How To Build Your Personal Brand Online As an Expert?
Social media now is widely used not just for entertainment, but also for fostering professional connections. Therefore, the question of how to position yourself online becomes a key one for experts. If done correctly, your social media presence can strengthen your perception as a professional, and relationships with your prospects and generate sales for you. However, it can be tricky to choose how to present yourself successfully.
Many experts struggle to strike a balance between their personal and professional lives online. What matters more - your personality or professionalism? Can you be perceived as a specialist while maintaining your own unique identity, or do you have to stay dead serious to communicate your expertise? Since we’ve been working on the personal branding of a couple of investors lately, we wanted to share some insights from our projects.
The Days of "5 Top Tips for..." are over.
One of the key misconceptions of expert personal branding on social media is that professional content needs to be, well, professional. While it's true that your knowledge on the subject is important for serious prospects, sharing straightforward professional content is far from the best approach to establishing your identity as an expert online. To begin with, this type of information is typically readily available online (unless you specialize in a very narrow niche). It will be difficult to compete with hundreds of articles like, "Top 5 SEO tools in 2022". Furthermore, as a professional, your goal is not to teach your audience how to do your job themselves, but instead, to inspire them to collaborate with you for the best results.
In addition, this type of content is very easy to skip over and forget. You probably also have enough experts in your feed talking about "top tricks" and "hacks". This type of content is too simplistic and doesn't add much value to your audience. There is no point in copy pasting the content which was already created before. The benefit of social media is that it also serves as an outlet for self-expression and thought leadership - it's best to use that to your advantage instead.
You may wonder, how to position yourself as an expert then if not through the expert content. The easiest way is by showing your results. Think about case studies, testimonials, and curious insights and learnings from your projects. Since the work you do is personal, the content you create about it will be unique as well. To not seem too self-promotional, you can add what your clients are saying about you. Testimonials serve as strong social proof and are good at showcasing your expertise without having to talk about it yourself. Furthermore, you can share thoughts and opinions coming from your work.
How Personal Can a Personal Brand Be?
Another question is whether you should showcase your personal life as an expert. While some might consider sharing personal content with their professional network irrelevant, it helps with building your brand. People like to buy from people - therefore, sharing your personal story that will show why you're doing what you're doing will help your business. A story that is personal and relatable will help to build an emotional connection with your audience, make them emphasize with you, and as a resulting trust you more.
Let's take @ringconcierge as an example. Unlike other jewelry brand on Instagram, this one is largely based on a personal brand. The founder of this jewelry brand uses stories of the business account to not only show the product, but also as a showcase of her personal lifestyle, opinions and thoughts. This makes the brand more relatable.
You shouldn't shy away from being yourself on social media to fit in an imaginary idea of how a "true professional" should act and what he should talk about. The world is already full of tight-lipped "experts" with photos of themselves in a suit behind a laptop talking humorlessly about their craft. Doing the same would hardly make you seem more knowledgeable - only more boring.
@attorneymartines is a great example of an expert that did not want to follow the industry branding guidelines. Instead of wearing boring pants suits she dressed up her whole team as Legally Blond character, and instead of using LinkedIn to showcase her expertise, she turned to TikTok. This does not mean every attorney should jump on the TikTok bandwagon. Simply staying true to your values and brand, and choosing the right tools to support you will help you stand out from the crowd.
Edgy but with Boundaries
When it comes to your brand, the basic rules of marketing apply there also. First of all, you should define your target audience and then focus on serving only this group of people. If you try to be neutral and appeal to everyone, you will end up appealing to no one. Therefore, you shouldn't be afraid to seem "rough around the edges", if that's the way of your audience. Of course, within reasonable boundaries, except the posts and statements which are overly divisive or in any way discriminatory.
For example, the founder of Seats2meet (and one of our favorite clients :), Ronald van den Hoff uses Twitter and LinkedIn as an outlet for his personal opinions and criticism towards events and things he does not agree with. Some things can come out as harsh, but this goes in line with his personal brand and values. As a writer of several books, experiences entrepreneur & speaker he surely has the authority to do so.
To sum up, in your social media as an expert, focus more on your personal experience as a professional, define your target audience and serve only it without generic content, and don't be afraid to be yourself. This way, you will eventually start building your loyal follower base by sharing your values and mission.