Gone are the days when the only way to impress an employee or potential client was to email over a cover letter, resume, or website link and hope you get noticed. That just isn’t cutting it for many of today’s socially-savvy generation. More recently, many professionals are using social media as a tool in which to express their skills, knowledge, and experience in a far more engaging format than a one-page document. Enter: Personal Branding on social media.
What is a personal brand?
Okay so, ‘personal branding’ in a nutshell? It’s the process of developing and influencing the public perception of an individual, encompassing all the unique skills, experiences and qualities of a person that they choose to present to the world. As Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos, famously said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” And so of course, you want to make sure they’re saying something good right? Rather than something terrible like “OMG, I thought they’d never leave!”
Who should build a personal brand?
When most people think of personal branding, it’s all too common to associate the concept with Hollywood celebrities such as Oprah and Kim Kardashian, professional athletes and models. But today we have witnessed the ushering of a new era of personal branding where social media has provided the opportunity for literally anyone to share their personal brand with the world.
And it’s important to note that personal branding is not just for those with deemed ‘professional notoriety’ — the thought leaders and business consultants of the world. That’s a big misconception. And actually, everyone should have a brand. Successful personal branding has many benefits and can bring with it countless opportunities in life. Let’s take a look at a few examples.
Why is personal branding important?
Whether you’re an employee or entrepreneur, an industry veteran or a fresh-faced grad, building a personal brand has become more important than ever before. In today’s digital world, competition is fierce, and a strong personal brand may just be the ticket to set you apart from the rest.
Become a thought leader to stand out in a saturated market
If you’re looking to position yourself as an expert, influencer or thought leader in your industry, then it’s seriously time to get working on your brand. Building a personal brand is all about sharing your expertise and skills with your audience. By consistently providing authentic, high-value content around industry topics, it won’t be long before people come to trust you as an expert in the field. In today’s competitive job market, whether you’re looking to bag a full-time role, secure a freelance contract, or even seeking an opportunity to deliver a keynote, building a personal brand will help give you greater credibility and thought-leadership – all of which is sure to catch the attention of recruiters, hiring managers, and event organisers.
Use social media as a supplementary portfolio
While the traditional resume is still very much a staple in today’s hiring process, let’s face it, lengthy black and white documents aren’t the most engaging forms of content to reflect your experience and capabilities. Social media, however, enables job seekers to stand out from the resume pile through engaging, interactive content that demonstrates their skills and personality.
The use of social media in job applications has grown particularly popular in creative industries, enabling candidates to give real-life examples of their skills — whether that’s design, video editing, or content creation. Adding to this is the trend of graduates discovering the value of social media when applying for entry-level jobs. At a time when they may have little or no industry experience to showcase, social media content creation provides an outlet for them to present their skills in all sorts of creative ways, from designers creating spoof mock-ups for brands, to budding marketers providing valuable insights on industry trends.
@thisisjonadaniel I made a fake ad for PEPSI #learnontiktok #behindthescenes #filmmaker #softdrink #fyp #pepsi ♬ Way 2 Sexy – Drake
Attract new business opportunities with employee personal branding
Just as personal branding on social can help you secure a job, it is also beneficial from an employer’s perspective. Encouraging your employees to build their own strong personal brands can be excellent for business. Just like how enabling your employees to attend conferences or events helps to expand business brand awareness and forge new connections, the same can be said for personal branding on social media.
This is driven forward even more by changing consumer trends. Today’s market is completely saturated with products and services released by companies every second of the day, leading to brand fatigue. A McCann study reported that compared to 20 years ago, almost half of the consumers surveyed said that they trust brands less (AdAge).
Following on from this is the finding that messaging shared by employees’ social media accounts went 561 percent further than when shared by a brand-owned account. The takeaway from this? Today’s consumers are far more trusting of people and human connections than of brands and institutions. Through personal branding on social media networks, your employees can become far more valuable drivers of new business opportunities than brand accounts.
Tips on how to build a personal brand on social media
Okay, so now we’ve discussed the valuable role personal branding on social can have on individuals, we’re hoping you’re just itching to get started with yours. But hold your horses now. Before you rush off, we’d like to share with you some simple steps to take when building your personal brand to ensure you get off to a great start!
#1 — Define your “who, what, and why”
The first thing you will want to do is sit down and spend some time really defining who you intend your audience to be (whose eyeballs do you want to see the content you are putting out?), what your area of expertise is (what is your niche — what area do you have specialist knowledge around and most importantly, do you feel passionate about it enough to dedicate a lot of time to talk about it on a consistent basis?), and lastly ask yourself why are you wanting to share your personal brand? (is it to attract new opportunities or build a community, for example).
#2 — Be consistent with it
Just like everything in life, to build a routine we must be consistent and disciplined with it. Much like a business brand, you can’t expect to put out the odd post here and there and expect big things to happen. Create a content plan and stick with it. Allocate 10 minutes each morning scrolling through industry news to see if there is anything you share insight on with your audience or create reactive content from. Write weekly goals for your personal brand. Building a strong personal brand will take time and effort, and you must be prepared to put in the work to reap the rewards.
#3 — Build real, authentic relationships
A large part of building a personal brand is about creating a community around your content, whether it’s someone from the same profession taking great value from the industry insights you share, a prospective client or employer seeking out a service or advice, or someone who simply enjoys the content you share. Take time out of your day to not only engage with those who engage with your content but also reach out to others doing the same thing. Doing this will help form meaningful relationships within the industry while expanding your reach.
#4 — Measure your success regularly
In order to see if your efforts are paying off, you will need to monitor the content you are posting, measuring its success on a regular basis. This will help to inform you of things such as what type of content format is getting the most engagement, what topics your audience is getting the most value from, and if your tone of voice is resonating well. You might also want to review the content of other like-minded leaders within the industry too. When you first embark on your personal branding journey, it’s all about trial and error, so don’t get disheartened if things feel like it’s moving slowly. Celebrate all the wins, no matter how small you deem them to be — from the first time someone shares your post through to your first lead generated! This will help keep you motivated to achieve more.
Becoming a recognised authority in your niche is no small feat. It’ll take a whole lot of time, effort and determination to build a strong personal brand — but it is also something that will absolutely pay off eventually. Who knows, you might even become the next Gary Vaynerchuk of your industry? But one thing we know for sure is you’ll never know if you never try!
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