Personal branding is a term crossing the minds of more and more professionals… and worrying them too. Everyone seems to know it, yet there’s still so many questions surrounding it. Especially these days, when digital platforms are growing at such a quick pace and the competition is stronger than ever.
So what is personal branding anyway? Personal branding is an increasingly popular practice of marketing yourself as a person. By taking several actions and using different platforms, you build your image as an expert in a certain area. Doing this, you also make yourself more exposed to potential clients, audiences, partners, or even employers. Building the awareness of your own brand means that you’re also building an awareness of what you offer and the quality of your products and services.
To do personal branding well, you need to understand that YOU ARE A BRAND – and it consists of everything you do, everything you publish, and everything you show. That’s why it’s so important to stand out and be consistent across all platforms.
Building a personal brand – where to start?
If we could give you just one piece of golden advice, it would be this: Create a strategy. You can build your personal brand in many ways (writing about and sharing your knowledge, talking publicly, showing up at conferences, building your network etc.) and use multiple platforms to do it (websites, blogs, radio, podcasts, social media etc.). So it’s easy to get lost quickly if you don’t have a plan. Creating a special document that contains at least the following will help you to specify what and where you should maintain your activity:
- Self analysis – what are my strengths and weaknesses, what can I do, what can I give, what I need to work on, and what I have to be careful about;
- Goals – what I want to achieve, in what time, and how I will be measure it;
- Audience – who I want to reach and where I can find them;
- Tone of voice – how I want to be perceived, how I can speak with my audience.
No matter where you start though, these days it’s clear that you have to take one thing under consideration: people will thoroughly dissect your online activity. Especially your social media profiles. You may be surprised just how precise and picky they can be with their scrutiny before they do any business with you.
Social media and personal branding
LinkedIn is a platform for specialists. It contains user profiles with personal information such as work history, experience, or publications. But it also has discussion groups and LinkedIn Pulse – blogs created by professionals. Because of it’s business-oriented nature, LinkedIn is considered a prime social media platform for building and enhancing your personal branding. Due to this nature, it’s quite easy to treat it ‘better’ – better fitted for the goal of building your personal brand and prioritizing it in your activity.
However, people focused on boosting their LinkedIn profile often forget about the power and potential of Facebook and Twitter. They treat them like social media channels used only for private or entertainment purposes. The truth is that both of those platforms are extremely important in creating a complex and professional identity on the Internet. Why is that, you ask? Well…
- Every day millions of people log into Facebook and Twitter, where they have the chance to see you and interact with your brand. But if you aren’t on these platforms, or if your presence isn’t noticeable or professional enough for business purposes – then you’re missing your chance.
- Say your business partners, clients, or potential employers are looking for more information about you – they may come across your Facebook/Twitter profiles too. So you should stand out with an amazing profile that says a lot about you, your business, and your initiative.
Both platforms can play a great role in building your personal brand. But they can also be pretty difficult to manage regularly. What you need to do is think about their advantages and features in context of your whole strategy. And to make things easier from the start, begin with just one platform and focus on that. It’s always better to do one thing very well rather than a few things haphazardly. Then you just won’t have any results – or you’ll have results you won’t be proud of. We understand that it may be a struggle or a bit confusing for you, so we’ve prepared a list of pros for both Twitter and Facebook to help you decide. Once you get to know them, it will be easier to decide on where to concentrate your actions.
Building personal branding with Facebook – why does it make sense?
The only reason that should be enough for you to start thinking about using Facebook for your business purposes is it’s number of users. Which, in the second quarter of 2016, reached more than 1, 70 billion people all around the world. But that’s not all:
- FLEXIBILITY – You can use own personal profile or a fanpage you created (pros and cons of both solutions coming soon to our blog!).
- TARGETING OPTIONS – by using the extensive possibilities of Facebook Ads, your content can be presented in an appealing way to the detailed target group of your choice. Ian Cleary from RazorSocial says that thanks to this he can “connect website traffic to Facebook as an audience I can retarget with ads.” You’ll find more thoughts straight from Ian in our next article.
- BENCHMARKING – You can follow other brands, including the majority of your competitors. Staying up to date with their latest posts, the news, and trends will help you get on the right track. And that’s why you should keep an eye on it all the time.
- GROUPS – By joining professional groups on Facebook, you are allowed to take part in valuable and educational discussions and discover new opportunities. This will help you gain new contacts in your network, new clients, or business partners. For Dan Purvis, Founder & Director at Communications Axis, joining and getting involved in the right Groups “help drive conversations, traffic, and credibility”.
- INNOVATIONS – Facebook has implemented a lot of features over the years, many of which work well for personal branding. Just look at Facebook Live Video, which can be used to connect with your audience. For example, you can host live Q&A sessions or announce the launch of your new product.
- ANALYTICS – Your influence can be measured and analysed (check here what we can do for you!). Facebook is a great tool to learn about your activities, but more importantly about your audience – what they like, want and do online, etc.
Facebook seems to be a “must”, but not everybody thinks that’s true. While Facebook is about connecting, Twitter is about following. Many opinion leaders, influencers, bloggers, and journalists actually make Twitter their prime (or even the only) social media channel to spread the word about their business and activity. Bearing in mind that this microblogging platform gets 313 million monthly active users, Twitter can be a great solution and the biggest slice of your personal branding cake.
What makes Twitter valuable for building a personal brand?
Twitter is not necessarily about looking for and talking to friends. It’s about looking for influencers, brands, valuable conversations, and interesting topics to explore. Due to it’s nature, it may be considered a platform for seeking, publishing, and discussing real time news rather than entertaining content and sharing personal info. Below you will find some more things differentiating it from Facebook, as well as things they have in common.
- SIMPLICITY – By tagging, following, mentioning, you can easily find and stay tuned with influencers from your field. Be it tagging them in discussions, following what they do, mentioning them in your posts or answers; It’s easy. If you put the right amount of thought into it, it brings results – at least in building your network. You can favourite and retweet (share) information and get noticed almost immediately. For Lilach Bullock, Social Media Marketing Expert, Twitter is just “an amazing platform for building a brand from scratch“.
- HASHTAGS – They increase your chances of being found by people interested in a particular topic. Just add the appropriate one to your tweet. Hashtags also help you find relevant people in your field or trends around the area you are interested in. Facebook also implemented the possibility of using hashtags, but it’s much more effective on Twitter. It’s where hashtags we’re born, after all. Pollyanna Ward, Digital and Social Media Manager at Mondelez International, regards Twitter as “a fantastic platform, mainly because of the ability to follow people in your industry without the awkward sending of a friend request.”
- OBSERVING TRENDS – Following what’s going on in the world and keeping up with industry trends helps you better understand people’s wants and needs (especially your audience). It’s a great way to start or join discussions as well as ride a wave of hot topics relative to what you do or present with your personal brand (but only if you really have something valuable to add!).
You can familiarize yourself with our Twitter Trends to see what really works on Twitter, month-by-month.
- MULTI SCREENING – Twitter is a great platform for real-time discussion – be it popular events, TV series, or programmes like political debates. Obviously, Facebook can be also used for this purpose as well. But it is actually Twitter which, with its character (quick and smart), is better suited for it.
- FRESHNESS – On Twitter, you can’t post too many things. You just can’t. What would be considered spam on Facebook is welcomed on Twitter. Even if you publish 10 articles concerning the same topic, or recommend very similar pieces of content to others. Twitter is all about regular and frequent posting.
- TARGETING OPTIONS – Same as Facebook, Twitter offers multiple options to target your desired audience with both organic and paid messages. On top of your standard geographical and demographic options, you can search for people who are following your competitors or are fans of a particular topic.
- MOBILE FIRST – Users are always connected to Twitter – over 80% of people use their smartphones and tablets to tweet, share, and comment. That means that you can reach them almost every time of the day, no matter where they are and what they do – as according to Morgan Stanley research, 91% of adults keep their smartphones within arm’s reach.
Enough of this theory…
We mentioned some elements that you should take into consideration in context of your strategy for building your own personal branding. Both platforms are work well for new solutions and innovations, so it’s also necessary to observe and adjust your activity. You never know when a particular platform will come up with the next idea which could be a game-changer for personal branding. Even if you choose one platform to begin with, do not forget about following the news about other services too.
But all of this is just theory. Wonder what people who have success in this field would tell you about their journey? Lucky you! We already asked them. So you can expect the 2nd part of this post on our blog in just a few days.
And that’s not the end yet – we also prepared our own list of 3 Ts – Tips, Tricks, and Tools to make your personal brand stand out from the crowd. Coming your way very soon, so be sure to follow us!