Let’s cut straight to the chase: social media is a must-have for growing a brand online. Luckily, implementing a truly effective strategy isn’t all that difficult; I’m here to show you how. So welcome to your complete guide on social media for creatives and solopreneurs.

This post will show you exactly how to grow your brand, your followers and influence in your niche through proven strategies and simple tips.

There’s a good chance you’re already using social media. So let’s be sure we’re taking full advantage of its power.

OK, enough small talk – let’s get it!

*This post contains affiliate links, which I may receive compensation from. This is at no cost to you and lets me keep the lights on. Read more here…

Part One: Introduction

This first part will start with a discussion on what social media is and its role in society.

We’ll then explore some benefits and the different types of popular social media options available.

Altogether, these first sections will provide a deeper understanding for social media, allowing us to fine-tune our overall social agility. 

What Is Social Media (Really)?

It’s safe to say that most of us already know what social media is. It’s an online platform for, well, social use.

But let’s dig a little deeper and examine its true use case, functionalities and role in new society.

What started as a simple social networking channel has evolved into something much much more.

Social media is the collection of applications, apps and platforms for sharing ideas, content and information.

More than this, social media is a digital display of brand and badges of accomplishment (such as followers) that carry social value and clout. 

Social media influence can directly, indirectly and collectively shape public perceptions and propagate cultural shifts.

Social media permeates at every layer of society.

From governments and industries to celebrities and individuals, it is truly ubiquitous.

So what is social media?

It’s many things. But definitely not just platforms used for social networking.

7 Benefits of Social Media

social media offers numerous benefits. Some are obvious – but some not so much.

Below are seven of my personal favorite benefits of using social media to build your brand business online.

Building Brand

Social media is a like a playground for building brand.

It’s an advanced ecosystem, fully stocked with all the tools and audience reach you could ever need.

In fact, a strong brand identity is essentially the byproduct of consistent use your social media channels (when done the right way). 

Social Proofing

Social proof is evidence of credibility. This may stem from follower count or just an active community with engagement. It creates trust and authority.

We see social proof often when buying something online, and there are positive reviews displayed, or real-time pop-ups that tell you “(First Name Human Person) just bought (the product you’re looking at).”

It’s like, “oh OK cool…people are actively buying this and obviously trust this brand.”

Low-Friction + Relatable

Social media is nothing new. It’s grown up and is now a normal, relatable part of every day life.

People intuitively understand it and often use it as a primary source of communication between friends and family – and within their community. 

And consider this, 90% of Instagram users actually follow business accounts. So growing on social media as a creative entrepreneur is not just welcomed, but borderline expected.

Efficient Networking

Going back to what I said above, people use social media as a primary source of communication. 

And this communication comes in many forms: posting and sharing content, private messaging between users; and the engagement found in comments or on live streams.

All of these examples are either direct or indirect communication, and they exemplify the numerous networking opportunities available on social media.

Gathering Audience Insights

A huge perk of social media (business accounts) are the invaluable audience insights available.

By using social media, you’re getting specific data on your audience, what types of content they like (or don’t like) and your brand’s growth over time.

It’s a simple way to keep a pulse on your market while being able to make informed decisions on how to improve and grow your brand online.

Direct Communication + Engagement

I’ve hinted on these ideas already. But social media is a direct line to your audience.

Remember, people use social media for communication, people actively follow brands they like, and social media is a familiar, low-friction place with high engagement. 

Never before have brands and their fans been able to so quickly, easily and informally communicate with each other. It’s great.

Everyone Is There

Finally, the elephant in the digital room: everyone is on social media. Let’s look at some numbers.

Instagram has over 1 billion active users, TikTok has over 1 billion active users, Pinterest has nearly 500 million users and YouTube 2 billion users.

And these numbers aren’t static. While new platforms may pop up and trends may change, the numbers continue to grow year over year.

7 Types of Social Media

The term social media is sort of a catch-all phrase.

While there definitely is some overlap (as you’ll see below), we can better organize social media based on different types and use cases. 

Understanding these nuances helps us more clearly identify the best strategy for our brand, audience and goals.

Image Sharing

Sharing images online is a hallmark of social media – an OG use case. So this is one of the primary types of social media found and used. 

Examples of image sharing social media:

  • Pinterest
  • Instagram
  • Facebook

Video Sharing

Video has been trending upwards for a few years now. In fact, brands who use video on social media get more reach, and have greater appeal.

Examples of video sharing social media:

  • YouTube
  • TikTok
  • Instagram
  • Vimeo
  • Facebook

Live-Streaming

A lot of platforms offer live-streaming. It’s a fantastic way to communicate and engage with your audience in a way that feels personal, authentic and unique.

Examples of live streaming social media:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • TikTok
  • YouTube

Short-Term (Disappearing)

When I say short-term social media content, I’m referring to content that disappears after viewing. Day-in-the-life content or quick shoutouts and promos are common post ideas.

Examples of short-term, disappearing social media:

  • Instagram stories
  • Snapchat

Messaging

As I mentioned above in the benefits section, messaging and communication is a huge part of social media. Actually, messaging can be a whole social media type in itself.

Examples of messaging social media:

  • Facebook Messenger
  • Line
  • WhatsApp
  • Discord
  • Slack

Social + Professional Networking

Not all social media is solely for casual interactions and visual-based content. Some highlight the networking opportunities and capabilities.

Examples of social networking social media:

  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter

Discussion + Community

Finally, we have discussion or community-based social media. While there’s definitely some overlap, these channels tend to be more isolated and specific purpose-driven.

Examples of discussion-based, community social media:

  • Quora
  • Reddit
  • Medium
  • Blogs
  • Language exchange apps
  • Meetup or Tandem

Part Two: Setting Up for Success

Now that we have some fundamentals established, let’s starting building our strategy.

To do this, we first need to clearly understand and identify three key things:

  • Our specific goals
  • Our brand identity
  • Our core audience

Your Goals

I feel like this is one of the most overlooked first steps.

It’s incredibly easy to just brush over or loosely identify an off-hand objective, posthaste.

So the purpose of this section is to give your exact social media goals some serious thought and analysis. 

These will keep your content strategy and messaging cohesive and aligned with your target audience.

Here are some common social media goals worth considering:

  • Increase brand awareness
  • Establish and grow brand identity
  • Drive traffic to an external site
  • Find new leads and expand reach
  • Make sales and money
  • Foster audience/community engagement
  • Increase followers and gain influence

This list is not exhaustive and you should consider your own personal preferences and brand identity.

But if you’re still unsure about which goal (or goals) you should pursue, here are some helpful tips for how to set social media goals.

How to Set Social Media Goals

  • Start with a larger, broad goal
    • You can then niche down into actionable mini-goals or steps to reach the larger objective
  • Use the SMART framework
    • Something Specific
    • Something Measurable
    • Something Achievable
    • Something Realistic
    • Something Time-Sensitive
  • Look for inspiration
    • Check out your competition or influencers you like for inspiration
  • Ask your audience
    • Ask them what they value and want from your content, and match your goals accordingly
  • Research your audience
    • Choose a goal that is most closely related to their pain points, value or interests
  • Just simply start by adding value
    • You can adapt and pivot as you go, leveraging real data and engagement metrics

Your Brand

If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand.” – Howard Schultz, Starbucks

We keep circling back to brand.

But it makes sense, social media is perfect for building and strengthening brand online. 

But what is brand?

It can seem a little illusive at times. So here’s a concise definition.

Brand is a concept that describes how people identify or feel about a company. It’s your reputation.

Besides visual or audio markers, brand is often intangible, or difficult to see or touch.

Brand is difficult to replicate and offers a competitive edge…it’s a must-have asset for building a following or business online.

Wherever you may be in the brand-building journey, remember it requires a lot of time and effort to establish and keep.

But if you’re struggling with identifying your brand, here’s an awesome brand-building, step-by-step framework to follow.

How to Build A Brand From Scratch

  1. Identify your purpose, value and UVP (unique value proposition)
    1. Why are you passionate
    2. What is your offer to people
    3. How are you different
  2. Research your target audience and market
    1. Research what’s working in your market
    2. Your brand should resonate with people in your niche
    3. Pay attention to their values, interests and pain points
  3. Look for inspiration (but never copy)
    1. Here are some inspiring quotes about branding
    2. Here are some inspiring designs examples
    3. Check out Canva‘s various design templates for inspiration
  4. Pick a focus and a brand personality
  5. Choose identifiable visual markers for your brand
    1. Colors
    2. Messaging
    3. Images and videos
    4. Voice
    5. Logo
    6. Other design elements
  6. Use storytelling and be consistent
  7. Integrate your brand identity across all channels
    1. Your brand is not just for social media

Your Audience

A lot of the concepts above have mentioned the importance of understanding of your audience.

Simply put, knowing your audience is at the core of everything you’ll do (successfully).

So let this section be a crash course on understanding and finding your target audience.

Creating A Follower Persona

Similar to creating a buyer persona, we can create a follower persona for our social media strategy. 

We’ll essentially use the same process, but just keep in mind our goals is slightly different, and focused on social media growth.

Here’s how to put together a basic social media follower persona:

  1. Write down your idea audience’s demographics
  2. Write down your ideal follower’s interests
  3. Write down your ideal follower’s values
  4. Write down your ideal follower’s pain points and problems
  5. Who does your ideal audience look up to and idolize?
  6. What other accounts does your ideal audience follow?

How to Research Your Audience

Understanding your audience starts with knowing who they are. To do this research, we first need to find them.

Luckily, there are some amazing tools and methods online for doing this. Here are two powerful (and free) strategies.

Facebook’s Audience Insights

Facebook has a ton of data on…well, everyone. Although this can be sometimes seem unsettling, there’s no denying the benefit for audience research.

Here’s how to do simple audience research using Audience Insights:

  1. Sign up for a Facebook Business Manager account
    1. Don’t worry, it’s totally free
  2. Click on Insights in the menu side bar
  3. Click on Audiences
  4. Select Potential Audiences
  5. Click the Filter button
  6. Star filling in some basic information
    1. Interests
    2. Demographics
    3. etc.
  7. See the screen populate with insights and data

Google Search

Google is also a powerful marketing and social strategy tool.

It’s a platform that essentially has a pulse on the whole internet, controlling over 92% of the search engine market share.

Here’s how to use Google to do simple market and audience research for your social media strategy:

  1. Start with an initial, core search terms that identifies your brand’s product or service
  2. Explore suggested search terms when typing
    1. These are the phrases Google suggests and autofills whenever you start typing something in the search bar
  3. Explore the People also ask and Related searches features after hitting enter for your search queries
  4. Click on some top articles and analyze the topics covered, writing style, brand voice and the comments
  5. Think critically about who is reading this information and why
  6. Consider how your brand would fit in the search results 

You can also sign up for Google Ads Manager and use its audience insights tool to conduct research similar to what we did with Facebook’s audience insights.

    Part Three: A Truly Powerful Strategy

    Welcome to part three! 

    If you’ve followed everything up until now, you should be all set and ready to launch an effective social media strategy.

    The points covered below should go pretty smooth – as long as you have your target audience and brand dialed in and your goals are at least partially identified.

    So let’s dive in!

    Choosing the Right Platform

    Choosing your social media platform(s) is a pretty obvious first step. 

    But this a good time to think which platform is best suited for your audience, your brand and your goals. 

    Not all social media is the same and people spend time on different platforms for different reasons.

    So let’s look at how to choose “the best” social media.

    How to Choose A Social Media Platform

    Using the information below on my ten social media choices, here are four simple questions you can consider when deciding which platform to use.

    1. Which platform am I most familiar with?
    2. Which platform do I have an existing following on?
    3. Which platform is my audience spending most of their time on?
    4. Which platform has a use-case that will best suit my personal brand, goals and content style?

    10 Social Media Choices

    Below are ten popular social media platforms worth joining. Although this list does not include every app – of course – this should be a great starting point.

    I’ve included some quick stats on each platform, to help guide your decision on which social media will be best suited for your brand, audience and goals.

    Instagram: Quick Stats

    • 1.2 billion active daily users
    • 90% of people follow a business account
    • 18-34 year olds represent the largest demographic
    • A global user base, with the U.S. leading
    • People use Instagram for escapism, to connect with friends or family and to share content or relive memories
    • Top interests include travel, music, food and drink

    Facebook: Quick Stats

    • 2.8 billion active daily users
    • Over 70% of users are 18-44 year olds, with most users between 25-34 years old
    • A global user base, with India leading
    • 36% of Americans get their news from FB
    • 57% use Facebook to share content
    • Over 60% of users visit a local business page

    TikTok: Quick Stats

    • 1 billion active users
    • Almost 50% of users aged 10-29 years old
    • India, China and the U.S. have the highest app downloads
    • The most popular content (ranked) is:
      • #1: Entertainment
      • #2: Dance
      • #3: Pranks
      • #4: Fitness/sports
      • #5: Home reno/DIY
      • #6: Beauty/skincare
      • #7: Fashion
      • #8: Recipes/cooking
      • #9: Life hacks and advice

    Pinterest: Quick Stats

    • 460 million active users (and growing)
    • A global user base, but the U.S. leads by a large margin
    • More females use Pinterest than males
    • 8/10 moms use Pinterest
    • People use Pinterest to save ideas and get inspiration
    • Millennials use it for shopping and planing big purchases

    LinkedIn: Quick Stats

    • Over 740 million active users
    • Almost 40% of U.S. adults aged 30-49 use LinkedIn
    • Over 55 millions businesses are listed on LinkedIn
    • A popular place for B2B marketing
    • People use LinkedIn for networking, job prospecting, researching and building an online professional brand

    YouTube: Quick Stats

    • Over 2 billion monthly active users
    • 77% of 15-35 year olds in the U.S. use YouTube
    • People searching for videos with “beginner” or variations in the title increased over 50% in 2020
    • 72% of people use YT for fitness or exercise
    • People are on YouTube for entertainment and education

    Twitter: Quick Stats

    • Almost 200 million users
    • 1 in 5 U.S. adults use Twitter, with 30% being between 25-34 years old
    • 99% of users use at least one other social media account
    • Most users are affluent millennials
    • People use Twitter as a news source, to follow influencers and celebrities and follows trends

    Snapchat: Quick Stats

    • Almost 300 million daily active users
    • Almost 70% of daily active users are outside of North America
    • North American users have grown over 50% since 2016
    • 65% of U.S. users 15-29 use Snapchat
    • People use Snapchat to talk with friends, share photos and daily life experiences and play with lenses or filters

    Quora: Quick Stats

    • 300 million active users
    • 35% of Americans use Quora
    • ~45% of users are 18-24 years old
    • ~32% are 25-34 years old
    • The most popular topics (in 2018) were entertainment, travel, business, marketing, learning and technology

    Messenger Apps: Quick Stats

    • Messenger apps include:
      • Discord
      • Slack
      • WhatsApp
      • Facebook Messenger
      • WeChat
      • Viber
      • Line
    • WhatsApp has the largest user base, with over 2 billion active accounts worldwide
    • Messenger app popularity can vary by country (e.g., Line is more popular in Japan than WhatsApp)

    Drafting A Content Plan

    Creating an outline of what type of content you’ll be creating is an organizational power tip.

    Most people just start posting content, haphazardly.

    While this isn’t the worst thing in the world, what often ends up happening is the content “style”, image and branding will be unconnected.

    Let’s call it mood posting – and it changes daily, weekly and seasonally.

    This can be a jarring experience for followers, as they prefer consistency in content style and branding.

    So let’s lay out some ways to clarify what you want your content to look like and do for people. 

    Social Media Self-Audit

    First things first: let’s do a quick social media self-audit.

    This is especially important if you’re transitioning your personal account into a new, branded channel.

    There’s a good chance your old photos and personal posts aren’t going to be “on brand”.

    So take an objective look at any existing content you may have lurking on your profile page. Is it relevant for your current goals, brand and audience?

    While pivoting is perfectly fine (and sometimes required), it’s best to only do this with intention and a clear purpose.

    So go ahead and clean out or delete any older posts that won’t be adding any relevant value moving forward. 

    Define the Value You'll Be Offering

    Value is an important piece of this social media puzzle. 

    You don’t want to just post promos, offers and sales pitches (who would follow you?).

    So let’s define what type of value you can offer.

    Ideally, you’ll choose something that’s “in your wheelhouse”, relevant to your brand and goals and actually interesting or helpful for your audience. 

    While you can break value into various types, it will essentially come in three general forms.

    Educational

    Value

    Entertainin

    Value

    Inspirational

    Value

    There’s no “better” value. Rather, you want to choose something that is relevant for your expertise or knowledge, your brand and (yep), your audience.

    You probably notice this is a recurring theme here.

    Define Your Ideal Content Style

    Do you want to post unfiltered, day-in-the-life type of content? Or maybe you prefer animations with helpful audio?

    Whatever the case, defining a content image and style will keep your posts consistent and aligned with your brand.

    Luckily, there’s no right or wrong answer here. 

    However, it’s probably best to choose something that will resonate with your audience, will support your brand goals and is something that you can realistically do.

    For example, if you’re handy with a camera phone, then creating and self-editing engaging, mini films or b-roll clips could be an awesome content style.

    But if you’ve never done this before…well, then that may not be a great first choice (unless you want to commit to learning the techniques, of course).

    Social Media Growth In 6 Steps

    Growing a social media account takes time and persistence. Despite the saturation and competitiveness, it’s definitely not “too late”.

    If you’re strategic and you’ve went through the steps above, you’re already steps ahead to where you were and can rest assured you’re doing everything the right way.

    So now let’s get to the good stuff – actually starting and growing our social media page.

    1. Profile Optimization

    There’s an art to filling in your profile information and this will play a key role in your account’s growth and branding.

    So let’s make sure your profile is set up right and fully optimized. 

    Switch to A Business Account

    Switching to a business account (which is totally free) will give you insights, data and different branding options.

    You can easily switch to business account in your Settings

    Under Account, scroll to the bottom and select Switch Account Type. You’ll see the option to switch between personal and business account here.

    Write A Great Bio

    Include relevant information and keep things short but sweet, letting the visitor know exactly what they’ll get from your page and brand.

    You can even add relevant hashtags so your profile is easily findable within your industry or niche. 

    Add Links (or a link tree)

    Adding clickable links to some external page is important and can drive traffic to your website or other content.

    And if you want to include more than one link, you can use a link tree, which will let you add multiple links, displayed as a pop-up window for your followers and profile visitors.

    Choose A Great Profile Picture

    This one goes without saying, but make sure your profile picture is clear, relevant and on brand.

    Showing your face is an important way to personalize your brand and keep things social.  

    Choose A Great Brand Name

    Although you can change your name, it’s best to choose something you know you’ll be keeping.

    After all, we don’t want to confuse followers by suddenly switching account names, then we pop up in their feed and they’re utterly confused as to who this new profile is spamming their scrolling. 

    2. Hashtagging 101

    Hashtagging is using any relevant keyword in your niche and placing the “#” in front of it.

    So how do you find great hashtags to use? Here’s a crash course.

    How to Find Awesome Hashtags

    We can easily find hashtags using the platform’s discover or search page. You can also find them when posting, by starting to type an idea and simply seeing what pops up.

    Another option is researching other influencers in your space, exploring their content and piggybacking on the hashtags they’re using.

    Finally, you can also use a tool, like Later, to help you identify trending or niche-relevant hashtags.

    How to Choose the Right Hashtags

    Consider the intent behind the hashtags you use and choose ones that best match your content, goals and brand. 

    It’s also good to be specific and hone in on a niche topic, which will boost your customization for the end user.

    Remember to also use a variety of high volume (over 100,000 posts), medium volume (under 100,000 posts) and low volume hashtags (less than 10,000 posts).

    Using a variety of hashtags volumes ensures you’re not getting lost in the mix of ultra-popular tags, while also not limiting your exposure by niching down too much.

    Where to Put Your Hashtags

    We can add hashtags in multiple places to expand our reach.

    But mainly, you’ll add hashtags to your profile bio, in your (Instagram) stories, within your post descriptions or within the comments of your posts.

    Some people prefer to keep hashtags in the comments, simply because it looks cleaner and keeps your post descriptions clean and minimal.

    While there may be some aesthetic optimization here, this placement choice is ultimately a personal call.

    6 Hashtag Tips

    The points above cover the most critical parts of using hashtags. But here are a few more nuggets:

    • You can add up to 30 hashtags on Instagram (but that doesn’t mean you have to)
    • Monitor your hashtag performance over time using your business account’s Insights tool
    • Avoid spammy sounding or irrelevant hashtags
    • Don’t use the same repetitive hashtags on every post – mix it up and customize to each post
    • Double check a hashtag means what you think it means
    • Make a list and save hashtags for easy reference and copying

    3. Social Media Copywriting 101

    Copywriting simply means writing text. And there’s art to it.

    You’ll mainly be doing copywriting in just your bio and post descriptions – but it’s not any less important.

    Writing a compelling hook, comment or call to action can make all the difference.

    For example, a good description that prompts engagement – such as commenting – can trigger the algorithm to potentially push it out to more people, boosting your reach.

    Likewise, it keeps your audience involved and active. This is much better than a static following. So below are some simple tips for effective social media copywriting.

    How to Write Effectively On Social Media

    • Ask questions and encourage participation
    • Lead with a compelling hook or teaser
    • Try to use or invoke emotion
    • Keep it conversational
    • Prooffraed fur speliing errers or grammurr faux pas
    • Use emojis
    • Keep it on-brand
    • Keep it simple and mind your length (every post shouldn’t have a full story)

    4. Commit to A Posting Schedule

    This comes back to consistency – it’s key. 

    Posting just once a week consistently is going to be better than blasting people with 20 in one week…then none for the next three.

    Makes sense.

    Another practical reality is by posting consistently (and often), you’re naturally increasing your exposure and your chances of reaching new people.

    Also, people will start to expect a certain schedule with your content.

    So try to stick to that routine and if you must make changes, do so gradually – so your followers aren’t thrown by any sudden posting-personality changes.

    5. Participate + Reciprocate

    It’s all in the name: social media.

    If we want to grow, we can’t just provide our own content. We have to also support and engage with other users, pages, posts and in the comments.

    Besides responding to your own comments (an absolute must), we should be actively engaging with people in our niche.

    So start exploring the influencers and brands similar to yours. Add your own value-adding thoughts, engage with people in the comments and just genuinely participate.

    Definitely don’t be spammy, or commenting for the sole purpose of promoting your own page. People see through this.

    But if you’re genuine, people will be, in turn, genuinely curious, and probably visit your page and assign a positive experience with you and your brand.

    Check out Gary Vee if you want some more grassroots social media strategy. He goes hard. But hey, his strategies work.

    6. When to Boost Posts

    Everything up until this point has focused on free, organic, brand-building strategies.

    I definitely recommend sticking with these, especially in the beginning or if you’ve never run social media ad campaigns before (they require some finesse). 

    Still, there are times when power promoting certain posts makes sense. And luckily, it’s a simple, dip-your-toes-in-the-water type of marketing.

    All you need to do is select the post you’d like to promote, and hit the Boost button (on Instagram).

    From here, you’ll be walked through a series of simple steps.

    This can be a quick way to increase your exposure and have your post show up where (and when) it otherwise wouldn’t have.

    Tips for Boosting A Post

    • Boost posts that already have good performance, comments and engagement
      • Because, why boost a post that already performed poorly
    • Narrow your audience targeting and don’t be general
      • This is just a good digital marketing rule of thumb
    • Pay attention and monitor its performance
      • Don’t just set it and forget it
    • Don’t boost the same or similar posts to the same audience twice

    Part Four: Tips, Tools + Trends

    This last part is like the icing on the cake. We started with our ingredients, and measured them all out. 

    Then we baked the actually cake. Now let’s dress it up.

    OK, no more cake analogies – but it just fit so perfectly. I couldn’t help myself…

    12 Key Social Media Tips

    • Never compare yourself to others 
    • Try user-generated content
    • Explore all the features available on your social media
    • Always respond to your comments
    • Use stories + Instagram reels
    • Go live
    • Be active in the community (not just your profile/posts)
    • Heed the trends
    • Plan ahead and automate
    • Track your performance and pay attention to what works
    • Mix up content styles
    • Be authentically you

    Sweet Social Media Tools

    There are too many social media tools to count. So I’ve compiled some of my favorites. 

    Most of these I’ve used before – or I’m using currently. So I can vouch for them – they cool.

    Most of the options are completely free – but of course, these will also have upgrade options if you need extra features. But starting will cost you nothing!

    Scheduling + Organization Tools

    Tailwind (free)

    Amazing tool for scheduling your Pinterest and Instagram posts. 

    You also have access to exclusive Pinterest Tailwind Tribe communities (for explosive growth) and Instagram hashtag research.

    Later (free)

    Another social media scheduler, but supporting more platforms and some note-worthy features. 

    The platform’s hashtag tool is great for inspiration and research while their user-generated content tool lets you easily start using authentic user-created material.

    Design + Creative Tools

    Renderforest (free)

    I really do love Renderforest. And they have all the design and video tools you could ever need.

    You can make logos, build websites, create and edit videos, presentations, animations and design graphics. It’s powerful.

    BeFunky (free)

    BeFunky is cool. It’s essentially a photo editing tool and collage maker. 

    It has a lot of cool features, but I especially like the ability to turn any photo into art like sketches or cartoons. Super cool.

    Canva (free)

    No design tool list would be complete without Canva. It’s a gold standard for easily designing and creating graphics online.

    The platform has a ton of features, elements and plug-and-play templates for any platform or social media graphic design you may need. Definitely worth having an account.

    Stock Photos (free)

    I’ve linked out to Pixabay, just because I use them the most. But there are a ton of other options for royalty-free creatives.

    This is a great place to find professional photos, vectors and graphics. And if you combine these with a little design in Canva, then you’ll have a truly great, unique creative. 

    Piktochart (free)

    Piktochart stands out for its awesome ability to make infographics and report-style visuals.

    There are a lot of features here too, but they’re the perfect place if you need to whip up a quick graph, chart of infographic for a social media post or content.

    PicMonkey ($7.99/month)

    PicMonkey is the only tool that doesn’t have a free plan. But what they do have is some seriously awesome tools. 

    This is the perfect platform for creating unique, visually interesting overlays, effects and more for your photos. It’s a photo editor and graphic designer maker worth checking out.

    Trends + Tools for Inspo

    Google Trends (free)

    I use Google Trends often. It’s a great way to gain quick insights into what’s trending and offer predictive value.

    It’s pretty simple to use. You can simply search for terms, add terms to compare search volume and trends and explore what’s popular online. 

    Buzzsumo (free)

    Buzzsumo is perfect for getting inspiration and keeping up with content marketing trends.

    You can track what’s trending, discover new content ideas, find influencers to work with and more.

    Other Helpful Tools

    Linktr.ee (free)

    Linktr.ee is super useful for anyone that has multiple links or websites they’d like to add on their social media profile.

    You can easily manage your links, gain insights and even accept payments or tips from your fans using the platform.

    Klear (free features)

    Klear is a popular platform fro finding and connecting with influencers in your niche. 

    While some of the features requires an account setup, there are a lot of cool resources you can use for free, such as finding influencers by location and a pricing calculator.

    Social media is always changing and trending in different directions.

    Some trends stick, some don’t.

    After some industry deep-dives and research, I’ve compiled this list of the trends I’ve noticed popping up the most.

    What do you think? Are there other trends you notice happening in your space on social media? Let me know in the comments, I would love to hear!

    1. Long-form + Short-from Video

    If you’ve spent any time on social media platforms the past couple of years, you’ve probably noticed video length changes.

    While short-form video is still trending (we’re goldfish, apparently), long-form video is also becoming more popular.

    Instagram has IGTV, allowing users to upload videos up to 10 minutes long. And even TikTok has recently made 3-minute videos available.

    At the same time, YouTube is offering YouTube Shorts, as quick, easy-to-digest video snippets.

    2. More Growth of Instagram Reels

    Instagram Reels may have been the company’s response to the growth of TikTok, a key competitor for them.

    Still, Instagram as a platform has over 1 billion users and its Reels features continues to trend upwards.

    So it’s definitely worth exploring and adding to your social media strategy arsenal. 

    3. More Ecommerce Integration

    More and more, people are expecting to be able to make purchases directly on social media.

    Having sales integrations on-platform is boosting business bottom lines while creating an better customer experience at the same time.

    You can start using these Ecommerce features with Instagram Shopping

    4. More Features

    Speaking of features, social media companies are continually updating, evolving and adding to their platforms.

    Creators now have a full arsenal of tools and features to grow online, all under one hood. 

    You can create posts, reels, stories, story highlights and guides while going live and selling Ecommerce products in their shopping section.

    It’s a lot and seems to always be upgrading. So we can expect this trend to continue.

    5. Social Media Ads Continue to Be Effective

    There was some serious hullabaloo last year when Apple decided to give users the option for apps to track you.

    Essentially, this meant that social media companies couldn’t access and track user data for a lot of iPhone users, who naturally opted out of app tracking. 

    I like that Apple did this – looking out for its users, not just marketers – but that doesn’t mean Facebook or Instagram ads are any less effective.

    The ROI of social media ads (done right) is still there and worth investing time in learning.

    6. TikTok Will Continue to Grow + Dominate

    I guess we could say TikTok’s “moment” started back in 2019/2020. 

    Especially with the onset of a global pandemic, TikTok’s popularity skyrocketed.

    It hasn’t stopped.

    In fact, it remains one of the best place to grow quickly and organically without paying for ads.

    It’s well known that organic reach on places like Facebook or Instagram is horrible and takes a lot of time and effort to grow (another reason to try Instagram Reels).

    TikTok still has that “overnight success” thing going for it and its adoption and use continues to trend upwards. 

    Conclusion

    This post has covered a lot. So if you made your way through it all, I can’t thank you enough and I hope it was valuable for you.

    The sections and topics in this post should be everything you need to get started and grow on social media. 

    There’s a lot to do and it can quickly become a full-time job. So in the beginning, don’t get overwhelmed and “pick your battles”.

    The best place to start is by not thinking too much and just start creating content. It may not be perfect, but it’s the best way to learn, grow and know what works.

    So happy posting and thanks again for stopping by today!


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