These days, everybody wants a personal brand. Scratch that—everybody needs a personal brand. Regardless of whether you’re building one to find a new career, to promote a business, or simply to expand your network of contacts, personal brands are the future of social interaction and professional development, and more people are starting to realize the true potential personal branding holds.
Unfortunately, this has led to a number of entrepreneurs trying to juggle their personal branding—on top of all their other responsibilities—with limited knowledge and limited experience on how personal branding is supposed to work. Granted, there’s a lot of wiggle room here, and no specific “one right way” to build a personal brand, but I’ve been in the industry long enough to know how painfully common these rookie mistakes really are:
- Not having a personal brand. The first mistake is one of pure ignorance (or apathy, but that’s not much better). Entrepreneurs these days need a personal brand—I can’t stress that enough. Without one, you’ll have trouble convincing others (including investors, partners, clients, and even employees) of your own value. Yes, it’s an additional investment of time or money like any branding or marketing strategy, but don’t think of it as an expense—it truly is an investment that will return a profit to you in one way or another. You don’t have to go all-out, but the more you invest, the more you can eventually reap in rewards.
- Failing to post regularly. Personal brands depend on audiences and networks to become effective, and you can’t build an audience unless there’s something engaging keeping them there. You’ll need a steady stream of content—preferably on a personal blog as well as multiple social media platforms—if you want to attract and retain those readers. Otherwise, even potentially dedicated audience members may lose interest over time. There’s no “minimum” rule here, but generally, you’ll want to post new content on a daily basis, even if it’s only a minor update. Different platforms also carry different expectations; for example, fast-paced platforms like Twitter often demand multiple posts daily to maximize visibility.
- Choosing the wrong platforms. Ask a dozen marketers which platforms are “essential” or which ones are most important, and you’ll get a dozen different answers. The truth is, while some of the major players like Facebook are important, there’s no right answer that’s right for everybody. Depending on your industry and the nature of your personal brand, you might be better off investing totally in one platform or spreading your efforts across several different platforms. One thing’s for sure, however; if you choose a platform that isn’t appropriate for your brand, or if you choose a platform you don’t fully understand, you’ll waste your time and effort pursuing it. Only choose platforms that work for you.
- Not offering a unique value. You’re a unique individual, so show off that unique expertise! There are hundreds of people like you in your industry, so what is it that sets you apart? Do you have a niche audience unlike anyone else’s? Do you have personal experience that no one else can match? Do you have a certain style or approach that sets you apart? Just like with corporate branding, your personal branding needs a unique differentiator if you want it to be significant. Too many entrepreneurs overlook this, and simply put together a brand that looks like everyone else’s.
- Never engaging with users. There are many elements of personal branding that serve as a distribution platform, or as a kind of megaphone for your own content. It’s necessary, on some level, to be egocentric in your approach here. However, this isn’t the only dimension of personal branding you need to pay attention to. In fact, if you focus on this exclusively, you’ll sacrifice a ton of networking and reader retention building potential; the real key to building up a loyal audience is to engage with your users regularly. Respond to their comments, thank them for their engagements, and gather feedback you can use to improve what you offer.
- Remaining stagnant. Personal branding should be a fluid, evolving process. What you start out with may work well initially, but if you want to keep seeing results and growing your presence, you’ll need to adapt. Experiment with new forms of content, or try a new angle with your audience. Not everything you try out is going to work, so be sure to measure your results—keep what works, ditch what doesn’t, but keep things moving if you want to see long-term results start to manifest.
- Trying to do everything themselves. This is the mistake I see made most often. When most entrepreneurs learn the benefits of personal branding, they’re all about putting in the time and effort to build a personal brand; there are just a few problems with this. First, they don’t have much knowledge on the subject, and assume they know what they’re doing. Second, they don’t have enough time to effectively build a brand from scratch. Finally, they underestimate the experience and effort necessary to make a brand successful. You’re the leader of your company, and even though this is your personal brand, you’re probably better off delegating its management to a professional who knows what they’re doing.
Keep an eye out for these rookie personal branding mistakes, and you’ll spare yourself the heartbreak of watching your personal brand collapse before your eyes. Personal branding is a complex subject, and there are many right and wrong ways to go about it, but the only way to really get better at it is to learn more, try more, and do more.
Unfortunately, most entrepreneurs don’t have time for this learning curve, or have the bandwidth to experiment. That’s where dopplepop comes in—we’re content marketing and personal branding experts, so be sure to drop us a line if you’re interested in developing your own personal brand.