Gone are the days however where the concept of branding only applies to companies. The term is now firmly attached to individuals due to the interconnectivity of social media and easy access to your own personal digital footprint.
With the onset of Covid19, a strong personal digital brand is more important than ever as we don’t necessarily have the luxury of meeting & impressing people in person. There is also considerable data that shows that prospective employers are doing more and more digital research about their candidates before even considering a phone, Zoom or if possible, face to face interview.
So what should you think about when creating your own personal digital brand?
1. Be a Brand
The first step is to actually think of yourself as a brand and what that means to you. Ask yourself some questions about what you want your digital image to look like, who do you want to appeal to and what about yourself and your professional life are you trying to showcase.
2. Check Yourself Out
Once you’ve determined what you want your personal digital brand to look like, go through and look into what your current online presence tells other professionals. Do you look professional or can people (and potential employers) see photos of your 16-year-old self playing “goon of fortune” in your best friend’s backyard?
When you’ve “audited” your online presence, go through and change what’s needed. If you don’t want certain aspects of your life readily available, ensure you alter your privacy settings accordingly. Otherwise, you may want to think about deleting old accounts or editing them to be more acceptable to the general public.
The next step is to consider what platforms you want to use to project your personal digital image / brand. The obvious ones are social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Pinterest, Google+, Linkedin and Tumblr. But have you considered some of the less obvious or even industry specific platforms like Blogger, Quora, Flipboard, Slideshare, Blab, Periscope, Meerkat, Ning, Flickr, Reddit or Scribd.
Do you need to use all of these? Unlikely; to use them all might take you longer on a daily basis than your actual job. It is well worth however going through the platforms available to you and picking out which ones will add the most value to your digital footprint.
Depending on what industry you are in, you may even want to consider building yourself a website or blog in order to really showcase your skills / work on your own terms. Since most websites / blogs allow you to directly share your own content directly to your social media platforms, this can save you a lot of time.
Which leads to the next point.
Creating a personal brand is not just about what you physically look like online, but what image you’re projecting through what you say. There’s a hell of a lot of noise online so whilst you don’t have to reinvent the wheel, you do need to create content that is unique to you or share content that really resonates with what you believe in regards to business / your profession.
The general advice in this area is to limit your focus to 2-3 areas that you consider yourself an expert in and then write compelling original content that really showcases your expertise.
If you’re looking to create a personal brand that really highlights your career then this is fairly straightforward, you highlight your professional expertise and write content based on the industry in which you work.
When writing content, there are a few things to remember.
- Be original. Plagiarism on the internet is often difficult to prove (as there is so much information readily available) but copying someone else’s ideas will garner you no friends.
- Be respectful. Unless you are deliberately trying to disrupt or cause shock in your chosen area, you will win no friends by being discriminatory or rude.
- Be yourself. Creating a name for yourself rests upon being yourself and not trying to create an image that mirrors someone else.
- Be careful. You may have strong political or social views and there is certainly nothing wrong with sharing them, just be sure to share them in aa way that doesn’t deliberately set out to offend others.
Finally, whenever you post something ask yourself one simple but VERY important question. Does what I’m about to post add value to my followers or my target audience.
5. Be Responsive
Not only to most social media platforms boost your reach for the more interactions you receive, but you will create a far bigger and more loyal following if they know you are attainable.