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IRL To URL: Here’s How To Build A Brand On Social Media

Callie Christensen

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These days, almost everyone has a personal Instagram or Facebook page. We all know how to navigate the platform, like, comment, and chat with our friends—it’s basically second nature. 

But building a brand on social media is a whole different world. 

When we first started our company, Slumberkins, I knew in my gut that social media would be an incredible resource for us—and it was. That said, actually creating that digital presence took a lot of trial and error. It turns out, when you’re a mom turned entrepreneur, the world of starting a brand on online platforms can be clicky, intimidating, and exhausting. 

But sticking to it and building authentic relationships can help you build a supportive community that truly stands behind your business. 

It all starts with cultivating a personal connection. Instead of viewing social media as a transactional experience, try to see it as a relational one, instead. It’s the new word of mouth, so when growth happens through organic sharing, it’s a win for everyone involved. 

Collaborate with brands and influencers you connect with on a personal level.  

In the very beginning, we reached out to huge influencers and famous children’s brands—ones with well over 100,000 followers. Back then, we had less than 500. It was mostly friends and family. 

Needless to say, there was some misalignment there. We quickly learned that influencing on that scale is mostly about business. It was a transactional relationship, and we didn’t have a pay-to-play budget. 

Then we took a step back and refocused our strategy. We started connecting with people just like us: women who had just started their businesses, who were trying to juggle motherhood and passion-project side-hustles at the same time. We tapped into this creative community, but unlike our past attempts, these relationships were genuine. 

It was easy to connect, because everyone in the community was at the same point: growing, sharing tips, sewing at their kitchen tables. 

The conversations felt natural: “Hey, I love what you’re doing. Here’s what we’re working on. Do you want to collaborate?” Then we’d swap our products and share them with each other’s audiences. 

But we always made it a point to remember that the person on the other end of those DMs was exactly that: a person. 

Four years later, I’m still close with some of the very first shops we contacted. But it’s not just fellow businesses who should feel that connection. It’s anyone who clicks on your social media page. 

Stick to your brand identity. 

Our company promotes emotional learning for young children. I’m a teacher, my co-founder is a school counselor, and we’re both moms who believe in the importance of what we’re doing. 

That’s our brand identity. 

So many people ask us, “Aren’t you afraid that a big toy company is going to rip off your product? What’s stopping them from slapping a ‘created by a teacher and therapist’ sticker on a stuffed animal and doing the same thing you’re doing?” 

Honestly, no. We’re not afraid of that, because without active engagement in the community, there’s no brand identity to hold the whole thing together. Our consumers would see right through it. 

Lots of brands join tight-knit social circles, or try to align themselves with high-end demographics to cultivate an image. But when you use your company’s core identity to inform your decisions, people can tell. They can sense that honesty. 

For us, Instagram is our landing page. That’s where we get most of our initial traffic, so we make sure everything we post is aligned with our culture and the purpose behind our product. 

Then, every few weeks, we prompt our Instagram audience to dig a little deeper into who we are: “Hey, come join our Slumberkins’ Facebook group for behind-the-scenes access.” In that group, we post more personal things and go live from the office, so people can see that we’re a small, passionate brand on a mission to promote emotional wellness. 

That’s helped us to share our product, of course, but it’s also helped us to connect with our customers on an authentic level. 

Build authentic relationships with your customers and community. 

Our social media pages aren’t just about our business anymore. Instead, they’ve become a place where people can connect over shared experiences.

Right now, our most powerful platform is our private Slumberkins Social Facebook Group. It’s turned into a sort of modern-mom community. The vast majority of the people there are parents, and you can just feel the support and empathy. When someone posts about a loss or difficult situation, you can see the entire community wrap around that person. 

When you can create a gathering place for your consumers, it’s an invaluable reflection of you as a company. 

That said, it’s not just about the support your customers give each other. It’s also about the feedback they give you. 

My co-founder and I receive daily messages through Facebook. They allow us to gauge what we’re doing right, which keeps us motivated. When someone reaches out to say, “You’re positively impacting our lives,” it fuels the passion and the energy for the whole team. 

When we first set out to build a brand on social media, it was about spreading the word. Now, we use social media to humanize the brand and get to know our consumers.

After all, anyone can create a great product. It’s your authenticity and ability to connect that’s going to set you apart. 

I am the co-founder and co-CEO at Slumberkins, an educational children’s brand working to empower parents to teach positive social-emotional life skills to their children. As a mother and educator, I'm on a mission to use my educational background to create an intentional children's product line. Slumberkins are easily implemented into everyday family routines to support social-emotional learning, providing digestible therapeutic techniques for parents to use, and normalize conversations about big feelings.

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