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5 Experts Share Insights on Personal Branding and Building a Digital Audience


By Sarah Green, December 24, 2015

Attracting the digital audience is a key factor when it comes to building and developing a personal brand. Having an amazing product simply isn’t enough anymore.

In relation to this changing landscape, Rex Conklin, Co-Chair of the Association of National Advertisers Media Leadership suggests that  digital media opportunities today can be viewed as superior to most forms of traditional media in both targeting and measurability. Therefore, the value of a large digital audience is astonishing and this is why every personal or professional brand needs to work on reaching as many people as possible online.

Of course, building a loyal audience takes time and effort, which is why we decided to talk to experts in order to discover their secrets to success. We are thankful to Jeet Banerjee, John Meese, Ben Farrell, Trevor Young, Dave Schneider, and Ahmad Abugosh from AstroLabs for sharing their thoughts and practical tips on personal brand development and the importance of digital media. This article presents a summary of those ideas.

The First Steps: Define Your Brand

Influencer thoughts:

You should ask yourself – what do you want to be known as? It’s an obvious question but easily overlooked, but that’s what a personal brand is. It’s what people say about you when you’re not around. Decide on that, and then develop that skill and expertise to make it happen. – Dave Schneider

According to Dave Schneider, co-founder of Ninja Outreach, an influencer outreach software, being aware of your aspirations and setting your goals is a start. From there…

Influencer thoughts:

The best starting point for personal brand development is finding out what angle or key skill you have that other people have a genuine need for. –  Jeet Banerjee

Jeet Banerjee, a successful entrepreneur, digital marketing consultant and author, suggest that the best place to start building a brand is your personality. Think about what traits you have that would be appealing to other people and these will be your emotional modifiers. You can start from just listing the words others use to describe you and from there you need to build your mantra. According to Dr. Kevin Lane Keller, branding expert and author of Strategic Brand Management: Building, Measuring and Managing Brand Equity, this gives you a chance to capture, in three to five words, the essence of your brand. It is not just for big corporations anymore, anyone who wants to have a successful brand needs to have one.

Influencer thoughts:

For someone just starting out, my advice would be to try to be the truest you possible online. It’s so easy to get caught up in copying what other successful people do that a lot of times people forget that nobody can do YOU better than you online (and that’s what makes personal branding powerful in the first place). – John Meese

Another important thing for starters is to find the right ways to grow their personal brand, as suggested by John Meese, writer, speaker, and coach. Purchasing a domain name is an important step when it comes to personal branding, especially if you can get FirstnameLastname.Me. It will automatically help you control the first information that people see about you when they research your name online. If you’re just starting out and you lack money to invest in your digital branding, you can create great looking website for free using Flavors.me. Later on, as your business grows you should invest more in developing and maintaining your site, after all, it is the image of yourself that you are sending into the world. After a, you want to make sure your brand is recognizable on all channels, as pointed out by Ben Farrell, writer, blogger, and photographer.

Influencer thoughts:

Plan ahead. Research and make sure your brand name is available as a twitter username, a Facebook page, and a domain name. Keep everything consistent. Have a strong logo/banner design that you use across all platforms so your brand is easily recognisable across all channels – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram.  – Ben Farrell

The Almighty Blog: Become Approachable to your Audience

Influencer thoughts:

Key channel is my PR WARRIOR blog, which I’ve been writing since 2007. It’s given me the opportunity to clarify my thoughts, build an audience and grow my profile in the PR and communications space specifically. – Trevor Young

Having and maintaining a blog is a valuable tool for approaching your audience. Trevor Young, a professional who has been a head of multiple PR firms and Director of Strategy and Innovation for Edelman Australia, reveals that his blog is the key channel for building relationships with his audience. Namely, by engaging them with some personal thoughts and introducing them to not just your professional but also your personal life, you can humanizes both your blog and your brand. This in return can lead to the creation of a long-term trusting professional relationship. Readers tend to respond well to stories, either from your own experiences or your client’s, if you are able to get permission to publish them. Therefore, high-quality blog content is now more important than ever.

Influencer thoughts:

I’ve been able to build trust with thousands of people online who I’ve never even personally met. My blog now gets 20,000 pageviews a month, and much of that leads people to the WordPress themes, plugins, and courses that I sell―often they buy because they feel like they’re buying from a friend! – John Meese

Your audience needs to consider you and your ideas relevant in order to follow you online. So if you want to get that ‘expert’ label, you have to show them what your strengths are. Apart from possessing the know-how, you need to be able to apply your knowledge and translate it into something useful and constructive. Finally, don’t forget to be generous – share your ideas and solutions with your readers. Giving vague and general opinions about your field of expertise is not a good way to engage the audience. If you help someone for free once, there is a good probability that that person will return for more advice next time.

Social Media Imperative: Interact to be Recognized

Influencer thoughts:

In terms of social channels, Twitter and LinkedIn are my ‘one-two punch’ – they’re both powerful in terms of connecting with people, building relationships with influencers, as well as being effective means through which to distribute my blog content. – Trevor Young

Many experts consider social media to be the backbone of their personal branding strategy. Before you even start to create your profile you need to determine what you are really good at and want to be known for. Usually one to three areas of expertise is enough, you can use them as hashtags on your social media in order to boost online visibility. Another relevant detail is to make all your social media profiles consistent. Use the same name, photo and imagery for all your accounts to enable people to track you down and follow you more easily.

Don’t forget to reserve your name on all social channels. You can use KnowEm to check for availability of your ideal username on over 25 social networks. Having a catchy headline or a blurb helps people to remember you. Regular posting on the most relevant social channels like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn keeps you current and does not let your audience forget about you.

Influencer thoughts:

I use Twitter and Facebook, but for different reasons. Twitter has been effective in driving traffic to my website and getting more clicks, however Facebook has been more effective in creating an online community and discussion forum. Both Facebook and Twitter advertising have also been very effective in getting more likes/followers and building an audience. – Ben Farrell

Personal Branding Through Company Branding

Influencer thoughts:

I put myself forward. My name is on all the emails, in the customer support chat – heck even my phone number is on top of the website. That’s what it means to put a face to a brand. –  Dave Schneider

A common misconception is that the company brand alone is enough and that it’s all that matters. The truth is that building a strong personal brand within the company is equally as important, especially for small businesses where the owner’s brand can be crucial in attracting the clients. The same applies for the digital audience. Putting a face on a brand and giving the people the opportunity to get to know you is what will attract them to your company.

Influencer thoughts:

Digital branding allows you to intelligently track your efforts through the use of data & analytics, and make informed real-world decisions that you can see have an actual impact on your business. – Ahmad Abugosh from AstroLabs

Speaking in front of AstroLabs, the only Google-partnered Tech Hub in the MENA region, Ahmad Abugosh suggests that one of the major benefits of digital branding is the fact that this process is quantifiable and easy to monitor. Based on the reactions of the digital audience, their ideas or complaints, a company can draw conclusions and modify its branding strategy in order to attract more clients.  For both personal and company branding, it is vital to connect with the targeted digital audience on a more personal level in order to build a good reputation as a client-oriented business.

The Final Destination on The Road to Success

Building a well-known personal brand is not about being famous – you can be that for all the wrong reasons – it is about being successful at what you love doing and getting the recognition for it. The amount of your success in personal branding will not be measured by your bank account but by the number of your followers and recognizability of your brand name. You cannot just work on building and developing of your name and face as a brand, you also need to become their friend as well. As someone who they can trust, you are in a good position to give them the best expert advice or to recommend a great product for them to buy.

Influencer thoughts:

Start with the focus of what you’re trying to sell, then expand to see data of what users are searching for and engaging with and try to match both sectors as best as possible. – AstroLabs

Finally the most important part of building a personal brand is knowing your audience’s motivation, behavior and online habits. According to the recent Forbes Insights global study psychographics like interests and lifestyle as well as demographics are considered to be the most relevant types of audience targeting for most digital branding campaigns. Brand marketers consider audience targeting vital to their campaigns because new technologies enable them to send the right message to the right people at the right moment. At the same time, the ability to reach the right audience has the power to add relevancy and make a real difference.

Influencer thoughts:

Jeff Bezos from Amazon says: “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” Which begs the question, what do you want people to say about YOU when you’re not in the room? Answer that question, and then start influencing those perceptions through content creation and interaction on social channels such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. The key is to be consistent across all channels, or touchpoints – online and offline. – Trevor Young


Author:

Sarah Green

Sarah Green explores the latest web trends and covers stories related to technology, startups and digital life in general. Writing professionally since 2012, she has developed a sixth sense for trending topics in these fields.

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