“Why can’t you just do it for me?”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked this question by potential clients. It generally comes after about 30 minutes of me explaining what their role in the social media branding process will be. It’s at this point that I have to backtrack and explain the difference between Marketing and Branding.

Marketing on social media is all about strategy and processes. It’s promotion, ads, SEO. It includes your logo, your color schemes, and your overall business language. Branding, on the other hand, is about the culture of your business and your message. Marketing is what you use to get that message, that culture, out into the world. But your brand begins and ends with you.

You can hire the most brilliant social media strategist in the world. You can have the most extensive budget ever. But if your goal is to build yourself as a brand, as a thought leader, resource, or expert in your field, you must participate in the growth and development of your brand every single day.

I know. I know. You’re busy. Busy growing your business. Busy finding leads. Making sales. Whatever it is you do. But here’s the thing…if you’re too busy to grow your brand. To grow your network, your following, then what are you really doing with your business?

You see, social media is the New Frontier for entrepreneurs and businesses. Your social media pages are the new yellow page ads, the new TV spots, the new radio ads and full page foldout in print publications. So, if you don’t have time to grow that aspect of your business every single day, what are you really doing?

If you want to build a solid/sustainable brand on social media you HAVE to participate. You cannot just hand someone your login and password and expect them to do it for you. YOUR voice must deliver YOUR message. Does that mean you have to sit online for hours a day? Heck no! That’s what you hire a social media manager for. But you DO have to participate in the strategy and creation of content.

Remember! People are following and engaging with YOU. YOU are the product you’re selling.

It doesn’t have to take hours. You don’t have to post 15-20 times a day. You don’t even have to create or post all of the content yourself. But you do need to take an active role in what is happening on your social media.

Social media done right can MAKE a brand. Social media done wrong can kill you quicker than you can blink. Building a brand on social media is so much more than just promotion and advertising. In fact, promotion and advertising are aspects of Marketing, not branding at all. Branding is about building relationships with your audience. People follow a brand because they have an emotional attachment to what they are seeing and hearing and reading.

So, what can you do every single day to move your social media and brand forward? I’ll tell you. And I promise it’s not hard.

1. Set aside 10-15 minutes in the morning and the evening to respond to comments and interact with your audience. You don’t have to have long drawn-out conversations, but jumping in with a reply to a thoughtful comment, or to say something about a post that has been shared with you can have a crazy big impact on growth and engagement.

2. Get really clear on what the message you are trying to send your followers is. Make it obvious using quotes and memes, so that anyone new coming to your feeds can clearly see from day 1 what you’re all about.

3. Pay attention to what resonates with your audience, then post more of that. Your brand is about your message, but your audience determines the best way to get that message to spread.

4. Hire a solid Social Media Strategist to help you look at the numbers and steer you in the right direction. A solid SM strategist should be able to learn your brand and build strategy around your brand and stated goals. But remember, a strategist is not (generally) an implementer.

5. Stay on brand. Building an engaged and loyal following takes time. People begin to build an emotional connection to your brand, and going off brand can damage that loyalty. If, for some reason, you feel that it’s necessary to go off brand be sure to communicate that to your followers. If they understand the “why” they will be much less likely to push back, or stop following altogether.

Building an engaged group of loyal brand followers isn’t always easy, it takes time and dedication, but it is always worth it.