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4 Ways Founders Can Build Their Social Media Presence The advice that makes your feed personable and engaging.

By Luis Garcia Edited by Jessica Thomas

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Nipitphon Na Chiangmai/EyeEm | Getty Images

Social media has emerged as a powerful marketing tool with cited advantages for business growth. The current economic downturn has propelled this shift, increasing global consumer usage of social media by 21 percent and in-app spending by 20 percent. The numbers point to an opportunity for entrepreneurs to leverage social media to build brand awareness and loyalty.

As our new normal continues to unfold, social media has proven its utility and adaptability. Strong trends towards advancing social commerce continue to transform how brands and consumers interact. Dominating app TikTok is expanding its platform to include "shoppable" ads and marketing analytic tools in its Creative Marketplace. Instagram has far evolved from a photo-sharing platform and now allows users to purchase in-app products and promote business profiles using preview stickers. There are also plans to incorporate paid advertisements to help creators generate revenue from IGTV content.

Beyond the product or service, consumers now expect brand personification. Influencers are about as personal as you can get. They are closely tied to consumerism and have become trusted sources and partners for brand representation in the social economy.

Related: An Entrepreneur's Guide to Thriving as the World Reopens

While the world is spending more time on social media, founders should consider how they can leverage the changes in consumer behaviour to strengthen their own brands. One person who has undoubtedly mastered this art is 40-year-old Wallace Peeples. Known as @Wallo267 across his social media channels, Peeples pulls in over 7 million weekly impressions with his 650,000 follower base. Peeples started building his brand while facing a 52-year life sentence in prison for armed robbery. Just three years after being released, Peeples has created a strong presence that spans across several social media platforms. He has secured multiple high-profile partnerships with brands such as Global Citizen, TEDx and the NFL Network.

Peeples is a testament to what anyone can do when leveraging social media as a tool. Here are four ways founders can grow their social media presence:

1. Show who you are beyond your title

In an effort to fit the online narrative, it can be tempting to try and emulate who you think people want you to be. "Number one, be yourself," Peeples says. Trying to be someone that he wasn't was the lie that landed Peeples in his cell. Once he began to accept who he was on the inside, it became easier to build his following on the outside. Your life events, personal interests and greatest ambitions are what make your story unique. Furthermore, adversity can also work to your advantage. The human side of you will capture your audience's attention. This is where identity meets purpose. We all have flaws, and consumers appreciate learning how industry leaders rose up from hardship.

Related: When Entrepreneurs Post Impulsively, Their Companies Pay the Price. Should Their Social Media Be Regulated?

2. Choose purpose over popularity

Be a solution. "Some people go on social media and they just want to be popular for nothing," Peeples says. "What reasons have you given consumers to come back to your page? What can you give them that nobody else will?" Start out by giving people news they can use, whether that's thought-provoking, motivational or just entertaining. Ensure that the value in your content is aligned with your brand's strategic goals and is closely tied to your identity.

Related: 15 Social Media Podcasts to Take Your Marketing Skills to the Next Level

3. Keep your brand visible

The truth is, people are just too lazy to tag your company. This was something Peeples had to learn the hard way with one of his first video posts after being released from prison. "It was my biggest reposted video, like two million views," he says. Without tagging his own social media handle to direct traffic back to his page, the video's popularity hadn't significantly increased his follower count the way he'd imagined. "People will see stuff and they won't tag their source, so I started doing it and then people just started coming."

Related: The Social Selling System: Flipping a Follower into a Client

4. CEO activism is vital

"Once you have your audience's attention, use it wisely," Peeples suggests. His Instagram page is dedicated to activism and philanthropy. Peeples hopes to leverage his platform to build technology learning centers for inner city youth, teaching them how to use technology as the life-changing resource he's found it to be. Social media offers the opportunity to lend your voice to meaningful social issues, become involved and inspire your audience to do the same. As a leader it is important for your followers to see that you engage in altruism. It shows that you care about the greater good of the world around you rather than just the health of your business.

Many founders have responded to times of economic uncertainty by pledging relief funds or by taking pay cuts to avoid employee layoffs. Revolve has done a great job of shifting away from its usual Instagram content focused on the social aspects of life and travel. Now, it contributes to the larger conversation around social distancing and provides daily doses of at-home lifestyle tips. Business owners have also been pivoting their business direction in support of today's climate. Augustina Valenza, the founder of baby food delivery service Fragola, shared on Facebook that her company is giving away free baby food to moms in need. Right now, there is a unique opportunity to employ digital leadership on social media channels. Users expect to hear active language from their leaders. More importantly, your followers want to see your response. Let your voice be personable, authentic and let it be yours.

Related: How to Land Your Dream 100 Clients for $5 of Ad Spend a Day

Luis Garcia

CEO and Founder of Red Wolf, @LawofAmbition

Luis Garcia, founder and CEO of Red Wolf, founded a digital marketing company during his Afghanistan deployment. Since then he's amplified his personal brand @LawofAmbition and a wide spectrum of businesses including Fortune 500 companies, personal and celebrity brands on social media.

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