Why we love Sam Salter: Lessons on personal branding

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From the outside looking in, it seems Sam is a regular guy with an irregular sense of humour. He is a man living his life.

But this isn’t a story of a comedian or a wanna-be Zambian celebrity, it’s a look at, Sam. He doesn’t try to sell chickens, weaves or tickets to the synagogue. He just shares thoughts, ideas. To be clear, these are cringe worthy thoughts and ideas. He does this consistently without a shred of remorse. It’s a no fear no favour type of thing. He has a considerable social media following and I think this is for more reasons than what meets the eye.  Sometimes he is brash, other times downright nasty, but we love it.

We love it because well, he is Sam. We might have an idea of where he is employed, his favourite chill spots as well as his favourite type of shoes (Roshers maybe?) but honestly we don’t really know him.

However, that’s okay.

Why?

Because of how he makes us feel.

When you see a Sam Salter post in your feed you expect to either laugh, get shocked or both. In fact if I haven’t seen a post from him, I notice. This brings me to the first lesson I learnt from Sam;

1. When your audience hasn’t heard from you, will they miss you?

Experts on branding emphasise the need to be yourself in order to connect to your audience. It is believed that this will help you connect to them on a very intrinsic level. This is fundamentally true but when you look at Sam, the reality is that he isn’t a walking ball of sardonic remarks. He has a life outside these posts. What he actually does is bring smiles to people’s faces. Last I checked everyone likes to smile; it’s like a prerequisite to feeling happy. So with that need sorted, everyone can ignore other aspects of your personality they might find repugnant on a regular day. Human beings respond very well to intrinsically altruistic behaviour, we always have. So, I learnt that you don’t make a difference in a people related field by working on how we feel about them but by working on how we make people feel. Major take away here; appeal to peoples core emotional needs. By creating something of value that cannot be delivered better by anyone else we create an environment that makes people miss us when we don’t show up.

2. Be human, not a brand

The curtain has been destroyed and we know what’s going on under the hood. 80s babies can sense disingenuousness and 90s babies are even better at this ability. We currently live in our phones where we have quickly learnt to block out people selling things, promoting their company or events even if it’s free. However, like real life we trust a few people. Those we allocate attention to earn this trust by showing up every day, giving us that value we are used to and doing this all over again the next day. Furthermore, Sam doesn’t preach or deliver platitudes. He respects his following enough to know that he is dealing with smart people who understand that we are all complex. He is being truly himself by sharing a nasty joke he finds funny despite what conventional wisdom says about the need for politeness. In this social economy the currency is attention. Multinational corporations might want to work with people who are pleasant but the masses are ultimately the determinant of your relevance. One must not forget the most important factor in this equation. What I learned from Sam in this regard is that you have to connect to others the way a normal person does. We have grown increasingly suspicious of corporations and the breath of fresh air is usually the individual or company that seems human.

3. Jab,Jab,Jab right hook

In his current book ‘Jab, Jab, Jab, right hook’, Gary Vaynerchuck explores the new age mechanics of storytelling. He posits that anyone trying to make a splash in social media must give, give, give and then ask. At this point Sam doesn’t even ask any of his followers to do anything. He just shares stories, images and videos. Of course, he just does this for fun so there’s a big differentiating factor between him and groups that are deliberately selling stuff online. However, if he decided to ask right now he wouldn’t have a hard time making sales if he had a t-shirt line coming out for instance. The generosity of all those funny stories from the years gone by would pay off as he would in a way guilt-ed people into buying his stuff. To an extent Sam is already an impromptu brand ambassador for Samsung, Airtel, Glenfiddich, Nike and the Toyota Mark X. the weight of his ask has enormous potential. A person making art or manufacturing needs to ask at a point and this is best after giving, a lot of giving.

4. There are no rules

Looking at the exponential growth of Sam’s page without paying for ads or even promotion it’s clear to see that the times we are living in are boundless. To top it off he is just doing this for fun- this is stuff that cannot be taught in business school.

Additionally, charting your own course and not relying on playbooks is the only way to go about a public life. The revolution is here and the one who wins is the one who doesn’t see limits. We are going through a time where people won’t give a shit if you say shit a lot or care about what you wear for too long. What we called ‘personal brands’ might be facing a coupe. Sam is an exemplar of this.
He is Sam.

In conclusion, here are some funny screenshots from the man himself, enjoy.

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Which one is your favourite post? Lol

 

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2 thoughts on “Why we love Sam Salter: Lessons on personal branding

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