Whether going live on Instagram comes to you as naturally as breathing, or you’ve taken out the trash twice to avoid posting, these days, a strong social media presence is essential for growing your audience and maintaining a successful creative business. But if you really want to get the most value out of your feed, you’re going to need a few insider tips. We invited our own Stephan Brown, Partner Manager at Patreon, to share strategies on building your social media brand and promoting your Patreon page on Instagram, Youtube, and TikTok. Here’s a recap of Stephan’s advice on making social media work for you, not the other way around.
How to build your personal brand on social media
The golden rule of social media is authenticity. Don’t let the ever-changing trends and sheer amount of content out there overwhelm you. Just focus on sharing your unique perspective and staying true to your own story. This includes letting your guard down and connecting with your audience by sharing your real thoughts and emotions. Personal content, or “Share Your Journey” posts, show your vulnerable side, offering glimpses into your struggles and triumphs. Your followers will start to develop a sense of loyalty if they feel like you’re being real with them.
Stephan’s second piece of advice comes straight from his personal mentor: “Virality is fun, but consistency pays the bills.” Put together a strategy and posting schedule that you can maintain long-term. Ultimately getting into a regular posting rhythm will make your social channels more successful and sustainable than hoping for an elusive viral moment.
Social strategy in a nutshell? Create consistent, authentic content, and your followers will stick around.
Best practices for a few favorite social channels
Stephan has three rules for the kinds of content fans love to see on Instagram.
Follow the 80/20 rule. Make sure that 80% of your posts are just you; just something that is an authentic share about your life or something that would make you laugh if you came across it. If you work with brands on sponsored content, make sure to limit those posts to 20% or less to keep your feed as personal as possible.
Let your voice be heard. Share raw, honest content that’s important to you. For instance, one of Stephan’s most popular posts was a spontaneous and barely edited video about his own experience as a Black man in America during the height of Black Lives Matter protests in summer 2020. Because he opened up vulnerably without trying to craft something that looked or sounded perfect, his post ended up hitting a chord with people around the world, racked up 290,000+ views globally, and was even translated into Japanese.
Think about your audience. Find out when your followers are most active, and post then. Plus, don’t underestimate the power of engagement. Try to answer thoughtful questions with thoughtful answers instead of only responding with “Hi!” or “Thanks!” The more you engage with your audience, the more likely they are to come back to your posts for years to come.
YouTube is a platform that can be especially difficult to grow on, so keep these six tips in mind when posting to set yourself up for success.
- Create a bright, colorful header that stands out.
- Make sure your descriptions are clear and concise.
- Title your videos with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) in mind. Each YouTube video is its own link that can be searched on Google, so it’s important to think about searchability when you title content by using popular terms if you can.
- Make your thumbnails as exciting, surprising, or fun as possible to encourage clicks.
- Enable end screens on your videos. That way, people will be prompted to click through to another piece of your content at the end of each video. It’s a powerful tool for keeping your audience on your page.
- Consider building a presence on another platform and then moving to YouTube once you have an audience that can follow you. This will help you get your foot in the door on the notoriously difficult platform.
Here are a few tips about Gen Z’s platform of choice.
Some quick tips: Vertical videos perform best on TikTok, and the algorithm prioritizes content that’s longer than 5 seconds. So keep that in mind—it will have a huge impact on your viewership.
The science of storytelling: TikTok’s feed is endless, so you only have a few seconds to get people to stop and watch your video. Follow what Stephan calls the “stop, watch, surprise” method of crafting videos to stand out from the crowd. Include something interesting and scroll-stopping within the first two seconds. Then, make sure your video builds, telling some kind of story to keep people engaged. Last, make sure your video includes a twist people didn’t see coming, so they’ll feel like watching the video was worth it.
It’s all about the app: Getting to know the app’s ins and outs will help grow your audience in two big ways. First, TikTok has solid built-in editing features. You won’t need professional tools to make great videos if you take a second to learn the ones literally at your fingertips. Second, you have the best chance to attract followers if you get to know (and maybe love) what’s trending. By keeping a finger on the pulse of TikTok content, you can create content in conversation with other popular videos. We’re not saying you should drop everything to learn the piupiu dance, but knowing, and occasionally playing off, existing popular content can give your videos more relevance and draw in a whole new crowd.
Post as often as you want: TikTok’s algorithm lets you post as many videos as you want back to back (to back to back), and they all have an equal chance of getting noticed. Just remember to try to post at a time when your audience is awake (unless you’re some kind of wunderkind running a global operation)!
How to promote your Patreon presence on social media
When it comes to sharing their Patreon page, most people tell Stephan they’re nervous about sounding sales-y or annoying their followers. But there are a few ways to encourage your social media audience to become patrons without impersonating a used car salesman.
First, create posts teasing your patron-only content. This shows the rest of your audience what they’re missing and creates some good ole’ fashioned FOMO. Try making trailers for cool benefits you’ve got in the works. If you use a casual tone, like you’re just talking to a friend about something you’re looking forward to, you can avoid feeling like you’re starring in a commercial.
Second, try posting more casual IG Stories that mention your Patreon page or bring it up naturally in your videos and others you’re featured in. That way, it’s not the focus of conversation, but you’re subtly reminding your audience that you have a presence there. On YouTube, include your Patreon page in your video descriptions and mention what you offer your patrons in your videos.
On TikTok, you can add a link in your bio so that if viewers visit your page, they can also find out about your Patreon community.
Whether DMing with fans is the best part of your day, or you see posting as a necessary evil, social media is a powerful tool for creatives. Lean into some of these best practices to make the most out of your time spent online. When you let your authentic self shine through (along with paying attention to a few of Stephan’s tips and tricks), you can grow your audience and, with it, your creative business.
For more social media advice, watch Stephan’s full workshop here.