Managing your digital personal brand

We marketers sometimes forget that we also have personal brands that need building and managing. So it was great to be able to spend a day reflecting on this last week with a range of digital marketing and personal branding gurus at Digital Empower Conference 2012. The packed agenda was too extensive to do justice in a blog post, but I’d like to share my key takeaways for those who weren’t able to make it. At the time of posting, slides from the day were still available from MMC Learning.

First off, Lesley Everett talked about how a personal brand builds over time, like a pearl, constantly adding layers with every interaction on and offline. I particularly liked the way she described the importance of finding your ‘authentic self’, built around your key beliefs and value drivers. She then made the case for personal branding by attributing the following ingredients in building a successful career:

  • 10% doing your job
  • 30% attitude and behaviour
  • 60% visibility and exposure

I’m sure the proportions might cause some debate, but I agree completely that the importance of having a visible personal brand (on and offline) has never been more vital than it is today.

Next up, Mike Berry gave his insights into the most important elements of building a personal brand:

  • Creating great content
  • Getting in front of your target audience
  • Developing a big ego and a thick skin (not everyone will like you, some will hate you!)
  • Transparency at all times
  • Working hard at self promotion

He urged us to think as we would with any brand – know who you’re targeting, offer value as well as being visible and show you’re the solution to the problem they have.

Dr Dave Chaffey needs no introduction as anyone who has studied digital marketing over the last dozen or so years will have read one of Dave’s books. It was great to meet him in person and hear his ten steps to creating digital strategy for your personal brand:

1) Commit to having a strategy and resourcing it. 62.73% of businesses don’t have a strategy. Think of yourself as a publisher- who are you competing against? Peers? Other news sources? Other consultants?

2) Know what you want...your brand goals. You can’t build a credible personal brand without developing long form content. Therefore you must have a blog to develop a personal brand online.

3) Find your audience and specialism tools such as Ubersuggest and Tweetlevel will help you to find topics on which you can develop content.

4) Create your target personas. Develop 2 or 3 personas for people you’re writing your blog for. Be more understanding of the pain points facing your users.

5) Define your personality. It’s worth investing in the template for your blog, helping you to stand out and be more credible, rather than standard WordPress themes.

6) Define your online value proposition. Define your core brand proposition first…what can you offer? What you do? Where you do it? What makes you different? Have this in a side bar visible on EVERY PAGE.

7) Create your content publishing approach. Have a contract with yourself on how often you’ll update your blog.

8) Growing your footprint through Social Media – resources such as the CIM’s Social Media Benchmark will help you keep up to date on latest trends in adoption and usage.

9) Growing your footprint through SEO

10) Define your publishing platforms – define what you’ll do on which platform. Be aware that marketers often chase the latest new thing, and be careful how much time you commit to anything other than the established networks.

Annmarie Hanlon was up next with some great LinkedIn tips and urged delegates to ensure their profile was 100% complete. Her recommendations for action for your professional online network were:

  • Fix the fundamentals (e.g. 100% profile completeness)
  • Organise your content plan
  • Schedule updates
  • Have useful, interesting conversations
  • Tag your connections on LinkedIn
  • Share knowledge, events and ideas
  • ACTIVATE your network

Following lunch, David James kicked off the afternoon session with “Marketing Me: the truth told better”. This involved eating cat food, as he used to be known as “the cat food man”.

Tweet about David James eating cat food at #DECon2012

A high impact (albeit slightly bizarre) way to kick off the afternoon but he had the audience hanging on his every word as he talked of his experience of ‘being different’ in order to stand out and build his own personal brand. He built a strong argument for standing out in a crowded market – by being different. He has talked about the management styles of drug dealers and Osama Bin Laden- making him different and enabling him to stand out. Very thought-provoking stuff. Diving into and absorbing his deck from the day will be well worth half an hour of your time.

After another session from Dave Chaffey on 21 ideas for effective blogging (check out the deck), Peter Rees called on marketers to “cull the dull” in thought leadership and innovate to be something different and better than the competition. Become a deep expert in your field- thought provoking, maybe even contentious- but not lists of ‘5 this’ or ’10 that’. Be in it for the long haul and commit to updating/maintaining on a regular basis.

Kevin Read at Bell Pottinger Business & Brand gave the PR agency perspective of having planned communications across a wide range of global clients and sectors. Reputation as an issue is now owned by the board, which wasn’t the case 10-20 years ago. Digital media has caused us to think differently about reputation management, but there’s no single, correct answer, according to Kevin. Whether or not digital and traditional communications teams would/should merge is a subject of much debate, but Kevin advocates that synergy comes from the best of both.

Finally, but by no means least, Marialena Zinopoulou discussed her 10 most inspirational online influencers. Once again, the deck is well worth a look and in many ways this session might have worked better in the morning as the content links so strongly to Lesley and Mike’s- these are the guys who have been there and done it!

Overall, I thought the day was extremely valuable and thought provoking and I’d highly recommend you look out for DECon2013…by which time I may have had chance to implement some of this best practice advice!

I’d be interested to hear any thoughts or reactions from readers, whether or not you were at the conference. How important do you feel developing your personal brand is? What are the barriers to you achieving this (real or perceived)? Do you have any examples of success stories you can share here?

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2 thoughts on “Managing your digital personal brand

  1. Pingback: Twitter no longer LinkedIn | Steve Revill

  2. Pingback: What Spongebob Squarepants taught me about Social Media | Steve Revill

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