. We all love looking at beautiful people in beautiful destinations, and it’s pretty inspiring to see how beautiful the world is, and fantasize about the #beautifuldestinations. For travel influencers, there’s often a focus on creating a fantasy dreamscape of idealized destinations, rather than reflecting the reality of tourism and travel.

The Influencer “Look”

Common visuals in travel influencing are hypersaturization and colour theming (think lightroom presets); maximalism, filling the frame with busy and colourful visuals); unique and ~authentic~ worldly experiences; luxury content of first class flights and resorts, expensive goods and fancy foods; fashion using travel as a backdrop, with the real focus of the picture being on the influencer themself, not where they are. Travel influencing has a look, and we all know it. We want that life! We are being sold a fantasy of travel in idyllic locations and glamorous travel where we are the centre of our own beautiful universe.

I know that I sound like a bit of a cynic, and maybe I am. But really, I don’t have a problem with wanting to curate the perfect Instagram feed; I’m guilty of it myself. I don’t think that editing your content is inherently bad, but I do think that “travel influencer” content does shape the way that we imagine travel, and it’s important to address the realities of travelling and creating travel content for Instagram.

Jumping back to my definition of “travel influencer” content, a description of this content can be narrowed down to hyperstylization: exciting people having “authentic” experiences in glamorous locations. The issue that comes from this content is that a lot of it comes from post-production. Editing colours, saturation, exposure, contrast, et al is standard, but we also see people editing in visuals to create a fantasy that does not reflect the reality of these locations. A popular example of this is a photo of springtime at a small farm in Vermont, as edited by a prominent influencer.

It's not just bodies and faces that get tune-ups on Instagram ...
“Springtime in Vermont”
Source: reddit.com/r/instagramreality

While a lovely piece of digital art, it is in no way representative of visiting Vermont. When we consume such stylized travel content, we are building up an idea of what our experiences should and will look like. It can be damaging to build up our travel expectations based on what we see online.

Another example of the false realities we see on social media is how easy it is to get great photos of ourselves. Unless you’re very patient or willing to wake up very early, you’re probably not going to get a shot of yourself alone with the Eiffel Tower, or the London Eye, or any other popular tourist attraction.

This is why your holiday will NEVER look as good as the one on ...
Source: The Sun

The presence of crowds in major tourist areas was one of the things that threw me the most during my visit to London earlier this year.

Why do all these tourists and travellers have to be around me, a tourist, as I create travel content? How am I going to get cute pictures if there’s all these people around taking pictures?

-Me, January 2020

I will admit that a lot of my expectations of London were built up based on what I saw on social media, and I was a bit affronted by the reality of what being a tourist there is like. I loved London, but it wasn’t exactly what I expected. I spent less time taking photos than I had planned, but more time walking around and forming my own experiences of the city. I edit my travel pictures, and will be going through my editing process in an upcoming post. However, I always try to depict my travel experiences in an authentic way, just tidied up a bit.

Social media influencing and content creation is work. It comes from spending a lot of time and effort making it look like your content is natural and easy, #flawless. I don’t want to devalue the creation of travel content, and the work that goes into it, but I do want people to think critically about travel as seen on social media, and what they can expect for their own experiences.

Blog Writing Beyond the Basics

I’m still finding my footing as a blogger. I’ve always enjoyed writing, but my background is in academic writing, not blog posts. Figuring out how to craft the perfect blog post is an art, and I’ve been picking up blogging tips and tricks along the way that I’m going to share here. The basics to blog writing are the same as writing for any medium: have a catchy title, break down content into structured paragraphs, and use language suitable to your audience. If you want a great resource for blogging structure, check out this post by Blogambitious. But what are the next steps when writing for a blog?

Use subheadings

This is the most basic tip that I’m going to include here because it really is fundamental to blogging. Instead of dividing your content into paragraphs, break it up into subsections with separate headers. This improves both readability and is beneficial to SEO, if thats something you care about. We all know that people don’t have attention spans anymore, so adding subheadings to your blog posts make it easy for readers to skim your content to find the information they want more easily.

Know your brand and stick to it

Branding can have a weird meaning when it comes to blogging. Typically it applies to the way that a company or product is portrayed and the personality that it has. But if you are writing for your own blog, you may not have thought about what your “brand” is. Blog writing necessitates a personality to base your content around. Regardless of what that personality is, you are creating a brand that your readers will come to know, relate to, and expect.

Know your audience and write for them

Photo by OlenaSergienko on Unsplash

Think about who you are writing your blog for. What kind of people are going to be reading and enjoying it? If you don’t have an audience in mind and are writing for yourself, base your audience around yourself. Anticipate the kind of content that your imaginary audience would want to read, and create it for them! Pairing your imaginary audience with your personal branding (as mentioned above) will create the ideal content for your blog. Another big part of good blog writing is knowing how to write for your audience. For example: if your target demographic is mid to late 20s (which I guess mine is), don’t write about how cray lit the tea is and whether or not it slaps. That ain’t it. Take the L. Don’t write like this if it’s not suited for your audience.

Deliver on content

We live in an Internet age where clickbait is all too common. Creating catchy, “clickable” titles is an important part of blogging, but sacrificing content for the sake of the title is never worth it. One of the most disappointing experiences I had with a blog was when I was looking for ways to shake pre-travel anxiety. I found a blog post through Pinterest promising ways to alleviate said nerves. It was two short paragraphs about how browsing aspirational pictures on Pinterest and Instagram inspires them to travel, and that makes the anxiety go away. Not to discredit the value of aspirational imagery, but that’s not at all what I was looking for, or what I was promised. If you’re creating content, make it worth reading, and don’t oversell it for clicks.

Engage your audience and get feedback

Interaction is essential in social media. That’s how it all started, as a platform for people to share, connect, and engage with each other. As social media has developed into the behemoth that it is today, it’s only become more essential that you have people engaging with and sharing your content. From a business standpoint, it’s the only thing that matters. From a hobby standpoint, it feels really good to know people are interested in what you are creating. It’s harder to get this interaction on blog posts than it is on other social media platforms such as Instagram or Twitter. Ask open-ended questions that generate discussion; “What do you think about…” or “What are your experiences with…” are great ways to up engagement in your blog posts.

On that note, what are your thoughts on blog writing? What do you think makes a good blog post? I’m still trying to strike a balance between what is recommended for blogging by social media experts, and what I like in a blog. Ultimately, it’s very important that whatever you are creating is something that you are happy with. Blogging is meant to be fun!

The Masterlist of Taylor Swift Instagram Captions

I’ve gone through Taylor Swift’s back catalog of music and writing in search of the best lyrics for your Instagram captions. Who doesn’t remember 2014, when every #OOTD post was captioned “Darling I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream?”.

Fearless

  • Every time you shine, I’ll shine for you
  • There’s something about the way the street looks when it’s just rained, There’s a glow off the pavement
  • With you I’d dance in a storm in my best dress
  • These walls that they put up to hold us back will fall down

Speak Now

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  • I go back to December all the time
  • Don’t lose the way that you dance around in your p.j.s getting ready for school
  • This night is sparkling don’t you let it go
  • I said remember this moment, In the back of my mind
  • All the kingdom lights shined just for me and you
  • So don’t you worry your pretty little mind, People throw rocks at things that shine

Red

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  • I’m walking fast through traffic lights, Busy streets and busy lives, And all we know is touch and go
  • This is the golden age of something good and right and real
  • The colours in autumn, so bright just before they lose it all
  • The air was cold, But something about it felt like home somehow
  • Plaid shirt days
  • It feels like the perfect night to dress up like hipsters and make fun of our exes / It feels like the perfect night for breakfast at midnight, to fall in love with strangers
  • We’re happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time / We’re happy, free, confused, and lonely in the best way
  • Everything will be alright if you keep me next to you
  • I was reminiscing just the other day, While having coffee all alone and Lord, it took me away
  • Spinning like a girl in a brand new dress
  • We had the big wide city all to ourselves
  • I don’t wanna dance if I’m not dancing with you
  • You’ve got your demons and darling they all look like me
  • It was the best night never will forget how we moved
  • The whole place was dressed to the nines, And we were dancing like we’re made of starlight
  • Look at you worrying too much about things you can’t change, You’ll spend your whole life singing the blues if you keep thinking that way
  • Don’t you see the starlight? Don’t you dream impossible things?
  • On a Wednesday in a café I watched it begin again

1989

Image result for taylor swift blank space gif
  • Kaleidoscope of loud heartbeats under coats
  • Everybody here wanted something more, Searching for a sound we hadn’t heard before
  • It’s a new soundtrack, I could dance to this beat forevermore
  • The lights are so bright but they never blind me
  • Took our broken hearts, put them in a drawer
  • Nice to meet you, where you been? I could show you incredible things / Cherry lips, crystal skies, I could show you incredible things
  • Magic, Madness, Heaven, Sin
  • Grab your passport and my hand
  • I love the players and you love the game
  • We’re young and we’re reckless
  • Could end in burning flames or paradise
  • I got that red lip, classic thing that you like / I got that good girl faith and a tight little skirt
  • The rest of the world was black and white, But we were in screaming colour
  • Two paper airplanes flying
  • The monsters turned out to be just trees
  • People like me are gone forever when you say goodbye
  • I wish you knew that I’ll never forget you as long as I live
  • We’re a crooked love in a straight line down
  • Let’s get out of this town, Drive out of the city, away from the crowds
  • Say you’ll remember me standing in a nice dress, staring at the sunset, babe
  • High tide came and brought you in
  • In silent screams and wildest dreams I never dreamed of this
  • When you’re young you just run, But you come back to what you need
  • They are the hunters, we are the foxes, and we run
  • Rain came pouring down when I was drowning, That’s when I could finally breathe
  • Haven’t you heard what becomes of curious minds?
  • It’s all fun and games until somebody loses their mind
  • For once you let go of your fears and your ghosts
  • Dancing in a snowglobe round and round
  • We show off our different scarlet letters, Trust me mine is better
  • We play dumb but we know exactly what we’re doing
  • Life is just a classroom
  • Heartbreak is the national anthem, we sing it proudly
  • The best people in life are free

reputation

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  • Touch me and you’ll never be alone
  • Stealing hearts and and running off and never saying sorry
  • Island breeze and lights down low, No one has to know
  • I just wanna be drinking on a beach with you all over me
  • If a man talks shit then I owe him nothing
  • They’re burning all the witches, even if you aren’t one, So light me up
  • I once was poison ivy, but now I’m your daisy
  • The light of freedom on my face
  • Say you fancy me, not fancy stuff
  • Deep blue but you painted me golden
  • Made your mark on me, a golden tattoo
  • Everyone swimming in a champagne sea
  • You don’t need to save me, But would you run away with me?

Lover

  • Fever dream high in the quiet of the night, you know that I caught it
  • Devils roll the dice, angels roll their eyes
  • I don’t wanna keep secrets, just to keep you!
  • I love you, ain’t that the worst thing you ever heard?
  • This is our place, we make the rules
  • There’s a dazzling haze, a mysterious way about you
  • Take me out and take me home
  • Can I go where you go?
  • It’s all good if you’re bad
  • Who could ever leave me, darling? But who could stay?
  • Wanna see what’s under that attitude
  • We can follow the sparks, I’ll drive
  • Lost in a film scene
  • I’m lost in the lights
  • You play stupid games, you win stupid prizes
  • We’re so sad, we paint the town blue
  • Voted most likely to run away with you
  • I get mystified by how this city screams your name
  • I ask the traffic lights if it’ll be alright, they say “I don’t know”
  • They say home is where the heart is but that’s not where mine lives
  • Babe, don’t threaten me with a good time
  • I’m just like “damn, it’s 7am”
  • We all got crowns
  • Meet me in the afterglow
  • I promise that you’ll never find another like me
  • I never wanna see you walk away
  • It’s nice to have a friend
  • I’ll tell you the truth, but never “Goodbye”
  • I don’t wanna look at anything else now that I saw you
  • Now I see daylight / I only see daylight
  • You are what you love

Taylor’s Writing

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  • You deserve to look back on your life without a chorus of resounding voices saying ‘I could’ve, but it’s too late now”
  • Isn’t it wild and intriguing and beautiful to think that every day we are new?
  • This is the first generation that will be able to look back on their entire life story documented in pictures on the internet
  • Ultimately, we post photos online to curate what strangers think of us
  • We are never just good or just bad. We are mosaics of our worst selves and our best selves
  • Cracked her bones on the pavement she once decorated as a child with sidewalk chalk
  • Her skin was spattered with ink, forming the words of a thousand voices
  • She dreamed of … a love that was really something, Not just the idea of something
  • Wild ocean up to her neck
  • May your heart remain breakable, But never by the same hand twice
  • Without your past, you could never have arrived- So wondrously and brutally, By design or some violent, exquisite happenstance … here
  • And in the death of her reputation, She felt truly alive

Turning Risks Into Rewards on Social Media

5 Ways to Turn Risks into Rewards on Social Media | travelbloom.blog

Starting a blog is a scary concept. Whether you’re hoping to create a personal blog, or planning a digital empire for your brand, you’re going to have to put yourself out there online. But launching any form of digital media campaign can be intimidating, especially if you’re not familiar with using social media as a brand (whether the brand is you or a product you are marketing). When you start a blog, you are creating a brand that needs to be marketed almost like a product.
“Oh crap, I have no background in marketing though!”
Yeah, same here. And this blog is new, and I don’t have a background in marketing, and it is a scary situation. So if you’re on the fence about starting a blog, or are a new blogger yourself, let’s take a look at five of the biggest risks of social media marketing, and why it is worth pursuing it anyway:

1. Fear → Necessity:

Creating a blog and putting your brand online can be scary. It is a big commitment to manage and run everything, and it can seem like a lot to take on – and let’s be real, it kind of is. It’s easy to put it off because you don’t feel prepared for it, but you may never feel prepared for it. If you’re not familiar with the digital platforms you are intending to use, the new technology can be intimidating as well. And if you’re not prepared, and you’re not familiar, you might feel like you’re going to fail, and failure is the scariest thing of all.

So yes, fear can be a big reason to avoid stepping into the world of blogging and digital marketing. However, without risk there is no opportunity. Blogging can be great fun (and should be above all else!) and a potential source of income, and if it’s something you really want to do, eventually you have to bite the bullet and throw yourself into the digital world.

2. Misreading the Community → Joining the Community

Social media is, above all else, about community. This means that you have to make yourself a part of the community in order to become a part of it, particularly as someone who is marketing something (your blog!). Implementing two-way communication between your blog and the communities that would most benefit from it is one of the most important aspects of social media use. If you try and market your blog in a traditionally “hard selling” technique (eg. “Check this out”, “Subscribe”, “Buy this!”) you are going to find yourself isolated from the communities you want to be a part of. However, implementing two-way communication between your brand and the communities that would most benefit from it is one of the most important aspects of social media use. By communicating properly with the right digital communities, you will gain brand respect, as well as feedback that can help you better both your brand and your current online strategy.

3. Criticism → Feedback

Feedback is part of the core of social media communication. Though it can be intimidating, you can’t look at criticism and feedback as a threat. Positive feedback will legitimize your brand online, and negative feedback provides a learning opportunity to improve upon. You should have a system in place to respond to and deal with feedback, and following these systems will allow you to keep level-headed and on-brand with your responses to any less-than-positive feedback you get. By showing that you are listening to what people have to say, you are showing that you are a real person who is open to communication, and willing to grow and improve based on what the community has to say.

4. Sales → Allegiance

Whether or not you are selling a product, or just the brand that is your blog, using normal sales tactics is not appropriate for social media. Online communities have unique means of communication, and as mentioned above, using hard sales techniques will isolate your brand from the community, not integrate it. Use your blog and other social media platforms to provide information, interaction, and value to your brand. A social media marketing campaign can eventually lead to sales, but you should look at it more as a way to earn respect and loyalty by providing something of value, not just a heavy sales push. This can apply both for marketing your blog itself (eg. don’t spam comments sections with pleas to read your blog), or to marketing content within your blog posts (eg. don’t cram a blog post full of affiliate links, rather incorporate them only when relevant and something you would really recommend).

5. Personal → Professional Use

Tying your personal social media to your blog is a mistake. Though blogs show snippets of your everyday life, the content that you post should be more curated than what you upload to your personal social media accounts. This division of personal and professional use can help maintain a level of

  • Security – not posting a photo of your house exterior on your Instagram that would show your home address
  • Privacy – not posting pictures from an event that you want to share with your friends but not your followers
  • Professionalism – not posting pictures that do not fit with your brand, either aesthetically or in content

Your personal social media accounts are the ones that you use to keep up with the people, communities, and events you care about. Your brand’s social media accounts (blog and any related social media) are the ones that people use to keep up with you.

The scariest part for me starting my blog was the concept of getting criticism for the content I’m putting online. Criticism is scary! I’m curious – what was the scariest part of starting a digital brand for you? Or, if you haven’t started a blog but want to, what’s stopping you?