Most people online are building “a brand,” but sometimes people forget whose brand they are building and if they are making the right strategic moves. For instance, if your Twitter handle reads “@fastcar,” then you aren’t building your own personal brand. When people retweet you, they are viewing @fastcar and not your full name. So stop for a second and consider what brand you’re trying to build and why. Are you looking to become an industry expert, or are you focused on establishing your company’s name, or both? We’ve seen a lot of successful personal brands explode online because they’ve either thought about how they would like to be perceived or they have slowly grown into their current roles, by experimentation, luck and hard work. I could write a post explaining how to use TV advertising or radio to build your brand, but most of you won’t shell out thousands of dollars for something that most people will ignore anyways. Social media, on the other hand, allows you to connect directly with the audience you want to target, on common ground, and build relationships.
Here are ten tips that will help you on your journey:
Discover your brand
A lot of people are rushing to get on social networks, and are forgetting to fill out their profiles, or what their purpose of participation is. You need to have a clear idea of who you are, what you want to be known as, and the type of content you can consistently publish, otherwise you won’t stand out. There are thousands of people who brand themselves as realtors, lawyers, social media gurus, and marketing experts, and very few of them are successful. By basing your brand off of what you’re passionate about and want to be an expert in (if you’re not already), you will be able to become a serious player in the social media world.
Create your own marketing system
I recommend that people take a portion of their day to learn as much as they can about what people are saying about them, as well as review competitor and partner activities, and peruse industry trends and case studies. The more you read, the better and more prepared you will be to communicate through various social media channels. Use tools such as alltop.com and google.com/alerts to find the right blogs and new articles, and then subscribe to them through RSS using Google Reader. The second step is to organize the most important articles that you review in Google Reader, using Delicious.com. Finally, share these articles using your social media tools, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and possibly cite them in your presentations and within blog posts.
The world is run by recommendations and you trust what your inner circle has to say, rather than complete strangers. An endorsement could be from a happy customer, an industry expert, a professor or someone else that is respected by society. The endorsement will give you more credibility and respect. Recommendations happen publicly all the time now, so the more people say positive things about you, the bigger your brand will become.
Build your brand by association
By working for brand names, you gain more credibility in the process. For example, Tamar Weinberg is the community manager for Mashable, and she has written for Lifehacker.com and other mega blogs. Not only does this enhance her visibility as a brand, but this association has helped Tamar leverage her brand into new areas, such as becoming the author of a popular book. This is why I always recommend that you align yourself to well-known brands as fast as you can because it establishes a foundation that you can work with later.
Partner with others
It’s hard to spend hours each day working on creating content, working with clients, expanding your business,and possibly your full-time job. That’s why you should look to locate other people online that are looking to achieve similar goals and link up with them. If you’re looking to start a blog, a YouTube channel, or some other content platform, it helps to have multiple content creators so that you can focus on the marketing of that property too.
Have a unique identity and take a niche
Be different and love being different. The more you can offer a fresh perspective or a brand new concept, the more people will gravitate to you. No one wants to subscribe to another tech blog or meet someone at a networking event that does the same thing as someone else. The more you’re able to take your distinct personality and ideas and carve your own niche, the better off you’ll be.
Don’t join every social network
You might hear from people that you need to be everywhere, and I’m sorry to say that it’s not a good strategy. You won’t be able to scale your brand on fifty social networks. Instead, join the top four networks: Facebook, Google Buzz, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Once you’ve done that, then you should get accounts on social networks that are relevant to your field.
Join other communities
When you’re first starting off, or even if you already have a large platform, you should participate in communities that already exist. Whether it’s Tamar’s blog, a Facebook fan page, a LinkedIn group, a Ning network, a local association, etc. This way you can target your audience, while forming relationships with the people who will be interested in your services.
Blogs aren’t dead by a long shot
There have been reports that blogging is dead and Twitter has taken over. If you listen to these reports, you will be in major trouble because your blog is a property that you own. You don’t own social networks, you lease them. If Facebook didn’t exist in five years, you would lose all of your fans and friends. A lot of the content that is shared on Twitter comes from blogs anyways. Before you get active on social networks, start a blog.
Commenting on blogs is exceptional marketing for your brand.
When I first started out, and even today, I comment on almost every blog that mentions “personal branding.” All of the people that care enough about the topic to write about it, give a comment from me, which makes them what to continue to write about it and it drives targeted traffic to my blog. It also helps me build a relationship with the blog authors.
Dan Schawbel, recognized as a “personal branding guru” by The New York Times, is the bestselling author of Me 2.0, a national speaker, and the publisher of both the award-winning Personal Branding Blog and Personal Branding Magazine. Has is the youngest BusinessWeek columnist, and just started his own company called Millennial Branding, LLC.
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