Personal branding might sound like an unsavoury practice reserved for the gurus and ninjas of the marketing world. However, like social media itself, it’s not something you can opt out of today.
You have a digital footprint and if you don’t take control of it, then others will. So how do you make it work for you?
Personal branding is about injecting your personality to your business mode. In an age dominated by social media, people trust people, and their individual quirks, more than a faceless brand. In fact, 90% of people trust recommendations from connections compared to only 30% trusting brands.
Think of the rise and rise of influencer marketing, where brands are paying influential individuals to promote their products: personal branding is a version of this.
Do leave some legroom for spontaneity however, and engage with current events
There is an element of performance to personal branding, those most successful at using their personal brand will inflate certain aspects of their personalities while hiding others.
It’s not very different to how people use social media in general: you choose which aspects of your private life to reveal and to whom.
Controlling and directing the narrative of your personal brand can reap wonderful benefits – think of it more as a form of networking than a sales pitch.
After all, 40% of people have declared they’d prefer root canal surgery over a sales pitch, according to top social seller Timothy Hughes. Allowing yourself to be human means that prospective clients will be more inclined to listen to you.
Here are some steps to personal brand success:
You need to make sure that your online presence tells the same story across platforms: stick to the same profile picture for each, agree on a standard biography, and try and keep your handles the same.
This makes it easier for people to find you (especially if you have a common name), and reinforces the image you are trying to give off.
Give your profile picture some thought and try to avoid Yearbook-style photographs if you can.
2. Become a go-to expert
This does not mean that you should try and be all things to all people – think on the impression you would like to make and work backwards. What kind of content would it be relevant for you to share?
Ideally, a portion of this content should be your original work, but you can also curate relevant content using tools like Quuu or setting up Google alerts. The important thing is to become a source of information for your particular niche.
You want people interested in a subject to have your name flash up like a lightbulb.
3. Don’t be afraid to be silly
Visuals work incredibly well on all social media platforms, even the ones you might not expect, such as LinkedIn.
Not everything you share has to be serious, don’t be afraid to share entertaining takes on your field (including cartoons) or to punctuate serious points with a pertinent GIF. Amusing your contacts is a great way to ensure their goodwill and be thought of favourably.
It can be hard to keep on top of these things while juggling other responsibilities, so plan and stick to a schedule. Some of these processes can be, and should be automatised by using a social media manager, such as Buffer.
The advantage of this is you can schedule your updates in advance, which means your accounts will still be sharing useful and relevant content even if you’re stuck in meetings all day.
Do leave some legroom for spontaneity however, and engage with current events, trends and memes as they occur.