personal-brand Photo courtesy of University of Salford Press Office (Creative Commons BY) Post by Taylor Tomita Taylor2In a world that is becoming engulfed in technology, the relevancy of social media continues to skyrocket. We've seen businesses come to terms with the fact that they have to become more social to remain relevant. But what about you? Just as companies are finding their voice and creating a social presence, you have your own opportunity to create a personal brand and burnish your online reputation. Whether you are a business owner, the host of a podcast or an independent agent, it's important to hone your personal brand if you're to establish yourself as a thought leader within your industry. What's the best way to achieve that? Here are four best practices in establishing your personal brand.

Revamp your social media presence

1An issue with many social media users in this day and age is that they set up their personal profiles, and that’s pretty much it. While getting on social media is a good starting point for your efforts, being able to actually use social media effectively is what you'll need to succeed. Here are some ideas on how to do that: Step 1: Don't be the egg! When you first log into Twitter, the first thing you should do is change your avatar from the classic “egg” avatar. Changing your avatar to an actual picture of yourself is a great starting point to ensure your Twitter profile will gain traction within your community. After all, nobody wants to communicate with an individual who doesn’t care enough to show the world his or her face. After attaching your face to your personal brand, it’s important that you beef up your profile; interests, qualifications, education are all topics to consider when trying to set yourself apart from anyone else in the community. Step 2: Test the waters. After you get your profile created and are confident that you will not be mistaken for a breakfast dish at first glance, the next step is to venture out into the world of your online community. Simply doing this will allow you to see what is being talked about within your industry and allow you to craft a plan on how you will present yourself to the community. This plan should incorporate who you are engaging with, what time of day is best to engage the community, as well as what type of content your community is looking for. Saying the right thing to the right person at the right time can skyrocket your success into the social media world. Step 3: Dive in. Once you figure out what exactly it is that you are going to do, it’s time to dive in! One of the best tactics to getting yourself and your brand out into the world is participating in industry-related chats. Twitter chats are generally favored throughout all industries. Regardless of what communication platform you are using, it's important that you engage the individuals in these chats by answering questions thoughtful and providing useful, preferably keyword-rich advice.
Tools to use
Thankfully there are a multitude of tools that can help you in executing a successful social media campaign. While each campaign is different and may call for different tools, here are a few to keep in mind to start you off on the right foot. Klout: A fantastic social media tool, Klout allows you to find the thought leaders in your industry and will help you craft shareable content within that industry. Klout also offers a unique tracking feature – your Klout score – which shows you the impact of your social media campaign. TakeOff: TakeOff is another great tool that will help you boost your success through the Instagram world. This tool analyzes the best time for you to post your content, schedule posts accordingly, and it will supply you with the most relevant hashtags to use when posting. Tweet Reports: Tweet Reports is a tool that will help you boost your presence on Twitter. This tool offers a free Twitter chat schedule that will allow you to know exactly when your next chat is so you can prepare to impress the community. Tweet Reports also offers a plethora of other tools like brand monitoring and Twitter analytics. Don't get overly focused on the tools: The key to success in social media – much like elementary school P.E. class – is participation. Social media is a great, free route to personal branding and if done correctly can assist you in blasting off into the realm of personal branding.

Become your brand

2Time and time again we see individuals trying to create their personal brand but falling short of making an impression within their sector. Simply chiming in on a Twitter chat or the occasional +1 on Google Plus is not enough to establish yourself as a thought leader in your community. No matter what industry you're focused on, you must study that industry and become knowledgeable in the topic. Doing this will give you the ability to answer questions people may have, talk about relevant issues or topics, and become a respected authority in the community. Here are some tips and techniques to help you stay on top of the latest information in your area of focus.
Tools to use
Google Alerts: Google Alerts is a great tool to use to monitor the Web for your industry. All you need to set it up is a Gmail account and a few keywords that you want to monitor. Google does the rest by scanning new content on the Web and will email you any new content that arrives mentioning your inputted keywords. This will help you keep up with any changes or news within the industry. Reddit: Reddit is a worldwide user forum. This website covers a wide range of topics and will more than likely have an established community for any industry you are looking for. These communities can be a great resource and news source -- and it goes both ways, so make sure you share any insights or news you come across. Bonus: Reddit is also full of pictures of adorable animals. MosaicHub: MosaicHub is a great resource for individuals and businesses alike. This website covers topics like social media, branding, and a variety of other topics. MosaicHub's expert directory provides a networking hub for professionals in all of these categories. The site also allows you to share insightful resources with the community to help build the authority behind your personal brand. The success of branding yourself within an industry on the Internet can lead opportunities outside of the Internet and social media. Much like a successful business, establishing yourself as a thought leader in an industry can lead to you regularly being asked to participate in webinars or attend conferences where you can share your knowledge out to a community – spreading your authority even further. While this is an incredible opportunity, you must ensure that you are armed with all of the information that will be discussed within the meeting – nobody wants to be stuck in an hourlong conference featuring a thoughtless space cadet.

Put your community before convenience

3While using social media tools and being an established individual in your industry is an important aspect of personal branding, an issue that is seen time and time again is a person’s inability to engage with a community. Have conversations! Remember the “social” in social media. While using post-scheduling services or offering canned responses is convenient, these types of services can open opportunity windows that will end up hurting you or your brand in the long run. Part of a successful personal branding campaign is taking the time to respond to any feedback you are receiving — a simple “Thanks” or “I’m sorry” will not cut it. There are lots of tools to help you manage large-scale communication without removing your personality from the mix.
Tools to use
Dayviewer: Dayviewer is a free online tool that will allow you to create a schedule to follow on a day-to-day basis. Creating a schedule will allow you to set aside an hour per day to sit down and respond to emails that may have been set aside. Checker Plus: Checker Plus is a Gmail extension that comes in handy when handling multiple email accounts. This tool includes a desktop notification feature that will give you a pop up in the corner of your screen to notify you when any of your email accounts receive a new email — regardless of what account is signed in.

Create shareable content

4Creating long-lasting content can be one of the main struggles on the road to personal branding success. While informing people is the main concern in content creation, it is just as important to ensure the information you are providing is laid out in an easy-to-read, sharable, and visually satisfactory fashion. Infographics, tutorials, and article writing are all great ways to provide tasteful information to your community, and if they are well thought out it opens the opportunity up for your content to be shared — expanding your personal brand to a new group of viewers. Due to certain communities calling for certain types of content, it's important to analyze your community to ensure you are providing what they want to read. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when creating content. Be broad: Being broad is the key to content creation. No, that doesn’t mean to create something that is completely random and useless to your community. It means that when you are creating content it’s great to look at an entire demographic rather than one individual. Doing this will allow you to create content specific enough to actually be useful but will have potential to be shared throughout a large range of people. Here are a few examples of some “broad” infographics that I've found work well: Emedco’s GHS Infographic. While Emedco offers safety supplies to all types of industries, this infographic was created with the demographic of “chemical workers” in mind, outlining a very specific change in chemical handling laws. This infographic is broad enough to appeal to a very large community, while being specific enough to provide relevant information within that community. Bay View Funding’s Thanks a Trucker Infographic. Bay View Funding geared this infographic towards a specific demographic that they serve – truckers. While this content is not entirely specific to the company’s services, it is an interesting read that can be shared throughout an industry. This is another great example of creating broad content. Find out what your community wants: After you have decided on which demographic will be best to create a piece of content for, it is important that you analyze that demographic to find out what types of content are doing well within that community. For example, if you notice a lot of step-by-step tutorials being shared and discussed throughout your community, it may be a good idea to compress the information you provide into a step-by-step guide to fit in with the content they enjoy. Thankfully there are tools to help you accomplish this and we will talk about those in just one moment.  Provide useful information: Now that you have chosen a demographic and researched that demographic for the perfect type of content, it is time to create. When creating your piece it is important to ensure it will be visually appealing, while also being easy to read. However, most importantly you must be positive that the information you are providing is actually going to be useful to a large majority of this targeted demographic. So do your research and take your time when building content. After all, nobody wants to read an article on something they already know everything about. Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 11.45.38 AM Venngage: a free tool for creating infographics.
Tools to use
Venngage: Venngage is a fantastic free infographic creation tool. This tool offers a great web-hosted resource to assist you in creating visually appealing infographics. Venngage also has a great community-based blog that has tips and tricks to help you create and share infographics. Buzzsumo: Buzzsumo is a content creator’s best friend. This tool will allow you to search keywords throughout the Web. It show you content that “did well” within those keywords parameters. This will ultimately show you what types of content work in you industry or if there is a need for content within your industry. The point here is that it is important to be creative when creating content to help spread your personal brand in a community. Research meaningful topics; express this information by creating content with your community’s interest in mind. Overall, when it comes time to create a personal brand for yourself, there are lots of tactics you can use to succeed in running a successful personal branding campaign. Thankfully, there is a nearly endless supply of tools and techniques to help you accomplish this goal. Thank you for reading and please don’t hesitate to leave a reply with any suggestions you have on the topic!
Taylor Tomita is a marketer in Boise, Idaho. Follow him on Twitter at @trvshlvrd_RR. Taylor wrote this article exclusively for Socialmedia.biz.
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