What is a brand?
It isn’t a logo, or a tagline but it’s a perception. Personal branding is merely a way of selling yourself, and it’s never been more important, thanks to social media.
Social media has given us a platform to broadcast our personal messaging to accomplish our goals. As a personal branding platform, it offers people the tools to build their reputation quickly and effectively, engage in relevant communities and conversations and monitor trends. For professional purposes, we have LinkedIn to connect with others in our industry.
In order to build a personal brand online, there are five steps.
1. Develop an expertise. Think about your strengths, passions and goals. Most professionals have developed their specific strengths over years of experience. When thinking about what expertise you want to promote, define what makes it relevant to your industry and find a specific niche. For example, simply saying you are an expert photographer could be too broad, but being specific about the type of photography (eg. Editorial, wildlife, weddings) narrows your audience which ensures high engagement.
2. Own your brand. This could be your website URL (your name), a logo, image or motto. Some people who have common names tend to use a middle name or initial to differentiate themselves. By owning a digital property you can project consistency in how your personal brand looks, feels, talks and projects itself, thereby defining a clear perception of what you stand for.
3. Develop content. Content can come in many forms, but your content gives you the platform to make your personal brand come to life. If your expertise is in wildlife photography for example, having pinterest boards to display your work, or a YouTube video about how to take the best animal shots might be your content platforms. If you are an e-commerce retailer expert perhaps releasing a white paper might be a content type to get your audiences interested in the latest trends and research on online buying behaviour. The more content you develop, the more wide-reaching your personal brand becomes; and you’ll start to build credibility in your area of expertise.
4. Engage. This doesn’t just mean respond to comments to your content, but also reach out and collaborate with similar experts in your field. Join LinkedIn groups, be an active participator in relevant discussions, ask questions and learn from those more experienced than you.
5. Monitor. Listening and monitoring the social media space is a part of constant learning and helps with improving your brand. Listen out for new trends in your industry, what other experts are saying, new research and other content. In monitoring what’s happening around you, you can be sure to mould and evolve your personal brand as you journey through your career.