On February 21, 2019, Spotlight Programs Board at Georgia State University hosted a public panel on the topic of social media branding. Social media is one of the most important pieces in building a brand or business. However, sometimes we aren’t sure how to actually build our brand on social media, or knowing what works and what doesn’t. Panelists, Donté Maurice, Anisa Breneé, and Desi Banks gave insight into their experience with branding, social media, and dropped a few gems on the audience.
The panel opened with introductions from the speakers and what kind of work they do. Donté Maurice is a graduate of GSU and a freelance portrait photographer. He realized his passion turned into a career when his photo of The Clermont Twins was reposted by the clothing brand, Moschino. Anisa Breneé is a radio personality in Atlanta, an entertainment host and is a graduate of the University of West Georgia. She says having the opportunity to do an interview with Taraji P. Henson for her movie “What Men Want” was the pivotal moment of her career. Desi Banks is a writer, performer, and producer in the comedy industry, as well as a graduate of GSU. Banks has built his brand and platform on social media to over two million followers. He realized he didn’t need to go back to his regular job after going to South Africa for a movie he was in.
The purpose of social media
The panelists started the discussion by answering “Is social media truly beneficial?”, and all three seemed to have said “YES!” in unison. “Social media has turned into your online resume,” says Anissa Breneé. “Instagram is for you to showcase who you are as a person. LinkedIn is there for you to connect with other professionals and see what jobs are out there. Twitter is an open phonebook that a lot of people don’t think about. Social Media has made it so easy for us to have access to people we look up to. Their eyes are always on you, which is why it’s important to be careful of the things you put out there.”
Know how to network
Being able to network and talk to people also goes with building your brand. Getting your name out there in a positive way and connecting with others will lead you to bigger opportunities. “Even if you meet someone for five seconds, they’re going to remember the first time they met you,” says Donté Maurice. “If you establish a good relationship, they’re going to continue to come back to you because they trust you. You can have a million followers, but if you don’t have a relationship with people how are you going to get hired?”
Focus on you
When asked “What are some of the disadvantages of social media?”, Desi Banks gave advice about watching other people that may seem more successful. “You can’t worry about what other people are doing. I can get so focused on seeing other people being successful, it will start to get to me. Stay focused on yourself and stay focused on what you want to do, everything else will play its part.”
Take a break when needed
As much as we want to stay up-to-date on social media every minute of the day, sometimes a break is needed. “For me, I also had to take a break from social media,” Maurice adds. “It will get you in your mind heavy, making you feel like you’re not good enough, but you are. Just because the right people aren’t seeing you yet doesn’t mean they’re not going to see you eventually.”
Trust the process
The panel ended with advice to the audience who may want to be social media influencers or be a part of the entertainment industry, and Breneé had a message that resonated with the entire room. “I see this one meme in my head all the time — the one with Jesus holding the teddy bear behind his back and there’s the little girl in front of him holding a teddy bear. So the question is “Do you trust me?” I’m 23 years old, I just graduated in 2017 from the University of West Georgia. I never thought I would be sitting next to them or interviewing Taraji P. Henson at 23. A lot of what I have been focusing on, especially in these last eight months, is the question of “Do you trust me?” and I’m still answering it. You’re going through all of these things for a reason. You’re not supposed to understand it right this second because if you understand it now, you won’t appreciate it later.”