Personal branding is not a new concept, but the ways in which we build and express our personal brands are undergoing a revolution thanks to the Internet and social media.
Here are 10 tips to guide your personal branding activities in the social media age:
1. Welcome to the influence economy. Social capital is the new goodwill. Tools for measuring social capital are rapidly evolving, based on metrics such as quantity and quality of friends and followers and the ability to influence actions among them. Tweets and retweets, shares and likes, being circled and adding +1s are the currency of the new influence economy.
2. Pay attention to influence metrics, but don't obsess. Tools like Klout, PeerIndex, Kred and Empire Avenue are trying to quantify your brand in terms of engagement, influence, expertise and trust. While each of these scoring schemes has its shortcomings, they're only getting smarter. My advice is neither to ignore them, nor obsess about them. Build your personal brand on quality content and personal engagement and you will be well-served in the long run.
3. Curate quality content to express your unique brand. Curation describes the act of filtering, editorializing and contextualizing content in a world where information overload is a reality of daily life. By investing the time to find and share what you consider the best information in your area of expertise, you provide a valuable service to your social network and cast your brand in a positive light.
4. Be a giver and a helper. If social media has an ethos, it is a collective sense of helping others. Adding value to online discussions and helping people to discover new ways of understanding evokes a reciprocity in them. Blatant self-promotion or selling is easily filtered out. If education is the new marketing, then helping could be seen as the new selling.
5. Your personality is your greatest asset, so share it. Social media is as much about human sociology as it is about technology. All things being equal, personality is the distinguishing factor in many human interactions. But be careful: you still need to filter and decide what is appropriate to share and what isn't. Sharing personality is different that sharing private information. Know the difference.
6. You can outsource lots of things, but not your voice. Your brand is the product of your interactions, contributions and engagements within your social networks. That is not to say that you can't enhance your personal brand with external advice, strategy and services. But don't think you can hire someone to create your voice for you – any more than you can hire someone to go to the gym and workout for you.
7. Be knowable, likable and trustworthy. Conduct yourself with civility and generosity toward others and, generally speaking, try to be a liker not a hater. If you haven't already done so, read Brogan and Smith's Trust Agents and be mindful of the trust equation: be credible, reliable and personable, while keeping your selfish instincts in check.
8. Invest in thought leadership. Sharing your proprietary intellectual capital is one of the best ways to demonstrate your expertise and leadership. But, how do you build a business on something you've given away for free? If sharing your knowledge grows the market for your services and your leadership within that market, then there's more to gain than lose.
9. Personal brands compete with corporate brands. Social media has empowered individuals to build a direct audience through Twitter, Facebook, Google+, e-book self-publishing, email direct marketing, etc. And there's increasing evidence coming from online influence measurement to suggest that personal brands actually exert more pull than established corporate brands in the social media space.
10. Like it or not, you are a personal brand. Whether you work for yourself or someone else, whether you're in sales or marketing or you're a business professional, if you are engaged in an occupation in which you rely your reputation you probably should be thinking seriously about your personal brand. Everyone else is.