Personal brands are useful tools for job searchers; much like corporate brands, personal brands are a collection of characteristics and traits that constitute a unique identity and generate popularity.
In the job market, people with strong personal brands are more visible, more popular, and more authoritative; but personal brands are useful for more than just getting a job. If used in conjunction with a corporate brand, they can earn a host of benefits, including:
· Trust. People trust other people more than they trust corporations; when they read content written and promoted by a person, they’re more likely to believe its sincerity and importance than when the same content is pushed by a business attempting to generate a profit.
· Visibility. Every personal brand social media account is an opportunity to reach a new segment of your target demographics; three accounts with a thousand followers each will reach three times the eyeballs that a single account could.
· Niche availability. Branching out with personal brands gives you the opportunity to target different niches, either within your corporate brand’s main expertise, or as complementary extensions of it.
How to Build a Personal Brand
So how can you create a personal brand that can support and complement your corporate brand?
1. Identify your key players. First, you need to decide who within your organization are the best candidates for personal brands. There’s no necessary rubric for evaluation here, but generally, more experienced people (and those with pre-existing social media followings) are easier to build up. Many businesses start by designating their CEO, their founders, or their most experienced account managers, but you can choose anyone with a realm of expertise that will be of interest to your target demographics. You’ll also want to choose people who have a few extra hours a week to manage the development of their own personal brands.
2. Designate expertise and optimize your profiles. Next, you’ll need to lay the foundation for your growth by claiming and optimizing the social media profiles of each personal brand you choose to develop. The social media platforms will depend on your business and its target audience; generally, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are core necessities, and Instagram is nice to have. You may also want to separate the true “personal” social accounts from your personal brand accounts. Either way, you’ll need to optimize your personal brand accounts with professional headshots, wording that reflects each personal brand’s expertise, and of course, links or other ties back to your corporate brand.
3. Create and promote content. If you want to take personal branding seriously, you can create a professional, separate blog for each of your individual profiles. Otherwise, it’s fine to use your corporate blog with individual author profiles for each of your personal brands. Take the time to create high-quality content for each personal brand, relevant to their respective areas of expertise. When finished, make sure to promote that content across their social channels — and while you’re at it, syndicate your core “corporate” content through each of your personal brands.
4. Get involved in groups and conversations. If you want to grow your personal brand’s visibility, you need to do more than simply write and promote content. You need to get involved with other individuals, so they can see and appreciate your content. The best ways to do this are getting involved with groups, which you can easily find on LinkedIn, or conversations, which are easy to find on open public platforms like Twitter. Look for topics relevant to your area and expertise and get involved with comments, answers to questions, and even some questions of your own. It’s a good way to build your presence and reputation at once.
5. Follow new people. Go out of your way to follow new people — it’s a good way to get their direct attention. However, it’s inadvisable to follow total strangers; instead, follow people once you’ve had an interaction with them, even if it’s an indirect one. For example, if you were involved in the same Twitter conversation, follow them; they’ll likely follow you back. Over time, you can attract many quality followers this way.
6. Engage with your followers. It’s not enough to attract followers to your personal brand; you also have to keep them interested in you. Continuing to produce and promote content is a good start here, but it’s better to interact with your followers directly. Give them rewards for following you, such as discounts or special promotions, and make sure to respond to all their comments and questions.
7. Strengthen the ties between personal and corporate. Eventually, you’ll also want to strengthen the ties between your personal and corporate brands. Occasionally, toss in a promotion of your corporate brand, and remind your followers where your allegiance lies. You may also use your corporate brand to direct followers to individual personal brands, highlighting them for their unique modes of expertise.
Building a personal brand may seem simple, but it takes attention to detail and a commitment to a long-term strategy; you won’t attract an audience of tens of thousands of followers overnight. However, within the span of a few weeks, you should have enough of a foundation to support your corporate brand, and within a few months, your personal brands may have the potential to multiply the reach of your content — not to mention the trust of your customers.
For more content like this, be sure to check out my podcast, The Entrepreneur Cast!