Why building a personal brand is not only about posting on Instagram? Main myths on your personal brand to dispel
In recent years, the topic of building a personal brand has become more and more prominent. Experts from various professional fields attempt to build or improve their online presence. They often get misled by myths right from the start, which slows down their endeavors. Let’s take a close look at some of the most common myths and subsequent mistakes committed in the process of creating your brand presence.
Imagine the following: you have finally decided to start building that very personal brand of yours. First and foremost, it is worth identifying the three most important building blocks of the initial stage.
This is the most important step that, unfortunately, many people are not aware of or simply tend to ignore. No matter how trite it may sound, at the very beginning of the journey, it is important to answer the following simple questions:
- Why do I need a personal brand?
- What are my goals for the next six months, a year, or three years? How will developing a personal brand help me achieve these goals?
- What would I like to achieve with a sustainable personal brand, whether it’s to find new customers, increase sales or average checks, or maybe attract investments? Perhaps I would like to attract new talented employees or collaborate with like-minded professionals. What else could it be?
- Who is my target audience?
- What are my key messages?
Answering these questions — and ideally writing the answers down — is a valuable asset for your rapid growth. Make this your foundation. Growth strategies can vary widely, even among people in the same area of expertise, if their end goals are different.
Your target audience
There is no doubt that it can be a daunting task to draw the attention of an audience that you don’t know inside out. Invest time into identifying your audience. This will help you build a powerful communication strategy and personalize your approach.
Are your clients women or men? At what age? Where do they live? What is their education? What magazines do they read?
Use several basic characteristics for segmentation, such as geography, social demography (age, gender, education, marital status, social status, etc.), economics (income), and psychography (values, assessments, lifestyle, interests, fears, and expectations). Taking a deep dive into this information will help you choose communication channels to work with — magazines, newspapers, podcasts, etc.- so you can start building rapport with your target audience. Select from the above two to four segments. Be specific. Once you have a list of your target audiences, start getting to know them. To do so, get a habit of noting down highlighted characteristics of each segment of your audience.
Key messages that you would like to convey to your audience
Your personal brand is more than just your Instagram photos. Simply put, your brand is those associations and thoughts people have when your name sounds. The brand reflects your values and attitudes. That is why its creation is a large-scale, thorough, and systematic work that includes many aspects.
The colors used on social networks, fonts in the same social networks, your signature under your emails, your style of clothing, manner of speaking, gestures, personal blogs on your site, and posts on social networks, all of which builds your personal brand. This is something that should be taken seriously and well thought out.
After having identified key building blocks, a new phase of clearly-determined stepping stones begins. Along the way, you may encounter the following myths.
Myth #1: “I will start off with setting up accounts on social media. It will help me to leverage my personal brand. I don’t need publications in media. Media channels are outdated; no one reads them anymore.”
Social networks are just one of the communication channels. Today any person who builds a personal brand must be Google-worthy, which means that when a person types your name in the search engine, various articles and mentions should pop up so that your potential client can familiarize themselves with articles on you and begin to trust you. More importantly, your goal should be to appear on the top of the Good search results eventually.
Do you remember the last time you googled products or services you wanted to buy? You have probably done it just recently. Did you take the time to scroll down through the entire list, or did your choice fall on a company from the top? Most likely, you did the latter. Having been mentioned in the media will help you to be “in the public eye” of the Google search, which in today’s world equals being viewed as having expertise in the given field. Being on the top of Google search results will more likely motivate people to contact you. Hence, it’s worth investing time and effort into exposure in conventional communication channels, such as magazines, newspapers, podcasts, etc.
To quell your curiosity and dissipate your doubts, try and verify that the traditional media are still read by checking the traffic on their websites. For example, more than 500 million people visit the site of the New York Times every month. It is certain that these figures do not assure that all of the visitors read the articles on the website. Nevertheless, it proves the fact that the media remain an important channel for delivering information to a broad audience.
Myth #2: “Okay, let’s do it. I want to work with the media. But I would like to be published only in Forbes or Entrepreneur.”
This is one of the most common misconceptions of professionals who are starting to work with the media. Trust this advice; the media landscape is much more diverse. Apart from Forbes and Entrepreneur, there is a plentitude of other outlets which may help you convey your messages to the target audience.
There is no doubt that top media channels have high domain authority, which is an indicator that their websites will rank high in search results. That said, if you’re mentioned in mainstream media with high domain authority, you’re more likely to show up on the first pages of Google search once a user enters a relevant query.
However, let’s not forget another important aspect of publications: the end consumers of this media channel, yes, the readers! For instance, you are a psychologist working mainly with women, and your primary audience, let’s say, are women 18 to 40 years old with an average income. Your main objective for publishing was to attract more clients. It goes without saying that you are more likely to get new clients if you are published in women’s magazines like Women’s Health, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, etc.
Let’s consider another case scenario. You are the CEO of an IT startup, and your main task is to attract investment. What channels will you use to tell your prospective investors about your company? Feel free to pitch to Techcrunch, for instance, which is popular among your target audience.
Finally, if you are the top manager of a large industrial company and your main task is B2B or B2G sales, that is, the sale of goods and services to businesses or government companies. In this case, Forbes or Entrepreneur is no doubt the right fit for you.
Myth #3: “Got it, you have convinced me! But I am going to work only with magazines and newspapers. The news media, like podcasts, are not for me. It sounds foreign and bizarre; I do not want to get into uncharted waters.”
Spotify team recently presented research on the biggest 2022 podcast trends. It showed that US-based podcast listening continued to rise in the last year (podcast downloads had increased by 33%). Yet, it had soared on the other side of the Atlantic and increased by 52% in the UK, 64% in Germany, and even by 298% in Spain.
Why not try these opportunities? Just imagine how many opportunities you are missing out on by not using this powerful tool.
Moreover, exposure on a podcast is not only about finding your future clients. While looking for podcasts, PR pros are shooting to find the ones whose target audience is aligned with yours. That said, rest assured that your host will be on the same wavelength as you, someone with shared interests. This will help you feel at ease during the interview and, as is often the case, expand networking by building bonds with the hosts. Based on my personal experience, this might even lead to carrying out joint projects!
Myth #4: “Do not even ask for it; I definitely won’t appear at events. I’m afraid of public speaking.”
Yes, being a keynote speaker or a presenter at events is nerve-racking. It is a daunting task that requires preparation or, at the very least, courage to face and work through your fears associated with public speaking. Once you can tame your fears, you will be surprised at the effectiveness of this method, which will inevitably move you fast forward on your professional path. One way to practice public speaking is to take part in professional events to sharpen your speaking skills with colleagues, competitors, or partners.
Myth #5: “It is better not to communicate with competitors, and more importantly, not to appear publicly together.”
Just imagine that two of your favorite singers decide to record an album together. What emotions will it evoke in you? With a high probability, you will be inspired, and your level of bond and trust in the stars will increase.
Why can’t brands and experts do the same? Collaborations are one of the newest ways to draw the attention of an audience to your work. Creating joint products with your competitors, conducting joint research and live broadcasts on social networks, and writing expert articles together will most likely broaden your audience.
Myth #6: “Will all these strategies quickly bear fruit? I need three new clients at the end of this month, and I would like to see an increase in sales of my book on the next day as my quotes in the magazine appear.”
Creating a personal brand is not about instant results; it takes time and effort. It will take you months of work to build rapport, a one-way communication, with your audience so that this audience gets used to you, remembers you, and, most importantly, starts to trust you. Once having gained this trust, you will be able to quickly realize your goals, whether they are sales, attracting investments, or finding new employees.