The personal brand. If you’re like me it took a long time to figure out just what that actually means. And I’m in the business of creating brands.
And judging from what I see on social media these days, a whole lot of people are still in the process of figuring it out.
A lot of social media sites, which is where you are supposed to be building your personal brand, talk about doing this through something they call ‘affinity”.
Affinity is a social media-speak word for commonality or shared interests. And as a strategic construct, it makes a lot of sense. But at the end of the day, it really all comes down to you and your brand.
And social media sites (take your pick) provide you with the environment, a relatively easy way to build connections with people who share your personal, and theoretically, your business point of view.
However, no matter where you unleash your personal brand on the world, making any headway in a business sense is all contingent on having a strong personal brand in the first place.
The Business Of You
In marketing and communications, which really is the engine that drives your personal brand, it’s critically important to have a strategy or, at the very least, a strategic focus to guide you.
The elements of this strategy are pretty much the same as they would be for any business. Because when you are defining a personal brand you are actually treating yourself as a business. The business of you.
Every strategy, regardless of its aim, is composed of these elements:
Your Objectives: Why you are doing this in the first place? This is very important because it sets the stage for the development of your brand. You have to understand who you are and what you need to communicate with others in order for them to ‘get’ you.
Your Target(s): Who is it your intention to reach and make a key part of your primary audience.
Your Media: Once you have figured out (2), you need to think about the best ways to reach them. This is actually relatively easy and this information can be gleaned simply by scanning and looking at the mission statements of the various groups on the sites you are active on.
This is also where you are going to build your primary following. One of the easiest ways to get connected to people is to start following and commenting on the posts of those you find interesting. If you’re doing things right and these people check you out there’s a very good chance that they will follow you back.
How you determine who to follow has a lot to do with the posts those people publish and the way people react to your posts.
Defining Your USP: A USP is a Unique Selling Proposition. This is basically what you are about from a personal and a business perspective and how it (theoretically) sets you apart from others like you.
In social media, this is not something you get all up in people’s faces about. People who do that overtly tend to look like they are only there to hustle business and that has always been frowned upon.¨
Instead, it needs to be done in much more subtle ways. Because it’s really all about relationship building, and that’s a long process.
This post is a good example. Once you get to the end of it, you will certainly have some insight into personal branding, at least from my perspective. But you will also have some insight into me, my skills and areas of expertise
This is not being sold to you but demonstrated for you. I am writing about things I know with an aim of helping other people define and build their personal brands.
This, in fact, is the key component of my own personal brand. I am in the helping business.
Creating Your Content: In strategic terms, this is known as Benefit Support. In social media terms, it really becomes your library of topics, or things you want to communicate in order to get people to understand who you are, what you do, what your interests and passions are, how you like to do what you do and, by inference and example, what you could do for them.
Brand Character: This is the element of your personal brand that sets the tone and manner with which you will communicate. It doesn’t have to be one thing, because it may vary somewhat depending on how you feel about what you are communicating.
But it should always be from one voice! Specifically yours.
For example the tone and manner of this piece, which is one of an ongoing series I do on marketing and communication, is very straightforward and informational. I am sharing what I know. But other streams of my communication have different personas, sometimes sceptical, sometimes critical, sometimes downright cynical. But the thing they all have in common is that they are all aspects of one voice. Which, for better or worse, is mine
Authenticity Is The Only Thing That Breaks Through The Clutter
There are literally tens of millions of pieces of communication flying around on social media every day. We tend to scroll past the vast majority of them.
But what makes us stop, read, interact and share is not clearly defined in our own heads. It is a je ne sais quoi quality that works almost on a spiritual level.
It’s called, for want of a better word, authenticity. And authenticity is really just a kind of catch-all word for being yourself.
And after all the mental acrobatics of defining a personal brand, that is exactly where you end up, or should.
Getting There Is Where The Insights Are Born
I believe that even if it turns out to be a huge circuitous trip out and back to where you started, you will have, through this process, picked up a great deal of valuable insight into who you are and how to incorporate your identity into your personal brand.
You will have learned how to go about disseminating your brand messaging to people who might have a genuine interest in that message.
And you will hopefully have learned, mainly through trying and analyzing feedback, how to build authenticity into your communication.
None Of This Is Rocket Science
But it is an important part of the art of communication.
If more people would take the time to really understand what a personal brand actually is and teach themselves how to build it, there would, I absolutely guarantee, be a whole lot less ‘crap’ polluting social media.
And if you do not have the time yourself, contact us here. It would be our pleasure to build yours for you.