The Importance of Personal Branding
Personal branding is different to corporate branding: corporate branding focuses on a product or service whereas personal branding’s focus is on the person. “The unique combination of skills and experiences that make you you.” (Brand Yourself, n/a) In the digital era we are living today, anything can be a brand, even a person. What is more, today the question is not whether you have a personal brand or not. The question is if you want to cultivate it in order to be being perceived as an expert in one field, or two.
When creating our personal brand, we have to think about ourselves as a business. In this case, the business is us. When we think of a brand, we have feelings towards it, either good or bad. When we hear a name, we may have a feeling, too. – explains Gary Vaynerchuk, the well-known public speaker and author. (Vaynerchuk, G., 2019)
In the modern digital world audience has tired and overwhelmed with the constant stream of adverts coming from businesses and corporations trying to sell products and services. Today, audience do not trust corporations anymore. “Personal branding allows you to establish a reputation and an identity while still maintaining a personal level of trust and interaction, usually through social media.” (DeMers, J., 2014) Nowadays, regardless of our age, profession or any other status, someone is screening us online: (Brand Yourself, n/a) our name are googled when applying to a collage, hiring managers search for us on social media before inviting us for an interview and what they find about us they can have massive influence on their final decision.
How to Use Social Media for Personal Branding
The very first step of personal branding should be identifying and embracing ourselves. – as Tran Tai, the youngest ‘Forbes Under 30’ says in one of his presentations. (Tran, T. 2017) To start, think about the following questions:
- Who you are?
- What makes you unique?
- What can you offer other people to help?
The next step is to define your skills and your target audience. For example, if you are a job seeker, you want to be recognised by HR managers, decision makers and influencers who can help you to reach your goals. (Arruda, W., 2019) After all of these steps, it’s time to define your message and goals and how you want to reach them. Define your unique voice, signature image and colour and build a recognisable standard for your readers. (DeMers, J., 2014)
It is not necessary to be present on all of the social media channels (the more the better, however), on those you have chosen, however, you have to be consistent, stay active and tailor your posts to each channel.
What do all of these mean?
- Use the same name, profile picture, colour and design in all of the social media channels.
- Clear all old irrelevant posts and pictures that are not relevant any more to what you represent (this is very important as some of those content may even cause harm to your reputation).
- Fully fill out your profile, include relevant keywords and hashtags.
(Brand Yourself, n/a)
- Produce valuable and relevant content and feed your social media channels regularly. Make sure your posts are diverse, interesting and useful to your audience. (text, podcast, video, infographic etc.).
- It’s a good idea to a use a single content in a multiply way. Gary Vaynerchuk gives us some great examples: if you have a great video content, you can upload it to Facebook and LinkedIn. You can chop that same video to shorter videos to use them on Twitter and Instagram. You can also select a couple of powerful quotes and create pictures. You can write down the content of the video and publish it as a blog post. You can create an eye-catchy and informative infographic that summarise the whole topic. You can transform your video (or part of it) into a podcast. (Vaynerchuk, G., 2019)
- Search for relevant groups and be an active member.
- Be approachable and communicate with your audience: ask questions, generate conversations and answer questions and queries coming from your audience.
Tailor your posts to each channel:
- Define your objectives and goals and create contents in line with them while stay relevant to the social media channels. For example, if you are a job seeker, focus on developing your LinkedIn profile first. If you want to sell your artwork, Pinterest and Instagram are the best to choose.
- Keep in mind that each social media channel has different features. It means, for example you should post at least two times a day on Twitter, once a day on Facebook and LinkedIn, four-five times a day on Snapchat etc. Twitter allows you to share short texts and videos, on Snapchat contents remain visible only for 24 hours, Facebook is suitable for longer content forms etc.
- Using hashtags on Twitter and Instagram is a great way to help your posts reach large audience. Hashtags on Facebook, however, will not work the same way.
Good Examples of Using Social Media for Personal Branding
When the interviewer asked Francisco Crespo, SVP and chief growth officer of Coca-Cola Company on their marketing strategy, Francisco Crespo’s answer was the following: “There are three dimensions in this process. It starts with understanding consumer needs. What problem are they trying to solve? What outcome are they expecting? What are their key occasions, contexts and rituals? Then we must establish what we call our Brand Edge, which is finding the reasons our brand solves consumer needs better.” (Talbot, P., 2019)
Gary Vaynerchuk says: “The best companies in the world don’t sell. They brand. They focus on branding. I do the same.” (Vaynerchuk, G., 2019) Coca-Cola for example do not want to convert you a buyer. Instead, Coca-Cola create a picture of the Coca-Cola experience, which means togetherness, happiness and precious moments in life we experience together. “There is no reason to do anything other than act like a media company in today’s digital age. Instead of selling constantly like businesses used to, you can create helpful, educational, entertaining content and use it to get sales long term. And the amazing thing is, the content you create doesn’t even have to be related to what you’re selling.” – Gary Vaynerchuk continues. (Vaynerchuk, G., 2019)
Figure 1: The Coca-Cola experience of togetherness showcased in ‘Coca-Cola & the Premier League’ campaign video. (YouTube, 2019)
“Branding today is about people creating and sharing human experiences. The future of branding is personal, the future of branding is now.” (Waller, T., 2019)
In the following section, I am introducing three good examples of personal branding. I have chosen three different people from three completely different sectors:
- Pink – singer, songwriter, actress
- Neil Patel – author, web influencer, entrepreneur
- Bear Grylls – survival instructor, businessman, adventurer
Pink – singer, songwriter, actress
Figure 2: Pink is an extravagant singer, songwriter and actress and this is exactly what her Facebook page shows us: the banner image showcases her new album with a blend of vivid red, pink and orange colours. Her profile picture represents her unique style, dynamic performances and fearlessness. (Facebook, 2019)
Figure 3: On her Facebook page, Pink has an exhausting ‘about’ section, containing the URLs of her other social media channels, her newest albums and their availabilities as well as a long bibliography with quotes and interview fragments. (Facebook, 2019)
Figure 4: Pink regularly shares and updates upcoming events on her Facebook page. (Facebook, 2019)
Figure 5: Pink uses the same profile picture on each of her social media channels making her channels unmissable. (Instagram, 2019)
Figure 6: Instead of sharing the same contents on all of her social media channels, Pink takes the different features of the channels into account, for example short compelling texts on Twitter and eye-catchy photos and short videos on Instagram. (Instagram, 2019)
Figure 7: Emojis and short texts being shared along with compelling contents on Pink’s Twitter page. Pink often retweet and share other users’ posts on her own timeline. (Twitter, 2019)
Figure 8: The profile picture and banner picture make Pink’s YouTube channel unmissbale for users and fans. (YouTube, 2019)
Neil Patel – author, web influencer, entrepreneur
Figure 9: Neil Patel’s Twitter page is unmissable by it’s orange colour and the well-known profile picture and the orange banner image. (Twitter, 2019)
Figure 10: Visitors find regular, diverse and helpful contents on Neil Patel’s Twitter page. In this screenshot we can see a podcast and a blog post. (Twitter, 2019)
Figure 11: The orange profile picture and banner image appear on Neil’s LinkedIn page along with an informative yet concise summary of his career. Neil’s email address is available at the end of the summary section. (LinkedIn, 2019)
Figure 12: This screenshot showcases a variety of powerful quotes, images and micro videos on Neil Patel’s Instagram page. Orange colour appears in Neil’s every single Intagram post as a trademark. (Instagram, 2019)
Figure 13: Again, the unmissable orange banner image and profile picture on Neil Patel’s YouTube channel. (YouTube, 2019)
Figure 14: We have seen that Neil Patel uses orange tone on not only his banner images, but also in individual Instagram posts. Here we can see the same pattern: all of the videos appear with an unmissable orange background. (YouTube, 2019)
Bear Grylls – survival instructor, businessman, adventurer
Figure 15: Bear Grylls uses the same banner image on his social media pages: a photo collage with the title ‘The Adventurers’, his official logo and a hashtag #theadventurers. (Facebook, 2019)
Figure 16: The ‘about’ section is fully completed, including awards, website address and Tumblr page address – however, his Tumblr page was last updated two years ago. (Facebook, 2019)
Figure 17: The same banner image apperas on Bear Grylls’ Twitter page as on his Facebook page. The adventurer’s profile photo is, although not the exact same, but very similar to his Facebook profile picture. (Twitter, 2019)
Figure 18: Bear Grylls shares compelling, useful and wide variety of contents on his Twitter page twice a day. (Twitter, 2019)
Figure 19: Wide variety of regular compelling content can be found on Bear Grylls’ Instagram page: videos, images, series of images and quotes. (Instagram, 2019)
Arruda, W. (2019) “Personal Branding Rocket Fuel for Junior Employees” [Online] Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/williamarruda/2019/05/30/personal-branding-rocket-fuel-for-junior-employees/#6db1e3252195 [Accessed 31 May 2019]
Brand Yourself (n/a) “The Definitive Guide to Personal Branding” [Online] Available at: https://brandyourself.com/definitive-guide-to-personal-branding [Accessed 31 May 2019]
DeMers, J. (2014) “5 Steps to Building a Personal Brand (and Why You Need One)” [Online] Available at: https://www.inc.com/jayson-demers/5-steps-to-building-a-personal-brand-and-why-you-need-one.html [Accessed 31 May 2019]
Talbot, P. (2019) “Inside Coca-Cola’s Marketing Strategy” [Online] Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/paultalbot/2019/04/26/inside-coca-colas-marketing-strategy/#4865f2731280 [Accessed 03 June 2019]
Tran, T. (2017) YouYube “Designing a purposeful personal brand from zero to infinity | Tai Tran | TEDxBerkeley” [Online]
Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Alqt7pIbp_o [Accessed 31 May 2019]
Vaynerchuk, G. (2019) “9 Strategies for Personal Branding Online in 2019” [Online] Available at: https://www.garyvaynerchuk.com/5-strategies-for-personal-branding-online/ [Accessed 31 May 2019]
Waller, T. (2018) YouTube “The Future of Branding is Personal | Talaya Waller | TEDxPSU” [Online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEHL8eLJCkc [Accessed 03 June 2019)
Figure 1 – Coca-Cola (2019) YouTube “Where Everyone Plays | Coca-Cola & the Premier League” [Online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_XBxcIoZy0 [Accessed 03 June 2019]
Figure 2 – Facebook (2019) Pink’s Facebook Main Page [Online] Available at: https://www.facebook.com/pink/ [Accessed 01 June 2019]
Figure 3 – Facebook (2019) Pink’s Facebook ‘About’ Section [Online] Available at: https://www.facebook.com/pg/pink/about/ [Accessed 01 June 2019]
Figure 4 – Facebook (2019) Pink’s Facebook ‘Upcoming Events’ Section [Online] Available at: https://www.facebook.com/pg/pink/events/ [Accessed 01 June 2019]
Figure 5 – Instagram (2019) Pink’s Instagram Page [Online] Available at: https://www.instagram.com/pink/?fbclid=IwAR10ZejriwuxNb0q5u09QU2Iobdg1J2qkESF8oSSgp8URiv2vSpK_e38arU [Accessed 01 June 2019]
Figure 6 – Instagram (2019) Pink’s Instagram Page [Online] Available at: https://www.instagram.com/pink/?fbclid=IwAR10ZejriwuxNb0q5u09QU2Iobdg1J2qkESF8oSSgp8URiv2vSpK_e38arU [Accessed 01 June 2019]
Figure 7 – Twitter (2019) Pink’s Twitter Page [Online] Available at: https://twitter.com/pink?fbclid=IwAR27N-3-eOS_EPDZfuA_KYHJemdbWObFexr23oIbS83TzINthrW9D40wvSU [Accessed 01 June 2019]
Figure 8 – YouTube (2019) Pink’s YouTube Channel [Online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCE5yTn9ljzSnC_oMp9Jnckg [Accessed 01 June 2019]
Figure 9 – Twitter (2019) Neil Patel’s Twitter Page [Online] Available at: https://twitter.com/neilpatel [Accessed 01 June 2019]
Figure 10 – Twitter (2019) Neil Patel’s Twitter Page [Online] Available at: https://twitter.com/neilpatel [Accessed 01 June 2019]
Figure 11 – LinkedIn (2019) Neil Patel’s LinkedIn Profile [Online] Available at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/neilkpatel [Accessed 01 June 2019]
Figure 12 – Instagram (2019) Neil Patel’s Instagram Profile [Online] Available at: https://www.instagram.com/neilpatel/ [Accessed 01 June 2019]
Figure 13 – YouTube (2019) Neil Patel’s YouTube Channel [Online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/user/neilvkpatel/featured [Accessed 01 June 2019]
Figure 14 – YouTube (2019) Neil Patel’s YouTube Channel [Online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/user/neilvkpatel/featured [Accessed 01 June 2019]
Figure 15 – Facebook (2019) Bear Grylls’ Facebook Main Page [Online] Available at: https://www.facebook.com/RealBearGrylls/ [Accessed 01 June 2019]
Figure 16 – Facebook (2019) Bear Grylls’ Facebook ‘About’ Section [Online] Available at: https://www.facebook.com/pg/RealBearGrylls/about/?ref=page_internal [Accessed 01 June 2019]
Figure 17 – Twitter (2019) Bear Grylls’ Twitter Page [Online] Available at: https://twitter.com/BearGrylls [Accessed 01 June 2019]
Figure 18 – Twitter (2019) Bear Grylls’ Twitter Page [Online] Available at: https://twitter.com/BearGrylls [Accessed 01 June 2019]
Figure 19 – Instagram (2019) Bear Grylls’ Instagram Page [Online] Available at: https://www.instagram.com/beargrylls/ [Accessed 01 June 2019]