How to build your personal brand.
So a lot of people have been asking me lately, as they wait patiently for my autograph, how it is that I managed to get so famous all of a sudden. To be honest part of it is luck, and a lot of it is just great genetics (you can’t fake pure awesome), but quite a bit of it is also some smart personal branding practices that I have employed across the web. If you are unsure of what I mean by personal branding, you can probably sub in the term ‘shameless self promotion’ for a better understanding.
You may think you don’t care about whether your name is a digital-hold (as opposed to household) brand and you can’t be bothered to do anything to become famous. That’s fine, but you are probably doing yourself an injustice. This is because in actual fact it’s really easy to build a name for yourself online, and it can really help your career (and significantly widen your networks). Also secretly, below your conscious beliefs (aka your subconscious), you do want to be famous. Everyone does.
So what are the most important steps?
1. Choose your name wisely. Well you probably can’t choose your name because chances are your parents took the liberty of doing so for you (those presumptuous bastards). BUT if your name is something like Michael Jones or Jessica Dwyer, well, you’re probably screwed. Similarly if your name is the same as some famous loser, like George Michael or Justin Beiber, you are in deep shit because you will never be able to outrank them on Google. If either of these name-curses apply to you, you should probably come up with some sort of alias that will help you be unique. You don’t need to actually change your name legally (unless your name really is Justin Beiber, in which case you should change it immediately) – just use some small variation for your online brand.
Initiate google testing on your name, and if it’s returning a whole heap of results your name sucks and you need to get an alias. Come up with your alias (it needn’t be too different from your actual name – maybe even just add a middle initial or something) and google test this. Repeat until you find something unique.
2. Socialise yourself to the MAX. Afraid so. Just having a Facebook profile isn’t going to cut it in this world – you are going to have to get a few more social media accounts to truly get yourself out there. Try the following:
- LinkedIn. If you don’t have it, kill yourself. If you do, make sure you are connecting all the time, sharing content on it and generally being active. The whole point is to network, so do it.
- Twitter. It’s annoying and nobody really likes it, but you should get a profile anyway. According to a variety of people in the know, pretty soon you won’t be able to get a job, or even buy milk if you don’t have a Twitter account. It also helps with your Google Brand – another relevant, updated link to your personality nice and obvious on the first page of Google results. Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t need to post every 5 minutes, or even every day. As long as you do so every week or so, you are still relatively up to date. You can post some personal items, try to talk to others and retweet interesting content and display your knowledge/passions to build up relevant network. Do it.
- Facebook. Tread carefully here. It’s not always a great idea to present yourself through Facebook for the world to see. I’m a social media queen (self-prescribed) and yet I’ve hidden my Facebook profile to my Google brand. Facebook pages, however, are open slather. If you’re anyone of notoriety or if your business has more than 10 customers, create a page. Why not! Do it. And if you do, check out my guide to creating and managing a facebook page. [Feeling a bit like A Current Affair with that shameless cross-promotion.]
- Quora / relevant blogs/forums/Q+A sites. It’s so annoying and nobody really has time for it, but I’m afraid it’s a necessity. Creating a bunch of social media profiles isn’t really enough because nobody knows they exist half the time to find you – this is where excessive commenting / answering / posturing in the online world comes in handy. Get your name and expertise out there. Doesn’t even have to be expertise – you could just comment on news articles or blog posts you find interesting… but the more you comment, the more people see (and maybe even like) you. If you are using your same avatar and have links to your website/twitter/whatever else, people will also find you. And they will start to know you. One comment I made on an article about Quora weeks ago is still in the top five of referring sites to my website. It can make a difference. Fo sho.
3. Create your own personal website. This one is by no means a necessity but it’s a nice-to-have. Websites are surprisingly easy to create and extremely cheap… you could create a resume-style page, or start up a blog about something you are interested in. Don’t get too hung up about traffic – it’s just a great tool to refer people to if you are going for jobs or trying to look important in general. It’s also another credibility hike for all your aforementioned profiles – stick in your own personal URL and you look even more officially awesome. Yay!
4. Use the same picture across networks – or else no one will recognise you, you will be considered to be an amateur and above all else you will probably spontaneously combust. Just choose a nice, clear, happy pic of yourself that makes you look smart but also hip and above all else is NOT pixelated and does not have a hand or half a face of someone else in it and put it up on all your public profiles. Oh and please make sure it looks like you at least vaguely – nothing from 10 years ago when mullets were still in fashion.
5. It sounds awfully like wank-speak and even I’m cringing a little, but I have to do it: be consistent. Just like your photo is the same (or recognisably similar) across networks, you need to keep your voice the same. If you are a tad wry like me, and enjoy using bad humour, tons of cynicism and loads of over-enthusiasm, then do this everywhere. It’s even better if your digital personality matches your real personality! This will help build a recognisable profile for you. Try to make yourself likeable and funny… really funny… because this will help lots. If you get stuck, you could just try to be like me.
6. Lastly, take any opportunity (and create as many as you can) to SHAMELESSY PROMOTE YOURSELF AND YOUR ONLINE BRAND! Share your content through all your networks, pretend to care about other people so they will pretend to care about you back, use all your friends for whatever they are good for (website traffic, contacts, sharing your shit etc) and try to even get famous through providing media quotes about your area of expertise, sending out media releases about your site/articles/whatever, promote yourself as a speaker for events etc. Get the word out there. And trust me, if you try hard enough it will work, because these days anyone can be famous. The internet is a great lie facilitator and you can pretty much fake being awesome to get there.