Unconventional stories on Branding and SNS Strategy: #DigitALL Tools driving Women’s Empowerment March 16 2023 Event Recap

March IWD 2023 Website Poster

In honor of international women’s month, FEW Japan hosted a free, public facing, all genders welcome event themed “Unconventional stories on Branding and SNS Strategy: #DigitALL Tools driving Women’s Empowerment”. 

Women and girls are still underrepresented across all areas of digital technology, be it coding or creating or accessing services, drafting regulations and policies around digital technology, women are still underrepresented, and the disparity comes at a considerable cost. Japan is amongst those where we still see a very big digital gap, but we want to keep working towards closing that gap as part of our mission of women’s empowerment at FEW.

We were pleased to feature a panel of successful professionals who shared their insights and strategies on how to create a strong brand and effective social media campaigns. The panel covered a range of topics including creating a consistent brand message across all social media platforms, building a loyal following, and using analytics to measure the success of your campaigns.

Meet our Panelists

Georgia Emmett – Founder of Sakura Socials

Georgia is a social media manager specialising in branding and community building. She found her love for the online world through her first youtube channel which she grew to over 9000 subscribers and over 1 million views. She has now worked in social media professionally for 3 years and recently started her own agency after moving to Japan. Her mission is to help female entrepreneurs harness the power of social media to grow their business!

Going through high school, Georgia had no idea what she wanted to do with her life until she was around her final years. She was watching cartoons and was thinking about how awesome they are. At that point it clicked for her and she decided she was going to be an animator. She then went to uni and did her Bachelor’s in Fine Arts and Animation. She started vlogging, making videos about her life as an animator in uni. It was going great until Covid hit and classes stopped which meant she couldn’t make great content anymore. She started experimenting and started doing different kinds of videos like gaming videos and was eventually able to grow her  little channel to about 9,000 subscribers within two years. She graduated uni and moved to Japan where she is currently doing her social media and has started a new YouTube channel. 

Georgia’s Social Media Strategy

  1. She has business Instagram – social media agency called Sakura Socials which runs educational content
  2. Uses social media for business, not just as an influencer or an individual. Think about how you can use social media to leverage your business
  3. Personal brand  – She has her “Georgia in Tokyo”, YouTube channel where she posts vlogs about being a language student and her life in Japan.
  4. She also has a personal Instagram account

How important would you say it is to figure out your brand before you target an audience. And what impact does that have to the type of social media you choose to use?

Georgia – “It is important to know your brand, market, and your niche before you do anything on social media especially if you are setting up a business brand. For your business brand you need to know who you’re trying to bring that business to, and have some intention behind what you’re doing. Knowing your audience is so important because every piece of content needs to resonate with them and help them, so you need to know your target audience inside and out. A personal brand is more about your unique selling points, the interesting things about you, what you’re interested in. You are sharing your interest with similar people on the internet as opposed to targeting them specifically. In terms of what social media you should go after, it’s whatever you are interested in otherwise you will get bored and not be consistent with it.”

Victoria Close – Founder and designer at Bikudesigns

Victoria Close is the founder and designer at Bikudesigns, a vintage kimono jewelry brand based in Shimokitazawa, Tokyo. She creates one-of-a-kind jewelry and accessories using personally-sourced vintage and antique fabrics and other found objects. Victoria’s ‘mottainai’ mission is to save forgotten items from landfill by giving them new life. Victoria shared her unconventional journey that she experienced when trying to follow her dreams. She started as a teen entrepreneur, with a small business selling jewelry made from recycled materials. As she grew, Victoria really wanted to go to art school, but her family was pushing her towards something academic, which she understands. She then did a degree in Philosophy in English, nothing to do with art, and ended up being a primary school teacher. She however did not stop following her dreams. Victoria ended up in Japan, working in an international school for 12 years and still continued on her jewelry journey, training at nights and on summer holidays. She later managed to start her full-time vintage kimono jewelry business with the support of her husband. 

Victoria’s Social Media Strategy

  1. Victoria grew her social media completely organically, she has never paid for an ad.
  2. She posts often and consistently
  3. Uses all the buttons to learn what new features do and experiment with them
  4. Has the zeal to learn and takes classes 
  5. She is an absolute avid listener of marketing podcasts and YouTube videos
  6. She sticks to her content pillars when posting

Do I open two accounts, one for business and a personal one or is it okay to mix them?

Victoria – “Yes and no. You can play guitar if you’re a doctor, if it makes sense for your avatar. But if I started playing the piano right now on my Instagram, people would be a little bit confused about that because I’m a jewelry brand. I could maybe pop it in my stories, maybe put it on TikTok, but it doesn’t really make sense for my brand.”

Sayuri Nishimoto – Digital Marketing Consultant

Sayuri was born and raised in Kyoto and went to college in the United States. Sayuri has ten years of experience as a consultant in digital marketing for global companies, including Google, Accenture, and Linkedin. Today, she is a Live-Video commerce consultant at Bambuser and Director of Digital Marketing at Aquila PR, where she helps clients succeed in their sales/marketing goals. She also runs a Tokyo Digital Marketers Meetup in Tokyo as a co-organizer which has more than 2400 members. The meetup is for Japanese/English bilingual marketers in Tokyo to connect with other marketers and learn new marketing techniques.

Back in junior high school, Sayuri had a computer that she shared with her father. After school she devoted herself to creating websites using that computer. She would spend dozens of hours studying to write HTML code from reading books and writing codes again and again to complete one website. She eventually managed to create several websites about her family, pets and artists that she enjoyed listening to. She later moved to the United States and lived there for about 10 years. This gave her the opportunity to experience firsthand how to successfully communicate with people from different backgrounds, with different communication styles and on a business level. She moved back to Japan from the States, and jumped into the digital marketing industry with the hope of helping Japanese companies reach out to a whole new range of potential customers. That’s where she started her professional journey to become a digital marketer. She later organized the Tokyo Digital Marketers Meetup to help marketers and other people interested in marketing, network. 

Sayuri’s Social Media Strategy

  1. Uses all of the popular platforms from LinkedIn to TikTok but her preferred social network is Linkedin because of the audience she wants to reach. She wants to reach out to other professionals who are in marketing and many of them are on LinkedIn.

How do we set up our personal and professional brand in this digital age?

Sayuri – “A brand in the digital age is something that goes beyond a company logo or a slogan. It’s a representation of your values and who you are. It could be about how you interact with your family, friends, and your clients or what you stand for and how you make people feel around you. It’s about creating more emotional connection between you and the people you interact with. I used to separate business and personal branding, because there were so many rules around business branding before, but in this new digital world, it’s important to create an authentic, memorable brand that resonates with your target audience.

People want to connect with individuals not companies.They love hearing real life stories that they can relate to and make them feel closer to an individual and their company. It’s a great way to build trust and loyalty with your followers. This is why a lot of the messages we see on LinkedIn these days are personal experiences and stories. We are definitely seeing an increase in the trend of blurring the lines between business and personal branding on SNS.”

Are there any challenges that you face in your business with social media strategy and are they related to the fact that you’re a woman? How do you handle them?

  1. Sexist comments – find a media which has real people and also where women’s opinions are heard or treated equally.
  2. Privacy issues – choose a platform you use wisely and make sure you know how to control your privacy. Don’t share your personal information such as location, school information about your children etc
  3. Comparisonitis with other female accounts – put on some blinkers and just do what you do best. Try not to be influenced by other people, focus on yourself.
  4. Block those weird accounts that continue following you.
  5. Showing up as you are – be comfortable showing up without things like makeup, authentic content is what everyone is after at the moment

Positive aspects of social media that can help women be empowered to start a business to pivot their life?

  1. It is great for growing your business, can help grow your mailing list
  2. Can help connect with a lot of people, inspirational founders, female founders
  3. Gives opportunity for collaborations 
  4. Grows visibility
  5. You can learn everything about starting a business and marketing from different creators
  6. Being able to go to a space with like-minded people and make real connections and real friendships is amazing
  7. You can do what you love at your own pace and comfort

Key takeaways

  1. YouTube is the second biggest search engine. It covers the entire buyer’s journey and that includes attracting a buyer, building that relationship and converting
  2. The algorithm, you start a new channel, starting fresh with a new audience, your focus is to go one video per week to show your personality and avoid losing focus of your channel
  3. Take note of the types of people on YouTube that you yourself like watching
  4. You need a thousand subscribers with 4,000 watch hours before you get to the point where money can possibly be made from advertising
  5. Branding masterclass – it’s really important to use these tools for visibility, and social proof
  6. Make use of the unique features of each different social network
  7. Make sure your social media leads to your mailing list because these social networks are owned by other people and you can’t really do anything to control what they do 
  8. Spend 80% of your time on your mailing list and 20% of your time on the socials
  9. Make use of Facebook Business Suite, it will save your sanity
  10. It takes about 40 minutes a day to do engagement (connecting with people, answering questions etc)
  11. Stick to your content pillars when posting
  12. Keep posting and be consistent as much as you can
  13.  Don’t over promise yourself or your audience and under deliver service, set a goal that you can actually achieve
  14. Make sure your sample size of people who are looking at your social media is large enough
  15. Smile, it makes a big difference
  16. Social Selling Index – tells you how you’re doing on LinkedIn and where you have space to improve

FEW Japan would like to thank all 3 panelists, Georgia Emmett, Victoria Close and Sayuri Nishimoto for sharing their insights and strategies on how to create a strong brand and effective social media campaigns. Many thanks to Léa Perceval, FEW Program Director and Terri MacMillan, FEW Japan Co-President for moderating this event. Special thanks to our FEW Japan community who showed up for this event to learn how to diversify your social media strategy and reach your target audience on different platforms.