As social networks evolve and a different article each week reveals the next big thing that you should be part of, how can you keep up and know what’s best for your personal branding efforts? Fear not, here’s our guide for your personal brand strategy for 2015.
Trying to spread yourself too thinly and sharing content on every social network is counter productive. The sheer amount of information that you’ll have to create, find and post will mean that you’ll soon either run out of time or start to compromise on quality in order to get something out regularly.
Instead of trying to be everywhere at once, target your preferred networks and the one’s that offer you the biggest return for your effort. Below are just a few examples of the strengths of the different online networks:
- LinkedIn’s great for professional networking and showcasing your skills, achievements and attributes
- Pinterest’s where you need to be if you want to illustrate your creativity
- Quora is where you can grow your authority and influence others as an industry expert
- Twitter’s used to share industry news, get the latest stories and interact with like-minded people and industry leaders
Research the best network(s) for you, based on your individual goals, and set up a complete and informative profile. Once you’re set up, you should then decide on a strategy regarding what content you’ll share and how often.
You don’t need to write a daily blog article in order to grow your influence, network and personal brand, you can share carefully selected articles relevant to your industry or interest. Some great resources for this type of information are:
Once you have your strategy and schedule, stick with it. As you build your brand and (as a result) following, people will expect to see new content regularly.
Sharing positive, interesting stories about, or originally shared by, influential people is a great way to get noticed and build a relationship with them, thereby growing your own influence and personal brand.
After you’ve been sharing for a while and things are going great, don’t be tempted to create a profile on every other network with the expectation that the success will automatically be repeated.
Stick with what you know and, if you really feel it would benefit you to join another network (due to improved/alternate functionality, etc.), then follow the same strategy as above and think it through carefully.
Make sure you’re aligned
Depending on the message you’re trying to portray through your profiles, you’ll have differing strategies. Ensure that whatever the message is, it is consistent across all networks. When someone does some research on you they’ll look at varying places online. If you haven’t aligned your profiles, then this can be confusing or contradictory.
By targeting your efforts on a few networks (as mentioned above), aligning them should be a simple task and straight forward to maintain.
“Build it and they will come” is a myth. Just because you have an existence online doesn’t mean that there are hoards of people out there actively searching for you and what you have to say. You have to earn the right for people to listen to you and spend their own valuable time reading what you’ve shared.
You may be spending time on your profile, creating and sharing content for some time before you get any engagement, but don’t let this stop you from continuing to build your brand. Once people start to engage with you and re-share what you have to say, it will all be worth it.
By setting a schedule and sticking to it you’ll be able to control which direction you take your brand. As soon as you fall behind and you’re on the ‘back foot’, you’ll start to rush things trying to catch up and end up out of control.
Approaching others to connect, do business with or help you in your content efforts is fine, as long as it’s done respectfully, is relevant to both parties and is mutually beneficial. Spamming everyone on LinkedIn won’t do you any favours!
Be real and human (tell your story)
We’re all human and I personally prefer working with people and businesses that are happy to show their human side.
Everyone has a story and if you tell it, people will connect with it and become advocates of your personal brand values. When people can see that you’re passionate about something then this will rub off on them, which is great for you!
A few months ago an online solution was hacked and had its service interrupted. The way in which the brand dealt with their communication to customers turned a potentially catastrophic event into a marketing and PR success.
After the incident, the company quickly informed everyone of what had happened, apologised and explained what they were going to do about it. They also sent regular updates to keep customers informed.
This on its own would have been good and is probably the strategy that many businesses would now employ. What made this particular brand rise above the norm was the human way in which they communicated. There were no long winded statements from a faceless brand representative, just regular updates and useful information from a real, named person, being honest.
Being human is what makes you different from the millions of other entities online vying for the attention of readers and brands.
Share content and news for those that deserve it
It’s great when we hear a good news story about a person or brand going above and beyond. When people are willing to do this, then they deserve to have their efforts shared in the relevant circles. As well as providing news and content to your network you’ll also have the gratitude of those included in the story.
If content creation is part of your strategy, then you can use these news stories as a basis to write articles analysing different areas of what’s being covered.
For example, if a particular company has done a great job of rolling out their HR system, then you could write a piece about why they were successful and what other businesses can do to ensure they have the same success.
Interact and engage
Making a conscious effort to engage with others and interact in conversations is one of the keys to growing your network and personal brand. Not saying anything and relying on one way sharing isn’t the best strategy and probably won’t work.
From commenting on a news item to taking part in forum discussions, contributing and sharing knowledge is a good means by which to get noticed.
Commenting on articles written on industry-leading blogs is a great way to interact with thought leaders and the author of the article. Constructive comments are appreciated by the site and the engagement can sometimes lead to longer-term opportunities, such as writing guest posts or connecting socially.
As your network grows, you’ll notice that it becomes a hub of advocacy for your efforts.
People in the network will be happy to share your content and engage with you about the articles and news that you share.
Don’t be shy
Don’t be afraid to sing your own praises. If there’s an achievement you’d like to share then do it, if you were sharing for a corporate brand you wouldn’t think twice about letting people know. Your personal brand strategy should include self promotion, that’s essentially what it’s for.
People want to know if you excel in a certain field or if you’ve achieved something in your field, as these attributes may well be what they’re looking for in a business contact or applicant.