How to Build a Strong Personal Brand | Orifunke Lawal
Every day, people want to learn how to build a strong personal brand. This is important for several reasons. It can help you increase awareness, develop influence and thought leadership and also help you to gain clients and customers online. Personal branding is who you say you are and what people think, say and feel about you. This goes beyond just posting on social media or taking fancy photos. It is building an identity that people love and care enough to keep following any day.
I have been particular about helping people build strong personal brands for about three years now. I believe that the solution to a lot of people’s woes online (lack of opportunities, no customers) is to build a personal brand. So, when Akan Imoh reached out to me a couple of weeks ago and told me he wanted us to have a tweetchat session on this, it was one of the best things I could have said yes to at the time. Akan Imoh is a PR, Media and Comms Enthusiast who is interested in Business, Governance and Pop Culture. Last year, he contested for the position of Lagos State House of Assembly under KOWA Party. He is also the founder of The Boss Approach.
This blog post is a compilation of my tweetchat session with him, answering a number of questions that people usually answer over time. I have also modified this in such a way that I have included more than I shared during the session so that you understand better. Here are the topic ideas I touch on in this blogpost:
- Cross-Posting On Social Media Platforms to Maintain Visibility
- Tone and Voice in Creating Content
- Deciding a Niche
- Finding a Differentiating Factor for Your Brand
- Building a Strong Personal Brand as a Career Person
- Managing Your Personal Career Brand without Flouting Company Rules
- Personal Branding Toolkit
- Commercializing Your Brand
1. How Do You Manage Posting Across Various Social Media Platforms?
I understand that there are segments of my target audience who are on Instagram but not on Facebook or Twitter. There are others who are on Facebook but not on the others. I also have others on Twitter but not Facebook and Instagram. Then there’s the segment who follow me on all through. I know how important it is to reach all of these segments as much as I can. So I try to post across all my platforms at the same time.
For starters, I majorly use my IG insights to gauge when my followers will mostly be online then I post around that time. Once I’m done with that, I post on my Facebook and Twitter. This is because Instagram is the only tool that communicates insights of your business pages for free. You do not have insights for Facebook personal accounts (and I use one). I post on LinkedIn at peak periods like 1-2 pm where many business professionals are likely on break.
I just post at the same time (with the exception of LinkedIn) and I have noticed that it works great for me.
2. Do You Tweak Your Content to Adjust to the Tone of Each Platform? We All Know The Different Platforms Have Different Voices.
It depends on the kind of content. There are certain posts I do on Twitter that do not make it to IG or Facebook. There are also others that I post on my Facebook and maybe Instagram but they don’t show up on Twitter. Last week, I wrote a post on Facebook on why you shouldn’t resign from your work on the basis of salary increase without first asking for it. I didn’t post this on Twitter or Instagram. So, the kind of content I post and whether I adjust it to different platforms depends on the nature of the content, the length of the content too and the core tone of the content.
Let me explain: My posts on Facebook have a certain humorous undertone alongside storytelling. I am more likely to use humour to pass my message across on Facebook than on my other platforms. On Instagram, I maintain a storytelling style of providing helpful content for the people who follow me. On Twitter, I am mostly just sharing my thoughts in bits here and there.
Sometimes, too, if I have to cross-post, I tweak only a few things, reduce the one I post on Twitter and Instagram. And if I have to post on LinkedIn, I follow the same personal rules.
3. How to Handle Difficulty Settling for a Niche
I talked about this in my book, The Art of Social Writing. I also briefed on this in this Instagram post. I understand the struggles of people who have different interests because I am one of them. The truth is if you are relatively unknown, it is going to be harder for you to handle all the different things you can (and want to) do. So, I’d advise you to first focus on building awareness around your brand.
1. You can build awareness by:
- Consistently creating good content that people can share with others.
- Engaging with people in your field who have a wider reach
- Teaching in online classes
- Developing digital products for people
And a lot of these online classes and digital products will be free, let me tell you.
2. Start with one thing before moving to another
Decide what is most important for you to communicate and focus about 80% of your content on that. The remaining 20% could include other things you are also interested in but not as much as the dominant one. If you are unsure about the one that you are most interested in, you could focus on the one you are most skilled at.
3. Harness a skill that allows you to bring all of them together
Transferable skills like this help you to focus on different interests of yours while still communicating to people what your brand is about and what you can do for them. For instance, I am an amazing storyteller and because of this, I am able to talk about just about anything because most times, people love the stories.
4. Think about separating into brands
This is something you should do when you have built some awareness, though. Instead of lumping all your different skills and interests into your single personal brand, why not find a way to differentiate all of them into projects and brands that can have a meaning of their own? That way, you reduce your chances of being mentally overwhelmed and even when you have to drop some of them, you can do that without hurting the credibility of your central personal brand.
4. How do I Find a Differentiating Factor for My Personal Brand?
Sometimes, you will need to start the journey to building your personal brand before being sure about what stands you out. This is because the better your audience grows, the more they give you hints about exactly why they love you and follow you. They will be more open to giving you feedback about your person/personality. For instance, I have learnt that the major thing my audience loves about me is my writing/storytelling abilities. It wasn’t something I chose on my own. I only found out after consistently getting feedback from people who read my works.
As you develop your brand, don’t be shy to ask your followers questions. Why do you like me? What do you like the most about following me? What should I do more of? What should I do less of? This will give you ideas on your personal differentiating factor(s)
Finally on this question, sometimes you do not “find” a differentiating factor for your personal brand; you create it. “Finding” sounds tough. You can sit down, choose what you want your differentiating factors to be. It’s the same way businesses are supposed to create Unique Selling Propositions (USPs) that stand them out in a sea of other competitors.
5. Can I Still Build a Strong Personal Brand as a Career Person?
If you’re a career person, then it is all very important for you to build your personal brand even while you’re at that office, unless you expect to stay at the company forever without new opportunities. A good personal brand can:
- Expose you to new opportunities for growth and advancement within the company. A core part of personal branding is visibility, one of the skills you need to access promotion in most companies.
- Improve your visibility and credibility online, thereby giving you ease of access to different kinds of opportunities in your career.
- Help you cast a positive light on your organization, giving your brand a form of goodwill and reputation.
In fact, if you want to advance fast in your career, building a personal brand is crucial. It will set you apart and make the journey to the top a lot faster.
6. How do I Manage a Personal Brand without Contravening Company Policies or Regulations?
The first thing you should do is to be conversant with your company’s rules and regulations. Read your employment contract carefully and always ask your HR on further company policies. Most of the time, you being visible on social media platforms as a career person does not cause any issues with your company. However, you want to be sure that certain information you are sharing about your company is not private and confidential.
For example, you might want to talk about how your company won a particular client or raised a certain amount of money but it might be against company policy to divulge that to anybody who is not a member of the company. As a rule of thumb, stick to speaking about yourself, awards you win at work, commendable comments you get from co-workers, promotions, basically anything that has to do with you. But stay away from talking about anything that has to do with the company more than it has to do with you.
7. What Should Be In My Personal Branding Toolkit?
The key things in your toolkit should be your social media platforms (depending on the kind of personal brand you want to build and content you want to share). A website also helps to give you some form of credibility when you share quality content. However, if you cannot afford a website, you can use makeshift sites like Medium (if you do a lot of writing) and Disha or Linktree, to showcase your different skills and services. You can check out my Disha page here to see what I am talking about: Orifunke Lawal | Disha Page.
I would advise that you also start to build your email list so that you can send regular emails to your audience and build awareness that way. If you also have products to sell, having an email list makes it easy for you to do that, instead of struggling to find an audience. I use Mailchimp to grow my email list.
As you grow, you also need to consider having documents (e.g., PowerPoint slides) that communicate what you do and the value you bring to individuals and organizations so when you need to work with other people, it comes in handy.
You can commercialize your brand at any time. You can even set out immediately commercializing your brand. There are no hard and fast rules for making this happen. It all boils down to your strategy. Commercialize simply means finding ways to make money (monetize) from the value you provide to your audience.
There are really different ways to commercialize your brand. Here are some ideas:
- Speak at relevant events
- Organize a class online for a fee or collaborate with someone else who is organizing a paid class. You can use WhatsApp, Facebook groups, Webinars to host your classes.
- Create digital products relevant to your field or niche and put a price on them.
- Organize paid webinars
- Start a consulting business
The possibilities are endless. The important thing is to understand what works best for your audience and how they respond to paid stuff. All in all, you want to make sure that you are providing value that people need and want before they trust you enough to give you their money.
So, what did you think? Was this blog post helpful? Do you have any questions? Please use the comments below to share your thoughts and do not forget to share with your friends.