Social Media & The Importance of Personal Branding with Logan Detty
There’s quite an odd sensation that comes to mind when we think of social media. Some younger people are immediately jaded by the idea of social media because of the ridicule they have experienced through it. Others are intimidated by the sheer size of the space, an intimidation that cripples them. No matter the fear or anxiety you might feel toward social media, we live in a world now where we must use it. Whether you use it to keep in touch with family, grow a business, creep on others, or just watch funny videos, social media is where all the attention is right now, and as business owners, it is the best tool with which to be online and active. So, how do we overcome these fears and start growing not just a following, but a business and a lifestyle that others will pay attention to? I’m here to break down my thought process on social media—how I use it to inspire others and create new opportunities.
To understand this new, digital world, we have to understand the human dynamic. We are all social creatures. We work in groups, attend group meetings, have group messages—we thrive best as individuals in groups. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been around a group of people in which everyone was silent. Nope—humans are loud. We are all over the place, we have short attention spans, and most importantly, we love to talk about ourselves.
I’m getting ahead of myself, though. Let’s start with the short attention spans. You can use these to your advantage. For example, use your Instagram or Facebook story to share your exciting trips, helpful tips, and inspiration for others to grab onto. Keep their attention as close as currency. The purpose of you sharing content is to help others. When you start talking about yourself, this is where things start to take a turn for the worse. You know what this feels like—you see it all over social media. Someone feels the need to comment their opinion, talk about themselves, and negatively attract the attention of others. It doesn’t matter if what they said has any value, others simply do not listen to them.
We can make an impact in this area. We, as photographers, have social in the bag! Even if you have been shooting for only a month, you know the importance of having conversations with others and making it all about the customer rather than yourself. Selling who you are is an easy task when you’re the same person with everyone you meet. Why should social media be any different? The truth is, you are able to take social media by the horns when you are your true self on the platform. It is possible to share who you are and what you do without showing the ugly side of opinions and judgement. When you do this, you start building a personal brand—you start really focusing on the community that’s located on these social platforms and tapping into unreached territory.
The media aspect of social media is what we do best. We create media daily with our cameras. As a creator, if you’re anything like I am, you know that your work has a deep, profound meaning. By using the deeper meaning of our work, we are able to show others our hearts, be more vulnerable, and ultimately build the brand that we long for. This all sounds well and good, an easy task to check off the list of things to do. Post more; write longer, more heart-filled captions; comment on other people’s work. But there is a flaw in this system. As photographers, we take for granted the one camera that we have with us all the time: our smartphone. This tool is the gateway to social media and the reason it has exploded.
One thing I am trying to help others do is make more media with just their phones. No Photoshop, no file management, just raw, daily life moments that everyone else takes for granted. Capture them with your phone, give them context—create just for the sake of creation. Use those daily moments to share your true self, lift others up, and see the best in the world. You know you can do it, because you already do it through your camera. You can turn a crap cornfield into the most exotic place in Wisconsin without missing a beat. But pick up your phone, point it at your face, and you become overly timid and lose your train of thought. Find comfort with being the normal, natural, imperfect you, and others with gravitate toward you.
This is not an easy transition from creating with a camera to creating with a phone. The transition will require you to let go of perfectionism. People assume that you need to have this perfectly photoshopped picture or handcrafted video set to music to make an impact, when the truth is all you need to do is inspire one person. You can do this with just your phone, but more importantly, you can do this through the words and actions that you showcase. The only thing your brand is missing is you.
SHOW YOUR WORK
I was 17 years old, working at Hobby Lobby as the stock room guy, and I was in charge of sweeping the floors at the end of the night. Every night, I would walk down each aisle. I knew where everything was located, especially in my least favorite section, the mirror aisle. I would duck my head down, look at my broom, and speed through the aisle as fast as possible, because I didn’t want to see myself. Sure, I got my work done, but I never saw who I was, who I could become. I just completed my tasks and said, “Another day, another dollar.” The day I made the decision to stop what I was doing, look myself in the face, and start talking to that mirror was the day it all changed for me. I accepted the imperfect me and knew that I could make a difference by just showing it to the world.
This all happened before the days of social media as we know it. I struggled with knowing what to share on social media for a long time. I knew, in my mind, I would love to share this, but as soon as I flipped the camera around to my face, I choked. It felt like I had all the ingredients to have a personal brand, I just didn’t know how to make it a reality. That is, until I listened to a video in 2016 by Chase Jarvis, where he said to “show your work.” I began to see that I didn’t have to be perfect or act perfect to get the attention and brand that I desired. I just had to be me and show the progress that I was making as a photographer. So I did it! Every shoot, every trip, every positive thought, I would share it for the world to watch. Sharing these stories about my personal life and business transformed my company. People in my hometown made me feel as though I was a superstar, but I was just sharing my life. The opportunities that I was presented with still amaze me to this day, and I’m nearly positive you would not be reading this article if I did not make the change to start showing my work.
I wanted to inspire more photographers, but I’ve seen this same method work in so many ways: People like David Beckham taking his high school senior reps to the local homeless shelter to volunteer and sharing that experience for others to see. Or Amanda Holloway sharing every bit of knowledge she has on Facebook to help others grow. YouTube is the best example I’ve seen of this, with truly respectful people who give reviews and information out to the public with no immediate return on that time investment. These people understand that their personal brand, their legacy, their character speaks much louder than any Facebook ad could do. They are sharing who they are and not apologizing for it.
Don’t ever forget the importance of documenting and sharing what you are doing with your life. People really do care. I was able to turn that mirror aisle in Hobby Lobby into the front-facing camera of my life, and I don’t regret a second of it. You won’t either. Go create!