There’s a common school of thought out there when it comes to dealing with social media for business: focus on promoting your company’s brand, and promote the hell out of it. But did you know that there’s a hidden gem out there that you should be taking advantage of to grow your corporate audience? That’s right – if you’re not leveraging your personal brand in conjunction with your company brand, you’re missing out.
The Benefits of Having a Personal Brand
If you’re thinking that it’s crazy (or even a little conceited) to develop and promote your own personal brand, just hear me out: there are a number of benefits that come with successful use of your personal brand. Your personal brand will:
encourage your prospects and customers to start seeing your company as more than just a business; instead, they'll start seeing you as a business that's made up of a team of experts.
provide your prospects with the opportunity to get to know the individual(s) behind the brand. This is especially true for buyers who are either making big, considered purchases or are buying your company's creative vision. Getting a glimpse into a person behind the business helps increase the trust factor of your prospects.
give your corporate brand a wider reach and larger audience. Your personal brand should act as an extension of your company's brand, giving more opportunities for prospects to find you and start realizing how your products or services can provide a benefit to them.
Defining Your Personal Brand
Now that you know the benefits, let’s backtrack and define what a personal brand actually is, and how to go about leveraging it. Quite simply, your personal brand is a representation of the type of professional that you want others to see you as, particularly online.
Perhaps you’re thinking, “Okay, so it’s all about who I am as a professional. I’m a senior consultant at XYZ Consulting Firm. That was easy.” Not so fast… Your professional representation should expand beyond your basic job title. If you’re a consultant, what particular industries or product types are you interested in? What are the nuances of consulting that you feel especially passionate about? A more complete way to sum up your personal brand might be something along the lines of “I’m an eager consultant specializing in consumer health and beauty products, with a specific interest in the innovative process behind new product concepts.”
Once you’ve identified the specifics of your personal brand, it’s critical to commit to your brand. Strive to become an industry leader; someone who is an expert in your specific interests. Let your interests serve as inspiration for the topics that you blog about and the content that you create. Additionally, use those interests to drive the type of third-party content that you share on social media. Start familiarizing yourself with industry websites that produce high-quality content and scan them each day for articles and resources that relate to your professional interests that you can share on social media.
Where to Leverage Your Personal Brand
With a seemingly unending list of social networks out there, it can be a little intimidating to think about managing and promoting your personal brand across social media. But as the old saying goes, less is more; don’t feel like you have to be everywhere. Consider the following:
LinkedIn - This one almost goes without saying, as LinkedIn is the place for business professionals to connect and share their company content on behalf of their personal profiles. Make sure your professional interests are spelled out in your profile and join groups that pertain to those interests and your industry. Get involved in discussions and share relevant content to get your name - and likewise your company's name - out there for others to find.
Twitter - Use this platform to share quick updates with your company content and the relevant third-party content that you come across with a multitude of followers by capitalizing on hashtags to get your posts seen by the right audience. Don't just stop there, though - make the most of your Twitter biography by establishing yourself as an industry expert and using hashtags that will help you be found in search.
Industry Forums/Online Trade Publications - If you know of any online resources that are made up of industry expertise, make sure you take part in the discussions and add your voice to the team of experts by contributing blog posts, if possible. When you comment on a discussion or submit a blog post, make sure you include links to your LinkedIn and Twitter profiles to encourage readers to follow you and heed your expertise as an industry insider.
Taking these few steps to build and leverage your personal brand can have a significant impact on your corporate audience. Make it a priority to commit to your brand and don't miss out on the excellent opportunity!