Maybe as a yoga teacher you didn’t think you had a “brand.” Maybe you’re working for yourself, teaching classes and you were trained by a senior teacher and have adopted that person’s style of presentation (for the most part). Well, regardless of that, you’re still your own brand. You, your personality, your likes, dislikes, stories, preferences and the information you share is all part of your “brand.” How you share this will include in person contact, of course, but via lots of other avenues including your website, social media tools, articles you write, videos you might make and a host of other avenues.
Even if your brand is not as distinct as Coca Cola, there’s always an opportunity for you to express yourself and distinguish yourself from others. This has nothing to do with “better than;” it’s more about helping people understand what they can expect when they take class with you or participate in a workshop or any other host of other services you provide.
I just finished writing the supporting document for my Mentorship Module on “Building Your Brand,” so I thought I’d include some of the highlights here. I am by no means an expert in this area; I have a modest social media following and am building a mailing list. I’m self-taught in this area when it comes to social media usage although I constantly expose myself to training tools, videos and conferences on the subject. I also have corporate experience in marketing and branding so between the two, I’ve tried to develop my own strategy and approach to building my own brand.
So, what can you do? Well, you need to build two things: 1- a website, as mentioned before and 2- a mailing list. The mailing list will allow you to stay in touch with people who have chosen (note: we’re not putting people on a mailing list; they are opting in) to stay in touch with you. Your mailing list, when used wisely, will allow you to create special emails to your mailing list subscribers. While email might seem antiquated when compared to the flashy pages of Facebook and Twitter, the reality is there is a much greater chance that one of your subscribers will see your email and open it, than will see your post on social media.
Let’s talk about some of the components of your website:
About you: This page will describe a bit about you, your background, your teaching experience and anything else that you wish to share. It should be professional but also should allow for people to get a sense of who you are.
Schedule: This should detail your public classes and include links to the studios, class times and a short description of the type of class (heated flow yoga, restorative, etc.)
Articles: If you have a regular writing gig someplace and write articles or if you’ve written articles in the past, have a page where you can link to them here. This will allow your website visitors to see your articles and find out about other areas of expertise that you have (all yoga related, of course)
Events: This should be a page that lists any special events (outside of classes) that you have. These could include workshops, trainings, children’s classes, speaking engagements or free events.
Contact: This page should have a link to a “Contact Me” email that will allow a visitor to send you an email. You should have an email that is related to your website (firstname.lastname@example.org is the email for my website, www.barebonesyoga.com)
There are other pages you can build as well. This is just a starter list.
The Mailing List:
Building a mailing list will give you a way to stay in touch with people who have decided they want to stay in touch with you. Much like a “fan” to your Facebook page or a “follower” on your Twitter or Instagram profile, these are people who have decided that they want to stay in touch with what you’re doing. Just like with these social media sites, your mailing list is “opt in/opt out” which means that just as they can opt in to receive your notices, they can also opt out at any time when they decide that they no longer wish to stay in touch. So, the word to the wise is this: use your link to your mailing list subscribers judiciously! Only send emails when they are absolutely necessary. Also, if you decide to do things like send videos or newsletters, get into a regular pattern so people will come to depend on seeing them.
Here are some ways you can use your mailing list:
Create a newsletter: Use this to inform your subscribers of up and coming events and remind them of your schedule.
Send out alerts about special events: Again, use this judiciously as you don’t want to be a pest. But, it can be a good way to let people know what’s going on and have a better chance that they see it.
Ask for feedback, ask a question, and solicit input on program development: Again, this is another one to use only every once in a while but it can be really useful to ask your subscribers what they want.
In this section, we’ll talk about the social media tools and suggested use for some of the major players: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, You Tube and LinkedIn.
Facebook has two ways to build a profile: one, as a personal profile, which is the more common use for Facebook. This is the typical use for people when they sign up. But there are, of course, other options, like building a business page. Facebook gives you several different options for kinds of business pages. The categories are: local business or place; company, organization or institution; brand or product; artist, band or public figure; entertainment; cause or community. As a yoga teacher, you can certainly use your personal page as your business page and essentially build knowledge about your teaching and related activity off of that page. Another approach is to build a separate business page and use this as a way to build awareness.
Having said that, and in going back to the original discussion, whether or not you decide to build a separate business page or not, there are general things you can do through Facebook:
- Let people know where you’re teaching
- Tell them about special events you’re hosting
- Post informative pictures and videos providing pose instruction
- Post articles and blog posts you’ve written
- Post other’s articles and blog posts as they relate to your business mission
- Support others in their endeavor to create awareness around their brand
- Support others’ teaching
- Share personal thoughts that may be inspirational or helpful to others
- Post pictures of events you’re attending
Use Twitter more as an informational tool; for yoga teachers, we can use it to inform people on a daily basis about our schedule for the day, share articles we’ve written or articles others have written that we like. You can basically do everything you do on Facebook but you need to be much more judicious about how much you write.
I really like this tool because it’s focused only on presenting pictures and video. For a yoga teacher, that gives you a great visual platform to share your message and express yourself. The challenge, now that we’re onto the 3rd social media tool is that if you’re on all three, you’ll basically have duplicate posts on all three sites if you choose to post the same content on all three. This isn’t necessarily a bad idea, as you may have different followers on each site. But for those followers that track you on each site, they’re going to see the same thing from site to site. This is ever more of a reason to use a bit of discretion when posting in terms of just the sheer volume of your posts.
Since we’ve talked about Instagram’s video feature, let’s talk about the cornerstone of free video content on the internet: YouTube. YouTube provides you with up to 15 minutes of time to post free video content. This is wonderful for yoga teachers because you can post informational videos, practice videos, videos with other teachers and training content as well and you have more space and time for your content to be expressed. For these videos, I use a Flip Camera and have a standard set up for the camera in my living room. I use a Macbook and imovie to edit the video.
It’s important that you build a video page on your website. While your video content will be hosted by YouTube, you can embed the link for each video on your own website. This is critical in terms of building your business and the ties of your clients to your brand. If your subscribers/followers only see your videos on YouTube, they may be distracted by other links presented on the page where your video appears. When you post the link direct on your own website, if visitors to your site watch a video, that is all they will see. This is yet another reason to build your own website and have all your social media pages and content there as well.
YouTube collects and tracks subscribers for you just like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. When you post a new video, each subscriber will get an email alerting them that you’ve posted new content. You cans also include a personal message with the video so your subscribers get the video and an accompanying message.
One special note: Insert a link in all of your videos to your own website. This way, when someone is watching your video, they can directly connect to your website and join your mailing list if they so choose.
LinkedIn is the business profile and networking site that will allow you to create and maintain a professional profile. This is important for not only your professional career but also your yoga professional career, as it gives you a web page dedicated to your education and career off of which you can build a network.
As yoga teachers, we may come to yoga teaching during of after a business career that includes many different things. These should also be included on your profile, along with your teaching jobs.
LinkedIn also tracks connections you have and allows you to connect to others. You’ll get unsolicited invitations to connect to people and you can use their search feature to find people you know or find people that work for certain companies, studios or other locations.
Other ways to build brand awareness:
- Writing articles for online publications on yoga or general health and wellness
- Share content from other people’s sites, if they share a similar goal or clientele as you (note: this must be done authentically)
- Suggest friends like your page by sending invites via Facebook (note: this is a feature on a business page)
- Intelligently contribute to online conversations or comment on related articles
- Tell your students about your social media pages (discreetly) when you post articles that might be of interest
- Be consistent! Use similar content, brand messages and information across all your social media sites, again, all stemming from your website as your business’ central
Remember that despite all of these new tools, nothing beats the impact of quality face-to-face interaction and the power of word-of-mouth marketing to help you build your brand.