You could say building a successful personal brand online comes down to understanding one rule:
“It’s not about what you want to say; it’s about what you want people to know.”
It may sound simple but the difference between a successful and unsuccessful online personal brand for an entrepreneur can often be measured by not understanding the difference between a ‘statement’ and ‘proposition of value’.
Here are the top 5 steps to take to ensure the success of your personal brand:
1) Assess your position
Before you can begin to define your online brand and position yourself, it’s important to understand what works. For example, say that you would like to start a business by selling designed goods in online marketplaces. A reasonable move would be to look at successful sellers on sites from Fab to Etsy and identify how they do it: Look at the voice they use, the social media channels they operate on, even the colors and fonts they employ. Do the same with sellers that don’t resonate with you and the contrast between the two will more clearly reveal how you would like your message to be received and the methods to achieve it.
2) Create the foundation
Just as the services or goods you provide are unique and valuable, so too must be your personal brand. The most important process in personal branding is defining what makes you unique and why should anyone pay attention to what you have to say? More importantly, try to understand what it is about you that would be of value to both your target audience and your peers. If you can define who they are and what they are looking for, you can then begin to structure a truly authentic brand message. It’s not easy having a clear vision of yourself, so it might help to ask your friends, family and your fellow entrepreneurs how they perceive you and what are your strengths. Authenticity is central to personal brand success.
3) Extend your reach
Look at the social platforms you operate on and refine them in line with your message. If you don’t have a blog, maybe you should think of creating one. If you do, optimize its brand message. More importantly, identify areas important to your audience you aren’t active in and get involved. The key here is to be both consistent and individualized. Your message needs to be standardized across your digital footprint, but tailored to suit the unique environment of each social platform. What works for Facebook doesn’t work for Twitter. Don’t forget there are plenty of services out there to help you customize your personal brand content exactly as you want it. Don’t be afraid to play around and see what works, but always stay on message and maintain your authenticity. Just like you as a person, you’re building something greater than the sum of its parts.
4) Leverage your worth
So you’ve defined and built your personal brand, optimized the message and are now spreading it online. Now what?
The key to leveraging any brand is targeting not only the right audiences, but linking with the like minded. Get involved in the forums your audience participates in. Connect with trendsetters, thought leaders and of course your fellow entrepreneurs in your niche. Comment on blog posts that resonate with your personal brand, and always follow up with those who post on yours. Building connections and a community comes from being not only authentic and topical, but most importantly being seen as creating value, not noise.
5) Establish your leadership
For your online personal brand to be truly distinct and widely recognized, you need to lead. Build authority by bravely spreading your thought leadership wherever you can. Contribute guest articles on relevant blogs, lead discussions on forums and use your social media channels to invite opinions and debate. Remember, to be heard on the Internet you first need to be seen.
Of course, this process never really ends: Continually focus on how best to optimize your personal brand, keep making those connections and always ensure that what people hear about you is authentic and on message.
What are your thoughts on these steps to help you build your online brand? Have any tips that I may have missed? Add them to the comments below.