Using Social Media to Build Your Brand and Gain Sales

Using Social Media to Build Your Brand and Gain Sales

There’s a lot of people addicted to social media or taking vacations from it. But, with any tool, it can be used to make a profit or be used to waste time or just not used at all.

Windy City Cosmo sat down with Nicole Smartt, author of “From Receptionist to Boss: Real-Life Advice for Getting Ahead At Work” ( She is the  co-owner and vice president of Star Staffing in Petaluma, Calif. She also is co-founder of the Petaluma Young Professionals Network and was the youngest recipient of the “Forty Under 40” award given by the North Bay Business Journal.

We caught up about social media and how to power our personal branding to reach sales goals.

Windy City Cosmo: With social media it’s a lot more difficult to actually get likes than it is to simply use. For instance, a photo put on a wildly followed site will have more likes/comments than the same photo placed on another account. So, following is important. How do you build a following? 


Nicole Smartt: Building a following on social media is important. Start by engaging with your current followers. This can be done by daily interactions, a friendly hi, a shared article you think they may like, or commenting on their posts. It’s always about quality over quantity. Many social media pros have a huge following but when you look deeper into their account, you’ll notice they don’t have many comments, likes, or interactions. Be personable and engage with your audience. If on Twitter, join Twitter chats and dive in, not only commenting, but also providing answers. And interact with other chat members. On LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram, comment on posts. This allows other users to see you and you’ll pick up more followers.


Windy City Cosmo: How do you maintain a following? Once you have 1k plus followers, like Windy City Cosmo, how do you keep your followers engaged. You can’t like 1k photos everyday. 


Nicole Smartt:  I post about 70% original content and 30% shared content to keep my followers engaged. I review my Twitter analytics to make sure I’m attracting the right audience so that I can keep them engaged. Understanding your audience is key to your online success. Schedule tweets throughout the day with valuable content and also take time to be on those platforms each day dedicating human interaction to the platform.


Windy City Cosmo: What is a brand and how do you start to build one? Are their certain components or platforms that you need to be on to create your brand?  


Nicole Smartt:  Your brand is what people think of when your name or product is mentioned. You want to be where your customers are. If they’re on social media, then you need to be on those platforms too. In a field like mine, staffing, a vast majority of my connections utilize LinkedIn regularly. If you’re in tech, Twitter or Google+ may be where your peers live. For wineries and product-based companies, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest are solid platforms. Use analytics to see where your audience “lives” and make sure you have a strong presence in those places.


Windy City Cosmo: There are a lot of lifestyle brands out there that are all encompassing. How do you make sure there is enough of a focus even though you cover a lot of topics? 

 Nicole Smartt: I have many clients who come from a wide array of fields and industries. On a given day, I may share content about the wine industry in northern California, knowing my wine clients will enjoy it. On another day, I may share information about manufacturing trends in the United States for my industrial clients. Sometimes I share data about jobs for my candidates. But there’s something that ties it all together—my desire to help companies and individuals improve their business prospects. So my brand is very consistent, though topics vary.


Windy City Cosmo: Getting people to like your photos or tweets is one thing. How you transition to influence your followers to go to an event or subscribe to your newsletter is another. What are some steps people can take to facilitate sign-ups? 


Nicole Smartt:  You influence followers by being personable, trustworthy, and consistent in your content creation. Once your followers trust and believe in you, they are willing to subscribe, purchase, or attend an event.




Amanda Whitfield
Amanda Whitfield

Amanda Whitfield is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.

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