As marketers and brand stewards, we spend many hours contemplating and refining the brand strategy for our business, while our personal brands go unconsidered. Cultivating your personal brand is no mere act of vanity; when executive-level employees weresurveyed by Weber Shandwick, 69 percent of them believed that having a CEO who is active in social media increases their business’s credibility in the marketplace and makes their company a more attractive place to work.
Reputation experts like Don Sorensen of Big Blue Robot caution that it is more important than ever forexecutives to manage their online reputationto “establish credibility and trust with shareholders, the media, and customers.” As a highly visible representative of your company, your reputation may affect everything from consumer purchase intent to shareholder investments and analyst ratings.
Building a dynamic and engaging executive brand requires more than just a killer headshot. Here are some questions to consider as you craft your personal brand strategy:
1. Who are you? (No, really.)
It seems like a simple question, but it’s one that can be a challenge to distil. Think about how your friends and family might describe you in just three words. Would that differ if you asked the same questions of your colleagues? If there’s a gap between how others describe you and how you wish to be perceived, think about ways you can close that gap, both in social media and in your work life. A strong personal brand is not only driven by your words, but by your actions. Take steps every day to narrow the gulf between who you are in each area of your life.
2. Who do I admire online?
It’s worth thinking about what these people are doing that keeps you engaged and paying attention. It might be because they share great content and provide thoughtful responses. Or you might follow them because your expectations are consistently met—or because they’re always doing something unexpected. Think about which of these characteristics you’d like to apply to yourself.
3. Who do you want in your tribe?
Creating authentic, engaging content targeted towards key audience groups takes time and resources and some prioritization is necessary. Knowing which circles (say, three or four audiences) you want to associate with, helps to focus resources and prevents spreading yourself too thin. Secondary audiences are important to keep in mind, but they should not require custom content creation. Strong content will serve multiple audiences; when developing content pillars, look for topics that will overlap between primary and secondary audiences.
4. How often do you want to post?
Think about what’s more important to you: To be known as a consistent source of content or to provide more thoughtful, high-quality content less frequently. As you start to develop a content mix, think about your desired ratio of original content to curate third party content. Make a conscious decision about whether your channels tell your personal story or the story of others.
5. What’s your goal? Surprise! It’s impossible to gauge your success without developing specific goals. Think through some quantitative and qualitative ways to measure your progress. It probably sounds a little like your day job, but goals can help you make progress and use your social networks to build your brand and your career.
Developing a thoughtful personal brand is a key component of cultivating an online presence that delivers against your personal and professional goals. Your personal brand should be the guiding principle over your audience, channel, and content strategies. All four pieces taken together can ladder up to cohesive master strategy worthy of any large consumer brand.