Why is Your Digital Personal Brand Important in 2021?

Why should you care about your digital personal brand?  It’s not just your reputation, it is also the 21st century platform that enables you to work, socialize, sell a product, and plan and achieve goals. I was speaking with an author recently who publishes a book every year.  Prior to 2017 he says his books would sell 2,000 + copies in paperback.  Since then, he is lucky if he sells 200.  What happened?  Did his fans abruptly change their minds about his books?  Was he blackballed from Facebook? Since he is a self-published author, his primary means of selling was online, but somehow it was as if he had disappeared from cyberspace.

How do you disappear in cyberspace?

Sometime in the last five years between changing algorithms, and a critical mass of over three billion people on social media, the rules changed.  When once you could post a few times a week on a platform, build a reasonable audience, and become more popular, now you have to have a brand and a plan.  Enter CoVid, the constant stream of bad news and politics, stores shut down, and more people online than ever before, doing everything from work to school to entertainment.   Do you think this is temporary? Nope.  Even when more of us venture outside of our homes,  experts say the move to digital was fast-tracked by necessity, and much of it is here to stay.

How does a digital personal brand work?

Imagine that you are a high school science teacher by day and host a podcast on sci fi entertainment by night (or any other time).  As a teacher you go to school, see students, engage with colleagues and parents, and have a reputation as an effective educator.  You tell people about your podcast and you gain a few downloads from your connections, but nothing that will justify the time it takes to put your shows together.  How can you solve this problem and make your podcast successful?

If you had a digital personal brand with a presence on social media platforms and a business page for your podcast, you would have a base from which to start growing an audience.  You could utilize Instagram and Facebook to post your audio and link to iTunes and other streaming services.  You could research people interested in your topic and connect with them to get listeners as well as potential guests and topics for your show.  As you build your audience you could offer promotions and incentives for them to provide content for you to repost, tagging the original user.  Then you will show up in that user’s network with exposure to all of their friends and followers, and so on, and so on.(Anyone remember that Faberge commercial for shampoo?)

Why do you need to put YOU first to get noticed?

The science teacher may think creating her podcast is the hard part, but it isn’t.  The first step is having the content.  Then she needs to plan on how she is going to be in front of people who are spending time in the digital space.   Brian Solis says that we have become a society of digital narcissists.  To make that premise work to your advantage, you will need to figure out who you are; who you want to be; what you are promoting; and how you are going to communicate all of this in a consistent, branded manner on digital media.

 

Effective Social Media Marketing: Are we in denial?

 

Love it or hate it if you are promoting something you are waist-deep or at least dipping a toe into the social media marketing landscape.  For public relations professionals, we are always focused on effective social media marketing tactics that will build our clients’ audiences.  I’ve written about social media on this blog, often breaking down different platforms and their uses, listing the latest stats, and how to build a content strategy.  However, I am adding this to the conversation because I think many of us are in denial. Our expectations and feelings about how things should work are getting int the way of our own success.    Below are some statements related to social media conversations I’ve had.  If you relate to one or more of these, then you might want to read on.

  1. My follower count on Instagram only increases by 5 to 10 followers per week so my campaign isn’t working.
  2. Nobody wants to hear from me on Twitter because I don’t get likes or retweets.
  3. I post contests and polls on Facebook and I don’t get any audience participation.
  4. I post every day and I’m not growing.

Time for a reality check

 

It’s time to face reality.  There are 3.3 billion people on social media; there are bots and marketing agencies spewing generic content; advertising is cluttering news feeds; and if you aren’t a celebrity, you won’t gain followers by the hundreds.  So why does anyone even bother you ask?  Because there are 3.3 billion people using social media.  If your audience was just a fraction of that number you could be happy.

We are so fortunate to be able to reach out to all of these people directly.  But you have to be thoughtful, dare I say strategic about how you talk them.    If you do your homework and start talking to your “people” who want to hear what you have to say, then you will grow and you may even become an influencer someday.  If your social media platforms are not behaving the way you want them to, it is likely that you are not properly focused on who you are trying to reach and what you need to communicate.

Build Authentic Online Relationships

Relationship building online is about earning the trust and loyalty of your customers and audiences so you can maintain, and grow your numbers.   But how do you do that?  Is it by working with a company that will push out “snackable” content? (I was pitched that idea by a social marketer.  Let me ask you this: If you were at a cocktail party would you want to talk to a robot who can say a dozen sentences or a real person who can tell you about a trip to Belize)? Is it by talking about how great you are or how wonderful your product is?  Would having a roomful of cats posted on Instagram fit the bill?

Even though we can now hide behind our screens, it doesn’t mean that the skills and needs of human interaction are out the window.  If anything, you need to be even more thoughtful about your dialogue with others to practice effective social media marketing.  Your content needs to be authentic and you need to do your due diligence and research in advance to identify an audience that will be interested in receiving your messages.  After you determine your audience, you need to figure out how to reach it, what platforms to use, the content you will use, and when you are going to post and share.

It takes time and tenacity

To build an army takes an army and that’s what you are doing.  You are setting up a foundation of friends and followers who want to know about your ideas or buy your product.  If satisfied, they will help spread the word via retweets, shares, and referrals.  And as I’ve said, it doesn’t happen overnight.

When I was at a conference recently a woman asked me about an aggregation application that helped drive followers on Twitter, but she was losing followers as quickly as she was gaining them.  I told her that Twitter has been public about their attempt to rid the server of unattended accounts and spambots.  Aggregators are not a shortcut when it comes to quality, actionable followers.  The ones you end up with are often spam and other ineffective types.  You need to put a real engagement plan into action, stick to it, monitor the results, and take appropriate action when necessary.

We all need to accept that this process is going to take a lot of work.  I’ve got a business built around media with a heavy social focus, and I know about the time that goes into an effective social media marketing campaign.  But if you aren’t able to hire somebody to do it for you, then you can set up a schedule that works for you.  Block out time every day to work on internet engagement and research.  Find a tracking program or use the tools that the individual platforms provide so you can see how your content is doing.  Someone told me once regarding careers that you start with one brick and soon you will have built a wall.  So go ahead and start your construction and you will see how things progress.

The last thing I’ll add is for people who dislike social media or do not feel comfortable with it.  My advice is: Don’t establish any platforms you are not going to use.  If you feel super hesitant about social campaigning, then do not do it.   In a future post, I’ll present some ideas for alternatives that will still build your SEO presence online.

Additional Informational Resources

Here are a couple of  articles from around the internet that talk about current content and social strategies:

10 Important 2020 Social Media Trends You Need to Know

12 Social Media Trends to Watch in 2020