One of the fascinating things about social branding is that it doesn’t matter what size business you are or what your marketing budget is.  What really matters is why people would want to purchase your brand.  If you start with the why, the personality you will create for your business will help build lasting connections with your community.

“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” ~ Simon Sinek

Any organization can easily explain what they do and how they do it, but few can really explain why.  Starting with this clear objective, small businesses can leverage social media to increase brand value by demonstrating that their own values align with the values of their consumers.  If your community feels a shared sense of purpose with your brand, it can rest easy knowing that the two of you will live happily ever after.

Sound like a fairytale?  Well, as you can see in “The Tale of the Social Brand” below, perhaps it is.

Make change work for you

As we see in the experience of “The #1 Brand” video, it’s easy to shutter yourself in your castle, content that your product or service will continue its reign of popularity over the land.  However, today social media presents a deep set of challenges to the way brands communicate.  Many of these challenges are mental obstacles. With communication easier than ever before, what responsibility does a brand have to its consumers?

Change is the catalyst that propels businesses to move forward, igniting innovation and stoking powerful new ideas.  This concept isn’t new to the era of social business, but the process of change has accelerated, giving rise to more customer-centric business models that value user input through dynamic conversations.

Many organizations have evolved into becoming social brands, yet many still struggle to understand the value of going social.  In short, the value of social business is having mastery over the why.  Social media provides large and small businesses alike with a rich, democratized sounding board that can yield far more nuanced information and data than any focus group ever could.  By employing social media as part of your business strategy, your brand is signaling to its consumer base that it is active, engaged, and ready to carry its products into the future.

5 personality-building steps for the small social business

1. Find out where your audience hangs out.

The social media landscape continues to grow more diverse, and some platforms will fit your product or service better than others.  For instance, if your work is more visually oriented—perhaps you’re a graphic designer or a baker—your audience is probably hanging out on Pinterest, Facebook, or Instagram.  If you work more in the tech or information sector, however, you may find that your core audience spends most of its time on info-based platforms like Twitter or LinkedIn.

2. Get acclimated by being an active listener. 

In a constantly changing environment, the best way to learn is through participation, trial, and error.  You will have to earn your voice on social media, which means you must learn how to engage other influencers effectively.  The best way to do this?  Become an active listener.  Watch and learn from the people who have already found success in your niche.  Once you have a good sense of the techniques they employ to achieve active engagement, then you can start branching out and making connections on your own.

3. Don’t overextend yourself.  

The easy misconception among people new to social media is that they need to be everywhere all at once.  This simply isn’t true.  It’s far better to be the master of one platform than to be inept at several.  Your audience isn’t likely to use every single platform, so why should you?

4. Drop the sales pitch.  

Especially when you’re getting started, your objective should be to build trust and credibility in your community.  The sales will come as your presence grows.  Use your bio to direct curious community members to your website.  Once you’re established, you can start sprinkling more targeted messages into your social strategy.  But don’t be overbearing—a little bit goes a long way.

5. Ask questions. 

As we learned in “The Tale of the Social Brand,” the best way to show that you’re a seasoned social expert is to actively court the opinions of your community.  Give people a stake in your product. Let them feel like they contributed to your brand’s future, and they will reward you by becoming your product evangelist, spreading the word on your behalf through their own networks.

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Cheryl Burgess (@ckburgess) is a digital and social brand consultant, blogger, and speaker. Her knowledge of business strategy, passion for creative expression, and marketing technology helps businesses achieve the remarkable. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.