Kangai Mwiti is a digital strategist whose success speaks for itself. The self-taught makeup artist and beauty consultant founded the beauty brand, Bellesa Africa, in 2012.
Bellesa Africa was the first YouTube channel in Kenya dedicated solely to makeup and beauty tips, tricks and tutorials for women of colour. It now has a presence in over 100 countries, with over 100,000 subscribers and 7,000,000 views. The brand has over 400,000 subscribers on all platforms combined.
She is also behind Back Digital, which focuses on building social media brands. She shares her tips on building your brand through social media.
1. Prime time is now
The benefit of being in Kenya is that at this point, not so many people are on social media – five million on Facebook and the numbers are much smaller on the other platforms.
That means you can actually create a niche for yourself in Africa if you are unique, different and true to yourself. Many people will wait until everything is perfect before establishing themselves online, yet audiences really do not care about that.
Audiences these days just care that you have a presence online and that you have a likeable personality. Go out there and start doing it before it gets crowded.
2. Go to school
Everything is now going digital, so the future is online. So if you are new to social media, and are looking to make money or build your brand through it, educate yourself on it.
There are many online classes, many of which are free, that one can take and learn about social media platforms, how they work, what the demographic is on each platform etc. because they are all different. You can't find the same people on Snapchat that are on Facebook. I encourage people to keep at it because all these platforms keep changing the way they present their content to the world.
Facebook changes its algorithim so that it tries to show you the most relevant thing, but how will Facebook know what the most relevant thing to me is? Because of this, you have to keep abreast with what's going on. For example as we speak, Facebook is now promoting more video content.
3. Have a voice on social media
Set up your basic social media accounts – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn. If you are starting out, I would encourage you to start with Facebook, especially the videos. Once it works for you and you feel that you are gaining traction, then you can branch out to the other platforms.
However, Facebook does not pay, so if you are going into straight monetisation of your content, YouTube is the way to go. At the same time, making it on YouTube is extremely difficult, compared to other platforms. If you can make it on YouTube, you can make it anywhere. Instagram is great because the content is bite-sized, easy to scroll through and you can get many followers quickly.
They make it very easy to share content and tag people. Twitter is not a visual platform, so it mostly works for certain people, such as thought leaders, celebrities and corporates. LinkedIn helps you have a professional presence online and establish yourself as a thought leader in your specific field.
4. Content is king
Most people are online to connect with each other or just ensure that they have an online presence. However, if you want to promote your personal brand, you need to start thinking about strategy and the type of content you want to create.
This is because nowadays, the online world is saturated with many people doing similar things, so think about what you will do to ensure that you stand out. Prepare content in advance. Make sure you know what's trending and what people are currently talking about.
5. Don't be flakey
Consistency is more powerful than perfect content. You have to keep uploading and sharing content on a very consistent basis.
Your content may not be fantastic, because people can even shoot videos using their phones, but they are successful because they keep uploading content on a very frequent basis.
They win over people who wait too long to upload content because it has to be 100 per cent perfect. Starting at the bottom is the only way you will learn how to become better. The brands that stand the test of time are the ones that are consistent, not the ones that are perfect.
6. Be authentic
You cannot pretend to be someone that you aren't online. People will see through that. It is also difficult to maintain, because human beings naturally get tired of not being who they are.
It is very exhausting to be one type of person online and another offline. It is not easy but what has helped me is that I try my best to do something different, new and unique and grow consistently.
7. Be better
If you want to make videos but you don't know how, you can learn from YouTube. But you have to continually push yourself and learn how to become better and learn new things, especially in production.
When I began, I did not know how to take pictures or even shoot videos much less edit them and what it meant to manage a social media account but that has now grown into what I do now and also doing it for other people.
It has helped me build a business that is founded on helping other people get to where I am and even surpass me.
8. Turn your haters into supporters
Late last year, I put up a video showcasing an incredible transformation. I ended up being cyber-bullied over it. It was a difficult thing to go through but I appreciate it now when I look back because I am now more confident and stronger.
For the four and a half years before that, whenever I got negative comments I would be very sweet and nice and thank people for commenting. That turned many people from being haters or trolls, to being my supporters.
When the cyber-bullying incident happened, these people are the ones who handled it for the most part. That speaks to the importance of building a social media brand.
9. Respond to negativity maturely
I take some time before I respond to negative and mean comments. I then take screenshots of the comments and post them back on social media. That way, people learn that they cannot come onto my channel and make comments like that and expect me to be quiet about it.
You need to have a very strong voice without being mean, so that people know exactly who you are and what you are about. Negative comments actually still help your videos get more views.
There is an algorithm that YouTube uses so that the more comments you have, the more the video seems to be doing well.
10. Don't feed the trolls
Trolls are fuelled by responses to their comments. I do not delete petty comments, but I block and report individuals who are extremely negative, such as racists, bigots and misogynists to prevent them from breeding a negative environment on the videos.
11. Viral means nothing
There are certain topics you can tackle or certain ways of saying things that raise the chances of your content going viral (viewed widely), but most of the time it is impossible to predict what will go viral. You can be viral today and insignificant tomorrow.
We have had social media stars in Kenya who went viral and now you do not hear about them. Social media gives new information all the time and very quickly.
So do the hard work, start from the bottom, create a brand and keep building it so that you are a constant voice, such that even if your content goes viral today, the next week you will still be uploading content.