Branding, Social Media, & Digital Landscapes at CrEATe Project San Francisco
I used to cringe at the idea of "networking". I had wrapped the very concept up tightly in visions of brown suits, water-cooler chit-chat, and hurried business card exchanges. But over the last year or so, I've found (more aptly named) "meet-ups" to be inspired spaces filled with young idealists and invigorated go-getters. And nothing could be more fitting than to call Skylar + Jess of CrEATe Project invigorating.
This weekend, I had the pleasure of not only attending my first CrEATe Project meet-up, but sitting on the panel alongside Skylar to talk all things social media and digital brand management. As we've established in my prior posts, I love meeting people on the internet. So do Skylar + Jess. So much in fact, they founded CrEATe Project to bolster, support, and enrich that process. Only they've added education, sponsorship, support, and snacks. I love snacks.
The group was ripe with young professionals working in tech, marketing, community management, and far beyond! I met a darling young woman named Deborah who had literally moved to SF from NY (by way of Belgium) THE NIGHT BEFORE. She'll be working at the Belgian American Consulate. And then there was my style soul-mate, blogger-on-a-budget, Jessie Ann. She had the pink Moto jacket of my dreams, and high-waisted sailor pants to-boot.
The common thread? A true need to comprehend and leverage social media as a means to fortify a business, brand, or creative endeavor. If you know me at all, you know I could nerd out on this stuff all day. So, a captive audience and a brilliant counterpart pretty much had me giddy. And, as with any networking or speaking event, I learn so much from the questions that were asked. I learn from people where their greatest challenges lie. I learn where self-doubt creeps in. I learn the places where a little support goes a long way. So, I'd love to share a short wrap-up of some of the key take-aways from our panel discussion.
+ Your brand isn't what you think it is. It is what the public thinks it is. It's how consumers interact with you; it's how they perceive you. And then, it becomes what they express to others. The good news? You get to teach people who you are with every touchpoint: social dialogues (no monologues), websites, content, collateral, service, people, etc. Have a clear understanding of who you are, who you serve, and what unique offering you have within your market. Use that to create consistency. As you grow, become more flexible.
+ Don't be afraid to evolve. I hear this story often: someone starts a brand, has a clear vision, starts building, and then something changes. The business pivots, or grows, or they find themselves no longer relating to that once crystal-clear vision. This results in fear. But, fear not! Evolution is necessary. You are going to continue to learn and grow and that should be welcome within your brand. In fact, it will drive your brand into the best version of itself. So take baby steps and ease in, but don't be afraid of change. Brands are flexible. Yes, I said it! Don't stifle yourself by pigeon-holding your growth or holding too tightly to things that seemed true before you got started.
+ "How do you calculate your IG reach?" This is a more tactical question that Skylar fielded perfectly. Here's the formula: (Likes + Comments + Saves) divided by your Reach. Not sure where to find your Reach metric? Well, you'll need to have a business account. About that: Skylar recommends that you get one if you are a business or an influencer aspiring to get paid. Brands won't want to work with you if they can't accurately see and measure both your Reach and Engagement. Which makes sense. It's what they're paying for.
+ LET GO. This is my number one take-away from this weekend: The biggest obstacle most people face on social media is overwhelmingly, themselves. We put so much pressure on ourselves to create the best content. To get the most likes. To have the perfect posts and the perfect grid. We agonize over each post's potential performance to the point of paralysis. We think and over-think until posting becomes anxiety-laden. Well, I'm here to tell you to stop. It's only social media. Sure, it can be powerful. But, it's also somewhat transitory. If a post tanks, so what? It's okay! You didn't run your business into the ground. You didn't make a fool of yourself at a company party. You didn't run over the family cat. Like anything else, you just do your best and learn as you go. Don't be afraid to fail. In fact, in failure lies your greatest opportunity for growth. Learn from your mistakes; don't hide from them. Oh, and HAVE FUN! If you aren't having fun, neither is anyone else.
Thanks again to everyone who came out, to CrEATe Project for hosting, and to Lifeway Probiotics for sponsoring. (I'll save myself the embarrassment of telling you how excited probiotics make me.) Follow these hustling young women into the new year for more Bay Area meet-ups, advice, and a rumored (launching soon) podcast.
CrEATe Project: https://www.instagram.com/createprojecthq/
Skylar Allen: https://www.instagram.com/styledbyskylar/
Jessica Rae: https://www.instagram.com/jess.thanperfect/