We live in a a time when anyone with an internet connection and engaging content can reach an audience of millions. But even you if don't want to be an internet 'star', what you post online becomes your Personal Brand and will influence your life in ways you need to take a moment to consider.
Consider: 70% of employers now research candidates on social networking sites and according to Nielsen Research, 92% of people trust personal recommendations over other forms of marketing. So whether you are working for a business or running your own, creating your personal brand correctly can give you an advantage on the competition.
So, What What Does It Mean to 'Brand' Yourself
Some people think that you just go on-line and talk about yourself non-stop or try to be controversial to get attention. That might get you noticed, but not the type of attention you want. Just as in business marketing, personal branding is more about your audience that about you.
You goal is to find the right messages, mediums, and materials to make a connection to the people you are trying to reach. Whether you are trying to find customers for a side-job, engage with other members of your industry, or get noticed by companies in your field of endeavor - that will determine the type of content you need to create to make the connection.
With an effective personal brand, you can leverage this to close more sales, have a leg up on promotions, or other job opportunities.
Consistency is the Key
Statistics show that people only recall an ad 50% of the time for 24 hours after seeing it, so what are the chances they are going to remember you?
There is a Rule of 7 in marketing that says consumers need to see an ad seven times before they will remember it. If your message is all over the place, it will be harder for people to figure out who you are and why they should even care. If your personal brand's messages and materials are consistent each time people view it, the chances of them remembering you go up substantially.
Time to Put on Your Thinking Cap
When businesses go through the process of branding themselves, they start by creating three core principles to act as the foundation to build their branding strategy upon. These are: vision, mission, and values. You use the same process when branding yourself.
Vision: What is the big goal that you want to accomplish in life. How are you going to make the world a better place?
Mission: This states how you are going to accomplish your vision. Normally, your mission is related to career, but does not have to be (especially if you hate your current field of endeavor). It could be that side business you have or turning your hobby into something substantial.
Values: This is your why and is probably the most important principle. You have to stop and consider who or what are the most important things in your life. It/they have to be your core beliefs that will drag you out of bed in the morning to work on your vision and mission. It is not enough just to say you want to be successful. You have to answer why that success will fulfill all that you believe in. Take you time here, as what truly motivates us isn't always obvious - as any psychologist will tell you.
Combining these three principles into your personal brand statement gives you the basis for all of your core messages. This will help you be consistent across social media, approaching customers, a personal website, job interviews and anything else you may endeavor.
Creating Your Strategy
Now that you have determined your personal brand statement, it is time to create a cohesive strategy to implement it. While there are dozens of directions that could be considered, let's start out with five basic components.
Your Goal: What are you trying to do with your brand? What do you want to accomplish? Do you want to be an industry leader, grow you own business, change your career path, or look good to any recruiters out there.
Your Audience: Once you have determined what your goal is with your brand, you need to consider who are the people that can help you accomplish your goal. Often, targeting a smaller, more active audience will be better than trying to be all things to all people where the traffic is much heavier.
Your Messages: Now it is time to determine what your brand message is going to be based on your vision, mission, and values. It has to be tailored to the people who can help you achieve your goals by giving your audience something of value to them.
The Channels: Knowing who your audience is provides a starting point of where to find them. The first place most people think of is social media and with good reason. With more than 3 billion active social media users in 2019, it is probably a good bet that there is an audience for everything - regardless of how niche it might be. Most people would first think the the biggies - Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or YouTube - but there are dozens of other sites like Vimeo, Reddit, Tumblr, Medium or Pinterest that might be just right for your message.
Building your own website or writing your own newsletter are other options you may want to consider. The trick is to show your consistent message across multiple channels that your audience visits.
Your Content: You should also consider the type of content you want to create for each channel. One of the most effective at the moment is video, so be sure to look into video hosting and linking capabilities of the different channels you are considering. Also be aware that different channels have different requirements for image size, text length, and other constraints. Determining the channels you want to use first allows you to tailor your materials to look their best.
This all probably sounds like a lot to think about, and it is. But by providing a cohesive look and feel to the content you produce, it will make your posts identifiable at a glance - which is invaluable on fast moving social media.
Nothing in life is static and neither should your brand be. As your goals change, your branding needs to also. So, once a year, revisit these steps to make sure that what people see is actually where you are at now and where to want to go.