Personal Branding 101

“In India, the education system has always followed a top-to-bottom approach. Education boards impose certain norms on universities”
– Sorav Jain

Table of Contents

In India, the education system has always followed a top-to-bottom approach. Education boards impose certain norms on universities, which, in turn, bring these norms to the masses through education. That’s how things have been evolving. But digital has taken a different route altogether. It first started with the groups, was adopted by the media, and then adopted by the government. Now the government is imposing norms to give digital some structure but not with clarity.

Digital, where there is innovation every second and rise and death of networking opportunities every millisecond, has no characteristics on its own. It has no flow and no process set.

It doesn’t say to the world, “Hey, let’s first Google, then create a Facebook channel and then start sending emails to people.“

The purpose of digital is never defined; it’s different for different people.

When I ran a survey with hundreds of Indians to understand what their first touch-point on digital was, the answers were: social networking, peer pressure, official communication, research, need, shopping, dating, booking tickets, following a celebrity, stalking a friend and a means of learning new things.

Not many wanted to use digital to inspire the mass or shape their brands and become globally popular.

Digital has been a mere medium for chit-chatting, killing time, entertainment, building relationships, and showcasing personal lifestyles.

While you may continue to do that, it’s time to give your social media presence some structure. In this playbook, we will discuss:

Reasons Why Personal Branding on Social Media Matters

Remember that how you use social media, what you share, and what you don’t share are all responsible for shaping your identity.

Ask yourself how much time you’ve been spending on social media every single day. If you are in a public place, look around. So many people are constantly looking at their mobile phones or similar intelligent gadgets.

They could be watching a video, reading an article, playing a game, chatting with someone, scrolling through their news feed or uploading something on the internet.

Most of them are driven by digital but are not driving digital the way they want. In a nutshell, the true purpose of digital hasn’t been defined by many people worldwide.

You need to achieve something on your journey in digital. Just as you define your life’s purpose and goals and work towards them similarly, your digital activities should also have a defined purpose.

With digital, you have the scope to ignite millions of minds across the world through the great work you do and the way you showcase it.

Today, social media allows you to build your brand without the help of an external agency, a PR company or becoming a public figure. It is an opportunity to connect with like-minded people, learn, share and inspire.

1. To become an industry thought leader

Suppose you are a doctor, a research specialist, a marketer, an economist, a teacher, or any specialist and you want to be at the top of your industry.

In that case, social media is a platform for you to share your knowledge with the world, be discovered, connect with like-minded people and create a following with the knowledge you share.

Your purpose here is to help people with the experiences you have gained, the thoughts you share, and the research you do.

2. To become a digital rock star

You are a performer, stand-up comedian, singer, musician, dancer, or artist of any kind, and you want to showcase your talent and inspire the world to connect with your skillset, hear you, watch you perform, and make you a rock star.

Digital is the perfect medium for your talent to be found.

3. To help one get the right job

The biggest challenge for candidates trying to land the right job today is distinguishing themselves from the competitive crowd.

When you use social media to show your subject expertise and skill set, and you polish your social media profiles and approach HRs or recruitment teams, you have an edge.

To break the clutter, job applicants today create video resumes and creative social media profiles and often talk about their expertise. Sometimes, your presence becomes so intense that job opportunities turn inbound.

4. To give your passion a new dimension

Suppose you are already well-settled in a good job or a leading position in your organization. You want to pursue your passion by creating a dual identity professionally through the means of your passion/hobby. In that case, social media can come to your rescue.

Travellers, photographers, foodies, fashion freaks, lifestyle writers, gadget freaks, movie buffs and book readers use social media extensively to share their thoughts concerning their passion.

They are now termed digital influencers. Digital influencers get immense opportunities from brands to ignite minds to endorse the products and services.

People believe in word of mouth more than the brand’s messaging. Hence, brands approach influencers to endorse their products to reach and influence their audience.

5. To inspire people by showing your life’s journey

You are a person who doesn’t have the time to show your expertise or make videos, and you cannot invest time in building your brand on social media.

You are a professional or an entrepreneur who has a good following, you are a leader, and you want to inspire the masses.

Social media can be the perfect medium to showcase your inspiring lifestyle. People follow celebrities, CEOs, and experts so they can be inspired.

They continuously follow their whereabouts, the new things they have learned, their positive thoughts, and their opinions on current affairs.

For you, social media is just a means of connecting to the mass, with a purpose.

How to begin your Journey in Personal Branding

Step 1: Define your goals

For the first step, you need to define what you expect out of your brand –
  • Do you want to get more clients?
  • Do you want to get more traffic to your website?
  • Do you want to make more sales on social media?
Knowing your goals can help you stay focused and know at all points what you’re working towards.

Step 2: Define your area of expertise

Everyone is an expert at something; whether it’s creating and distributing great content or knowing everything, there is to know about your favourite TV show.

Is it time for you to broaden your horizons a little? Consider the kind of material you’ve written that has gotten your fans the most attention.

Is it possible to reproduce this with other comparable material or reuse something to get people to interact again? The more unique and entertaining material you publish about your area of expertise, the more your followers, will regard you as a thought leader in your sector.

Step 3: Develop your brand statement

You can position yourself in the marketplace and have a specific image that your audience can relate to through your brand statement. Don’t create a personality for your brand based on your interests and likes alone.

Consider what your audiences like, and find common ground to be yourself while also appealing to them.

Step 4: Start posting

Blogging 3-4 times a week is the sweet spot for people. The more you posted in the early days of social media, the more engagement you could generate.

Over-posting, on the other hand, today causes tiredness and annoyance. You want to maintain open lines of communication with your audience, but you also don’t want to appear desperate by oversharing.

Step 5: Join groups

Join groups that are relevant to your field of expertise. These groups can help you expand your knowledge, generate new ideas, put your talents to the test, and gain confidence.

They allow you to broaden your network and form bonds with people who share your interests. This is an important stage in developing your brand.

Step 6: Analyze your strategies

It takes a lot of time and works to build a social media brand, and you’ll want to make sure that the outcomes of that time and effort reflect that. Look at your social media metrics to see if your personal branding plan is working.

This can assist you to figure out if you’re talking to the proper people and if your message is getting through. If not, you’ll need to work on broadening your content approach to make a stronger impression on social network users.

Key Mantras of Personal Branding

Many questions related to personal branding come my way on social media, especially after training CXOs of multinational companies in the space of personal branding.

To illustrate the key factors better, I have carved out the critical mantras of personal branding. I ensure that I stick by them; I would recommend you to follow the same:

1. The 80-20 Rule

source: ipleaders

How much personal information should you share on Social Media to build your brand? The answer to the question is to follow the 80-20 rule. Too much personal information on social media will only invite jealousy.

People will stop showing interest after a certain point unless they are your family/friends or you are a celebrity.

I generally share a lot about my personal life on Instagram & Facebook stories because they disappear in 24 hours, and my feed is all about content in the niche defined.

So, you should ensure that 80% of your content revolves around your niche and 20% around your personal life. Let that also include your life efforts to achieve your goals in the niche you have defined.

Go check your Social Media profiles, and tally how much personal information you have been sharing. What’s the ratio?

2. That perfect moment

” Don’t Wait For Perfect Moment. Take The Moment And Make It Perfect”

The perfect moment is when you decide to start with whatever little you know or have. All you need is a clear goal. So, don’t wait for the right camera, the right lighting, the right shirt or the right moment.

As a student, as an employee, as a job seeker, as an employer or as an entrepreneur, you can start whenever you want.

Make a list of your apprehensions that hinder the start of your personal branding journey. Just think about it.

3. You are YOU

Who are you becoming in your personal branding journey on social media? This is the question you need to ask yourself constantly. I see a lot of people trying to copy someone else!

You can play like Sachin Tendulkar but not act like him. The former act draws inspiration, and the latter becomes mimicry! Stay original, bring creativity, innovate ideas and keep improving your style. Let your style be a statement.

What are your personal branding factors (signature style, caricature, standard creative style)? List them.

4. Investment is essential

Social media is free; social media marketing is not. In your personal branding journey, you adopt social media marketing for yourself.

You are a product, and to sell your skills, you need to make the right investments. In the competitive market, not everyone can succeed organically, and hence, it is essential to invest in growing your personal brand.

Some of the investments I have made are:

Stage 1

Stage 2

So, while I recommend that you get started and put things in place, you will have to eventually increase the pace with investments and invite the right audience to connect with you.

What is your budget? Pen down a rough breakdown.

5. Socialize in real

One of the best ways to get closer to your community is by socializing in real life. I often host meet-ups in cities to connect with my followers in person.

Similarly, I utilize speaking opportunities in large conferences or colleges to reach out to people. I request that they connect on social media for a free download or a detailed report.

This immediately converts the audience into potential subscribers. The audiences gained via your offline initiatives are the ones who would interact more often with your online content.

So, don’t miss any opportunity to socialize and proudly sell your social media presence in public and earn immediate followers. How do you connect with your niche in real-time? List the offline events among your niche where you can participate. Have a quarterly event plan.

6. Curator vs Creator

On social media, there are two kinds of people. One who create content and the other who curate. I do both.

A creator is the one who thinks of an original idea, an original tweet, and an original creation.

A curator generally researches content relevant to their niche and shares it with the world.

It’s good to start your journey as a curator and eventually become a creator. I do both today. There are things like #NewThingsInDigital, where I research on latest digital updates from the previous week. Then there are things like #SuperToolsTuesdays, where I build a list of top tools like email marketing tools, LinkedIn tools, etc.

On the other hand, I focus on cartoons, digital marketing tips, case studies, how-to videos, etc. They are original content. So, a combination of both is unavoidable in your branding journey.

7. Focus on one

The rise and death of social media channels are common. Only a handful survive and make it to the top. Usually, they are unique or used by a very large user base.

Creating a presence on all popular social media channels is important, but how active you become on them is your choice.

One of the biggest mistakes that I made initially was to give all my platforms equal attention.

Undivided attention is not a good idea; ideally, focusing on one or two platforms is a good deal and most recommended. Some have a great organic reach, and some need paid attention.

Let’s say you focus on growing your YouTube subscribers; ultimately, you should use other social media channels to route people to your YouTube channel and consistently post content and converse with the audience to engage with them daily or during the schedules defined by you.

Rank your social channels based on the priority to focus on. Map them with respective platform goals (subscription, followers, blog visits, etc.).

8. Influencer relationship

If you wish to grow in a particular industry, you need to meet the best minds to learn from them, and this rule applies to your personal branding journey.

Whichever niche you pick, you will surely have some strong players existing in the virtual market.

Start following them, quoting them, interacting with them, commenting on their posts, featuring them on your blog posts, interviewing them, and collaborating with them to scale up your personal brand.

There is no point in competing. Instead, identify opportunities to collaborate and focus on becoming as competent as them.

I connect with influencers by inviting them for an interview or a speaking opportunity (if I am hosting a conference), featuring them on my blog, or regularly quoting them on my tweets or posts to build better relationships.

One of the key rules of influencer relationships is to ‘give first and then expect’.

Jot down the relevant influencers you can connect with and map your approach plan (mentions, post engagement, interviews).

9. Don’t forget your goals

To become a thought leader / to get speaking opportunities / to get the right job / to become an influencer / to earn affiliate opportunities, etc., I strongly recommend a channel-wise growth plan.

Here are some places to start with

80/20 Rule|Curator vs Creator|personal branding|Brand In Personal Branding|You are You|Focus on One thing|What is Brand

The above is a standard template for people aiming to get speaking opportunities or earn money through affiliate marketing, and this differs for different purposes.

Keep track of your updates and review them every week to see your progress. With time, keep improving the numbers and experiment across platforms and the types of content to fetch sustainable progress.

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