If you don’t eat, sleep, and breathe marketing, the idea of building a personal brand online can seem trivial. How is becoming a minor internet celebrity going to help you close big B2B contracts with serious, technically-minded buyers?
In reality, social media is the best possible place to establish a reputation for trustworthiness and expertise with both current and future customers. If you want to engage with people online to talk about your company, your products, and the state of your industry, it makes more impact to back your words up with a credible personal brand.
We do not recommend the approach of just putting yourself out there and hoping for the best. There are habits and practices that help to create the best possible conditions for building a solid personal brand. We’ve boiled them down to twelve key tips.
1. Study What Successful Influencers Do
If you want to build a strong personal brand and gain an online following, you’re going to want to study from the masters. Find out who the biggest social media influencers are in your field and related industries, then take a deep dive into their online world.
Look at whom they’re following and being followed by; read their posts; and analyze what they’re doing. You can gain valuable insights by watching how they interact with their followers. Don’t be afraid to share or comment on their content. Building relationships with influencers can open up advantageous opportunities for collaboration.
Tip: try to look at influencers outside your immediate industry. That way you’re “innovating” instead of “copying”.
2. Connect with Your Contacts
Most social media platforms offer the ability to look through your contact list and find accounts belonging to friends, family, and colleagues. When you’re signing up for a new platform or just making sure your existing accounts are fully optimized, this is one of the first things you should do.
The people who know you are more likely than anyone to give you feedback and signal boosts when you’re establishing your social media presence. This is the case whether they’re close confidants or old acquaintances you haven’t seen in years, so import those contact lists and leave no friend behind.
3. Carve Out Your Niche of Expertise
On the internet, nobody likes a jack-of-all-trades. The brands and influencers that have the biggest followings — and the greatest impact on their industries — are the ones who have made themselves a go-to source for news, analysis, and commentary on specific, focused topics. Maybe you’re a polymath with a wide and far-reaching breadth of knowledge, and that’s great — but for your online personal brand, find your wheelhouse and stick with it.
If you’re not sure what, exactly, qualifies you as an expert in a crowded field, look to the projects and postings you’ve worked on that have generated the most engagement. Finding the unique perspective and knowledge that you can bring to the table is one of the most important elements in building a compelling personal brand.
4. Keep All Your Accounts Fresh and Up-to-date
When you start to attract followers, you want them fully engaged. If they start digging through your posting archives and looking up other things you’ve written online, that’s a very good thing. What you don’t want is for them to stumble upon a cache of embarrassing, outdated, or off-brand content from yesteryear.
Building a brand starts with cleaning house. First, delete the old accounts you don’t want associated with your current persona. Then review your old content to see if there’s anything that would be better off deleted. Finally, make sure that what’s left reflects current and accurate information.
5. Create Excellent Content
Once you’ve got your accounts all set up, start posting witty, insightful, engaging content that will drive clicks and go viral. No big deal, right?
Okay, there’s more to it than that, but the key here is content creation. A polished, updated social media platform is just an empty showroom if you’re not going to put content in there that people will want to see — and makes them keep coming back for more.
You can make it easier on yourself, especially as you’re finding your footing, by sharing and reposting relevant, high quality content from your contacts. This can help establish and reinforce the specific topics and areas of interest that you’ll be covering. Personal content that touches on your life, your thoughts, and your achievements can help make you relatable, but don’t overdo it.
6. Post Content on a Consistent Schedule
You can post a devastatingly brilliant blog post on Monday, but if you don’t follow it up with something interesting on Tuesday or Wednesday, count on being completely forgotten by the weekend. Depending on your industry and the type of following you’re trying to build, you can make your own determinations as to how frequently you want to be participating on social media. The main thing is to find a schedule that works for you; and stick to it so that your followers always have a reasonably good sense of when they can find new content from you.
7. Use the Apps
Every social media platform has apps that make creating, sharing, and finding content easier. Use them — they’ll simplify your life, facilitate the use of all the platform’s features, and save you from struggling with using web pages that haven’t been optimized for your device or browser.
Third-party apps can also be tremendously helpful for organizing your various accounts, crossposting to multiple accounts at once, and managing contacts and notifications. Once you sort out your social media management routine, seek out the tools that will make it easier to handle your daily activities.
For large B2B brands with brand advocates, partners, employees, and more all posting on the brand’s behalf then
8. Maintain a Consistent Tone and Persona
As human beings, we contain multitudes. Maybe you’re a relentlessly optimistic cheerleader for your industry in certain contexts, but in other settings you turn into a prophet of doom. That’s fine. Life is complicated and sometimes contradictory. But where your online presence is concerned, there’s only room for one persona.
Nothing will mess up a personal brand more than exposing your followers to jarring shifts in your tone and personality. It can be powerful to “break character” once in a while, like when a comedian stops joking for a few minutes to “get real” over an issue near and dear to their heart — but consistency comes first. When you create a persona that wins people over, they don’t want to see you turn into somebody else. You can lose both their trust and their interest, and it’s hard to say which is worse.
9. Join Groups
Some platforms, chiefly Facebook and LinkedIn, include groups you can join to share and discuss posts among people with similar interests. Search for groups related to your industry and area of expertise, then join them. Once you get a feel for them, you can figure out how to make yourself an indispensable participant.
Keep in mind that large, popular, or broadly-focused groups can become very crowded — to the extent that it’s not always easy to stand out and be noticed. Smaller, more specialized groups can be a better venue for making connections and building a reputation for knowledge and credibility.
10. Be Part of the Discussion
Every day, various stories and topics percolate up through the internet and become popular, trending discussions. When there’s some buzz in the air, follow it to its source then add your voice to the mix.
Did a notorious public figure with a huge Twitter following just tweet something about your industry? Post a reply — an appropriate, on-brand reply — and you might gain some recognition and a few new followers.
Just be sure to read the next tip before you jump headfirst into the fray, and be mindful of the risks of inserting yourself into online controversies where nobody walks away looking good.
11. Stay Positive
There’s a time and a place for vulnerability, blunt critiques, and harsh doses of reality, but for the most part, the social media platform where you’re building your personal brand isn’t it.
People are drawn to positivity, and you want your online presence to be a source of it. Don’t put people down, pick fights with your detractors, or wade into political arguments. While you don’t want to come across as sappy or fake, most of the worst negativity traps are obvious and easy to avoid. Just remember what you’re trying to achieve, and stay focused on the positive things.
12. Track Your Mentions
When somebody on the internet is talking about you, your company, or your topic of expertise, you might want to join in. At the very least, you want to know when and where these discussions are happening so you can stay informed as to what’s on people’s minds.
Google Alerts and other automated notification systems are a must, but don’t be overly reliant on them. Set up notifications and do manual searches on all your active social media platforms. You don’t want to miss out when people are having a conversation that should include your voice.
Polishing up a social media profile so that it looks professional is a worthy afternoon’s worth of labor. Building a strong personal brand with a recognizable and engaging online persona is an ongoing project. Doing it right takes a dedicated mindset, along with the willingness to learn and adapt.The rewards are worth it, though. In this day and age, there’s no better way than social media to reach more people in more places — and to cut through the noise and connect with them on a meaningful level.