Personal Branding Using Social Media

Posted November 01, 2010 - By | 1 Comment

I gave a session in Branson for NALS…the association for legal professionals and my topic was social media.  I didn’t give the usual statistic riddled talk to drive home the fact that so many people are using social media and it shouldn’t be ignored.  I think that point has been driven home enough.  Instead I wanted to give attendees some insights in to how they can utilize social media as a mechanism for developing a personal brand.

There is some great information available on how you can develop a personal brand and market yourself to the world using low and no cost mediums such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and others.  This post is going to be more about theory than it is about specific use of a tool.

I have been reading UnMarketing by Scott Stratten and he gives some great examples of how social media has changed marketing.  He talks in detail about how marketing today is all about relationships and businesses and individuals alike are using social media to build relationships through conversations.  Social media gives you the opportunity to engage your clients, customers or potential customers in real time as they are experiencing your services or the services of one of your competitors.  By using social media to monitor what is being said by these people you can gather important details and make changes as they are needed.  Remember though that it is about the conversation…not just selling and pushing your services.  Conversations are two way streets and you have to listen to people and build your relationships before you can expect to get anything out of it.

Stratten reminds us:

“Marketing happens every time you engage (or not) with your past, present and potential customers.  UnMarketing also takes it one step further – it is anytime anyone talks about your company. Word of Mouth is not a project or a viral marketing ploy. The mouths are already moving. You need to decide if you want to be a part of the conversation.”

Keeping this in mind you have to be aware that everything you say and everything people say about you is an aspect of your own personal marketing.  Make sure to think before you post so something is not out there you regret, you can’t take it back.  Think of it as if you were shouting in a room of strangers.  Once those people hear what you shout, you can’t do anything about it.  What you can do is make sure that the messages being sent are something you are proud of and reflects what you are doing in a positive light.

While you can’t retract your statements you can take advantage of the opportunity to converse with those customers or clients that may be saying something negative.  I have heard many people refer to negative commenters in the social media world as trolls and I have heard a great way to think about dealing with them.  Don’t feed the trolls!  They will always be there and you should try and converse with them to remedy a problem but you also have to realize that some people are just going to be negative so don’t give them anything that they can feed on. As long as you are positive and don’t give them any negative ammunition they will go on their way and eventually will stop bothering you.  Don’t mistake this as me saying you should ignore problems, social media is very useful at combatting problems.  You just have to realize if there is actually a problem or if you just have a troll looking for trouble.

I heard at a seminar one time that there are three basic rules for social media.  Be authentic, be brave and be consistent.  These rules apply to personal branding just as much as any other use of social media.  If you are authentic to yourself then you have no competition and will differentiate yourself from your competition.  You have to be brave in what you post because this will keep things interesting and you have to be consistent so that your followers know what to expect and when you will be giving them more of the information they are interested in.  Consistency will also give you the presence needed to use social media as a customer service tool and keep problems from growing unnoticed.  With a consistent presence you can combat any problems as they arise rather then waiting for them to fester and grow out of control.

Another great resource that I have used is Dan Schawbel. He is a blogger and author of Me 2.0.  Schawbel is a guest blogger for Mashable and is considered one of the top sources for personal branding information.  I read an article by Schawbel that included 10 steps to building a personal brand.

  1. Discover Your Brand – You have to decide who you are and have a clear idea of what you want to be known as. This will determine the type of content you can consistently publish or share.
  2. Have a Unique Identity and Take a Niche – Be different and love it! The more fresh your perspective the more you will stand out and people will gravitate toward you.
  3. Create Your Own Marketing System – One of the most important aspects of marketing is knowing your audience and your competitors.  Learn what people are saying about you and your competitors, use this information to determine the direction you need to go in to differentiate yourself.
  4. Get Endorsements – In a world where relationships drive the car you need to get as many quality endorsements as you can.  We believe our friends and people that we grow to trust as a resource.  The more people that show their friends they trust you the more credibility you will gain.
  5. Build Your Brand by Association – Work with other established blogs and industry leaders as a guest writer and build an association with them.  This association can be seen as a great endorsement by an established brand and you can capitalize on their following.
  6. Partner With Others – Don’t feel comfortable embarking on this alone? Find some like-minded people to help.  You are not the only person passionate about your expertise and you are not the only person looking for support as you start to brand yourself.  Find people in the same boat and invite them to join you as a partner along your journey.
  7. Blog – Blogging is not dead and it remains a great way to share information.  Twitter has not taken over the blogging world as you can impact someone far easier in a blog post than you can in 140 characters.  Use your blog as your online voice and don’t be limited in what you can say.
  8. Comment on Blogs – Start to share your opinions on blogs that you read.  This will show other readers that you too have a voice on the subject and they can get a taste of what they will learn on your blog.  People like to visit more than one site on a topic and by commenting on other blogs they will start to see you as a valuable resource on the topic as well.
  9. Join Other Communities – Along the same lines as commenting on blogs, by joining other communities of like-minded people you will be able to target those already interested in what you have to offer, they just don’t know you.  Communities offer you a great mechanism for developing relationships that will help you in the branding process.
  10. Don’t Join Every Social Network – This is my personal favorite and applies to personal branding 100%. You do not need to be a part of every new social media tool.  Find out what works for you and what is used by your target market and focus your efforts on them.  I would recommend starting with Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn and see what you get out of them before you look at branching out to something more.  Your following from these will tell you where else you need to be, all you have to do is listen!

I heard one time that there are no social media experts, there are however a lot of people that have had success using social media.  Will what they did work for you?  There is only one way to find out, try it!  You have to risk failure to find success, just learn from your failures and you will find what works for you.

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