According to an article from Entrepreneur magazine, “almost half of U.S adults (48 percent) say that most of the search results about them aren’t positive and nearly a third (30 percent) say nothing shows up at all. Some 15 percent of adults report finding at least one negative thing about them.”
How can you combat this? The best way to ensure that your online presence is up to par is to focus on building your own personal brand. And even if your online reputation isn’t too shabby, an intentional personal brand can be immensely beneficial to your career. Whether you’re a professional looking for a career change or an entrepreneur looking for new business, a strong personal brand can help you stand out from the crown and stick in people’s minds. Digital marketing is an essential tool to help you build your personal brand. Here are five quick steps to help you get started.
1. Refine your messaging
In our digital age, the proverbial elevator pitch has become the 120 character Twitter bio. You need to keep your “About Me” short and sweet, while still managing to convey who you are, what you do, and what value you offer. Create a basic version that can be adjusted for different channels. Think about what career highlights you might want to include. Be intentional about how you’re presenting yourself—remember that this is what the world at large will see when they look you up. Then think about how you’ll adjust your basic message for each social media channel depending on the audience. For example, Twitter is generally more fun and casual and LinkedIn is more professional. But make sure each version contains the same core message.
2. Polish your online profiles
Review all of your social media channels. Update your About Me or Bio section to reflect your new messaging. Then, check all of the other details. Is your contact information current and consistent across all social channels? Is your picture up to date?
Using the same picture or at least a picture taken at the same photo shoot, across all channels is a great way to establish your brand. It makes it easier for people to recognize anywhere on the web. Which picture should you choose to represent yourself to the world? Preferably one taken by a professional photographer or at least a very talented friend. Which means…no selfies! Good lighting and a good background can go a long way toward creating a winning photo. And don’t forget to smile!
It’s okay if you’re not active on every single social media channel that’s out there. In fact, it’s generally better to have no account at all for certain channels than to have one with extremely dated information (or no information). So that Twitter account that you set up in 2011 and haven’t touched since? People can probably still see it if they search you. Either use the account on a regular basis or delete it.
3. Create your own website
Having a personal website is great for SEO purposes. When someone Googles your name, wouldn’t you prefer that your own site with content you control is the first thing to show up? Post links back to your site from your social media channels, and vice versa, to help with SEO.
Your site is a good place to post a bio, references, and your resume. If you’ve written articles or white papers, this is an opportunity to showcase them. Depending on your industry, it may be appropriate to include a more in-depth About Me section that speaks to your personal life, hobbies, family, passion projects, etc. Using a content management system like WordPress makes it easy to create a clean, professional looking website. You can (and should) also include your blog on your site.
4. Start blogging
Starting a blog about your area of expertise shows that you’re active, engaged, and knowledgeable in your industry. It helps you build thought leadership, in other words, which is a key part of personal branding. Write about the latest trends in your industry or about how you’ve overcome common challenges. If you’re attending an industry event, consider writing a post about the experience and the value you got out of it. Although creating original content is great, it’s not always realistic to think you’ll have time to constantly push out fresh new pieces. Find relevant articles or blog posts, write a short summary about them, and either post the whole thing on your site with the author’s permission or link to them. One quick and easy way to do this is to do a “Round Up” post: find a few articles throughout the week and put together a post with a short intro to each one and link to the full article. Don’t forget how visual the Internet is (and how fast people’s attention can wander): include pictures and infographics to grab people’s interest and keep them hooked.
Once you’ve ensured that you’re social channels are up to snuff, post to them often. You may even want to create a schedule of content to be sure that you’re posting something at least once a day. Share information your colleagues are sharing. Link to interesting articles or blog posts. Ask questions about current topics and answer questions from others that you feel qualified to answer. Don’t forget to link back to your own blog posts and website—but do so sparingly. Above all, be purposeful and provide value. When sharing information, think about what kind of benefit your audience will receive.
Keep in mind that your activity on social media doesn’t necessarily have to be all business all the time. On the contrary, it’s great to shake things up occasionally and share pieces that offer a glimpse into your personal life. Talk about hobbies. Be funny. Get political if you must, but be sure to be respectful. Share what you’re truly passionate about. People value authenticity.
Building a personal brand isn’t easy. It takes time, energy, and consistency. Becoming familiar with a few key digital marketing strategies is a great way to get started.
Have you started building your own brand? What challenges have you faced? What successes have you had? Share in the comment section!