As the fascination in social media influencers has grown exponentially, so, too, has our interest in maintaining our own personal brands. In trying to hock their products and increase their profits, Goliaths like Nike and Apple have undoubtedly dominated traditional advertising channels — but what if you aren’t selling laptops or high tops? What if the only thing you’re selling is you? That’s where the power of a good personal brand comes into play.
So, what does it mean to have a personal brand? It’s the collective impression you leave on your audience. Your audience could be followers on Instagram or Twitter, fans/friends on Facebook, or connections on LinkedIn. With the shift in our economy and workforce from the COVID-19 pandemic, your audience may also be potential employers. As of today’s post, the unemployment number is north of 26 million (and likely still rising), higher than any other time in our history. This makes the job market more competitive than ever before, and it means that entire industries full of talented people will be shifting their career focus to get back to work.
Like it or not, potential employers will search for you on social media when considering you as an applicant. Now is the opportunity to take control of your online persona. Here’s how:
Maintaining a focus on what you’d like to be known for is one of the most important tips. Apple CEO Tim Cook makes it clear on Twitter that he’s focused on more than just creating innovative technology. Rather, he’s focused on using that technology to improve the world around us.
Is your goal to become a successful chef? Show off your mad culinary skills in the kitchen. Share your unique recipes and photos of the delectable dishes you’ve made. Post a video making one of your favorite dishes. Highlight your strengths!
Be yourself when posting content or images on social media. Gary Vaynerchuk (Gary Vee for those of you who follow him) is one of the most genuine online influencers I’ve ever seen. He’s built his personal brand by sharing unapologetic advice on business and branding on his blog. The thing is, Gary Vee’s brash, bold, and boisterous style won’t work for everyone. The reason why it works for him is because that’s genuinely who he is. Don’t force it to be who you are because it works for him.
Find an example
Do you have a mentor or idol in your field of interest that you can look up to? Find someone to observe so you can learn how you’d like to portray your online brand. Keep in mind that this exercise should be purely inspirational and shouldn’t serve as a template. Always do you, but don’t be afraid to look closer at those who you think are doing it right too. Here are a few great examples, depending on your area of interest:
- Gwyneth Paltrow (actress turned lifestyle blogger and creator of Goop)
- Dada Eats (vegetarian cook)
- Rachel Hollis (business and self-improvement guru)
Be humble, and don’t be afraid to fail
It’s tough to put yourself out there for the world to judge. It may feel uncomfortable to post videos of yourself or blogs that you’ve written. Just know that it’s OK to be yourself and post content that’s not perfect. Instagram is an ideal platform to post spontaneous videos or images when you’re in the midst of creating. Don’t be surprised if the content that you post now feels cringe-worthy in a few years – that’s what we call personal growth.
Leave a positive impact
Ranting about politicians or a rival’s behavior may not be the best strategy if you’re trying to appeal to everyone. If you have something to say about a particular cause you’re passionate about, make it meaningful. Make your audience the hero, not yourself.
Live your brand
If your personal values include those centered around community or philanthropy, share information about your favorite charities or causes and get involved! Donate, volunteer, and encourage others to do so.
With light slowly starting to glimmer at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel, it’s in your best interest to begin reflecting on your own personal brand. Conduct a self-evaluation of your behavior on social media and ask yourself if you would hire you.
If the answer is yes, you’re the right track. If the answer is no, the six steps I wrote about here can help you get there. And, as always, if you need any help or have any questions, I’d be happy to chat.
About the author
Stacey Harrison is an experienced B2B, B2C, and healthcare marketer. She leads Heart & Hustle Brands as the lead creative strategist. Partnering with small, medium, and start-up businesses, she operates as an outsourced Chief Marketing Officer to develop and implement growth marketing strategies that include branding, paid search and social, content marketing, direct TV, social media marketing, email marketing, and public relations and strategic communications.
Contact Stacey today for a no-obligation consultation about your branding strategy.