Every marketing professional and even the average layperson with some basic social media knowledge can tell you that in today's competitive market - your personal brand is key. If you want to stand out, (and who doesn't?), you need to determine what makes you an appealing personality to your potential client base.
There are a lot of articles and blog posts about how to build a personal brand. These articles stress the importance of bringing your personality to everywhere you show up in the digital world. This means that every social media platform that you use should include photos, videos, hashtags and comments that align with your brand and personality.
The tone and energy of your content will depend on what field you are working in. For example- if you are selling fitness gear and you want to appeal to gym aficionados, you're going to want to come across as with a positive energy, as an expert on fitness and possibly fashion and tailor and curate all of your posts to match that brand. If you are an author of budgeting self-help books you will want to be sure to share information that shows you are an expert in finance- through blog writing, sharing information on LinkedIn and other mediums. No matter what your expertise, all agree that you must use social media to show the world that you are someone to be taken seriously in your professional field.
There is an interesting phenomenon that has developed over the past decade. In their desire to develop their personal brand, many people have begun to share everything about their life. YouTube channels that document every outing, breakfast and even intimate family gatherings. Instagram feeds and stories that cover hours and hours of minutiae of a person’s life. For every person who is documenting their lives there are hundreds of thousands of viewers and subscribers who enjoy watching along. In these scenarios- the brand is the person’s ACTUAL life. These people tend to make money off of this through advertising, product placement and endorsement. The infatuation of their many followers lead companies to view them as valuable influencers and ad partners. The YouTubers or Instagram personalities sometimes sell merchandise but for the most part their revenue streams are largely based on ads.
This model is not for everyone and especially not for those who are seeking not only followers or subscribers but actual paying customers. The big question is- how does one strike the balance between establishing your brand and stand out from the crowd through sharing pieces of your life with the world- while also maintaining privacy?
Like with many things in our world moderation is key. It is up to you how much you would like to share of your personal life with the goal of promoting your brand. In some cases your brand identity will be very much tied up with your personal identity. In other cases your personal life and your professional persona will be on two very different planes. I suggest that you take a look at other professionals you admire or that are in your field. Determine which elements of their public persona you feel align with your comfort level and decide what you think won't work for you. Your potential clients want to see the genuine you- this is how you build trust. Whatever you do decide to share keep it honest. Don’t pretend to be someone you are not. You can be the real you and still maintain some boundaries for yourself.
Someone who wants to establish their online brand presence should be doing so on a consistent basis- it is your call on what sort of narrative you would like to project.
Here are some things to think about:
-What are the things you want to be known for? Maybe you are selling yourself as the motorcycle restoration guy with a soft spot for animals. Or perhaps you are the sarcastic comedy buff who is also an independent contractor. Are you the female executive who volunteers at soup kitchens? Whoever you are- or whoever you are trying to project you are- try to shine a light on your professional expertise while sprinkling in elements of your “personhood”. These are the things about your personality that paint a clearer picture of who you are when you aren’t working.
- What do you want your audience to feel when they see one of your posts? You want to make sure that your goal matches your presentation.
- How do you want to be remembered? This means- what do you want clients to associate with you when they aren’t in front of their screens. This might mean that you post images with backgrounds all in the same color pallet. You might want to consider including your brand logo on all materials that you put online, even in videos. When your clients are out and about you want them to have clear associations with your brand and keep you in their minds as they navigate the real world.
Building your personal brand can be intimidating, especially because of all the imagery and information that we see online. There is no need to feel the pressure to overshare or reveal too much of your private life in order to promote your brand. Instead, remember the ask yourself the question mentioned above, figure out where your boundaries are and you can thoughtfully and creatively develop your personal brand without getting too personal.