Lauren Kaye

Google tells us to create great web content and wait for results to pour in, but the reality is: It’s not always that easy. You might be generating blogs and white papers that are exactly what your customers want, but they may never see them if you don’t have proper exposure.

That’s why personal branding is so important in today’s digital marketing world, which is becoming crowded with participants and cluttered with content. Plus, there’s reason to believe having a brand could make a difference in search rankings down the road.

Delightful Communications Founder Mel Carson recently gave us some exclusive insights about what personal branding means for competitive marketing and how to get on the path toward better recognition. We’ve also got key takeaways from his presentation with Bing Ads’ Erin Zefkeles.

What exactly is a personal brand?

Paraphrasing speaker and author Seth Godin, a brand is the compilation of the experiences people have with you, an impression that can sway their decision to purchase from you or not. A personal brand is the set of expectations people have of you, based on the way you’ve presented yourself previously and the values you express.

“At its very core, personal branding is simply about learning to market yourself effectively which means you need to have a plan. Like you would with any business, that plan needs strategy and tactics that help communicate and amplify the very best about you in a relevant and authentic way,” said Carson.

There are four roles you can take when building a personal brand:
  1. The Doer: Someone who gains notoriety with a successful track record
  2. The Writer: Someone who creates and shares content online
  3. The Speaker: Someone who presents at events and shares insights
  4. The Socializer: Someone who has built a substantial online following

A marketer might naturally fall into one of these categories, but those with the most successful personal brands will do a little bit of everything. It takes a multi-pronged approach to show that you are proficient on all fronts.

“Like you would with any business, that plan needs strategy and tactics that help communicate and amplify the very best about you in a relevant and authentic way.”

To be successful in building a personal brand, marketers also need to provide:
  • Utility: The content you share must be valuable
  • Value exchange: It’s a two-way street, and you need to provide others with value, too
  • Regular contact: To be remembered, you need to give connections ongoing attention
  • Fast responses: Agility is important to participate in as close to real-time as possible

It’s just a start to build relationships with the community and become a trusted partner. You also need to differentiate yourself through emotional connections and nurture loyal fans to keep the partnerships strong. Nobody likes to feel used and forgotten.

Four approaches to building your personal brand

1. Refine your LinkedIn profile: Write a first-person summary of who you are and be specific what you’ve done. Upload a professional photo of yourself that reflects the personal brand you want to build.

2. Strengthen your social presence: Find and follow other marketers on Google+ and Twitter. Then interact with them on a consistent basis to solidify connections.

3. Compile presentation collateral: Offer to provide content and interviews at speaking events. Then share your presentation slides or videos on the conference site and social channels to make it accessible.Include your social media credentials in presentation material so it’s easy for audiences to find you.

4. Talk back: Answer questions in a timely fashion and reply to people who have mentioned you online. It’s important to make social communications routine to demonstrate consistent engagement.

“It’s important to remember that, although this kind of branding is personal, the goal is also to reflect well on your company too.”

How can you tell if it’s working?

  1. More Tweets, Shares and Favorites: You should notice more engagement on social channels as your personal brand takes off
  2. More coverage: The more recognizable your name becomes, the more you will be mentioned in the community and referenced in industry content
  3. More invitations: People will ask you to speak at more events and conferences or write pieces for other publications
  4. More positivity: Both you and your company should see stronger positive sentiment when your personal brand gains recognition

“By far, the strongest indicator that your efforts are paying off is an increase in inbound queries for your time. This might include more requests for you to speak at conferences, writing opportunities or, even better, new business based on someone has seen you speak or read something you’ve written,” Carson added.

Personal brands are good for business

“It’s important to remember that, although this kind of branding is personal, the goal is also to reflect well on your company, too,” Carson stated.

“Businesses are slowly waking up to the fact that an employee-base with solid personal brands can pay dividends by humanizing their company and creating an army of advocates with inside knowledge that can sometimes tell the company story better than any PR effort could.”

Your personal brand is valuable to your company. In fact, your personal brand should support your business’ brand and vice versa. By sharing content online, you establish yourself as a source of valuable information and build authority around specific subject matter. Your audience will trust the insights you share and create more buzz around the content your company’s sharing.

For more expert tips from Mel, check out his responses in the Content Questionnaire.