What Comes First? Branding Or Social Media?

social-media-branding-instagramPop quiz…

When it comes to your business, does social media build your brand, or does your brand shape your social media presence?

What comes first?

Branding or social media?

Chicken or egg?

The answer to either question is simple – BOTH.

(Just kidding. If you’d like to know the answer to the chicken-egg question, skip to the end. The social-media-branding question is more complicated, so keep reading.)

Let’s break it down further.

How to manage your brand on social media, in 3 easy steps, in no particular order (you’ll see what I mean by this later)…

Know your brand

Every entrepreneur knows that branding is everything.

Your brand is literally your reputation. It’s what people think of when they think of your business (NOT what YOU think of your business).

Before you do anything – be it on social media or otherwise – make sure you know your business brand inside-out.

That means you should be able to answer these questions:

  • What problem does your product or service solve?
  • Who benefits from this product?
  • Who are you trying to reach?
  • What content effectively engages your desired audience on social media?

You cannot launch an impactful social media marketing campaign without putting a lot of thought into your branding.

Don’t take a step further before you’ve got your branding down, it will save you a lot of grief and wasted resources down the road.

Launch your brand on social media before you’re ready

Many entrepreneurs tend to be perfectionists.

They kind of have to be – perfectionism gives them edge they need in order to compete with other businesses.

However, the Dark Side of perfectionism rears its ugly head in this case.

It pains me to say this (believe me), but when it comes to branding, things will never be perfect.

Take a deep breath.

It’ll be okay.

Just get your branding as close to 100% as you can and then launch your business on social media.

Whatever you do, DO NOT allow your perfectionism to stop you from launching. You won’t always know what works on social media and what doesn’t until you try it out.

At some point, you will have to bite the bullet and trust that you know all that you can at this stage of the game.

The rest will come later. Really.

Take care to avoid the common pitfalls of social media marketing and launch.


Revisit your branding

There’s a bit of a misconception where once you’ve solidified your branding, it just stays the same forever.

But branding changes over time.

And being on social media will further push your brand to change.

Your brand will change based on feedback you get on social media. Pay close attention to what’s working and what’s not working on social media. Engage with your following and observe what comes up in conversations and comments.

Even bad feedback is helpful – just think of it as an opportunity to hone your brand.

Keep the two-way lines of communication open – this is where the true beauty of social media marketing lies. When else and where else are you as a business owner given the opportunity to get this close to your target audience and their experiences with your business?

Use social media engagement to hone your message and your branding.

Stand your ground, but be open to new possibilities.

Then, go back to the beginning – knowing your brand – and go through the cycle again.

Whatever you do, don’t feel like some kind of failure because you want to revamp your branding from time to time. It’s supposed to change.

Change is good.

Change means you’re growing.

Change means your business is evolving.

Hope you found that useful!

(P.S. As for the answer to the chicken-and-egg question, the answer is the egg came first. Because crocodiles lay eggs and they walked the Earth before chickens even existed. Sorry, chickens.)

I’ve got something else for you. Download my ebook “How to Blog Like an Entrepreneur” FOR FREE now. Click here.





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FAV 5 Recommended Reading For Smart Entrepreneurs (January 3, 2017)

Hello Entrepreneurs,

Welcome to our FAV 5… recommended reading/watching to help you obliterate your business goals!

The 4 Signs of a Genius Entrepreneur [VIDEO]
Robin Sharma

Wondering—past and future
Seth Godin

Stop Forcing Other People To Be Happy [VIDEO]
Dr. Isaiah Hankel

New Years Resolution 2017 [VIDEO]
Gary Vaynerchuk

8 Things Successful People Do That Lazy People Do Not
Nicolas Cole – Inc.com

Be amazing!


Get my free ebook, “How to Blog Like an Entrepreneur” now – CLICK HERE!


Posted in Blog, business, entrepreneur, Favorite Five, LinkedIn, Videos, YouTube | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

What To Do When Someone Steals Your Content

steals-your-content-instagramI’ll never forget it.

I get a call one day from a marketing agency – not uncommon – and they’re interested in subcontracting me for some social media work. Also not uncommon.

The lady on the phone and I share a few laughs and quickly establish rapport.

We get along amazingly.

She gleefully points out how we have the same tastes and the same sense of humor. And – get this – we even use the same stock photo in our promotional materials.

Wait. What?

“The defiant baby with his fist up in the air. We use that stock image too. All the time. It’s priceless.”

Yeah. Except, that’s not a stock photo. That’s a picture of my kid. And he’s not for sale.

Awkward silence.

I don’t remember what happened after that, but I didn’t get the job. In fact, I never heard from that woman again.

I did, however, learn what it felt like to have my content taken without my consent.

I felt kind of violated. Kind of helpless. Kind of stupid.

Having someone steal your content is frustrating for a variety of reasons.

For one thing – as it was in my case with my son’s picture – it compromises your business brand. Your brand is your reputation. And if someone else is out there trying to look like your business, it can confuse your audience and affect your bottom line.

But there are lots of reasons why content theft is annoying.how-to-blog-like-an-entrepreneur-ebook-click-here

When earning likes, shares, and comments are imperative to your SEO (Search Engine Optimization), you can actually be looking at a dent in your online visibility when someone takes your articles, images, or videos and re-purposes them as their own.

In other words, it’s not just about bragging rights – those Facebook likes can translate into a business brand’s book sales, seminar bookings, product sales, interview bookings, and all kinds of related financial compensation. In business, stolen content is stolen dollars.

It happens a lot in the health and wellness industry, where people before-and-after pictures get swiped by different companies. Now we’re talking about blatant false advertising that damages the industry as a whole – in addition to the loss of product and service sales for the professionals who actually deserve credit for the photos.

And let’s face it. Having your hard work ripped off just feels icky.

It’s demoralizing.

If you take the time and effort to write a blog that helps people and is good enough to engage a following, and that writing gets copied and pasted into someone else’s blog or site without crediting you, it hurts because that’s your blood, sweat, and tears going unacknowledged.

But what can be done about this?

After all, plagiarism isn’t new and it’s not going to disappear any time soon.

Here are a few tips on what to do to help prevent plagiarism, and the what to do if your online content gets stolen…

Don’t publish anything you don’t want to share

When it comes to publishing content online, it’s best to approach creating original content with the attitude of “once it’s out there, it’s out there.”

In other words, while you want to give away great content freely, you don’t need to give it ALL away.

Don’t give away the proverbial cow. Keep the best stuff for your paying clients. Rest assured, you can still offer plenty of value without draining your business’s heart and soul.

Not everyone knows what plagiarism is

Don’t jump to conclusions right away.

Giver the perpetrator the benefit of the doubt.

Believe it or not, some people are just plain ignorant when it comes to sharing stuff on the Internet and giving credit.

I know what you’re thinking, “People steal intentionally. Don’t be so naïve.”

The thing is, there’s this general misconception that if something is on the Internet, it is automatically up for grabs.

The ugly truth is that to many, taking content from others feels like a victimless crime. Think of all the music and movies that get pirated every year. How many people really feel bad about that? Exactly.

Before reaching out to someone who has taken your content without permission, take a moment to calm down and center yourself. Don’t assume the worst – yet.

Brand your content so that it can’t get stolen without giving you credit

If you put out content – any content, be it a written article, an image, or a video – and you don’t add a watermark or website URL or indicate in a very blatant way who the creator of this content is, then you have to blame yourself (just a little) for your material getting swiped.

I remember one time when someone was livid that her picture quotes got shared without her receiving any credit. The problem was, there was no indication that she even created these images. For all anyone knew, they were just property of the Internet. Things get shared on the Internet at the speed of a person’s whim, no one is going to stop to do a reference check.

Don’t be shy – plaster your branding all over your content (in a tasteful way, of course).

Contact the plagiarizer in private

If you see your property posted somewhere on social media or on a blog or website without your consent, start with an “innocent” but tactful private message to the offender.

Think of it as a warning shot.

Give them a chance to bail out gracefully.

Ask that they either take down the content or give you credit and link back to your site or social media profile. Linking back will actually help raise awareness of your brand, in most cases.

Best case scenario, it was an honest oversight and you’ve made friends with someone who loves your work and wants to share it with a qualified audience. If you play it right, this situation could actually expand your reach and help your brand in the long run.

I know it’s hard (trust me), but try to take the emotion out of it.

Don’t immediately go for blood.

Always think win-win.

Threaten legal action for the plagiarism

When you privately contact the person who stole your content, give them a time limit to respond.

If they fail to respond (or don’t respond favorably), you can threaten legal intervention. Most of the time, this will put an end to the shenanigans.

Threats go a long way, but keep them civil. Never forget that your bland is on record. Things may get ugly but you don’t have to stoop to a lower level.

You can find out who hosts the offending website (by going to Who Is Hosting This?) and contact the web host directly, and then they will look into pulling down the site due to copyright infringement. In the United States of America, you can send a DMCA (The Digital Millennium Copyright Act) takedown notice to the offender’s web host.

Divert traffic to your own site

I absolutely HATE drama (waste of energy), but if you feel like fighting an outright plagiarist, you can post a screen capture on the offender’s wall or social media platform so that their followers can see that you are the originator of the content that they are interested in.

As much as humanly possible, be gracious and professional when doing this because the main objective here is – believe it or not – NOT to discredit the person stealing your work, but to lure some of their audience to your platform.

Think about it, this new audience is presumably already interested in you, they just don’t know where to find you.

In other words, try to turn this negative event into a positive, as it could actually help you grow your brand’s reach.

Don’t lose focus

Speaking of drama – do NOT get sucked in.

Some people have nothing better to do.

You are not one of these people – you are running a business.

You are representing not only yourself, but also your brand. Never forget this.

Focus more on what you are doing, rather than on what others may or may not be scheming.

Don’t use plagiarism as an excuse to not create content

Above all, do not use the threat of plagiarism as an excuse to not create content.

“What’s the point on creating amazing content if someone’s just going to steal it? Might as well give up. Might as well not try. Might as well do nothing.”

Do not kid yourself in this manner.

Look, creating original content takes guts. You’re basically putting yourself out there. Not a lot of people have what it takes.

The small actions of petty thieves and irrelevant buffoons are not reasons to quit. Forget these people, because you have important work to do.

Seek solace knowing that your work is so hot, people want to steal it. And then stand up for yourself. And protect yourself. Keep the emotion out of it and leverage what you have to turn negative events into positive ones and grow your audience.

Get my free ebook, “How to Blog Like an Entrepreneur” now – CLICK HERE!



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FAV 5 Recommended Reading For Smart Entrepreneurs (December 20, 2016)

Hello Entrepreneurs,

Welcome to our FAV 5… recommended reading/watching to help you obliterate your business goals!

5 Rituals That Predict Success [VIDEO]
Robin Sharma

The road to imperfection
Seth Godin

How To Get Revenge On A Narcissist [VIDEO]
Dr. Isaiah Hankel

Why 95% of Fortune 500 Brands Have Declined in Market Share Over the Last 2 Years [VIDEO]
Gary Vaynerchuk

How to speak up for yourself [VIDEO]
Adam Galinsky – TED Talk

Be amazing!


Get my free ebook, “How to Blog Like an Entrepreneur” now – CLICK HERE!


Posted in business, entrepreneur, Favorite Five, Uncategorized, Videos, YouTube | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Social Media Tools for Your Business

social-media-tools-instagram-facebookIt starts out so innocently.

You’re a business owner. And like all successful business owners, you’re an innovator. You’re a risk-taker. You’ll try anything once.

And then one fine day, you find yourself inspired to try something new.

“I should start promoting my business on social media,” you think to yourself.

“All the entrepreneurs are doing it.”

“How hard can it be?”

So you start up a Facebook profile. Then you get on Twitter. Then you revamp your LinkedIn account that’s been gathering dust. Then you launch a YouTube channel. And then you get on Instagram.

Soon, you’re writing blogs, shooting videos, and creating images on a weekly (or perhaps daily) basis.

And then it hits you.

“This is a lot of work.”

Managing various social media platforms and also coming up with original content on a consistent basis can be exhausting.

It can become a job on its own.

Maybe you should get some help.

Whether you decide to hire someone to help you with your social media presence, or decide to do it all on your own, it is in your best interests as a business owner to try out some tools that will take your content to the next level.

Scroll down, and you will find a select list of social media tools that make my life easier.

Some of these social media tools are free, some start you off with free trial versions, and some charge a fee.

Everyone has their own personal preferences, and at the end of the day, you have to choose what works best for you.

This isn’t the definitive list of all social media tools. Rather, these are applications and software that I have personally used for years (or at least extended periods of time) while running ongoing social media campaigns for many businesses, and I feel comfortable recommending them to my followers.

At the same time, I am always trying out new things and on the lookout for new social media tools to take my business and clients to the next level, so if you’d like to add anything to this list, be sure to mention it in the comments below!


HootSuite allows you to oversee several social media profiles from one convenient dashboard. This is a big deal to you as a business owner for several reasons.

First and foremost, you can manage several, if not all, of your social media platforms, including: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.

You can also schedule your posts in advance, which means you can set time aside and plan out all your posts for the week (or month). As a busy entrepreneur, I’m sure you can see what a time-saving device this is.

One of the often overlooked features of HootSuite is its bulk scheduler function, which allows you to upload a spreadsheet of posts you can save and reuse, saving you even more time in the long-run. This feature is only available if you have a paid account.

You can also use HootSuite to track mentions of your brand. Your brand is literally the reputation of your business, so it is beneficial to you as a business owner to know what other people are saying about your product or service on social media.

Finally, if you have a paid account, you can use HootSuite to analyze your social media traffic.


While HootSuite does offer integration with Instagram, the collaboration between the two is somewhat lacking.

For one, while you can schedule your Instagram posts using HootSuite, you are still required to manually “push” your posts through when the scheduled time arrives.

While this is still a time-saver, it’s not really convenient for a business owner who just wants to get through their day without interruptions. While it might not seem like a big deal at first, if you are posting to Instagram several times a day (or to several accounts) it gets really annoying, really fast.

Enter Grum.

Grum allows you to schedule your Instagram posts in advance, and posts without a manual push.

As an added bonus, you can add emojis and post a “first comment,” which I recommend using for hashtags.

And as ANOTHER added extra super bonus, while Instagram requires you to post from your phone, both Grum and HootSuite enable you to post from the comfort of your laptop or desktop computer.


How can you tell if your social media promotions are working?

That is, how can you tell if anyone is actually clicking on the links you’re posting on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc?

Easy – you track your clicks.

Bitly allows you to create a custom link which you can then track to gage when and how often someone clicks on it.

If you create different bitlinks (real word) for each of your social media platforms, you can then track which platforms are working for you and which are not.

Constant Contact

Constant Contact is an email marketing service.

It allows you to design slick-looking email newsletters and manage your growing database of email addresses so you can compose and schedule bulk mail-outs with little hassle.

I know what you’re thinking – what does email marketing have to do with social media?


Because you see, social media platforms become un-cool just as suddenly as they catch on.

If your social media strategy relies too heavily on one social media platform, that is a major red flag for imminent disaster.

A guaranteed way to make sure you stay ahead of changing trends in social media is getting your followers to subscribe to an email list.

You will always have control over your email list, and it will always work for you, no matter what happens out there.

Another option for email marketing is MailChimp, which has a free option if you’re starting out.


Few things will make your business look more amateur or sloppy on social media than having images and photos that are not properly sized and formatted.

Graphic design can be a daunting task if you are not proficient with Photoshop or some other image editing software.

Thankfully, there’s Canva.

Canva is a very easy-to-use design program that can help you create professional-looking images for your social media presence, even if you have no graphic design skills whatsoever.

You can sign up for Canva for free, and it comes with tons of templates designed for various social media platforms. You don’t have to worry about keeping up-to-date with the changing image requirements and specifications for every social media platform, because Canva will do that for you.

As a bonus, Canva even provides a library of stock photos. Many are available for free, and some are available for purchase at a very reasonable price.

Free stock photo sites

Speaking of free photos…

As you’ve probably already figured out, looks are everything when it comes to social media.

Using attractive photos will draw more people to your social media posts.

If you can’t afford professional photography, you can always turn to stock photography at a reasonable price.

You can also turn to my list of free stock photo sites that will help you find tons of visual material that you can use to enhance your social media posts. Just remember to double-check the conditions for usage when you use someone else’s work.

Adobe Photoshop Elements and Adobe Premiere Elements

If you want to take your photos and videos to the next level, you’ll need decent editing software.

Photoshop Elements is a photo editing software and Premiere Elements is video editing software.

Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements are less extravagant (and way less expensive) than professional Photoshop and Premiere suites, but they are more than adequate for giving your social media videos and photos a polished edge, provided you take the time to learn these programs properly.

There are lots of editing software you can use (some of them are free), but I find them limited (probably because of my background a professional video editor).

I find that Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements offer just the right amount of bells and whistles without becoming too cumbersome.

They are not as simple to use as most consumer-level editors, but there are tons of tutorials available for free on YouTube.


Rev.com is an online video transcribing service.

You just upload an audio or video file (or provide a link) and Rev.com will send you a typed out transcription, often within 12 hours.

Transcriptions can help with taking your social media content to the next level.

You might use a transcription if you want to provide a description or written material to accompany a video or podcast you’ve created.

Or, you might find using a transcription to be a quick and easy way to adapt a video or audio recording into a written blog or post.

Regardless, transcribing is a tedious process, and Rev.com provides this service swiftly, effectively, and for a competitive price.

How did I do? Got anything to add to this list of social media tools? Tell me in a comment below!

Get my free ebook, “How to Blog Like an Entrepreneur” now – CLICK HERE!


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FAV 5 Recommended Reading For Smart Entrepreneurs (December 6, 2016)

Hello Entrepreneurs,

Welcome to our FAV 5… recommended reading/watching to help you obliterate your business goals!

Why Great Leaders Are Devoted Readers [VIDEO]
Robin Sharma

The best way to stand for something
Seth Godin

3 Power Plays Manipulative People Use Against You [VIDEO]
Dr. Isaiah Hankel

4 ways to build a human company in the age of machines
Tim Leberecht – TED

The Only Three Networking Emails You Need To Learn How To Write
Sara McCord – Fast Company

Be amazing!


Get my free ebook, “How to Blog Like an Entrepreneur” now – CLICK HERE!


Posted in Blog, entrepreneur, Favorite Five, Videos, YouTube | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Social Media Red Flags for Entrepreneurs to Avoid

Social Media Marketing Red Flags For EntrepreneursAs an entrepreneur, you know the difference between working ON your business, as opposed to working IN your business.

Well, the same approach applies when it comes to your social media marketing strategy.

Sometimes, as business owners, we lose sight of the big picture when it comes to social media.

It’s easy to get caught up with the daily grind of creating content, scheduling posts, and maintaining multiple social media platforms.

It’s hard to stop what you’re doing and take the time to take a step back and audit what you’re doing.

It’s much easier to keep going full steam ahead, and hope that something sticks.

But this is a big mistake.

This blind approach leads to busyness, not business.

Once in a while, you need to take a cold hard look at everything you are doing on social media that pertains to your business and identify any red flags that indicate that your social media marketing strategy is falling short.

(By the way, if you don’t have a social media strategy, that’s a giant red flag right there.)

Social media red flags might go un-noticed at first, because they might not do any specific harm (for now), but they don’t do you or your business any good either.

More importantly, these red flags – if left ignored – will cost you time and resources down the road.

Entrepreneurs don’t have time and resources to waste. Analyze your social media marketing strategy today and look out for these major red flags…

Red Flag #1: Your social media marketing strategy lacks a call-to-action (CTA)

A call-to-action (or CTA) is the part of your social media content where you ask your audience to do something for you.

For instance, examples of solid calls-to-action could include:

  • Download my ebook
  • Subscribe to my YouTube channel
  • Follow me on Instagram
  • Leave me a comment or ask me a question
  • Buy my program

Typically, the CTA comes after you’ve offered something of value first. In other words, you’ve created some content that has educated, entertained, or enlightened someone, and now you can ask them to reciprocate.

Seems pretty obvious, right?


In fact it’s so obvious, we often make the mistake of assuming that we don’t need to spell it out for the audience.

This is a huge mistake.

Never assume that someone is going to follow you on Facebook just because they liked something you posted. You need to ASK THEM to follow you on Facebook.

People are not mind-readers. They are not dwelling on Facebook (or LinkedIn, or Instagram, or YouTube, or whatever) waiting to see what you come up with next. Rather, they are cruising by and if you’re worth their while, they’ll briefly stop to check you out and then… they’re gone again.

Gone forever.


Not asking is a horrible mistake to make on social media. It’s a wasted opportunity. If you look through your posts and you rarely see a blindingly clear CTA… huge red flag.

Furthermore, asking for too many things is also horrible.

“Follow me on Facebook and Twitter and while you’re at it, subscribe to my email list and see you at my speaking event next month, 50% off if you buy a ticket now on EventBrite! OMG contest opening soon!”

Yikes – please don’t do this.

When you ask for too many things, you get nothing. It dilutes your impact. Focus your efforts on one big goal at a time, such as growing your email list, and focus your CTAs like laser beams to get those email addresses.

One last thing about creating a CTA – you need to make it overwhelmingly easy for the audience to act on it.

Don’t ask them to type out a lengthy and complicated URL (they won’t do it) – instead, provide them with a clickable link. Don’t make them fill out a long and complicated form, it should be more like “Click, click, here’s your ebook.” Don’t make them go through several, arduous steps, make your CTA easy to understand and easy to follow.

Red Flag #2: Your strategy lacks autonomy from a specific social media platform

This might sound counter-intuitive, but the social media marketing strategy you use to promote your business should not rely too heavily on one single social media platform.

You might think, for instance, that you have an incredible Facebook presence, with great return on investment, and so you decide to focus all your efforts on getting more followers, comments, likes, and shares on Facebook. At first glance, this is a great idea. But it’s actually a red flag for potential disaster.

What if your audience leaves Facebook for another platform for reasons that are out of your control? What if Facebook introduces a new algorithm that makes it more difficult for your company to maintain its stronghold on Facebook?

Platforms become un-cool just as suddenly as they catch on. There is no use trying to change or complain about this. This is in fact just the nature of the beast. All you can do is accept and adapt.

A guaranteed way to make sure you stay ahead of changing trends is getting your followers to subscribe to an email list.

You will always have control over your list, and it will always work for you, no matter what happens out there.

Red Flag #3: Your social media presence lacks consistency

There are three types of consistency when it comes to social media marketing.

First, your business needs to be consistently present. You need to post often, and on a regular basis. Your publishing schedule needs to become predictable, so that your audience learns to rely on you and trust you for content on a regular basis.

Second, you need to be consistently great. You need to offer high quality content all the time. You must offer real value that educates, entertains, and/or inspires your audience. You can’t just sell your product or service, you need to bring consistent value that improves the lives of your audience.

And third, your messaging needs to consistently appeal to your target audience. Resist the urge to be all things to all people because that is the hallmark of bad branding.

Instead, you need to reach out to a specific niche and stand your ground.

In other words, you can’t expect to be the “go-to” company for anything unless you consistently put out consistently great content, consistently targeted for a niche audience.

Get my free ebook, “How to Blog Like an Entrepreneur” now – CLICK HERE!





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