Last week I was asked on Twitter if I had written any content around personal branding.
@TheMarkDalton Have you done any content on personal branding on social Mark?
— Jess Wallace (@JessWallaceUK) April 18, 2016
I had a think about it and was somewhat stunned at myself to find that the answer is no. I have written a lot of content around building your brand on social media if you are a business but nothing about your personal brand which I would argue could well be more important than your business brand.
We typically tend to think of brands only in the context of companies or businesses but the reality is that branding goes much further than that. You are a brand, whether you aim to be or not. Some people will work hard at trying to build their personal brand and others may not be interested in building a personal brand at all. However, we are all brands in some shape or form.
Social media is the biggest key to managing your personal brand online. The way in which you build a personal brand on Twitter or Instagram or Snapchat or Facebook is what will give people such striking impressions on what they think of you as a person without ever meeting you face to face.
Want to know how vital personal branding and social media is? Do a Google search on your name and see what comes up. When I Google my full name I get my Twitter profile, Irish Tech News author page, Facebook page and personal website all on the first page of Google results. Social media content is the backbone of your personal branding strategy so if you intend on building your brand you need to make sure you do what is right for you.
When I talk to businesses owners, building a brand is something a lot of people struggle with because it is hard work. It takes time and effort, however if you are building a personal brand then it should really be something you are invested in and are willing to put the work into. People struggle with branding because it takes time to see a ROI, it can take months or even years to see a ROI when you start building a personal brand.
Personal branding is not about the money, it is all about establishing yourself and standing out from the others. Now you are concentrating on building a brand and not on building a transaction. One of the most common questions people ask me is why I blog for free, why would anyone want to put in all this work and effort for free?
I do it because I am looking to build a brand, not a transaction. I regard the work I have done so far on social media and blogging to be the most important part of my CV. Hell the personal branding work I have done online of the past two years is worth more than my entire CV in my eyes because people can see me as the person I am every single week. So what do you need to think about when you start building your personal brand?
Choose an area to establish yourself in.
Much of the work will be centred around the fact that you need to establish yourself as an authority figure in a particular area and create your personal branding strategy around that area of expertise.
So I chose digital marketing and social media as my area of expertise. That is what I want to be known for online and as a result my personal branding strategy focuses around that kind of content. Think about what you “rock at” or what you are super passionate about. You don’t need to know everything about this particular area from the get.
Trust me, when I started building my brand around online marketing two years ago I was by no means an expert but I spent time listening to established authority figures and researching as much as I could late at night as well as trial and error on my own experiments with social media so that I could form my own opinions, articulate them well and stand by them 100%.
So you don’t need to have all the knowledge, you just need to start by being passionate about the topic. Is it something you want to consume and produce content on your personal channel about every day? Yes? Then go crush it.
Keep profile content consistent across social profiles.
You don’t need to have the exact same content from profile to profile. You don’t need to copy and past the exact same bio from one account to another. In fact I would suggest making the bio section slightly different and relevant to each platform.
However, one thing I would suggest is to keep your profile picture consistent over multiple channels. This is something we don’t really consider so much on social media. If you have different profile pictures for different social media accounts than people can get confused.
“Is this the same Mark Dalton on Twitter as the guy that I am following on Instagram?”
If they are not sure then chances are they are not going to follow you on a different platform and your profile shows no form on consistency between the profile they are trying to find you on and the platform they have come from. If they can’t verify it is you by looking then they will assume it is not you.
Post every day to your most valued social media accounts.
People need to get to know about you and your brand. The only way to do that is to post content to your most valued social media profiles every day. My most valued profiles would be Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Snapchat. Instagram is also edging into this list from some recent tests I have been doing. I break my posting down as follows for new content that I put out online.
Twitter – 4/5 times per day
Facebook – 3 times per day
LinkedIn – 2 times per day
Snapchat – Multiple updates as much as I can throughout the day
As I have discussed recently, you can use automation tools in order to help you out here. I use automation tools for Facebook and LinkedIn. Snapchat of course is a different language so there is no automation tool for that, nor should there ever be and recently I decided to dump all Twitter automation completely.
Reach out and connect with others
When you start pumping out your own content it is simply not enough. You need to head out there and start connecting with other users. Sharing to social media will only accomplish so much. Take a proactive approach and start joining chats, groups and communities online to spread your message and make people aware of who you are and what you do.
Leave comments on message boards, news articles, social media blogs and whatever else you can think of. Jump into conversations on Twitter and offer advice and help around the area of expertise you selected. Don’t just push your content on people, help them. Then they will check out your profile, probably visit your site and if the content is good then you have them.
Ask people for advice and give as much as you can. One of my favourite Gary Vaynerchuk books, “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook” sums the approach up nicely. As Gary himself says, ‘give, give, give, then ask – not take, ask!’
Monitor mentions of your username online and then act on those mentions. Sometimes that will be replying to someone, or just favouriting a tweet but make sure you do something. Don’t just ignore people who are reaching out to interact with you. Try to respond to mentions with a 24 hour window, less if you can.
Remember, you are looking to build a brand NOT a transaction. This is all about putting in the time and the work to establish yourself as an authority and spread awareness of who you are and what you do. That work never ends.
Last year I closed my online brand “60 Second Social” and at the time I did that because I thought I was unhappy with the volume of work I had to do. The reality is that I was completely unhappy with the entire 60 Second Social brand, I had grown to hate it.
It took time but I soon realised I wanted to create content around a personal brand. That is why I started work on Mark Dalton Media. Now I am back in love with what I am doing and hustling to the early hours of the morning most days because I am getting my social sharing plan in place for the upcoming day, I am getting my new content ready for the next day, I am researching new topics and areas in my expertise and I am spreading my brand awareness by joining communities on Slack, news sites and more.
I will be going deeper into different areas of personal branding but start by using this as your basic framework:
– Define an area of expertise to focus on
– Build a consistent persona across multiple profiles
– Share each day to your most valued profiles
– Engage with others on a range of different platforms
– Track your mentions and act on them as soon as you can
Finally, as I mention at the start, I wrote this piece because I was asked on Twitter about it. If there is anything in specific you want me to write about centred around digital marketing or social media for your business brand or your personal brand then don’t be shy! Hit me up on Twitter or whatever other way you wish and let me know what you want my thoughts on.