Growing Your Personal Brand
By: Claire Byrnes
Being successful in social media in 2023 is no longer about chasing numbers; it’s about the strength of personal brands and the “stickiness” of the communities that surround them.
This has been true since the rise of YouTubers and Instagram influencers but has intensified significantly as TikTok and short-form content have come into play – where most trending TikTokers have a brand aligned with one meme, hobby, or aesthetic and the rate at which their content sees engagement reflects how closely connected to their “brand” that content appears to be.
It is also true for industry thought leaders – and those who are looking to elevate their thought leadership status.
What Makes a Brand Personal?
Let’s focus on the word personal for a moment. At a high level, it means belonging to an individual, but in the social media world, there is another expectation – authenticity. Something brands are notorious for not being. But that’s where the opportunity emerged for thought leaders. They can personalize a brand and lend it authenticity as they develop their own brand by giving a face to the work going on behind the scenes and helping to develop trust in the expertise of the leadership.
Whether the impetus for developing a thought leadership strategy is personalizing a corporate brand or simply developing a personal brand, authenticity is key. The hard truth in 2023 is that no one besides close friends and coworkers will see content that just checks the boxes – there needs to be something engaging and exciting that keeps people coming back, and, in most cases, that’s going to be (1) information or (2) entertainment.
Being Informative on Social
Sharing expertise is one of the best ways to authentically build cachet as a thought leader on social media when platforms are becoming more saturated by the day. The knowledge acquired throughout one’s career is meant to be shared, and the more people are willing to give away “for free” on social media, the greater their potential to grow thought leadership credibility.
Being Entertaining on Social
This one is harder, but the good news is that you don’t have to be a professional comedian to produce entertaining content. Providing glimpses into working life, lifestyle outside the office, and being willing to keep it light can go a long way.
People are drawn to content that they find novel or relatable, but perhaps more important – content that is human. “Be yourself” is such simple, overplayed advice, but it is absolutely true when it comes to social media.
How Can Marketers Support Thought Leaders?
Earlier, we mentioned the challenges brands often have with authenticity – coming across as unrelatable and overly “corporate.” When marketers attempt to overengineer a thought leadership strategy, they are put at the same risk. As much as possible, the day-to-day content being posted by thought leaders should bubble up naturally and, most importantly, make sense.
That said, there are a number of ways that marketing teams can support their thought leaders.
Identifying Timely & Relevant Topics
- Social listening. Platforms employed by social media and PR teams like Sprinklr and Meltwater can be great resources for finding topics that are trending in an industry.
- Search engine research. The tools used by SEO teams can also be used to identify what is trending on search engines in a particular industry and comment on those trends in social posts.
- AI content generation. New AI tools can become a brainstorming partner to ideate topics for social media posts that align with business goals.
Refining Tone & Approach
- Keep things consistent. Writing and speaking in an authentic tone is key to brand personalization as a thought leader, but having a team of copywriters and proofreaders in support can help keep things polished.
- Prioritize channels. Researching where on social a target audience spends time can help tailor written and spoken tone and decide where to spend time and energy on social media.
- Develop social series. Marketing teams can also provide value by assisting in content mapping for long-term social series that include video and long-form content.
Growing a Network
- Join the conversation. Once you have identified one to two priority channels, watching social listening tools can help identify relevant social conversations to join.
- Identify influencers. Marketing teams can help identify influencers and industry leaders with a strong social presence with whom to develop relationships that can elevate a personal brand.
- Implement paid strategies. Boosting posts in collaboration with the paid social team can help organic content reach a wider audience. This can be particularly helpful around events.
Ultimately, marketers will want to develop a close working relationship with the thought leaders they support in order to provide real, ongoing value. With a little bit of time and collaboration, savvy social marketers can start to adopt their tone and take on more of the work of ideation and content creation, leaving thought leaders with more time to engage with and grow their networks.
The halo effect of a consistently engaged network – a sticky community – can be far-reaching and, if successful, will elevate the reputation of not only the thought leader but also the brand they represent.