Not too long ago, the term ‘brand’ used to relate to businesses. Nowadays, each of us as individuals, are our own brand. We put ourselves out there on the web, on social media and let everyone see who we really are; our interests, our friends, our daily lives and where we hope to be in the future. Your personal brand should be all about you and what you have to offer.
When you think ‘personal brand’, don’t think numbers. It doesn’t really matter if you don’t have one million subscribers. The main aim with a personal brand, is that when someone mentions your name, it is associated with an area you have expertise or an association with. In a way, you want people to think of you as a successful person in that industry.
There are many benefits to having a personal brand. You stick out in a stack of CVs, can shape your career from an early stage and network until you become a familiar name in your chosen industry. I’ve only recently realised that I have my own personal brand, through my blog. This ‘Orlagh Claire’ persona that I seem to have conjured up needs a lot of fine-tuning. To help myself, and you, here are five tips on how to build your personal brand:
1. Find your niche
In blog terms, what kind of blogger do you want to be? What do you want to write about? I would recommend finding a niche area that you are passionate about and going with it. It’s easier to start off as the big fish in a small pond before diving into the ocean of blogs that are already out there. If you would like more clarity on this analogy, I wrote a post a few moons ago all about fish in ponds. The PR blogging community is still rather small, although growing. We are not an intimidating bunch and welcome each and every PR blogger (and student blogger) that appears on the scene.
If you want to build a brand on Instagram, think about the aesthetic of your images. The best accounts always seem to have a colour scheme or running theme throughout the content. Look at your favourite Instagrammers and take inspiration from them. Note ‘inspiration’ and not ‘duplicate their content‘. Why do you follow them? What value do they add to your life by following their life? What do you have to offer to the Instagram world that isn’t already out there or aren’t too many of?
2. Identify your audience
Think about who you are writing for. Who will be reading your blog? If you were a reader, what would you expect to find? And what would you want to be reading? Your style of writing will fit the types of people that read your blog and you’ll find your voice the more you write. It takes a lot of practice and a lot of reading and writing.
On Instagram, the best way to build your audience is to engage with other accounts. NOT by paying for fake followers. Let’s not get started on that subject. Consider the people you want to follow you. Why would they be flocking to your Instagram to follow you? Instagram is swamped with ‘Influencers’ so what’s going to make you different from the rest? Will you post about health and fitness? Are you a make-up artist? Or maybe you love fashion and want to show off your style. Follow step 1 and find your niche, then look at who follows the big players within that niche and look to see who else they follow. Look at the comments they receive and the questions asked. Can you answer these questions better?
3. Keep it real
It’s easy to see through someone that’s fake on social media. When life is a bed of roses and absolutely nothing goes wrong in their life – that’s not reality. The most popular Influencers are people their followers can relate too. People love to identify with others and feel a bond with someone that’s feeling the same as them.
Be you. There’s no point trying to be someone you’re not as the pressure will get too much and you’ll crumble. Think Essena O’Neill. I could try my hardest to pretend I’m a teetotal student who spends every day with her head in books, but I’m not. And the majority of students aren’t like that either, so it’s ok. It’s reality to be out most (every) weekends and still be leaving assignments to the last minute even though you’re a final year now. When will it ever sink in??
4. Be consistent
There’s a lot of social platforms out there, so you need to be consistent with what you post across each one of them. Be it Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram or your blog. Don’t be one person on Instagram and the complete opposite on Twitter – especially if they’re public and professional accounts.
I would recommend keeping some social media private for friends and family only. That’s Snapchat for me. I only have my friends and family on there and to be honest, you’re probably missing out on the amazing content that is a complete run-through of my weekends, but it’s better that way. Trust me. (If you want to see what the Liverpool nightlife scene is like Friday-Monday, just ask for my username.)
If you’re sticking to one social platform, great. Keep the content flowing, and keep it worthwhile. But if you’re spreading yourself over many platforms you will need to consider how you appear on each one of them. Think, Would my mother want me to post this for the whole world to see or read? If the answer is no, then you’re more likely better off keeping it to yourself or on your private accounts.
To build a personal brand, you’re going to want people to be aware of who you are. Just like a brand builds brand awareness and wants as much coverage as it can possibly get, you should do something similar. A good way of doing this is getting involved in conversations in your chosen area. For me, the PR Twitter community is abuzz every day with conversations surrounding blog posts, current affairs and even what’s on TV.
If you don’t know, my favourite show of all time is Gossip Girl and I may have met Ed Westwick around this time last year (had to get that in there). I was going somewhere with this… Currently distracted by the thought of Chuck Bass… Oh yes. When it comes to PR, a quote from one of the first episodes of Gossip Girl always comes to mind. It basically defines PR for me. As Dan Humphrey did say, “You’re no one until you’re talked about.” And this is very true when it comes to your personal brand. Who are you unless people are talking about you?
With Instagram, engaging is a huge must. To get your profile out there, you need to be liking, following and commenting on similar accounts so to get people looking at your own. Just please, for the love of God, do not pass this work on to a bot. And don’t use the follow/unfollow method, it stinks.