How to Engage Your Followers: A Q&A with Entrepreneur and Influencer Branden Harvey

How to Engage Your Followers: A Q&A with Entrepreneur and Influencer Branden Harvey
Branden Harvey is an expert in growing meaningful communities on social media. We caught up with him to get some tips and advice for how businesses can do the same.
by Square Feb 14, 2024 — 6 min read
How to Engage Your Followers: A Q&A with Entrepreneur and Influencer Branden Harvey

Entrepreneur, photographer, storyteller, and social media star Branden Harvey is on a mission to help surface the good in the world. And with hundreds of thousands of people following his uplifting content across Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and Facebook, he’s definitely doing his part.

Branden’s influence is so strong that he’s been hired by brands like UNICEF, PetSmart, and charity: water to help bring their storytelling to life. He was also one of the social media influencers asked to chronicle the Pope’s first stateside visit. Not to mention, he’s the founder and CEO of Good Good Good, an independent media organization that’s been featured in “The New York Times” and talked about by the likes of Miley Cyrus.

Needless to say, Branden (who takes payments and accepts donations with Square for Good Good Good) is an expert in growing meaningful communities on social media. We caught up with him to get some tips and advice on how to use social media to grow your business.

What’s your advice for businesses that are getting started on social media?

Harvey: First, have an inherent idea of what you’re all about and what you want to communicate about yourself to the world. You can’t translate things to social that aren’t part of your culture. The best thing you can do is focus on building relationships and people’s trust. If you do that, enough people will want to buy what you are selling them — and be a part of what you are doing.

Tactically, how would you start out?

Jump on Instagram. Start sharing things not just about your brand or store but that are similar to your brand or store. Think about adding value to people’s everyday lives. Offer advice, share stories, or post beautiful images. A coffee shop might share photos of cuppings, for example. It’s about identifying the audience you’re talking to and then creating stuff those people are going to be thrilled about.


With so many social media platforms available, how would you recommend businesses find balance?

Decide what’s worth your attention and time and what isn’t. It takes trial and error. You never know where you’re going to find people who connect with what you do, and the platform that you personally like may not be the platform that your customer prefers. There may be some Gen Z and millennial run businesses that hate Facebook, but the reality is that their target customers might use Facebook every day. 

You can also make some pragmatic decisions. For instance, your customer may be on a particular platform, but they may not be making purchasing decisions on that platform; they may just consume content. For example, Pinterest is an awesome platform for people to discover what you’re doing, but if you’re finding that you’re not able to build community or make relationships, then maybe it’s not a great investment for you. 

What are your thoughts on newer platforms like Threads?

I’m really hopeful about it. I think people want a platform like Threads. I think people are just wondering if it’s worth the investment if it’s not the thing that catches the wave. Personally, I think Threads is wonderful because it’s connected to your Instagram, so you don’t really have to start fresh with building a whole new audience. There’s really no risk for a small business that has an Instagram account to also create Threads and start sharing a few things here and there. Because if it does pop off, you don’t have to worry about rebuilding an audience. 

Where should businesses focus their attention between Instagram Reels, TikTok, and YouTube Shorts?

Each platform is different and probably requires a different approach. If you don’t have the time and energy to create a unique strategy for each individual platform, then put a video out on all the platforms the exact same way and see what works. TikTok is great for layers of TikTok culture. You can reference another video that took place last month using an audio that came out this week and a culturally relevant caption, and you create this magic where people are like, “Oh my gosh, you’re in my brain. We’re all in the cultural phenomenon together, and you understand me.” Reels is more mainstream, a little bit more “pop.” and more about what anyone can relate to. So instead of niche, it’s broad. YouTube Shorts feels a little bit more … like YouTube. It’s geared toward what’s interesting and can be watched at any time or is super relevant. The production is different and less funny in a niche way, and a little less broad. 

If you’re a local business, TikTok and Instagram are gonna do a little bit better at helping you find people who are local. If you serve a niche community of people who aren’t local, TikTok is gonna do well to help you find that group of people. TikTok can also help you find like-minded people. If you want word of mouth or people to talk about you and reference you, Instagram might be a better match.

What are three pieces of advice you would give to businesses to maximize influencer marketing?

Influencers and content creators are experts in their craft. They are super thoughtful strategists who have things figured out and are good at spotting trends and noticing details. If you can, get out of the way and empower them to lean more into their intuition and experience. You’re going to find more success that way. Be sure to share your core values, must-haves, and red flags. Create those lanes and frameworks, but then let them run wild within those boundaries.

Also, anybody and anything is an “influencer.”  An influencer is really just defined as someone who has a relationship with their audience. So instead of looking at someone with a million followers or even someone with a few thousand followers who gives off influencer vibes, look at other people or accounts who are trying to reach your same audience and see what it would be like to partner with them. If you’re a local ice cream shop, a local toy store might actually be the most effective influencer you can partner with because they are reaching people in your community who want to go out and about and do things with kids. There’s a lot of intersection there. You’re not competing with them, so you might as well partner with them. You post something about their holiday sales, and they post something about your new flavors, and all of a sudden you’re doing influencer marketing for each other. 

Lastly, compensate influencers appropriately for their time, talent, and influence. If you don’t have a big influencer budget, what does it look like to give your employees some leeway or budget to make people’s day? Who knows who might end up sharing about that? You can do a lot of good will that way. You can also partner with local nonprofit organizations and support them without making it a big PR push. The reality is that people love to talk about the people who’ve helped them and supported them, and you never know where that could lead. 

Where should businesses focus their efforts when it comes to Gen Z?

The conventional answer is to spend time on TikTok. However, we’ve seen a lot of businesses do things that are “weird” and outside of the box that nobody else is doing. [Good Good Good] makes a print newspaper filled with good news that’s mailed to people’s real mailboxes around the country. It’s delightful, playful, cute, and filled with goodness. It has a poster on the inside that you can hang on your wall. It’s so weird, and we’re able to reach way more people because we do this one weird thing than we ever reach on TikTok. On TikTok, you’re competing with millions of businesses that are trying to reach the same people, but I literally don’t know of any other business sending a newspaper like this to people’s houses. It feels authentic and unique, and we get to build a really cool connection with our audience. 


Instead of thinking about what I should post, where I should post, and what time I should post, think holistically about what’s an interesting story that deserves to be told. In other words, make it less about the platform and more about the story.

How do you foster that sense of community with your social audience?

Social media is for building relationships and connecting with people. Personally, I try to respond to as many comments and replies on my posts as possible. Always look for ways to celebrate your customers. At our core, all we want is to know others and to be known. If a brand can do that in a personal way, that’s awesome.

The Bottom Line is brought to you by a global team of collaborators who believe that anyone should be able to participate and thrive in the economy.


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