“All the world’s indeed a stage, and we are merely players.”
~ Rush, “Limelight“
If you are an entrepreneur or small business owner, you’ve probably put a lot of effort into establishing and maintaining your company’s online presence and brand, but what about your personal brand? Do you have a personal online presence, and if you do, have you given as much thought to the importance of your personal brand as your business’s brand?
What Is Personal Branding?
The simplest of definitions of personal branding would be “how we market ourselves to others.”
Defining Your Personal Brand
Before you can define your personal brand, you should devote some time to thinking about and answering the following questions:
- What are my vision and values?
- What are my goals?
- Who is my audience?
Your vision and values will formulate your personal branding strategy and your message. But most importantly, be you! Your personal brand, as communicated through online media, should establish a voice and online persona that is authentic, above and beyond anything else. Being “real” will increase opportunities for engaging and building trust with potential customers, as well as add a personal touch to your business.
What’s Your Message?
The message you communicate online through your personal brand should show an understanding of your potential customers’ needs and expectations, as well as highlight the value of your expertise. If your goal is to be the best local family portrait photographer, your message and personal brand should be in alignment with that goal. The personality you present online and through social media should reflect someone who is trustworthy, family focused, and an expert at family photography.
Tools for Managing Your Personal Brand
- Google yourself! This is probably the best way to find out how you’re represented in the online world.
- Own your own domain. In addition to your business URL, you should purchase your own domain, www.yourname.com and/or variations thereof in order to make sure you own and control the web site that represents you.
- Blog. Create helpful content for potential customers and also follow related blogs and comment in order to engage in the blogosphere.
- Understand the best practices for Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter. Yes, these are all social sites, but they have different purposes and audiences and require different posts.
- YouTube. You can share entertaining content related to what you do, but you can also very easily create your own video content.
- Don’t forget discussion boards! Content and social are at the forefront of everyone’s thinking when it comes to marketing yourself or your small business, but discussion boards provide a great opportunity to engage in niche discussions and are a great place for you to offer your expertise.
Personal Branding Mistakes
The biggest mistakes you can make in managing your personal brand on social media are:
- Not managing your online brand. Keep your content up-to-date and relevant. If you don’t have time to manage multiple social sites, consider using a tool like Hootsuite to schedule relevant posts on an ongoing basis.
- Showing your “too personal side”. Potential clients want to connect with someone real, but resist posting negative posts, personal problems, or drama on your personal page!