How to build your personal brand online
First of all, let’s dissect the terminology here. What does personal branding even mean? In most cases, this term refers to people who have made a brand out of their career and/or life experience. All speakers, life coaches and influencers have at some point invested in marketing themselves and letting you know that they’ve made N sum of money starting with nothing, or became slim and healthy, or gathered 11 million Twitter followers. So if you want to be a successful entrepreneur, lose weight or get online followers – ask them how. They’ve been there, they’ve done that. They’ve got expertise.
However, personal branding doesn’t have to stop at that. Something as common as looking for a job requires personal branding: your future employer should ideally look at your LinkedIn profile and get the impression that you’re experienced, knowledgeable and hard-working, or whatever they’re looking for.
It’s often pointed out that on social media everyone brands themselves. For the sake of public image, career opportunities or self-affirmation, many only post things that back up the image of self that they want to convey to their friends, followers and the world. Image building doesn’t stop at posting – people don’t necessarily read the articles they’ve “liked” and “like” the articles they’ve read. This makes social media analytics confusing, but the option to choose how you’re seen by other people is highly beneficial for personal branding. And as the influence of social media grows, so do the opportunities for personal branding.
So whether you’ve decided to get invited to some local networking event or build a huge social media community that would jump on the opportunity to buy your company’s product the moment they hear about it – personal branding is something you should be working on. So let’s get to the “how” of this article.
1. Define your goals
Probably every second (if not every first) “how to” article starts with this point: define your goals. Without knowing exactly what you’re trying to achieve with your personal brand, you can’t start building it. So take a moment to think why you’re doing that. In the introduction, we’ve discussed only some of the possible goals – yours might be completely different but it still needs defining.
2. Formulate the vision of your personal brand (according to your goals)
Now that you know your goals, map the traits, skills, values and passions that are needed for this goal. For example, if you’re looking for a job that involves working with people, you have to show that you’re sociable and friendly. If your company is selling electronics and you’re aiming for the large online following to increase your sales, you have to show that you’re extremely knowledgeable in this field. If you’re a handmade artist, you might have to show that you’re passionate about what you make and a perfectionist. If you’re a sarcastic radio presenter – just be yourself.
It’s a popular opinion that you have to be absolutely authentic when creating your personal brand. I’d say, that’s preferable, because this makes it easier for you to keep up the image, but it’s not a necessity. You can be a very introverted person but acting extraverted online because it is beneficial for your business. You can have someone from your social media team manage your personal brand in the way that’s best for you. What you should absolutely have is a vision of the “ideal self” for the given goal.
Tip: You may want to take a look at people who’ve achieved what you’re planning to achieve. Observe how they behave online. What is their image and what can you borrow from it?
3. Build online presence (according to the vision of your personal brand)
Depending on your goals, you might need a personal website. There are many ways to build a website, with the most common one being to install WordPress. It’s free and many hosts, as for example GoDaddy, have 1-click setups for hosting and using WordPress. There are enough free and paid themes to choose from. Make sure to write about yourself in a concise and engaging manner, post a professionally made photo and add case studies to show your skills – just like companies do. Your home page is the most important page – make sure it includes your photo and basic info on what you do.
If you’re building a personal brand for the sake of your business, then blogging is always a good idea. For SEO, for showing your expertise and personality, for traffic acquisition. If you can – blog! And what is probably even more important, write guest posts for existing blogs so that you can show off your knowledge and have your name mentioned in trustworthy resources. This builds reputation and brand awareness.
If you’re wondering about the content of your blog, start with the industry topics that you care about and that you know a lot about. Then you can move on to most common questions of your target audience and the insights into current events in your industry.
Social media is the obvious place to build your social presence. With dozens of social channels out there and the utter impossibility of covering even half of them, make sure to choose the ones that agree with your vision. Here’s a detailed guide for choosing social media platforms based on their culture and demographics, however, as a rule of thumb building a personal brand is a task for LinkedIn and Facebook. Twitter comes next in the list, and if you’re into making videos (which would be very beneficial to you since videos are on the rise at the moment), then it’s YouTube. Again, if you’re doing videos, I highly recommend uploading them on Facebook as well as they get a priority in the News Feed algorithm. Your social media profiles should be not only engaging, but also informative. Use cover photos at Twitter and LinkedIn to make it easy for people who stumbled upon your profile understand at a glance what you do. You can even include your email in the picture: this way it won’t get into spam listings but will be visible to the public.
The key with social media is engagement. Engage as much as you possibly can: reply to comments on your post, participate in conversations in your industry, post relevant content, experiment with podcasts, video chats, and anything you can get a hold of. Only then you’ll build a following.
Start with finding social media influencers in your industry. Go to Awario, create an alert with your industry keywords, and then click Influencers on the left of your screen. The tool will show you the list of your influencers based on the number of their followers and the number of times they mention your keywords.
Take some time to read their posts, comment with your opinion and make a connection. Connect with these influencers on LinkedIn. Having such a network will raise your chances of getting closer to your goals whatever they are really.
4. Monitor your personal brand
Make sure you appear online exactly as you want to. First of all, as narcissistic as it sounds, Google yourself. What are the results you’re getting? Ideally, you should see your social media profiles, your website, and your authorship on other websites. Your Google + account is very important for search results, so make sure you have one and let Google + know your other online assets.
If you see search listings that you’d rather not see, take steps to remove them.
- Contact the content owner
Your first step should always be to contact the website or the profile owner and ask them humbly to remove your photo/video/article. Avoid any sort of confrontation – it’s easy to worsen the situation!
- Report content that breaks site conduct
If the content is untrue or offensive you can usually remove it by reporting.
- Create more relevant and useful content to bury the old one
If nothing else works, work towards creating more content so that the unfavourable goes down in the search results.
And of course, monitor yourself to find any mentions, publications and news about your personal brand!
If you have any questions or would like to share some of your personal experience on building your brand – comment below!