Creating a personal brand is a cornerstone for marketing, particularly on the internet. Having a persona determines where and how much you should direct your efforts.
Besides being a social influencer, Ian Moyse is also a sales director, cloud expert and public speaker. Having helped many others build a personal brand, he and marketing expert Madalyn Sklar looked at branding, beginning with first impressions.
“A personal brand is what you are known for and seen as,” Moyse said. “For context, we are talking about and focused on a social brand. Often, this can start as being known real-world and moving to social or vice versa.
“Social lets you go far wider and to get known for your area of expertise in a way not previously possible,” he said. “Technology enables the reach. It’s up to you to decide to use it.”
For that reason, it’s important to get off on the right foot.
“It’s your first digital impression, your handshake, your ‘This is me moment,’” Moyse said. “Not being there says something too – you cannot control people’s opinions.
“How many on social media look at who views you on social platforms?” he said. “First digitals have led to real-world engagements.”
Sklar emphasized that a personal brand is how you promote yourself.
“It’s how you project you and your business out to the real world,” she said. “Take a look at your Twitter profile. Does it truly reflect your personal brand? It might be time for an audit.”
A personal brand should be strong and emphasize the positive.
“Your social brand and profile is your first impression for many in today’s world,” Moyse said. “You wouldn’t go to an interview or meeting and not put on the best impression.
“Your social brand is out there 24/7, with no control over who comes to look or when,” he said. “It needs to represent who you are and what you stand for and how you want to be seen.”
A personal brand is also portable.
“It also goes with you wherever you go,” Moyse said. “It’s yours, not your company’s. It’s your brand, your own. Increasingly for jobs and customers, it’s what they judge you by but don’t tell you.”
This is why people should take charge of their brands.
“You control your message,” Sklar said. “You have to make a great first impression. It’s everything in social media.
“You need to know your business inside and out as well as your audience,” she said. “Know who you are serving, otherwise you’ll be spinning your wheels.
This leads to building personal brands on social platforms such as Twitter.
“First, define what do you want to be known for — your brand persona or micro-niche,” Moyse said. “What do you know, have expertise or value in? Understand you cannot pick a wide sweeping subject. For example, don’t pick computing. That’s too generic.
“Pick a niche such as big data, cloud, security — ideally a micro-niche like financial equities, security, software as a service or customer relationship management,” he said. “Building a social or twitter brand takes time. Going wider takes much more time.”
Personal brands live or die on their first impressions.
“Start with a good strong profile, good photo, strong text and links,” Moyse said. “Get basic foundations done well first. Make sure you have the same image across biographies, same name or ones that are clear they are the same person.
“Browse others, click around, snag what parts you like to use as ideas for your own to start from,” he said. “Consistency and persistence are the keys to a personal brand.”
That might attract important names to your brand.
“One aim is to get influencers with big following in your field to share your content to their audience, to mention you,” Moyse said. “Your online profiles are your first impression of calling card these days. Cross-link them all.”
He recommends ways to engage with others to build a personal brand on Twitter.
“Follow, listen and engage are three key mantras,” Moyse said. “It’s about getting noticed by the right people for the right reasons. Find key people in your area of influence and follow them. See what they share and like. Share relevant content from them.
“Comment on other’s content, add useful valued insights and opinion, engage in conversation, earn the right to be shared,” he said. “If you can create engaging original content, blogs and podcasts, they will give value to your brand.”
In this way, Twitter becomes the conversation piece to drive people to content such as blogs, video or images hosted elsewhere.
“Reach out to podcasters, blogs and offer up your content,” Moyse said. He cited a tweet that included him using one of his blogs posted at the other user’s site.
“Listening is the smartest thing you can do,” Sklar said. “Don’t be afraid to jump into live Twitter chats and join in the discussion. Show you care. Be likable. It goes a long way.”
She created a guide to using Twitter lists, which Sklar calls “a super helpful strategy to connecting and engaging with people on Twitter.”
Those on social media should care about getting seen and heard but most of all, being liked. Everyone wants to do business with someone they like.
“What outcome are you seeking? To simply be known? To be a recognized thought leader? To get leads?” Moyse said. “For me, it came as an accident, being passionate about cloud computing, to be known for cloud. Social selling also is now in my toolkit for my day job.
“Outcomes include meeting in person great leaders and authors, and now I have gotten to do social influencing, blogging and more for places such as Oracle, SAP and Sage,” he said. “I also get invited to podcasts, speak and more. Go find blogs, podcasts and the like in your field, and volunteer yourself.”
These interactions lead to bigger things.
“I get a lot of pickups from content I create,” Moyse said. “Sites such as Perfect Podcast Guest are useful. You may also get featured in lists with other experts, which raises your personal brand again and gets you links back.
“A term I use is begetting – put yourself out there and often it begets another coming to you,” he said. “The more you put in and give out, the more I find comes to you. Twitter chats are prime examples.”
According to Sklar, the biggest mistakes people make with their personal brand include not being consistent, not following through and doing what you say you’re going to do. To that, Moyse added laziness and inconsistency.
“Laziness is not updating or having a 20-year-old picture, not making it engaging or real,” he said. “Tell a story: Who are you? Nonconsistency is using different pictures, text and making it hard for the audience to find you.
“It bugs me when I have to hunt to find your profile and validate that you are the same ABC person I am trying to find,” Moyse said. “It’s not being willing to invest and put out until they get the rewards first. You must give before you take.”
He recommended several tools to build personal brands on Twitter:
- A LinkedIn or Twitter site is free, both set up by Moyse.
- A personalized URL approach is simple and makes it easier for me to refer people to my socials and get search engine optimization on these domains.
- Try photofeeler for a free or low-cost way to check which profile picture gives the best impression.
- Try BrandYourself for free or paid options to analyze your social presence and action-improvement steps.
- Try sumall –a weekly automatic alert with images to show who your most engaged audience on Twitter was. A sumall example can be seen here.
- Look at the quality of the content you share. Get your own images and videos done cheaply at Fiverr.
- Check examples Moyse posted at Facebook.
With the basics attended to, it’s time to raise personal brands to the next level.
“Play the long game,” Moyse said. “Unless you hit very lucky, there’s no quick shortcut. You have to build. Don’t get disheartened if you don’t get instant waves of success. Keep at it. Adjust, learn, persevere. I’m still learning lots of small tricks. Look at what others do.
“Plagiarize good ideas,” he said. “The web, Twitter and social media is a big place to allow for this. Write blogs and use videos, along with Fiverr, to get noticed by making interesting things.”