Creating a Unique and Personal Brand
So, what is a personal brand?
Personal branding is the art of building a unique brand around an individual.
Before we get into additional definitions, let me list some of the most famous personal brands in the world.
Obviously all of the above are well-known celebrities. But what is it about them that make them a brand?
Let's use Martha Stewart as an example.
Martha Stewart is the most well-known lifestyle brand in the world. She was originally a stockbroker, but quit to open a catering business. Her passions were for all things lifestyle -- cooking, cleaning, entertaining, and gardening, along with many others.
She built her brand slowly, since it was before the advent of the Internet and social media.
Her catering business was so successful, her clients asked her to write a cookbook. Her cookbook was a hit, so she wrote more and more books. As she became more popular in the media, she was approached to helm a magazine, Martha Stewart Living.
The success of her books and magazines led her to host her own television show. Before she knew it, she was her own multimedia company. She was no longer Martha Stewart the person -- she was Martha Stewart the brand.
Martha Stewart now helmed an empire that consisted of:
Towels, Sheets and other Linens
Food and Vitamin Supplements
And many more …
The brand is Martha Stewart. When consumers buy her products, they are buying her. She is the CEO of Martha Stewart Omnimedia, the public company that carries her name. MSO is worth close to half a billion dollars.
That said, if Martha Stewart wanted to retire, she would be impossible to replace. Even though her company is a public corporation with close to 500 employees, she is still the brand.
Now, everyone cannot be a Martha Stewart, but they can still use their personal brand to leverage and advance their career.
How does a normal person create a brand? First, you don't create a brand -- you already are one! Google your name, and if you have a common name, Google your name and hometown as well. What are the results? If you have a Facebook account, Twitter or Instagram account, those are probably listed on the first page of your search.
Perhaps you have been named in a newspaper article, or you have a personal blog. All of these things are a part of your personal brand. So, instead of creating a brand, you are building upon and managing your existing brand.
Your first step is to define what makes you different, just like a traditional brand, and then build upon what makes you unique in your field.
1. Determine your area of expertise.
2. Do some work to get your name (brand) out in the public eye.
3. Use social media to advance your brand.
In order to become a brand, you must be able to define what your brand is.
Are you an attorney? If so, you want to build your brand around the law.
Are you a lifestyle guru? If so, you might want to build your brand around areas such as homemaking, cooking, and designing.
Are you a makeup artist? If so, you will want to build your brand around cosmetics.
Are you unsure what your brand is? Don't worry -- you can still start building your brand.
Remember, you are the CEO of your brand. Manage your personal brand the same way a Fortune 500 company would manage theirs.
1. What is your area of expertise?
What are you known for? What skill are you better at than everyone else? And don't choose a large general field. There are tens of thousands of lawyers. If you are an attorney, what type of law are you an expert in? What niche do you fill?
If you want to develop a brand around parenting, what age group of children would be your specialty? Parenting teenagers is much different than parenting toddlers.
Remember, thousands upon thousands of people are trying to become personal brands, so you will have competition. Find your niche, and build your brand around that.
2. Do some work to get your name (brand) out in the public eye
If you want to become a personal brand, you need to show your audience why you should be seen as a brand ambassador for your specific niche.
A great way to accomplish this is contribute to this niche as often as possible.
Again, let's use the example of the parenting blogger who wants to build her brand.
Our parenting blogger is a single mom to two tweens. Already she has two separate niches she can fill. The first is being a single mom, and the second is being a parent of tweens. How can she further her brand?
Since she is a blogger, she probably enjoys writing. To advance her brand, our blogger can volunteer to write for parenting sites or write articles and attempt to get published. Having published blog posts and articles will give credence to her brand. The more she writes, the more she will be seen as an expert in her field.
It is also important that the blogger manages her reputation. If she volunteers to write for parenting sites, she must make sure those sites will help her further her brand.
The more the blogger writes, the more likely she will become a trusted source of information. Over time, this will help our blogger become seen as an expert in her field.
3. Use social media to advance your brand
Social media has never been more widespread, or more important, especially to someone looking to become a personal brand.
Celebrities are avid users of social media, as it is an excellent and easy way to engage with fans, which, in turn, helps their brand. Of course celebrities usually hire someone to manage their social media, which is a luxury most cannot afford.
The first step in using social media to build your brand is to evaluate your current social media profiles. What do your current profiles say about you?
Let's use our parenting blogger as an example.
Our parenting blogger has profiles on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. She rarely uses Twitter or LinkedIn, but keeps Facebook and Instagram updated daily.
Her profile photos are all photos of her kids, and she uses Facebook to update her friends and followers about what is happening with her kids. She uses Instagram to post photos of her kids, as well as photos of her life outside of her kids, such as her work and dating life.
How can our blogger use social media to develop her brand?
First, she should use all forms of social media available to her, and keep them as current as possible. Our blogger may not enjoy using Twitter, but it is an extremely important medium that is an essential part of social media.
To keep current, our blogger should post one or two updates a day, everyday. Over time these tweets will help populate her profile, and it will attract more people to her brand. She should use relevant hash tags when possible, as it is a simple way to attract people with similar issues to her page.
Here are a few examples of tweets she could post:
Kids are sick again, wish work offered #sickdays for #kids. More vacation days lost!
Need quick #recipe ideas, kids are sick of macaroni & cheese!
She could also tweet links to parenting articles, relevant news stories, and anything else that would appeal to her intended audience. The key is to keep posts parenting-related. She wants to be seen as an expert in her field, and therefore, must keep her profiles parenting-related, with some additional content thrown in for variety.
Remember! Social media is forever. If you post something embarrassing, or something that could hurt your brand, it can be almost impossible to have it removed. Before you start growing your brand, go through your social media profiles with a fine tooth comb, and remove anything that could potentially hurt your brand in the future.
And once you have established your brand, think twice before clicking enter!
While one would expect a mommy blogger to have photos of her kids as her profile photos, she should consider something different. Since she wants to be seen as a leader in her field, she should dress the part. Her profile photo should be of her alone, and should look as professional as possible. No photos of her on vacation or drinking with her friends…the photo should be clear and present an image of a professional who is an expert in her field.
When using social media to build your brand, make sure you:
Keep it clean! You want to maintain a professional profile. You can still bring a personal touch to your pages, but keep it respectable.
Keep all social media profiles consistent. Use the same profile photo for each account. Use the same tagline. Just as a traditional brand uses consistent packaging, someone building their personal brand should do the same. If your profiles all have different messages, your audience might be confused as to what you offer.
Post everyday on your most relevant social media sites. In order to gain influence, you must take on an active role. Keep 75 percent of posts brand-related, and 25 percent a variety of what your followers might find interesting.
When new social media sites come to market, reserve your username as soon as possible, even if you don't plan on using the site. You never know if you might change your mind!
Engage with others via chat rooms, groups, and communities. Facebook and Twitter both offer groups and communities for every interest under the sun.
In order to get your name and brand out there, you need to network! Almost every industry, interest, and hobby has networking events. As a personal brand, you can network on social media, as well as in the real world.
Engage with other people in your field, as well as social influencers who could help you gain followers, and help you spread the word about you and your brand. The more opportunities you have to engage, the more exposure your brand will receive.
Networking also gives you an opportunity to meet key people in your field, and will give you ideas on how to best mold your own brand to suit your specific needs.
Social Media Influencer
A social media influencer is an individual that has the power to influence others in their specific social media circle.
Remember, a personal brand is similar to a garden. You lay the groundwork and plant the seeds, and as long as you continue to water and take care of the garden, you will eventually reap the benefits. It does take time; you cannot become the leading personal brand in your field overnight. But if you spend the time to nurture your brand, and stay consistent, eventually it will pay off.
So, what have you learned in this lesson?
1. You have learned what a celebrity brand is, and what a personal brand is.
2. You have learned how to build a successful personal brand by defining yourself as a leader in your field.
3. You have learned how to harness social media to help advance your brand.
4. You have learned how to network and engage others so that you can advance your brand and become a social influencer.
In this article, you will learn about online branding, also referred to as digital branding or Internet branding, and its importance to brand management.
Online branding is the technique that uses the Internet to position a brand in the marketplace. This is usually accomplished using a website, but also includes social media and other online marketing mediums, including video.
Online branding is important, as without it, a company would have a difficult time growing in a very competitive market. And online branding can benefit all brands, including personal brands.
There is a famous cartoon that shows a dog sitting at a computer, with the caption, "On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog."
The same can be said about personal brands, as well as small brands and large worldwide brands. On the Internet, they are all the same. No one has to know that you are a small business. A small business can have a website that is just as advanced as the website of a large global brand.
How To Manage Online Branding
3. Social Media
4. Reputation Management
The heart of online branding is the website.
When a consumer is interested in a brand, whether a product or a service, they will visit the company website in order to get whatever information they are seeking. Online marketers will want to design a website that is clean and easy to use, while also being extremely functional. A professional website doesn't require a large budget, but it does need a lot of good planning.
When building a website, it is essential the site is fully functional. If a consumer visits a website and it is slow to load, or difficult to navigate, they will not wait. They will leave the website and go somewhere else.
Also, the quickest way to turn off a potential customer is if they are hit with an immediate sales pitch. This method rarely works. No one enjoys surfing a site, and dealing with repeated pop ups with sales material.
When attempting to gain customers, your online branding campaign should include information that the potential customer will find valuable and informative. Don't push products or services, offer the customer valuable insight to your product and/or brand.
A website should always provide links to the company's social media pages, and it is very easy to add social media buttons so customers can click and immediately be sent to a company's Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram account.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which is the discipline used when attempting to gain visibility in search engine results. The top search engines are Google, Yahoo, and Bing, although Google dominates the field with a market share of almost 70 percent.
SEO uses both technical and creative components to improve SEO rankings, drive traffic to a website, and increase visibility in the search engines. There are many different aspects used in SEO, from the content of the website to whether or not other sites link back to the site. The goal of SEO is to position a website in such a way that search engines will understand the site, and send searchers to the website organically.
SEO - Search Engine Optimization
The discipline used when attempting to gain visibility in search engine results
SEO can be accomplished in several ways, and if you ask 10 social media experts how to best use SEO, you will probably get 10 different answers. There really isn't any one set way to improve search rankings.
Keywords – Keyword research is the first, and probably most important step when initiating an SEO campaign. Marketers and social media experts use market research to determine which keywords will be most effective for a brand, and then use those keywords to ensure customers will be able to find the website when they search for those particular keywords.
Backlinks – Backlinks are "hyperlinks" that link from one website back to the company's website. These links are incredibly valuable, as Google uses the quality and quantity of these links to determine the website's page rank.
Content – As they say, "Content is King." This especially true when it comes to the content on a company's website. The more quality content a website has, the greater visibility it will have with the search engines.
Social – Sharing content is incredibly important for site rankings. If content is added to a website, that content should be shared on the company's social media pages. And don't forget to share on Google+! Remember that is a Google site and the Google algorithm will like seeing content shared on one of their sites.
Mobile – All websites should also have mobile sites, as it is essential for SEO. Google has stated that websites that are not optimized for mobile will not get as high in page ranks.
In addition, websites can be coded, so that search engines are more likely to find them. Optimizing code uses the following tools:
Title Tags – Title tags surround the name or title of a website. For SEO purposes, many programmers add keywords to the title.
Meta Tags – Meta tags tell visitors what a website is about. It doesn't rank high on SEO, but it is important that visitors to the site know what the site is about.
Headings – Headings are very similar to the headings used in a book. Headings are listed as H1, H2, H3, and so on. H1 is the main heading, with each additional heading lower on the site.
Sitemaps – Sitemaps are maps for search engines. They direct the bots to the different pages of a website. Sitemaps can be HTML or XML, with XML maps readable by search engines only.
URL – The URL is the address of the website. If the URL is messy, search engines will have a more difficult time finding it. URLs should never use special characters, and shorter URL's are more visible to search engines than longer ones are.
Alt Tags – Alt Tags are added to images, which allows search engines to find the image.
Using these ideas will help increase traffic from search engines. But you do have to be patient. It takes time for the search engine bots to crawl through the billions of sites on the web until they find yours.
SERP - Search Engine Results Page
Where a website ranks on a list of websites
Also, it is important to find out what strategy works best for a website. What works for one website may not work for another. Just remember, there are no shortcuts. People who promise to increase your ranking can often cause your ranking to decrease. Google and other search engines are aware of all the tricks online marketers use, and if a website uses those methodologies, the site will be affected negatively.
Never has social media been more important for a company or brand than it is at the current moment. Brands and the companies that own them must have a social media strategy in place, as it is very important for the company's image.
A good social media strategy can position a brand positively in the public's eye.
Let's use Starbucks as an example. Starbucks has a massive online presence throughout their many social media pages. They post updates frequently, and always engage with their customers. If a customer posts a complaint, Starbucks will usually respond within one hour. That type of personal attention simply cannot be matched.
Their Facebook page has over 36 million likes, and throughout the day they post updates, often updates that include discounts and other loyalty programs. The page provides a place for consumers to learn more about their products, as well as more information about the company as a whole.
There are several different social media sites, with many that fill a particular niche. That said, the top social media sites are:
Facebook – 1.35 Billion Users
Google+ - 343 Million Users
LinkedIn – 332 Million Users
Instagram – 300 Million Users
Twitter – 284 Million Users
Tumblr – 230 Million Users
Snapchat – 100 Million Users
It is reasonable that a large corporation would have a presence on each of those social media platforms, along with pages on video sharing sites, such as YouTube, Vine and Vimeo.
Reputation management is one of those things that a business hopes it never has to use. Reputation management is the process of protecting a company's reputation against any negative or damaging comments or feedback left on the Internet.
For example, if a restaurant receives a poor review on Yelp, the largest customer review site on the web, it could be very damaging for the restaurant. Of course, ideally, a negative review will not be left, and the restaurant handles the disgruntled customer before it gets to the online review stage. But once a review is left, it is forever.
Remember, everyone uses Google. If a couple is looking for a restaurant to dine in that evening, and they read a negative review, they will most likely move on.
When managing reputation, it is important to stay proactive. One of the best ways to accomplish this is with transparency. Being open to criticism is often very beneficial to a company, as it allows potential problems to be addressed head-on, before they become negative or damaging online posts.
So, what does transparency look like for a company? Here are a few examples:
Establishing a one-on-one channel for customers to communicate with company employees and customer service.
Allowing those employees to speak honestly and publicly about the company and its products and brands.
Asking for feedback, whether positive or negative (remember, a company learns from both).
If criticism is received, addressing it openly and honestly.
Being transparent is often very frightening for a company, as no one wants to be left vulnerable. But online transparency is a great way to gain consumer trust. That said, transparency can be risky -- but not being transparent can be riskier.
In order for a company to be transparent, it must be able to face criticism openly, honestly, and quickly. A company must be able to deal with the following scenarios:
What is the product or brand receives too much criticism?
What if employees are not social media savvy and are taken advantage of due to this?
What if competitors take advantage of your transparency?
For a company to be transparent, which is the ideal, they must have a reputation management plan ready and waiting. Being proactive means constantly monitoring the company's reputation, which is best done using social media.
Social media monitoring allows a company to gather all public online content and mentions, analyze it, and determine whether the content is positive or negative. This can also be done with Google Alerts, which send a notification every time a brand or company is mentioned on the web.
So, what did you learn in this article?
1. You learned that online branding is the process of managing a brand's place on the Internet.
2. You learned that a successful online presence requires a professional and functional website.
3. You learned how brands could harness social media to increase online presence and consumer engagement.
4. You learned about SEO, and how it is utilized to improve search rankings.
5. You learned about reputation management, and how to head off problems before they become troublesome.
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