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The Basics Of Personal Branding Online

The Basics Of Personal Branding Online

In 2006, Time magazine declared 'YOU' as the person of the year. Back then, Facebook and Twitter were either non-existent or niche products. There was no Instagram or Pinterest. People were blogging, posting photos and videos online, but none of this was mainstream. Almost 10 years later, social media has become a pillar in any marketing campaign and is key to developing your personal brand.

From showcasing expertise through blog posts to interacting with peers on Twitter to joining Linkedin groups, everyone is promoting their personal brands online. It's not enough to say you are good at what you do. Today, you need a strong online presence to back it up.

[Related: Personal Branding 101]

1. Focus On Your Uniqueness

It's key to define a strong brand that is uniquely you. You may offer up an impressive, solid resume, but you need to differentiate and be authentic if you want to attract an audience.

2. Figure Out Your Home Base

Where will you promote your talents? Is it a personal blog where you can post articles, accolades and a history in one place?  Maybe it will be on Linkedin, where you can chime in on discussions and showcase your thought leadership. There are many platforms with established networks that could help you build an audience.

Advantages to hosting your own site are:

  • You can add content from all sorts of platforms
  • A web address is easily searchable
  • A URL of your name (janedoe.com) looks and sounds professional

The disadvantages are:

  • Keeping it up to date: In order for people to come back to your blog or site, you need to give them a reason to, which means planning out content
  • Building an audience: That means promoting your content on social media and directing people back to your site
  • Possible security issues, if you collect personal information on the site
  • If you work for a company, at some point you may have to explain why you are building a website for your personal brand

If you want simple, a platform like LinkedIn, Medium, YouTube, or a Facebook Page to build your audience. The downside to hosted platforms is that you are at the mercy of them. They could make changes to the design or not allow you to export your contacts or content.

[Related: Personal Branding When You're Returning To Work]

3. Listen and Learn From Your Competition

If creating articles or videos seems intimidating at first, read and watch what your colleagues are posting. Learn what works and what doesn't, what your audience cares about and tune in with how you can connect with your future customers. Listening is 75% of what you should be doing online.

4. Join the Conversation

In the early days of blogging, readers spent most of their time commenting on other people's blogs. Many people make the mistake of just promoting their own work. They'll jump into a community and say, "Read my smart article" and then wonder why nobody clicked through. Joining the conversation first and building relationships will increase the likelihood of people clicking on your link and reading your article.

5. Use Tools That Best For Your Audience

If your audience prefers email, create an email newsletter. If your audience lives on Facebook, focus on your Facebook page. Twitter is best for conversations, hashtags and sharing a pithy quote. Linkedin can be powerful for polls and industry-specific articles. Experiment with a few different platforms and see where you get the most traction.

6. Write From Experience

You'll find that writing articles, creating videos for YouTube and starting discussions gets easier when you know what you are talking about and have something solid and unique to offer. 

One of the core reasons that people share content is because it has a practical value. Is there something you have experience with that could be helpful to your audience? Could you give away some of your knowledge to demonstrate that you have much more knowledge? Great anecdotes where you learned a lesson? Write about that.

7. Grow Every Day

One of the biggest advantages to promoting yourself online is that you get feedback. It was very rare that you'd post an ad in the old Yellow Pages and get a phone call saying, "Your ad isn't very appealing. I don't understand the language you are using." 

[Related: Optimizing Your Professional LinkedIn Profile]

Online, you'll get this feedback all of the time.  Even when people aren't commenting, you'll understand what is and isn't appealing by the amount of interaction you are getting from the content.

By Allison Matejczyk


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