When you first start a business, the most important thing is that people get to know you and why you do or sell what you do.
Your credentials as a business owner are the thing that’s going to get people to buy your product or service, so it’s crucial that you build a strong brand around yourself.
The best tip is to plan ahead and be consistent. You can’t build a brand overnight, and it won’t work to put lots of effort into brand building on one day and not the next. With social media platforms in particular, where each post is date & time stamped, it’s very obvious when a brand has stopped putting effort into posting. And you need to keep posting to keep appearing on people’s feeds and remain top of mind.
What kind of content should I post?
The most valuable content to be sharing is content that you own – whether that’s blogs, case studies, award wins, or just a short thought or opinion. It’s definitely valuable to share blogs or articles from across the internet but you should never share them without context or comment – however tempting it may be just to retweet passively. Add a line or two that explains why you think the piece is worth reading and what your opinion on it is.
What tools should I use?
The most straightforward tools are Twitter and LinkedIn, as they’re free to use. You can add and follow people you’re hoping to reach and reach out to pretty much anyone across the world and in any industry. Twitter requires less effort than LinkedIn as you can retweet easily and tweets are necessarily short (due to the 240 character limit). LinkedIn is a more professional platform so people expect to see “personal brand content” on there more than they would on Twitter – but they also expect longer, more in-depth posts so it can take more effort and energy to be active on there.
Beyond social media, writing your own blogs and thought leadership pieces are a great way to build your personal brand and show that you’re an expert in a topic. You can do this reasonably easily through your own website or a site like Medium. But before you publish longer format thoughts or content, it might be worth reaching out to journalists in your industry to see whether they’d take an opinion piece from you on the topic.
In the usual world, events are a great opportunity to showcase your knowledge and expertise by speaking or networking. Even during lockdown, however, webinars and online events work almost as well.
How will I know it’s working?
In most instances you won’t know exactly that your personal brand has won you a new client or project. We won a large retained client two years ago who saw an interview with our CEO in CorpComms magazine and invited us to pitch. We know that without that feature we’d never have been invited to pitch, as we had no existing relationship with them. More recently, we were involved in a competitive pitch process and I found out I’d won an award whilst they were deliberating. My main contact at that company commented on my LinkedIn post about the award we found out that week that we’d won the pitch!
Should I encourage my colleagues and employees to post too?
Yes definitely. As the business grows, the business owner won’t be able to do all of the customer outreach and contact themselves and this will fall to their colleagues. It’s important that prospective customers feel they know what their contact is like – that they can trust them and that they’ll be an expert in their field. The best way to do this is to show this with evidence – through building their personal brand.
About the author
Rachel Besenyei is Head of Growth & Social at BrandContent, a the UK’s Best Small Content Agency.
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