• The term ‘personal branding’ was coined in 1997, and ever since then, self-marketing has become key in the new digital economy. 
  • Individuals scramble to stand out online. It is not only companies that cultivate their brands, but people seek to as well. 
  • It takes some skill to protect strong opinions, captivating ideas, a commanding presence and to network with relevant counterparts.
  • Coming across as authentic is often said to help, and local actress Simphiwe Ngema, agrees.

Achieving a following of over 1.6 million people on Instagram is no easy feat. And once you’ve reached that mark, there’s the round-the-clock responsibility of keeping your community interested and engaged. Local songstress and celebrity, Simphiwe Ngema says that it’s a big job being a personality on social media. 

This is a sentiment echoed by several widely supported public figures and social media personalities, including Kefilwe Mabote, who told W24 before that "it’s all about working hard, being consistent, and above everything else loving what you do." 

READ MORE: Influencer De Luxe - Kefilwe Mabote pens advice on claiming the woman you want to become in new book 

For Simphiwe, whose name entered our hearts and homes when she was an actress on SABC2's Muvhango, building a personal brand was catalysed by the support she received from appearing on our TV screens every evening. 

personal branding tips from simphiwe ngema
Image supplied by Republic PR 

“I was lucky in that my audience formed over a period of time when I was on local television often, and people were learning my name. As my fame grew, so did my profiles, and I’m lucky that for the most part, my audience is loving, encouraging and positive,” says Simphiwe.  

But not everyone's gateway is the same - the social media personalities we follow and love today have taken different approaches to getting their work out there. Some started out by sharing videos on Facebook, others were blogging on BlogSpot/Tumblr/Wordpress before Instagram became an extension of their online presence, and others amplified their voices on Twitter.

As we've said before, there's no cookie-cutter approach.

However, Simphiwe Ngema offers aspiring social media influencers a few tips on improving their personal brand online: 

A brand takes planning

“Firstly, take the time to decide what kind of brand you want to become and stick to it,” says Simphiwe. “Find your image and the type of work you would like to do and build on that basis. It also helps to work with brands that you believe in and admire.” Simphiwe references her relationship with fragrance brand Gold Series, among others, for which she is an ambassador. 

READ MORE: Fun, feisty and relatable, comedian Elsa Majimbo has inspired the comeback of this age-old hairstyle  

Be authentic

Simphiwe says that she has always remained 100% authentic to who she is across all of her social media platforms. “I’ve shown the good and the bad – and whilst it ultimately is about attracting following, it’s critical to be yourself at all times.”  

Don’t go quiet

Simphiwe says that over the course of her career she’s always kept her followers updated. “You need to remain active – your followers come to expect certain patterns in your communication, or at the very least, a certain amount of updates in a week. Decide on what that will be and stick to it." 

Keep it interesting

This seems like an obvious one – but pay careful attention to what you choose to share, or keep private. “You need to have a line defined in your own mind that dictates what you keep private and what you share with your audience." 

You can’t control everything

You can’t control everything when it comes to social media: You will have fake accounts, you will have a lot of negative comments and a lot of direct messages (DMs) that you won’t always have time to respond to. The key is to stick to what you can control - reply to comments where you can and block unnecessary or nasty responses. 

READ MORE: Are you spending too much time online? How to unplug from being 'always on'  

Simphiwe says that it comes down to having fun and enjoying yourself. “Managing your own profile online shouldn’t feel like a task. There aren’t a lot of  "do’s and don’ts” in the industry these days, I think you should always do what you are comfortable with and only publicise what you want the public to see.”


Additional information via Deutsche Welle and Republic PR

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