Some people don’t appreciate the term “personal brand” because it can sound very “salesy” but in actual fact, you already have a personal brand – whether you want one or not.
What is a Personal Brand?
A personal brand is an act of marketing yourself and your career as a brand. But personal branding is so much more than just marketing yourself! It’s about your reputation and your online presence.
Nicolas Cole – the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Digital Press recently stated in an Inc. publication, “By 2020, if you don’t have a personal brand online, people aren’t going to work with you.”
Personal brands aren’t just for entrepreneurs – every single person has a personal brand. If you don’t define your personal brand, others will do it for you. Having a strong personal brand will impact your ability to get the right jobs, promotions and increase your ability to attract talent and financial success.
There are so many good examples of people who have built personal brands – including Neil Patel, a digital marketing expert who has a blog, produces regular LinkedIn and YouTube videos, as well as a daily podcast.
Richard Branson – the Founder of Virgin Group – is another example of a personal brand. He frequently appears in interviews, participates in TV advertising shoots, keeps his social media accounts up to date and makes public appearances — all to boost his own personal brand, as well as his company’s.
Although you don’t have to go to that same extent for your personal brand. Your personal brand is more important now than it was before! You don’t have to aim to be an influencer or become famous (or even micro famous within your industry) to become a personal brand.
Here are a few ways for you to sharpen and manage your personal brand.
1. Get Your Social Media Profiles In Order
This might seem a bit obvious but you might be surprised by all the things you find connected to your profile. It’s always a great idea to go back and take a look once every few months to see if there’s anything that should be removed.
You want to ensure that your LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and any other social media platform you are using to promote yourself or your content is in order. This includes deleting unprofessional images, videos, cleaning up distasteful comments and keeping an updated, optimized and active LinkedIn profile.
2. Understand Your Niche and Audience
Part of building your personal brand involves defining what you do well and who you want to engage with. When you’ve defined this, you will have a better understanding of what you should share and what you should comment on. Stacey Cohen, the President & CEO of Co-Communications, Inc. says “Define your target audience — and arm yourself with intelligence about what drives them to take action,” says Stacey Cohen, President & CEO at Co-Communications, Inc.
3. Post Content Consistently
Your personal brand is made up of the content that you create and share – everything from your posts on Instagram to your website’s blog posts. You should share content regularly, but only when it aligns with your personal and company brands. Think of your social media as your business card. Your posts should reflect the personal brand you hope to project to your target audience.
You can also try finding content that aligns with the needs of your communities, share and then start discussions around it! Think about your audience and what interests them. Then provide content that they would actually want to see!
I’ve said it a over and over, but I’ll say it again. Consistency is key! Being consistent keeps you top of mind and helps contribute to your brand.
4. Embrace Video Content
Video content can be pre-recorded content, but it can also be live video. Video is the top performing content in terms of engagement because of something we call pattern interrupt. When something is moving or brightly coloured in your newsfeed, it catches the attention of your viewers and they’re more likely to stop, take a look and engage on it.
Facebook live is very beneficial for your business – you can read more about this in our Facebook Live Case Study.
5. Network, Network, Network
It’s not just about getting connections on LinkedIn or followers on Instagram. It’s about building those relationships. Make sure that you’re engaging on the posts of other accounts with likes and comments. Ask questions that add to the value of the post without hijacking the post and making it about you. Join Facebook and LinkedIn groups and engage regularly. Add your two cents, help solve a problem and provide value whenever possible.
6. Be Authentic
Your posts don’t have to be “fun or exciting by design.” It’s more important to be real. Posts that provide some sort of emotional response perform better than posts that are fun or just there for entertainment. Make sure that whatever you’re talking about, you present it in a friendly and approachable way without deviating from being authentic. You don’t want to come across fake or (and there’s that word again) salesy.
Personal brands are built on platforms like LinkedIn, Medium and Quora. Before posting content, see what’s been produced before that – see what worked for them and what didn’t. Take the topic, put your own spin on it and improve it. This approach is a great way to increase your visibility on a crowded platform.
8. Know What You Stand For
Knowing who you are includes defining what your strengths and weaknesses are and being familiar with your character flaws and special skills. Define your key values such as honesty, integrity, and transparency. Once you know what you stand for and who you are, you will be able to effectively communicate that brand with everyone online.
9. Differentiate Yourself
There is only one you – so you need to find a way to differentiate yourself from the crowd. This can be done by highlighting appearance, niche, brand or even your speaking and writing style. Whatever that looks like, you must find a way to become memorable to people.
Set Your Priorities
Create a clear picture of what you want to achieve for your personal and professional goals – both short and long-term. This will help you identify where you should spend your time and by using these goals it will help you navigate through the action and decision-making processes.
You’ve defined your personal brand… Now how can you grow it?
Launch a weekly email newsletter.
Email marketing is still one of the most effective marketing techniques – whether it’s for a personal brand or for company branding. Sending out a weekly newsletter sharing personal stories, thoughts and lessons related to your personal brand is one of the best ways to establish relationships with your readers and followers.
Having an email list allows you to market future ventures to later on once you’re ready to launch. An email list gives you an active audience every week!
$5 Facebook Ads
A lot of entrepreneurs and business owners are already running Facebook ads for their business but they often forget that this can be done for their personal brand. I have done this for my personal brand with GREAT success. Typically I test out the copy and graphics organically and if I see traction and high engagement right away, I give it a little boost (LITERALLY).
Running Facebook ads allows you to put yourself in front of the exact audience you want to attract. I typically boost for $5 a day when I run an ad. Sometimes I just put $5 behind it, but if I find that I’m getting amazing traction, I will up the budget – especially if it’s bringing in new email subscribers!
Post Articles on LinkedIn
LinkedIn has become more increasingly popular in the past year, which gives entrepreneurs and individuals growing personal brands a higher opportunity to be seen and heard by a very large and now active audience.
Being active on LinkedIn is a game changer. It’s always had a large user base, but now LinkedIn users are engaging with content more than ever before. Instead of simply repurposing the same graphics and content as other social media platforms – commit to writing posts or long form content exclusively for your LinkedIn profile. Allow comments, start conversations and engage with your audience.
Create a standalone personal website.
If you are an entrepreneur, you’re likely constantly caught up in your companies marketing. Blogging for your company website or being the voice of your company can be good for your business, but if you’re serious about growing a personal brand – you need to take steps to separate your personal and business brand.
A simple website with an about page and a blog is really all you need to get started. Start to share your blog and content across your social media profiles. If available, opt for a first + last name dot com domain. Same with your social media platforms.
Start vlogging or doing Instagram Stories to document your entrepreneurial journey.
Document your day to day life via vlog or Instagram stories is a great way to gain momentum. Video content is very popular these days as mobile devices allow users to watch video content on the go.
Entrepreneurs like Gary Vaynerchuk have mastered the art and have grown a massive personal brand simply by vlogging their day-to-day life.
Start a weekly podcast.
Like social media profiles and blog posts, podcasts are another great way to share your expertise and knowledge – establishing your personal brand and attracting an audience. Podcasts are a great addition, as they’re portable and can be consumed by users during downtime, community or at the gym!
The cost to set up to record a podcast is minimal and there are apps like Anchor that make recording and distributing your podcast easy!
Invest in professional photography.
Get professional headshots done and use the same shot EVERYWHERE. Social Media profiles, author and blog bio photos. Consistency is key. A quick selfie from your iPhone isn’t going to cut it long term. Make sure it’s professional! Having a complete photoshoot done is a great idea for additional marketing material.