Earlier this year, I was lucky enough to attend a conference with Jeff Bullas as one of the speakers, and as he shared his insights on the importance of Social Media and Content Marketing in today’s digital era, what stuck in my mind was how he stressed the importance of developing my own personal brand.
No position is guaranteed to last forever, and as such it is vital that we create our own online brand – a solid foundation of knowledge and expertise to pride ourselves on when we are no longer able to rely on an agency or company name.
As young public relations and social media professionals, we have entered the workforce at a fantastic time to build our online personal brands. Social media and public relations professionals are still undervalued, yet a clearly defined and active social media presence is fast becoming a necessity for businesses.
This means that in a few years, when businesses realise that they need more than a simple “presence” online to truly interact and engage with their consumers, they will be searching for consultants and expert voices that know how best to compete in this changing digital landscape – that could be me.. or you – SWEET!
So, how can you best build your personal brand online? Here are 5 tips to get you started:
1. BE YOURSELF
In order to make an impact and establish yourself as a brand, you must first analyse your own personal attributes. What do you excel in, what interests you? What are your strengths and weaknesses? Defining your own personal brand (just as a corporation would) will allow you to decide what your point of difference is, and how you can present yourself from a position of strength. Why try and create a brand that isn’t inherently you? It will be that much harder to sustain over your career.
2. PUBLISH YOUR THOUGHTS
Have you considered writing a blog? Developing a blog that you commit to updating once a week (with a specific target audience in mind), will allow you to develop an expert voice to accompany your personal brand online. Using recent articles as the basis of your discussions or making intelligent observations about industry trends will help establish your brand and your commitment to the trade.
3. BUILD STRONG, HONEST RELATIONSHIPS
As any PR professional is aware, forming good relationships with other industry professionals will help you go a long way. If you are have a fantastic new client yet you have no journalist or reporter connections – how will you get the word out? If you are organising a media event for a client but have no connections at other PR agencies managing well aligned brands – how will you source product sponsorship? Relationships are the key to ensuring you perform your job to the best of your ability. In the same respect, these can only work if they’re genuine. If you speak to journalists regardless of their expertise or interest every time you are given a new story to pitch or correspond with agencies when you are trying to source products, despite the fact there is no evident brand alignment- why would they trust what you have to say? Why would they see you as anything more than a seagull?
4. KNOW YOUR IDEAL CLIENT
When building your personal brand, think about your ideal client. Who do you want to work for? Understanding your target market will assist in developing your own personal brand, as you can then tailor your content marketing efforts toward a particular niche. Marketing 101 taught us that finding your target market and consequently researching their needs, wants and desires is the first step to establishing a clear audience for the product you want to market. In the same sense, establishing a clear audience for your personal brand will allow you to tailor blog posts, social media activity and online activity to match the interests of this target to develop a stronger brand with an engaged community of advocates.
5. STAY ACTIVE AND ENGAGED ONLINE
Whilst it is crucial that your personal brand holds an online presence, it is also vital that you interact and engage with your community by remaining active online. Many professionals simply create the content for their social media platforms or their blog, posting regularly using scheduled pre-upload systems like Hootsuite(hyperlink) and Tweepi(hyperlink) – but it takes time to ensure you are engaging with your community. ‘Liking’ or ‘Sharing’ and ‘Retweeting’ content from active members of your community will do wonders for your personal brand by demonstrating your genuine interest in what your community has to say and creating a personality online. Using an 80-30 ratio of original to shared content will allow you to establish yourself as an expert in your field whilst acknowledging other key players and encouraging brand advocates.
Now – what are you waiting for?