So what is personal branding, exactly? Why should you care about it? How will it help you? Is there really any point to concentrating on this concept?
Step 1: Set Your Branding Goals
Everyone has a personal brand - you just may not realise it. Wherever you've entered personal data, you've created a persona that makes up part of your personal brand. Add to these personas aggregated data like browsing history, shopping habits, and social media, and that's your online persona. Now, while you can't do much to change the data companies can gather regarding your online spending habits or the information gleaned from your browsing history, you absolutely can control how you present yourself to the digital world via social media branding. By taking control of your personal brand, you ensure that people see what you want them to when they Google you.
The right personal branding can help your career by helping you to establish yourself as an expert in your field, a thought leader, or an influencer. When there's a promotion on the cards or when you're actively seeking a new role, employers are likely to Google you, and if you've taken control of your personal brand, you'll dazzle them with your professionalism and your position as an authority in your niche.
What do you want to be known for? What is your ideal career, and are you hoping to move toward it? These are important questions, as without clear goals, you'll never achieve branding success, as your posts will be too scattered to be useful or influential. For example, if your long-term goal is to work as a senior digital marketer at a big brand, it's important that you join and participate in industry-related conversations and network with other influencers in this space.
Step 2: Audit Your Current Branding
Clear all your browsing history or open a private/incognito window, then Google your name. Why clear browsing data or use a private window? Because that ensures the search results are unbiased and that you are seeing the same results as a potential employer or random Joe Bloggs. What position are you at in the search results? Who else is on that page? Think about how you can stand out from the rest of the entries. Repeat the process with your name and a keyword or key phrase from your goals or the industry you want to stand out in.
Step 3: Get Set for Success
Once you've got your goals and you know what competition you have, it's time to get yourself set up right. Establish accounts on all platforms that you're interested in and where your target audience hangs out. Don't forget LinkedIn for personal branding and Pinterest, too, as these are often overlooked, but a great source of engagement. Make sure your profiles are consistent and use the same handle, photo, bio, and links.
Do you have a website already? If so, great, you've got somewhere else to establish your brand and host your online profile and to contain all your thought-provoking blog posts. If not, it may be worth getting one. Alternatively, if you don't want to have to maintain a website, publish thought-leading content on LinkedIn or a site like Medium.
Step 4: What's Your Personal Branding Strategy?
A branding strategy is crucial - just like you'd create if you were branding a business. Think about how often you should post. Don't flood your social feeds with repetitive posts or just too many too often, otherwise, you'll look like a spammer rather than a thought leader. A couple of times per day for each social platform is plenty. And you can create a blog post or a long social post once per week or once every two weeks. So you don't need to go crazy.
You also need to think about the type of content you're posting. Yes, people want to get to know you, but they don't want to only ever read about you, your ideas, or what you had for dinner. You need to figure out a rough ratio of what to post, when. For example:
- 25% new posts about you, your thoughts, what you feel is important
- 25% sharing posts, blogs, websites, and similar that are not yours but are relevant to your audience
- 40% interacting with other people, engaging in conversations on important, relevant topics
- 10% advertising products you love, your own brand, self-promotional content
A good strategy is to build a detailed social media plan. This ensures you don't bore your followers and helps to establish you as an influencer. Remember, businesses need to provide high-value social content, and so do you. When it comes to personal branding, you are your business.
Step 5: Stick With It
Setting up your personal brand and becoming an industry influencer isn't instant - it takes time to gather lots of followers and to be seen as a thought leader. But stick with it. Stick to your strategy and post regularly. To make things super easy, you can even use an auto-scheduler that you can load up with posts, and it will post them for you at specified times, so you can plan ahead.
Let your personality shine through, but do remember that potential employers will see this, so don't post anything you're not totally happy with potentially important connections seeing. Stay positive, be authentic, and lift other people up. Share their content, engage with them, and interact whenever possible. In no time, you'll have a personal brand to be proud of.