It seems like everyone is online these days, male, female, young and old. And tapping into this vast audience is a low-cost, highly effective way to launch a small-business brand into the global marketplace. Building your brand through social media allows you to cultivate new relationships, increase brand awareness, develop customer loyalty and make word-of-mouth marketing go viral. Although social media seems relatively easy to get started with, it takes strategy and consistency to build your brand online. The most important thing to keep in mind while doing so is no matter how big the company you work for is, whether you work for yourself or for someone else, you still have your own personal brand.
But what exactly does it mean to have a personal brand? How can one use social media to represent a larger company or firm yet still maintain a personal brand? Well if you have read my article With Social Media, YOU are Your Own Brand published in June of 2011, I explained that although you may be using social media to promote the offerings of the company or firm you work for, large or small, you are doing so as an individual. Building upon this previous article, below are 5 simple steps you can take to build your own personal brand using social media.
Discover Your Personal Brand Personality
Just like people, all brands have their own personality. Brand personality is defined as a set of human characteristics that are associated with a brand name and is determined by consumer interactions with your brand. It is essentially, how your brand behaves in the public light. Your brand personality is determined mainly by your own personality and identity. There are many influences on brand personality including profession, industry, age, gender and emotional characteristics, to name a few. But your brand personality should also reflect what you want others to think of when they hear your name.
Some examples of brand personality traits are:
Competence: successful, accomplished, influential, decisive
Creative: visionary, innovative, imaginative, artistic
Intellectual: thoughtful, stimulating, intelligent
Ruggedness: rough, tough, outdoors, athletic
Sincerity: genuine, honest, wholesome, family-oriented
Sophistication: elegant, prestigious, upper class, charming
Trendy: stylish, carefree, fun-loving, lively, youthful
Consistently Build and Develop Your Own Personal Brand
Once you define what your personal brand personality is, you can begin to develop and build your personal brand. Start by identifying not only your area of expertise but also what you have a real passion for. If you build your brand around that which you are particularly passionate about, your experience with social media will be more enjoyable and rewarding and your online efforts will be more likely to succeed.
Brands are not born, they are made and the most effective way to build a brand is to be consistent. When you build your social media profiles use logos and graphics that reflect your Personal Brand Personality. Choose a brand name or tagline that represents you and/or what you do. Use no more than 2 or three similar fonts and choose a color scheme that you not only like but that also reflects the image you want to portray. Finally, choose a photo of yourself that reinforces your brand and use it wherever you represent yourself. Make sure the tone you use on all of your profiles as well as your blog and/or website is consistent in look and feel.
One of the quickest ways to negatively impact your personal brand is to allow your profiles to go stagnant. If you choose to utilize social media you must be willing to maintain it. Be sure to allocate a specific time or length of time everyday, or at the very least once a week, to devote to your social media initiatives. Regularly seek out new connections, engage the connections you already have and post relative content within your niche that not only your current connections will find interesting but that also will attract new followers. Change your status often and share business experiences and industry news that coincides well with your niche market and personal brand.
Showcase Your Expertise
You don’t have to know everything to be considered an expert. You just have to know enough to educate others. But it is up to you to make others aware that you are an expert within your industry. Showcasing expertise requires that you add value to the lives of your connections by posting original, valuable, informative, insightful, helpful and high-quality content that clearly demonstrates that you “Know your stuff!” Write interesting and educational blog posts for your website or blog or find an established blog within your industry and ask to contribute your works to them. Take the time to “Listen” to what people within your market need by conducting key word searches and by utilizing the Q & A sections of the social media platforms you are on. Once you know what people need or what questions they are asking, you can answer their questions and post content on your profile that addresses those needs.
You can also show expertise by posting news and updates that your target audience would find interesting so long as you do not use social media to simply share the works written by others. If you do choose to share the news or works of others, add a comment to your post that adds value to what you are posting. Explain what you think of the topic and why you are posting it or try and engage your connections in a discussion about the topic at hand.
With the number of professionals on the Internet increasing everyday, the likelihood is very high that there are many others out there who do exactly what you do. The only way to stand out is to be unique. For example, in the intellectual property and patent space IPWatchdog.com is quite popular, but so is PatentlyO, which is written by Professor Dennis Crouch. Even though we both focus mainly on patent law the content we provide is different. IPWatchdog focuses more on the USPTO, regulatory issues and policy, while PatentlyO tends to focus more on the Federal Circuit and statistical analysis. Still further, Patent Docs is another excellent patent blog, but which is devoted almost entirely to biotech and pharmaceutical topics. Then there is FOSS Patents, which is dedicated almost entirely to software and the patent wars between the makers various smart phones and tablet devices. The point is, we all focus on patents, but each has carved a niche.
There are many ways to stand out in social media, but here are a few examples that are easy to implement right away. Post original content (sound familiar); Choose a vanity URL on your FB page; Post educational videos on YouTube; Monitor what others are saying about you, your brand, your products and services and address those concerns right away; And thank all of your new followers for taking interest in your work.
By following these 5 simple steps you will be well on your way to building your own personal brand. You have the ability to influence how others see you, and you have the ability to guide new connections your way. And remember, YOU are the reason people connect with you and YOU are the reason they keep coming back.