Whether we realise it or not, we are all a brand. Me, you, everyone. So it’s a wonder why the majority of social media tips we share (how to get more followers, clicks, and the like) are aimed more towards businesses to help them increase their growth and engagement.
So it therefore follows that personal branding is the process of managing and optimising the way that you present yourself to others. But why bother? Well, it’s no secret that the benefits of a powerful personal brand are almost infinite. From attracting and interacting with influencers in a similar field to gaining a strong, loyal and engaged follower base, large brands are now leveraging these profiles to promote their products in a “real-life” and tangible way. Of course, creating such a social profile is almost a full-time job in itself and requires a great deal of commitment (often financially, too). For the rest of us, there’s always the credibility factor that comes with gaining steady growth, the chance to share knowledge with like-minded individuals, or even simply an extra platform to promote a blog or website.
Whatever your reasons, you need a solid game plan in order to do it effectively. We live in an age where ‘oversharing’ has become a social norm, and it can sometimes be hard to navigate through the fog and create something that will reach the audience you want it to. You need to be definite, concise and consistent. So, where to start?
Begin with your position; who are you, and what message do you want to send out? What’s your purpose? You may start by asking yourself “what’s the one thing that everyone says I rock at?”, or “what are my passions and interests?” The more questions you can ask yourself, the more likely it is that you’ll narrow your focus enough to pick ‘the’ topic.
Evaluate all aspects of your chosen topic (your brand) and define a plan that includes both tangible and intangible characteristics; this can be your gauge when it comes to pressing the ‘send’ button. If it doesn’t wholly agree with your plan, don’t post it.
Next, ensure your profiles are aligned in their aesthetic, tone and message. If your Instagram page is full of colourful images and updated every day but your Twitter profile is subtle and seldom updated, you will quickly lose credibility. Sticking to a consistent design or colour palette, on the contrary, will give your profile(s) a professional, crisp and eye-catching feel; that’s when you’ll start to see your desired growth.
Finally, post consistently. The regularity of your posting is your choice, but once you have decided on it, stick to it. Posting every day for one week and then not again for a month will work very much against you. This is especially true as you build an increasingly engaged audience, as they learn to expect that weekly blog post, or daily selfie. If they’re let down more than once or twice, they’ll quickly lose interest and simply unfollow you.
Moving forwards, you need to consider how you will connect with others in your community. Whether it be joining groups, online forums or simply engaging with other profiles manually, be sure to follow up with these people and keep in touch. Ask questions, listen to their stories and study the networks of those who inspire you. Don’t be afraid to reach out to them directly for advice. And don’t just do all of the above once; keep going, over and over, until you get where you want to be.
Of course, this all sounds relatively fail-safe. But personal branding, like anything else, can have its pitfalls. Some of your followers may view your Instagram snap of a Mojito on the beach in Barbados as an artistic snapshot of your life, whilst others will see it as boasting and ‘fall out’ with your personal brand and what you stand for. Some may be enthused by your political opinions, whilst others may be offended. And so it continues. It’s therefore of the utmost importance that you define your audience carefully and execute posts that contribute to them, and them only.
It’s a minefield out there, but giving these tips a go will, at the very least, set you off on the right foot.