Growing your personal brand is one of the most important things that you can in order do to level up your business.
Branding is your unique way of making a lasting impression on the consumer. It tells your customers who you are and what you have to offer. If done correctly, it can position you as a thought leader in your industry and distinguish you from your competitors.
As an entrepreneur, your brand is like the personality of your business, which is why it is imperative that you have a solid understanding of what your brand message is. In the online business world, first impressions matter. In the words of Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon – “Your brand is what people say about you when you're not in the room.” What do you want your brand to say about you?
That is why I wanted to invite Charlotte McCleary, a message-centric brand strategist to write a guest post to talk about 4 essential tips that every entrepreneur should master when it comes to growing their personal brand.
Take it away Charlotte!
Consumers have become addicted to using different types of media in different ways, at different times; all depending on their mood. They are constantly consuming content; downloading and uploading, tweeting, posting, watching, and commenting.
What is personal branding?
Branding can be confusing and seems like a digital free-for-all when it comes to deciding how to promote a brand agenda and connecting with the consumer. A brand guru can no longer focus on just one type of media for promotion. It is critical that you develop a vision of how to communicate your message across different media platforms early on.
The key question is how can your message be delivered effectively online, offline, visually, and in both text and audio formats. Furthermore, you need to ask yourself, “How can my message be repurposed over the long run?”
1. Identify the “Where” and “What” of Your Consumers
These are two overlapping ideas that you need to tackle in order to build a brand. “Where” is identifying the types of media the consumers are using so you know which media channels to use for messaging. “What” is the kind of content they are consuming. For instance, social media users in the UK spend an average of 800 minutes on Facebook per month (See chart).
This chart shows the number of minutes spent on each social site vs reach of content across platforms (Source: Smart Insights).
The answers probably won’t be clear when you start. That’s what market insights are for! However, you will also need to experiment and monitor the results and refine your plan along the way.
Learning “where” is the starting point for building yourself as a destination. Observing where your competition is and what media they are using is a good way to get started. This might be who has the most followers on Twitter, or it could be who has the most valuable niche of followers.
Identify leaders in your niche. Look for influencers who have robust followings on social media platforms such as Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook.
Study your niche audience and get to know them. Surveys and interviews are great tools that you can use. But this is also where you need to learn as you go. Look for insights as to what resonates with your audience, and what gets downloaded and generates questions. Metrics will be your friend.
2. Plan to Repurpose Media
Learning about your audience’s media preferences is one important step. However, another powerful tool to increase your audience is repurposing the same content onto different platforms. This will help you reach a larger consumer base with less effort. Think of one major piece of content in the middle of a collection of smaller versions used to extend your reach.
Perhaps you wrote an eBook on a topic. You can then take smaller portions of that and publish them on your blog and offer sections to other blogs as guest posts. Perhaps you can create an audio version of certain sections, particularly if it contains interviews. It's even better if you can use the interviews to create a video.
Maybe you have data that you’ve collected that you can make a slideshow or infographic from. Can the book also be boiled down into a smaller version that you can distribute? Maybe you can even create a webinar or series of videos from the eBook too. Furthermore, don’t forget that quotes or even art from the book can become content for updates to use on your various social media platforms.
By creating one large piece of content, you have something to build a media strategy from. After making the large content, the challenge of “what should you create” now becomes “what part of the larger piece of content should you use, and in what media platform should you use it.”
This creates a built-in continuity to your messaging when you keep repurposing your content. It provides you with multiple media platforms to reach your audience with.
3. Be Specific to Your Media Type
When you repurpose your content for different media platforms, be sure to match the tone to the audience that uses it. LinkedIn would require a different tone than what would be put out across Twitter. Similarly, a white paper would be written in a different voice than a blog.
Put some thought into the best spin for the type of audience you are reaching. You want to be everywhere, but not “all over the place.” Stay focused on the message and maintain the standards of your brand across whichever media you are using. Keep in mind that each media platform will reach different demographics in different ways and with varying levels of success.
This chart shows the different social media and messaging app users categorized by age (Source: Smart Insights).
4. Move Step-wise
The rise of the Internet and corresponding evolution of digital technology has created a revolution in media. It has been democratized because everyone can own a piece and put out their own messaging.
It can seem very overwhelming to try to delve into this new territory and master all the media platforms, but it can be done. You will need to develop an understanding of your audience, and then use commitment and creativity to find a strategy that works. The reach to which you can build your brand on YouTube, as well as other social media platforms, is limitless.
Yes, different audience types prefer different media platforms. Women love Pinterest and men probably don’t even have an account. Bloggers, well they are on blogs, and tech types or industry professionals are all about white papers.
It will feel overwhelming. As you learn about your audience, you will probably discover social media platforms you didn’t know much about when you started. At the same time, it would be a recipe for failure to try out everything at once. Trust that you will master them over time.
This is the recipe for how to grow your personal brand.
In summary, use the plan from above and develop a large piece of content. Then learn about your target audience and what media platform they are on. Repurpose your content to fit onto that platform, while maintaining standards and a solid brand message. Use metrics to measure your results and refine as necessary. Start with something that makes sense for your brand and get going.
As you master one media platform, learn about the next one and which of your audience members are there and how they consume content. Repurpose what you have for them, using what you have learned about them so far, and then execute as before. No major household brand was built in a day, and neither will yours.
But you must get started to make your brand one.
Charlotte McCleary is a message-centric brand strategist who works with the marketing teams of start-ups and young companies to streamline their market positioning and message. When not crafting blueprints for marketers she is a keynote speaker and personal branding coach. If you want to connect with Charlotte directly, reach out to her on social media.