In today’s connected world, content marketing has become a key part of every company’s marketing efforts. Content marketing is a great way to showcase a business’ value and expertise, build a business’ brand, and increase customers’ trust through knowledge sharing.
However, have you ever thought about how you could use content marketing for building your own personal brand? Or whether personal branding is important at all?
Why Is Personal Branding Important?
Think about the first thing you do when you are going to interview a candidate for a job, watch a speaker present, or start working with someone new: You look them up, probably using Google. With a few quick clicks, you can discover a myriad of information about that person.
It’s only logical to conclude that other people are doing the same for you. Consider what you want those people to see when they look you up: Information that someone else has posted about you that may or may not be accurate? Content you posted years ago and never updated to reflect your current status? Even seeing nothing at all will tell your audience something about you – and the impression they get most likely won’t be positive.
When someone searches for you, you want to be seen in the best light
In other words, even if you aren’t actively working on your personal branding online, you still have an online identity. Isn’t it time you take control of that narrative?
Building your personal brand online empowers you to build credibility and showcase your knowledge. It lets people know information about you without requiring that they talk to you in real life. People who check out your social media profiles will quickly be able to understand your areas of expertise. This, in turn, can result in increased opportunities to grow your business and career.
Is Personal Branding A Time Suck?
Many people are concerned that personal branding will take up too much time. Often, these same people already have a full-time job. They worry that building up a strong social media presence will be exhausting and eat up any free time they might have otherwise used to hang out with family and friends or just relax.
This is far from the reality of the matter. Self-branding efforts could involve only an hour on Sundays to set up a bunch of short social media posts to be sent out throughout the week. Free social media automation tools like Buffer and Hootsuite make that easy. Then all you’d have to do during the week is reply to anyone who commented on your posts.
I use Hootsuite to schedule social media posts throughout the week
Alternatively, you could skip the automation action and post a small amount of content over several different evenings – for example, half an hour, two days a week. Then you could take fifteen minutes during two other evenings to reply to people who reach out to you.
Consistently showing up and providing your input and conversation is more important to your personal branding efforts than posting all day every day when it comes to building your online reputation. Sure, you could spend a lot of time posting online and build a huge following. However, there’s no reason that has to be your goal.
If your goal is to be known as an expert with a solid reputation, you can accomplish that through a few online updates each week. If the right people are responding to you, then you’re doing enough.
How Much Can I Share?
Your personal branding efforts allow you the opportunity to create and promote content that highlights skills and knowledge you’ve gained over time. This information can go far beyond what you might include on your resume.
For instance, someone might be looking for a person who is an engineer but also a leader. You could be an engineer who posted a number of updates on your LinkedIn profile about leadership. Maybe you were also outspoken in a Facebook group that focuses on leadership. If so, you would paint yourself as someone they would want to reach out to.
In my case, people are often looking for women leaders who come from the tech community and like to talk about equality, diversity, and inclusion. Therefore, on LinkedIn, I supplement my shorter updates by writing articles about different aspects of the equality struggle. In addition, I reach out to other people whose titles include such words as “equality,” “diversity,” and “inclusion,” because I know those people will be interested to hear what I (and others) have to say on the subject.
Showing my range of interests helps people know whether I’m a good fit for their needs
The one thing you should be careful to avoid is building yourself up as being brilliant in areas in which you have no experience. You need to be honest about what you know and the value you bring to your audience. You should be your genuine, natural self, acting as you would in a business setting.
How Can I Showcase My Interests?
If you were going into an office for the first time, you might dress a little more formally or some extra prep work. You would contribute where you have the knowledge and could add value. You also might share facts about yourself that aren’t strictly business but that help rounds out your personality, like shows you enjoy watching, music you listen to, or stories about your pet.
Think of your online updates as a self-service interview where you share similar things. Personal branding allows people to find out about your personality, range of knowledge, and experience without having to speak directly to you at all. Yet everything you share is part of the real, honest you.
For example, in my self-branding content creation and marketing efforts, I let others know that helping women in tech grow their voices and careers is a core part of what I do. That’s not necessarily something they could find out by looking at my resume or my past job descriptions. That said, they will quickly see it if they look at any of my social media streams.
If you run an online search, you’ll nearly immediately see a link to my Twitter profile. On Twitter, I post articles about women in tech, research about women in tech, profiles of women in tech, highlights about businesses run by women, and more. I connect with people whose profiles show that they are interested in women in tech or are female leaders or speakers. I also include the #womenintech hashtag in my profile description so others looking for people interested in that topic can easily find me.
Adding hashtags into your Twitter profiles helps you build a relevant following
Will I Be Able To Create Enough Material?
Not everything you post online has to be something you create from scratch. Businesses curate content as part of their content marketing efforts all the time. There’s no reason you can’t do that for your personal branding efforts as well.
Looking for an easy way to find appropriate content to curate? You are most likely already consuming a large volume of content on your own, at least some of which is relevant to the area in which you want to be known as an expert. Why don’t you post links to the material you enjoyed most? Add a little commentary before including the link and you’re good to go!
You could also make a list of your favorite influencers and start reposting their articles, videos, and podcasts with a bit of your own opinions added in the update. If you don’t want to go that far, you could simply hit “reply” and let influencers know what you think of their posts. Both tactics are great for developing relationships with people you admire while also adding to the conversation with the audience you want to attract.
You can combine curation content and networking within a single reply
Another easy way to handle social media updates and improve your personal brand is to figure out a few hashtags to follow and then reply to the people who post about those topics. That way, you don’t have to do any prep work ahead of time and can work on-the-fly. You will also be able to nurture connections to relevant people and grow your reputation as a person who is generous with their knowledge and praise.
What If I Make A Mistake?
The more active you are online, the more material people will have to judge you by. Does that make you nervous? It shouldn’t because when you post material online, you are the one who is in complete control of what others see. You have time to think about how you want people to perceive you and what areas of expertise you want to be associated with. You are the one with the power to mold yourself into anything you want to be.
Will you make mistakes? Probably. Is that a problem? Not at all. In fact, acknowledging your mistakes makes you more human and approachable. You could even create and promote content around the mistakes you make and what you learned from working through those situations. That’s an excellent way to showcase your ability to handle whatever life throws at you.
How Will I Know If I’m Doing It Right?
If you are successfully branding yourself through content marketing efforts, you will naturally grow the audience that makes the most sense for the goals you are trying to achieve.
Remember that you should be working towards a goal that you set at the beginning of your efforts. You don’t want to simply share for the sake of sharing, without a plan in place. Instead, you should be working on something like growing your reputation as an expert, building your audience’s trust, or convincing a specific group of people to work with you moving forward.
Effective self-branding online will result in added value for your audience and a stronger reputation for you. Build your reputation in a conscious, thoughtful way. Be the real you, the best you, while you’re online. When you can do that, everyone wins!
What are your thoughts around self-branding? Are you actively building your reputation online? Continue the conversation with me in the comments below or Tweet me up at @HollyChessman.