Checklist (greatly simplified!) for entrepreneurs and business owners:
- Secure financing
- Finetune product and/or service offerings
- Establish office space or headquarters
- Do your marketing and sales thing and wow prospects
- Build strong company brand and hire for fit
- Build personal brand
For many businesses, it’s that last piece that often goes neglected. The reality is, though, that building a personal brand is just as crucial as building a strong company brand and culture when it comes to breaking through and capturing the attention, interest, and wallets of customers. In our social media-saturated world, we are brands. Think of all the individuals and influencers on Facebook, Twitter, Tiktok, etc., who have gone from person to brand in the blink of a 30-second reel.
Another reality – like it or not – is that everything we say and do on social channels ultimately tells others what we are all about. Everything we like, share, retweet, comment on, pin… it all conveys a message. If you do not take an intentional, strategic approach to building a brand, you are still creating a brand. The difference is that instead of owning it, you are letting others interpret that message and spin their own narrative.
So, let’s own it. Let’s be intentional. Let’s leverage social media to build a brand that is purposeful, in alignment with our values and goals, and that empowers us to tell our own story.
Where do you start?
Of course, you start on Facebook! Yes, while the young’uns think Facebook is a cute thing that Grandma does, this social media stalwart has nearly 3 billion users, with almost 2 billion using the site daily. It is still a highly relevant platform with no signs of a slow-down. Leverage the incredible reach and establish relationships that separate you from the competition.
Research shows that people trust information from those they know significantly more than marketing/advertising messages. Building a personal brand on Facebook allows you to build connections that lead to trust and authority. Revamp your profile:
Balance Personal with Professional
Your audience needs to see the face behind the company; they need to see you. It is important to let your personality and unique qualities shine through; at the same time, however, you need to ensure that you remain professional at all times. You are an extension of your brand – or vice versa!
How can you maintain this balance? One method is to post three industry-related articles/pieces of content each week. These should be relevant and interesting for your audience. Post two inspiring quotes related to your business/industry each week. And then, have a “cheat day''.” It may be, for example, that you post a personal message or picture each Friday. Again, though, make sure this is on brand and aligned with your goals.
As with any social media platform, it is essential that you engage with your audience, respond to comments, follow them in return, and stay active in this space. Social is not “set it and forget it.” You do have to stay involved in – and ideally, leading – the conversations that take place each and every day.
Same question: Is Twitter still relevant?
Same answer: Yes. With nearly 370 million users, Twitter appeals to those who prefer a fast and furious pace. The very format – posts are limited to 280 characters – lends itself to an audience that is voracious for news, entertainment, enlightenment… witty quips and funny videos. It also lends itself to those who need to build a personal brand.
One of the most important tips when it comes to using Twitter is to be active daily; you can’t let your presence linger on the vine, so to speak. Aim for one to two posts per day. Don’t go overboard as it often leads to a drop in engagement. It may be helpful to implement the “Rule of 5.” It’s not really a rule, but as a guideline, it can help you achieve the results you want. So, here it is:
- Reply to five of your tweets
- Engage with five people you know
- Engage with five new connections
- Retweet five tweets (be sure to follow other active Twitter users and authorities/influencers in your space)
Make it a habit to do this every day to build those vital connections. Remember, you are going for quality over quantity, so make each character count.
Google+ was Google’s attempt at social media. And, if you remember it and used it, you know it was like a virtual ghost town. Finally, the search giant cut its losses and shuttered Google+, replacing it with Google Currents. This is an enterprise-only app that is designed primarily to allow people within organizations to share news, ideas, content, and conversations. However, you can also join public “communities” of folks who share similar interests.
We do not predict that Currents will be anywhere near the player that Facebook, Twitter, and other more readily known platforms are in the social media world. At the same time, however, it is worth engaging with or starting your own communities, sharing content, and establishing your authority and expertise. And, don’t forget, Google typically rewards its own tools with more visibility in the search engine results pages, and that is a benefit you cannot ignore!
The so-called social network for professionals, LinkedIn, is plugging away with 810 million users. Its usage stats are impressive. Consider that:
- 49 million people search for jobs on the platform each week
- 6 people are hired through LinkedIn each minute
- Four out of five LinkedIn users are “drive business decisions”
At your fingertips, you have access to an audience that includes potential employees, partners, influencers, clients, and customers. These are people who have the power to make decisions – and when they interact with your personal brand, they are more likely to choose you when it comes to providing a service, hiring you as a consultant, etc.
Unlike Facebook or Twitter, which people check daily – and even multiple times a day – LinkedIn users are not as likely to check in quite as much. At the same time, though, it is important that you remain active. Brands that post at least once a month gain followers six times faster than those that do not. Share content that is original and authoritative that is relevant and interesting to your audience. Interact with others in your industry niche, and as always, make sure your profile is full, complete, and includes a high-quality photo of you. This is your brand, after all!
Just the Beginning
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to using social media to build a brand. As you dig into each site, you will customize your approach for maximum results. Again, the fundamentals apply across platforms. Make sure profiles are clear, complete, and up to date; include high-quality images and video; craft concise and catchy messages; interact and engage.
When you are building a personal brand, you have the opportunity to lead the conversation. Don’t let other people tell your story; find your voice and tell it yourself – with impact.