Creating a strong personal brand online will help you build credibility in the eyes of followers, connect with influences and will ultimately result in your being contacted by key decision makers for opportunity. However, a powerful personal brand does not happen overnight, nor is it the result of simply “showing up” on social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Building a strong personal brand online requires uniformity, consistency, and a solid understanding of your target market.
Four steps to building your brand
- Find your word(s). What do you want to be known for? When I speak to high school and college students, I have an exercise where I show them a series of pictures and ask them to call out the first adjective that comes to mind. Whenever they see Lady Gaga, I hear “weird, strange, cutting-edge, odd, different, and eccentric” —all positive or negative versions of the word “unique.” Her brand is “unique.” What do you want to be known for?
- Infuse your word(s) into your profiles. Now that you know what you want to be known for, review your social media profiles. Your pictures, profile bios, and updates should all revolve around your word(s). Someone looking at your profiles should have a clear understanding of your area of expertise with one quick glance. Be human and infuse your personality into your profiles while ensuring that you are emphasizing your brand daily. One of the biggest mistakes professionals make in using social media is assuming that putting “what they do” under their bio is enough to encourage business and opportunities to start rolling in.
- Add your keywords. Keywords are words, or terms, that you want to be found for online. For instance, if someone types in “social media speaker” in Google search, LinkedIn, Twitter, or YouTube, I want to pop up in his or her results. However, I’d also want to pop up if someone typed in “technology keynote speaker.” Use Google Keyword Tool to help you brainstorm popular keywords based on the ones you already plan to use. Add those keywords to your LinkedIn profile under “specialties” (you can just list them). Additionally, you should include keywords in all of your social media bios as well as in the title and description area of your YouTube videos.
- Be consistent. Now that your profiles are “personal brand optimized,” stay consistent in your postings in terms of both frequency and content. If your brand revolves around workplace productivity, pictures of you dancing on tables with margaritas in your hand would never lend themselves to brand. However, a picture of you organizing your home office to make you more productive would. Remember to post items that your desired connections would appreciate reading or seeing, to build yourself as an expert.
Crystal Washington is a social media marketing strategist, speaker, co-founder of Socialtunities—a social media instruction brand that trains Gen Ys-Boomers on the strategic use of social media, and the author of The Social Media WHY: A Busy Professional’s Practical Guide to Using Social Media Including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Google+ and Blogs for Business. She is hired by corporations and associations around the globe to provide keynotes, workshops, and webinars.