You Are Your Own Brand

32 Principles For Online Success From The Team With More Successfully Funded Projects on Kickstarter Than Anyone Else


1) “Social Media” is a misnomer. Because the way people use it isn’t particularly social. The way people use it isn’t about relationships.

2) Posting selfies. Sharing political news. Sharing cat pictures, and inspirational quotes. Posting pictures of your food adventure, and your outdoor adventures. Sharing links to music and books. These things aren’t about relationships. They’re about identity construction.

3) And if you understand this, the misnomer is an opportunity, because the landscape of social media is full of people frenetically constructing their identities at each other, but who wish instead they were connecting with people, who wish instead they were having relationships.

4) You can cause people to perceive your brand as human by behaving like people do on social media, by engaging in the same kinds of identity construction behaviors, by sharing inspirational quotes and links to music and books, by sharing photos of your activities with your kids. For how easy this is, it’s surprising how many brands fail out it, how many brand social media accounts have a sterile company logo for their avatar and only ever post carefully vetted stuff that’s “on message.” It’s weird.

5) There are tools like Buffer you can use to cross-post to your accounts on different social media platforms. And if your avatar is your company logo, then make sure you share photos so people can see your face. These identity construction behaviors will keep the world from assuming your brand is dead.

6) Still, no one will believe you're vital and alive. That’s where social media opportunity lies though…

7) And you seize the opportunity by giving people the two things they want most from social media:

  1. Identity factors that contribute to their activities of identity construction, and the connection they wish they were having beyond all the identity construction.

  2. Some brand figure out how to give desirable identity factors. Few brands figure out how to create a connection. However, you can do it.

8) The trick is to give a few minutes of your day over to activities that build relationships by adding value to others, with no other particular objective.

9) Write a blog post, or do a Youtube or Facebook Live video, or record and share a podcast not to sell, but to teach. Focus on adding value to others, and not on trying to convince them to do something for you. You don’t even need an ongoing blog for this, and nowadays there are lots of reasons not to have one. You can post an article on, or offer to write a guest post on someone else’s blog.

10) Comment favorably on someone’s blog or Youtube video or Facebook post or reply to someone’s tweet. Don’t try to wise people up. Just try to add value. Tell people you like their work, or their idea.

11) Retweet someone’s tweet and not just mentions of your brand, or positive brand feedback. Retweet someone who’s saying something important to them just to help them be heard.

12) The exception is politics and religion. Let your actions reflect your political and religious convictions, but don’t participate in online conversations and sharing about politics and religion. Doing so in the social media landscape doesn’t convince people to change their mind, and doesn’t create connections that can’t be created another way.

13) Connect two people in your industry. “Priya, I want you to meet Chris. You're two of the best in our industry…

14) Pay attention to the projects people are working on and to their interests and make sure they see content you know they’ll be interested in. Targeted sharing like this, informed by your real awareness of other people, build relationships in ways that broadcast sharing, and re-sharing doesn’t.

15) Pay attention to people who mention you and who make sure you see content they know you’ll be interested in and respond with a like or comment or reply that lets them know you appreciated it.

16) Write a thank-you note to someone who doesn’t expect one. Again, do this without trying to convince them to do something for you. The key is to thank them, tell them why you’re grateful, and leave it at that.

17) Reach out to some you used to work with or who you know from a prior time. When something happens, that reminds you of someone, reach out to let them know. Maybe it’s something you read online, or something triggers a fond memory of someone. Many of us allow ourselves get too busy to reach out. Yet, we’re all terrified of being completely forgotten when we’re gone. Reaching out to let someone know that you’re thinking about them is one of the most powerful ways to connect, because you’re getting someone know they make an impact on the lives of others.

18) Help a stranger. This is as powerful as it gets. The key is that it’s not an offer of help. It’s an action you take in recognition of someone else’s need and to help them with it.

19) By doing these things, you’re putting the social back in social media. You’re building real connections. At Woodshed Agency we do digital marketing and crowdfunding consulting, and there’s a pattern to who among our clients achieves their most desired success. It’s the clients who succeed at social media who succeeded in business and crowdfunding. Why? What’s the common thread?

20) It’s that you succeed int he social media landscape by being present as a human being. It’s why you need to be in your own Facebook and Youtube and crowdfunding videos. People need a look in your eyes, so they can tell you’re inspired, committed and not insane.

21) You’ll find that there are two kinds of supporters out there. There are those that just want identity factors. They just want the product. They’ve decided your stylish designed camera bag, or your high tech cooler or the irreverent saying on your latest t0shirt design is just the thing to help them express their desired identity.

And there are those that want something else. They want connection, with you, or with your purpose. They want to understand what you’re up to and believe “the world needs this,” or they want to believe they recognize talent or quality in what you’re doing and believe they’ll be able to say later they supported you before you made it big.

22) Both kinds of supports are hungry for stories. When they’re carrying your stylish camera bag or your handbag made by an indigenous people they want to know the story behind it, so they can tell that story to others. They want to know how your handbag has the potential to bring prosperity to the people who made it, or how you invented a new kind of strap attachment for your camera bag. Much successful marketing in the digital landscape is just giving people stories they want to be able to tell because those stories provide them with identity factors they care about.

23) So make sure your Facebook posts and blog posts and your face-to-face interactions with friends and family as well give people stories they’ll be able to tell when they’re your supports.

24) The supports who want a connection with you or your purpose want certain stories too. It just takes a different kind of interaction to give them what they want, which is to believe you're someone worth supporting, that you’re inspired and committed, or that the world needs what you’re trying to do. They want to believe others are going to say these things later and it will reflect well on them by their association with you. For them to believe this, you need to do the prior things that build connections. This brings them into your world. It’s more work than just re-sharing articles and inspirational quotes and telling behind-the-scenes stories about your projects. But you need these kinds of insiders to succeed. Why?

25) Because these insiders, the ones who feel a connection to you and understand your purpose, are always the ones who do the most to help you succeed. They’re the ones who share your project on Metafilter or Product Hunt, where you’re not a member, or to a secret Facebook group, or a subreddit where they have an established presence. They’re the ones who back your crowdfunding project on the first day, giving it the early momentum it needs, and who tell a podcast host they know to have you on the show. They are your friends and family who speak about you and your work with enthusiasm and pride. Your insiders, the ones who feel they know you, do the most for you.

26) But….you still have to ask. If you’ve done all the work, some people believe in you and who want to help. But you have to ask.

“My project is live. Please share with folks you know who might be interested.”

“Does anyone know someone who could invite me to Product Hunt?”

At Woodshed Agency we sometimes have clients who would rather fire off a blind request to people they don’t know what to ask their actual friends. Don’t be afraid to ask your insiders for help. People who believe in you want to help.

27) And the way you ask is the embodying your purpose. You’re not a victim. You’re not needy. You are inspired, and you have a purpose. It’s not about promising rewards. It’s not about guilt games or mind games. Your insiders have chosen you. They have chosen to be your insiders. Embody your purpose and ask them for the specific thing you need.

28) Also, don’t think you need thousands of followers. You need fewer than you think. What you need are insiders. You can accomplish everything you need to on social media if you connect with 40-100 people as human beings and have real human interactions.

29) Also, you know what else is an opportunity? New platforms. Social media platforms have a lifespan. Nothing happens on LiveJournal anymore. Nothing happens on Myspace. And it can be hard to establish yourself on a platform later if you miss the growth years.

30) Stand-alone blogs are way beyond their growth years. Don’t believe some article you read about how to launch a blog and how important it is to your business. The success someone else had at growing their business during the heyday of stand-alone blogs is not success you can duplicate in the current online landscape.

31) So yeah, have a blog, and post some stuff to it. Same with Twitter. Have an email newsletter. And have a Facebook company page, even though only a fraction of users who like your page will see what you post to it if you don’t boost the posts. Your strategy is to look not dead on platforms where there are active users. However, if you're starting from scratch on any of these platforms, don’t compare yourself too much with others who did it during the growth years. Worry about connecting with 40-100 people as human beings, on whatever platforms you can, though expect it may be easier to find insiders on a newer platform that’s still in its growth years.

32) But, you can do this. You can do it because you’re human. And being human is what it takes.