Personal branding and micro-influencers are emerging as major players in the digital world. If you haven’t focused on your personal brand, you need to get started today.
Influencer marketing is hot too. But, can your budget afford it? If you’re a startup or small business, you probably don’t have money for a celebrity influencer.
We’ll start with personal branding today and talk about micro-influencers in a later blog post.
What is Personal Branding
Personal branding is much like business branding, but this time it’s about you personally, or your expertise in a certain field. Wikipedia defines it as: “the practice of marketing people and their career as brands…an ongoing process of developing and maintaining a reputation and impression…”
Your personal brand is your online reputation. You already have one. Unless you’ve been living in a cave, a quick Google search is certain to find at least one mention of you.
Do you have a Facebook profile? Do you comment on news or digital magazine articles? Are you using platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube?
A quick Google search will return all mentions of your name anywhere that it has appeared, including social media platforms.
Have you checked yourself out lately? Is your personal brand an accurate reflection of you?
Why is a Personal Brand Important?
You might be the CEO or founder of your company, so you think it’s enough to create a knock-out company brand. But your customers want to know who is sitting behind the curtain. Mary Davies, President of Beanstalk Internet Marketing put it this way: “People are looking for connections on a personal level.”
Creating a personal brand puts you in control of your online reputation, rather than Google SERPs.
Your personal branding builds trust with your constituents. Consumers may be familiar with your company, but they want to know more about the leaders of companies. It helps them build a more personal connection with a brand.
Once they get to know you and trust you, your customers become your best ambassadors. They can follow you on social media, see how you interact with others, what issues pique your interest, how you react to events in the world, and so forth. If they like what they see, they will share it. Your personal brand can go viral with little effort on your part.
Personal Branding is Credentials
Personal branding will establish you as a thought leader or expert in your industry. Perhaps you are working on cutting-edge scientific discovery. Your name will be published in the research findings and scientific journals. But personal branding will take that exposure to a higher level, exposing you to a global audience unreachable solely through industry journals.
Your personal brand is the true you. It’s a window into who you are: what moves you, what are your successes and failures. What makes the personal brands of Oprah, Gordon Ramsey, Richard Branson, and others so popular? Their followers know that these leaders are presenting their authentic selves. Whatever approach they have taken in life to conquer the world, they make no excuses.
“Your personal brand is your reputation. And your reputation in perpetuity is the foundation of your career.” Gary Vaynerchuk
What do you Want to Say to the World?
Unlike company branding where your strategy is focused on product recognition, personal branding is about what you want to say to the world. How do you want to be remembered? When people see your name, what do you want to be the first thing that pops into their minds?
Personal Branding Doesn’t Happen Overnight
Personal branding is the sum total of what you have accomplished professionally—what has made you into yourself. It requires that same strategic focus and patience as company branding.
Go back and review all of your current social media accounts. Is there anything on there you wouldn’t want a potential investor, partner, media outlet to know about? Does your profile sound professional? What about your photos? Remember, your social media accounts are tools for building personal branding. Everything that appears on your social media platforms should highlight your vision, passion, mission, expertise, leadership, and accomplishments. Everything should be in a tone that reflects your personality.
Focus Your Efforts
Maybe you are the CEO and you’re managing teams all over the world. But for the purpose of your personal branding, pick two social media platforms and focus on them. If you want to establish yourself as a thought leader, for instance, then LinkedIn or Twitter should be your focused platforms. One digital channel should be a place where you can post long-form content, such as a blog.
If you use too many social media channels you will not have the time to stay engaged with your followers. Remember, the purpose of personal branding is to build relationships. Engage your followers in conversation. Respond to their questions and comments. Throw out provocative questions. Build a community around your personal brand.
Personal Branding Requires Original and Engaging Content
Personal branding is about connecting with your audience and creating positive name recognition. It’s your online reputation. The content you put up on your social media channels should be impactful, original, and engaging. Remember, this content will serve as a window into who you are.
If your goal is to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry or to create an online reputation as an expert in your field, then choosing content topics will come easily. However, if you’re the CEO or executive staff of a corporation and you’re establishing an online reputation for your consumers your content ideas are more fluid. Research platforms such as Quora or Twitter. Find the issues that are generating the most buzz that also fit within your niche and focus on those.
Create a variety of content: graphics, videos, blog posts, e-book, infographics, and stories. Once you have created your content, start sharing it through your social media channels.
While the majority of your content should be original, there is a place for curated content too. This is a great way to establish yourself as a thought leader in the topic areas you have chosen for your personal branding. Your followers will come to learn that you are the go-to, trusted source for information that is of importance to them.
One important tip: be sure to always read the material you share, or to watch (to the end) any video that you curate. The last thing you want is for your followers to be shocked by curated content that is opposite to everything you stand for. And once it’s out there, it is not easy to retract.
There is an old political motto: stay on message! It’s easy to get distracted. There is so much happening in the world. But, if you begin to focus on everything, people will not be able to figure out who you are. Your entire purpose for personal branding will be lost.