Personal Branding: The 4 Things You Need
This is part of a 2 part series about how to build your personal brand.
Engage in personal branding and utilise the power and reach of the major digital channels. It’s easier than you think to get started.
In recent years personal branding has become hugely popular with a variety of professionals along a variety of different disciplines. There are a number of key benefits. For CEO’s, it helps them to get across a more personal, human side for their company, creating trust. For any professional, it’s a platform to showcase your skills and knowledge, which is great for employability. It’s also another way to cast your net further and connect with more people. If people follow your personal brand, they have a vested interest, and are more likely to help you out when you need it. Finally, while it is gaining popularity at an increasing rate, it can be great for differentiation. It could be the difference between you getting that job or gaining those customers. It is a way for people to see another side to you and what you have to offer. So, where to start.
Digital is a huge part of personal branding, and a huge part of digital is social media. People are much more likely to follow a person than a company. If you aren’t already active through social media, there is no better time to start. It’s also extraordinarily easy to start on social media. For the most part, signing up takes less than a minute. These will serve as a platform. The number of social media users is expected to reach almost 3 billion by 2020.
The problem is that there are a number of social media channels. Furthermore, it is recommended that you diversify your content throughout your channels so as to encourage users to follow them all. However, this is time-consuming. So which channels do you really need to be on? This of course depends on where your target audience is. 35-70 year olds generally prefer Facebook over other channels, while Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat are generally preferred by 35’s and under. YouTube has a fairly even split of users. Regardless, the main channels to consider first are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Google+ and YouTube. We will consider content and how to best utilise these channels in the next part. While social media has a huge reach, there is still another side to digital, which is of course Google search.
Google search is the first port of call for most people when trying to obtain information. Yes, your social channels will appear in the search, and while people can still view your profiles if they aren’t on social media, the amount of information about you can be limited. Ideally, one of the first results to appear should be your website. As mentioned, we will discuss content in the next part, however a website is a great place to display your skills and knowledge through a blog. A website can be virtually whatever you want it to be. You can decide exactly what people see when they first click on it. It could be a video, an image, something interactive or some simple text with any message you like. It could display your best achievement, an inspirational quote or something about you that expresses your personal brand perfectly.
Of course, with a website there is cost involved. You can either use a free website builder or use a website cost calculator to determine the cost. Then, you can outsource the development of your website. This will be more than worth it if you are looking to build your personal brand long term.
When someone searches for you on Google, another thing that appears is your Wikipedia profile. You may not have one yet, but you should definitely consider setting one up or having someone else set one up for you. The problem is that Wikipedia actively discourages people from setting up their own page. Even if you include credible sources and write in a neutral tone your page still may get deleted if you wrote the article yourself. If you get someone else to write it for you, ensure that they use credible sources and don’t overly promote you in any way. Then, when someone searches for you in Google, a small bio and image will appear from your Wikipedia page. This happens because Google want users to get information in the least clicks possible, and so always tries to display the information in the search results.
Offline personal branding is quite different. One of the go-to tools is the business card. There are any number of companies that produce good quality business cards with your own personalised design. These will include all of your contact information but they can also include something associated with your personal brand. It could be the design itself or what is written on it. Some offline branding tools, like merchandise, are not necessary at the beginning, but can be highly effective should you accumulate a large following. While it is not a tool, speaking at events is of course highly beneficial for your brand. Again this is something that will likely come later on once you have built a presence elsewhere. However, when speaking at events, using a particular presentation style or promoting your digital channels can be highly beneficial for your personal brand.
So to summarise, for personal branding you need:
- Social media profiles
- Wikipedia Page
- Business cards
In the next part, we will discuss the content within these tools and channels. We will discuss how the features of each channel can benefit you and your brand and how you can maximise your reach to attract followers and build your brand. Integrating all of these channels is a key part of this. In doing so, we can make the channels work for each other. For now, take some time to work out which channels suit you, your target audience and what you want to achieve best. Once you have decided on this, look out for the next part on how to market these and get your brand off the ground.