Increase Social Media FollowingWho could forget Joey Tribiani’s hilariously horrible speech for Chandler and Monica’s wedding? (For those who have forgotten, check out this Friends clip.)

That, my friends, is what your blog posts will sound like if you try too hard.

If you focus on how you “should” sound or what you “should” write about, your unique flare isn’t going to come to the surface. Your brand’s blog will soon fall into the trap of being “just another blog about such-and-such.”

What can you do to make sure this doesn’t happen? Glad you asked!

“It is a love based on giving and receiving…”

Building a brand around a topic or industry you’re passionate about is the best thing you can do to reveal your most authentic self.

In order for your social media efforts to resonate with your followers, you have to be honest about why you love your industry, and the contribution you want to make.

If you’re naturally bursting at the seams to get started each day, this energy will also burst through your content (in other words, pull a Gary Vaynerchuk).

It’s not about being perfect; it’s about being honest. Even your weaknesses can be used to your advantage – they show your “human” side, and you can use them to help your readers avoid stumbling blocks with their own career goals.

Your honesty and what you share with your audience will make them feel involved in your big picture, and feel inspired to continue working on their own.

Soon, your brand will have its own tribe, and its growth will become a team effort. Open communication through social media is always a two-way street. Give your audience the information necessary to help them accomplish what you know they’re capable of achieving.

“…as well as having and sharing.”

By engaging with your audience candidly, your distinct voice will stand out amongst the noise. Be open with your audience, and your audience will be open with you.

When you integrate a human element within every marketing message (for example, using personal anecdotes to drive your point home), your brand won’t sound robotic, and your unique perspective will make your brand memorable.

We now expect brands to communicate in a human voice, not a business voice. It’s why we choose the brands we do to become a part of our everyday lives – if we connect with them and they seamlessly integrate with our future goals, we become loyal fans.

You can spot inauthentic a mile away, and so can your readers. In order to make sure they stick around, you have to influence them using depth and substance.

You have to fulfill their basic needs, be empathetic toward their struggles, and inspire them to work hard toward their goals. These simple, natural strategies to connect will go a long way in building a loyal, steady stream of followers.

“And the love they give and have is shared and received.”

As your audience builds, listen to their needs. What they share when commenting on your blog posts and your social media accounts is a clear indication of the information they’re seeking from you.

While you know in advance the audience you’re looking to reach, and you’ll work hard to do so, you’ll find as your audience comes together, they’ll start to tell you what your blog represents to them.

It’s important to connect to the energy of your following, learn who they are, and allow them to tell you what they want to learn from you.

The more open and enthusiastic you are about your readers’ suggestions for future content, the more they’ll trust you and connect with the human presence behind your brand.

Share pieces of yourself as they relate to your brand’s mission, respond to comments thoroughly, and give your readers individual assistance as they ask for it. Doing so will build a strong sense of community amongst your readers, and will transform your blog into a haven they’ll visit on a regular basis.

“And through this having and giving and sharing and receiving, we too can share and love and have and receive.”

The best part about building brands today is there’s no longer such thing as competition. Through networking with other bloggers, we form alliances and look at the much bigger picture of how we can all contribute to make a positive impact on our industries.

Brand owners dedicate time to link to each other, comment on each other’s blog posts, and share each other’s content through social media accounts.

It’s about reaching out and engaging, not selling.

According to Tony Robbins, we have basic human needs “which serve as the basis of every choice we make,” and these needs are the best way to really make a difference for your audience:

  • Certainty – The need for certainty and consistency.
  • Uncertainty – The need for variety and challenges.
  • Significance – The need to feel important and wanted.
  • Love & Connection – The need to feel connected with others.
  • Growth – The need for constant emotional, intellectual, and spiritual development.
  • Contribution – The need to contribute and make a difference in others’ lives.

Stop competing, and start reaching out. If you make your brand something you can’t wait to work on, and your blog a community you can’t wait to check in with, you’ll have created a place your readers will look forward to visiting too.

The Biggest Lesson Joey Teaches Us

When Chandler and Monica finally break the news to Joey that his speech sucks the big one, Joey opens up to them about what he truly wants to say at their wedding, and what he wants his speech to represent.

They love the natural speech that comes from his heart, so much so they beg him to say exactly what he just said, and this is what your readers are looking for from you. Don’t pull a Joey, who at the end of the conversation, goes back to repeating his stiff, contrived (and incoherent) speech.

If you love what you do, and love what you stand for, your words will come out fluently. You’ll represent your brand using a natural voice your readers can connect to.

Everything you post on your blog and share through your social media accounts has to matter to your readers; otherwise, they’ll shift their focus elsewhere. With every post, always make sure to think about what your brand means to them, and their focus will always remain on you.

(And, if you’re ever feeling like you need to reconnect with your readers to gauge how your brand is faring, connect with a simple “How YOU doin’?”)

Photo Credit: Crowd by James Cridland

When to Compare Your Blog to Others (and When Not To)As consumers, we’re constantly comparing – brands, products, services – to make sure we’re making the best possible decisions for our lives.

The same is true as we’re building our brands. We want our followers to seek us out, mull over what we have to offer them, and in the long-run, become raving, loyal fans. (Is it too much to ask?)

I’ve seen plenty of articles that cater to the mantra, “Don’t compare yourself to others – just be you!”

While this is true, there are also many benefits to making sound comparisons between your brand and the others already available.

After all, your potential followers will be comparing you to the likes of your competitors, and in the end, you want them to choose you.

But you guessed it – there’s a catch (isn’t there always?). Comparing your brand to others is a great way to make sure you’re filling a void in your industry, but get sucked into the comparison vortex for too long, and it can break your confidence in your ability to become a top name.

This is an especially fragile balancing act during your brand’s growth process. Here’s how to make sure all comparisons end in your favor:

When to Compare Your Blog to Others…

Compare Your Blog to Remain Diverse

Creating a successful brand is a constant evolution. Make sure you stay on top of what’s going on with the top blogs in your niche as inspiration to increase the quality of your own, and to ensure you’re not repeating content that’s already available.

Compare Your Blog to Benchmark Your Own Standards

You like certain brands for certain reasons, and you should clearly define those reasons to create your own set of standards for your brand. You’re not doing this to emulate others in your niche, but as a way to figure out where you brand belongs.

Compare to Inspire Ideas for Content

Use what others are publishing in your niche as part of your brainstorming process when planning new content. By doing so, you’ll ensure you’re offering your followers unique insight and motivation to help them create their own success.

Compare to Inspire Innovation

Compare your brand to those in your industry to create innovative products and services. Create breakthrough resources for your followers no one has thought of yet, or that are a new spin on old concepts your followers are already familiar with.

Compare to Fill a Void

By studying other brands in your industry, you’ll be able to figure out what information, products and services aren’t being provided (or aren’t being provided well) to give yourself a leg up.

Compare to Create Future Partnership Opportunities

To go with the concept of filling a void, figure out what other brands do amazingly well, as well as what you do amazingly well that could spark potential partnership opportunities. Find where other brands fall short, and use your research to begin connecting with others to better your industry as a whole.

When going through the comparison process, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do they do well?
  • What don’t they write about?
  • How often do they post?
  • How long are their posts?
  • Who is their target audience, and what level of learning do they cater to?
  • What questions or comments do their readers post?
  • What is good vs. bad about their brand design?

Again, this exercise isn’t to copy what other brands are already offering, but to figure out exactly where your brand fits in your industry so you can clearly define the unique contribution you’re going to make.

As Darren Rowse once mentioned on Problogger:

“In asking these types of questions you will often find gaps in the niche that others are not writing about that your blog might be able to fill. You’ll also have a good feel for what is working and not working for others, might have some possible ideas for connecting with other bloggers in your niche, could come up with some potential post topics, etc.”

…and When Not To

While it’s important to study what others are doing in your niche, don’t compare to a point where you’re sacrificing your unique voice in the process. Comparing should only be used as a learning tool to enhance your own authenticity.

As John Acuff said, “Never compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.”

If you’re comparing yourself to someone who has been blogging for several years longer, your comparisons are inaccurate and you’re being completely unfair to your brand, and yourself.

Getting upset that your competitor receives 100,000 page views when you only receive 10 will cause you to put unnecessary pressure on yourself to perform at an unrealistic standard.

Focus on where your brand is now, and on your own growth process. Use your competitor’s blog as a guide for where you want to be one day, but don’t expect to be there tomorrow.

Set intentional goals, and refer back to your goals each time you get sidetracked or discouraged (and don’t feel bad for getting discouraged; it happens to all bloggers, even top bloggers.)

No matter the level of success you reach, there will always be a brand that’s larger than yours. There will always be a blog that receives more traffic. There will always be a new mountain for you to climb, but make sure it’s your mountain you’re climbing.

Comparing too much will cause you to idealize those who have already become successful. All we see are the external results of their internal struggle to get where they are. We have no idea the level of struggling, sacrifice and determination it took them to get to where they are today.

Use comparisons as a benchmark for your own excellence, not to become a replica of someone else.

We all reach our success differently because how we define success is different. Ultimately, the only brand you should be competing with is your own – aim to outdo yourself each time you step into your office, and the level of satisfaction you’ll feel about your progress is priceless.

Focus on what makes you unique. Focus on how you’re going to differentiate your brand in your industry, and the qualities you bring to the table that your followers should find important.

Soon, you’ll have a lineup of bloggers who are using your brand as a research tool for their own success.

“Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.”
-Oscar Wilde

Photo Credit: Apples & Oranges by TheBusyBrain

You already know how important headlines are, so why are you letting your fantastic blog posts suffer behind the mask of a mediocre headline?

It’s like wearing a hideous outfit on purpose – say wha?!

Below, learn the importance of blog post headlines, and suggestions on how to strengthen yours TODAY.

For An Additional Kick in the Pants:

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