As a Social Strategist I do a lot of work with clients on building up their brands and executing various types of initiatives and relationship-building. But, as a lot of you know, I also spend a good bit of time building up my own “personal brand”. Now before I go any further let me make it clear that this post is not designed to be a “How to Build Your Personal Brand” post. If I was going to do one of those it would be super short: “Your online persona should be an authentic representation of your offline self.” *mic drop*
The way that I go about building my personal brand may not be how you should do it. A blog, for example, might not be the best fit for you. One of the biggest things that I’ve learned is that you have to be honest with yourself before you can be authentic with others. My goal with this post is to talk about how I’ve gone about creating my own personal brand and, specifically, the tools and metrics I look at to figure out how to make sure I’m engaging rather than broadcasting.
Let’s start off with a story. A lot of social strategists don’t have a large following. That’s because we tend to be super focused on the brands that we work with which doesn’t leave much time to work on our own. In February of this year I had 1,500 followers and a Klout score of 63 (I’ll be mentioning Klout not because it’s the end all be all -I don’t think it has any bearing on Influencer metrics- BUT it is a marker for our industry so, in my opinion, for personal branding it does hold, well, clout).
Over the past few months I’d been gently encouraged by my mentor and boss Bryan Kramer to spend time on my own brand. I was at Interconnect mid-February, listening to Brian Fanzo giving his first Ignite talk, when something just clicked and I decided that in the future I wanted to be up there. Overall there’s a total dearth of women within the social strategy space- we tend to be behind the scenes- and I want to change that.
Here’s where I feel like I can be helpful to some of you out there. When I’m co-hosting #H2HChat I tend to see the same question pop up from the audience “How can I become an Influencer?”. I’d like to gently say that that’s the wrong question to ask. It’s like being a leader. No one goes out and says “I’m a leader and now you will all follow me” at least unless they’re in a Totalitarian regime. You’re a leader when others begin to call you one. And you have to give them a reason to do so. The same thing goes for being an Influencer. People can tell if you’re faking it.
Back to my story. Between March 1 and July 1, my follower count grew to 11K and Klout score to 77 and I can honestly say that it all comes from being authentic, listening and engaging with my community. I’m constantly testing different types of posts and monitoring engagement. I also look at which communities tend to follow me back when I follow them.
Here are the 3 primary tools I use to accomplish this:
I decided to invest in Buffer’s basic account because it’s a terrific way to 1. find interesting content; 2: easily monitor the types of content my community engages with; 3. repost that content. I use the “suggested content” sparingly but there are absolutely some pieces that I’ve discovered and that my community loves. I’m a big fan of their RSS feed feature. Among my feeds are Adweek, Mashable, FastCompany and, of course, Bryan Kramer’s blog. I try to make sure I’m mixing up my content and I always try to include an image. Occasionally I’ll change up images on a post if it doesn’t do as well as I thought it would to see if that helps. Recently I’ve been testing out some humorous images.
A seriously underutilized tool. I wrote a whole blog post about it here so I won’t go on about it too much. In particular I look at the ratio of impressions to tweets for each day. I also scroll down the tweets and see rate of engagement. This gives me an indicator of what’s doing well and what isn’t. I also use Twitter’s analysis of my audience to decide the type of content to post. For example, my audience is as interested in Technology as in Marketing. Once I found this out I made sure to include some content about interesting inventions every now and again.
This is the other tool that I’ve invested in. It’s $12/month and a great way to find followers. Often these tools can get abused for mass follow/unfollowing but ManageFlitter let’s me tailor my searches to very specific audiences that I think will be interested in my content. My favorite feature is the Power Tool. When you’re trying to increase your following, which in the age of vanity metrics is something we do all think about, work on doing so in a targeted an authentic way. I’ve gone so far as to force unfollow any spam accounts that follow me because I want to make sure that my community is genuine.
And that’s it folks. Those three tools empower my social secret sauce. I’d love to say that I use more and I absolutely do at times but these are the ones that I use daily to check-in with my audience and make sure that what I’m sharing and how I’m communicating is of value to my community.
What do you use for your personal branding? Tweet me @suzimcc – I’d love to hear them 🙂