Poor Generation Z and Alpha; for most of them, their online brand starts from day one in hospital,
in mom’s arms as she smiles for the Facebook and Instagram post. #newborn #babygirl #instababies. . . Before you even know your name, your online brand has already been kick-started.
1. AUDIT AND CLEANUP TIME
Before you get too overwhelmed, take stock of where you stand. Google yourself and see what comes up. Brace yourself, you may be shocked to see that old MySpace profile or your mention of coming third in the high school science fair; don’t forget to look through Google Images, too. Make a list of the shockers you want removed or get pushed down in the rankings. After your audit, it’s time to clean up.
Contact the sources of the mentions you want removed if you’re unable to do it yourself. Don’t forget to go through your social profiles from the very beginning and delete any incriminating photos. While you’re doing this, it’s also worth changing your social media privacy settings so that your personal photos are not automatically visible to the public.
2. BE YOURSELF—EVERYONE ELSE IS TAKEN
Now that you’re pretty squeaky clean on the search engines, what’s next? Before you think of updating, posting and sharing, there’s an important exercise you need to do first: getting to know your brand and how you want to be perceived to the world. This can be quite daunting if you’re a private person.
3. CHOOSE YOUR VEHICLE
Blogging, tweeting, vlogging, podcasting . . . the list goes on and on. It can be tricky when having to choose a medium to express and promote your brand. If you’re new to the personal-branding game, there are a few basics to tick off:
Social media: To truly catapult your brand, you need to dive head-first into social media—but you can pick your poison. Twitter is great for starting and jumping onto conversations around industry topics and current affairs; but you really need to be all-in with Twitter, because a tweet now and then won’t get you far. Facebook is a better avenue if you want to share industry news and information around your business or what you do. Plus, if you have a business page, you can put ad spend toward your content and really reach a more defined target audience—this is probably one of the best ways to get your brand out there quickly. When you think of an online résumé, you immediately think LinkedIn, as it’s a powerful tool you can use to build your personal brand quickly and is highly favoured by the Google search algorithm.
4. NETWORKING, NETWORKING, NETWORKING
‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ has never been more relevant than when it comes to your personal brand. Associating yourself with thought leaders within your industry will elevate your brand. You can do this by tapping into a conversation on Twitter, connecting on LinkedIn, or sending them an email to meet up over a coffee. Once you make a personal connection, even over one coffee, you’ll feel more comfortable engaging with their content and asking for feedback around yours. Even better would be to secure a mentor who has perfected his or her personal branding strategy. Learning what has worked for others could eliminate a lot of trial and error, so research the personal branding gurus. Check out American serial entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk— he’s killing it when it comes to personal branding.
5. IF YOU NEED HELP, GET IT
Back to blogging, tweeting, vlogging, podcasting and snapping—it sounds like a lot of work! You may have a passion for business but not for social media or blogging, now what? Well, your brand is your best investment to guarantee future earnings. If you need to get an assistant, tech-savvy friend or agency involved to help build your brand, it’ll be worth every penny. Begin small with a ghostwriter to start producing content, and a designer to conceptualise the look and feel of your brand. If you don’t have the resources to get help, don’t let that hold you back—just start. Your first blog post may not be perfect, or you may stutter in that first video, but you’re getting your message out. Don’t mind the haters! Not everyone’s going to like your content, and those haters have definitely not done a vlog before. It takes guts.