Personal brands is growing, apart from day jobs (or as a nice supplement to it), from established execs at high levels in large multi-national firms, to entrepreneurs and people starting out in a wide variety of fields. I’m constantly amazed how many of the high profile guest speakers at my business school marketing classes post that they presented on LinkedIn, and how many likes and views these posts get. My personal LinkedIn posts of achievements I’m proud of always generate more likes and views than I expect. It’s surprising how many people care, and is a nice feeling. For everyone sharing their personal brand through social media in many different ways, there’s gratification from the gamification of watching views, likes and comments accumulate, and seeing which parts of the world, companies, and job functions they come from.
Why It’s Important to Build Your Personal Brand, Whether You’re a Star in Your Company or A Talented Entrepreneur
It’s good to cultivate your personal brand because:
For Executives It:
– Shows you’re a thought leader
– Humanizes you
– Makes more people aware of you, your personality, insights, and values
– Will serve you well throughout your career going forward
– You might be able to monetize it, if that’s what you want
MORE FOR YOU
For Creators/Artists/Fashion Designers/Entertainers/Writers:
– It reveals the person behind the content
– You control the message
– It makes you more relatable
– It provides context & credibility for your content
– You can hopefully monetize it
Why More People Building Their Personal Brands?
To better understand why people want to build their personal brands and are doing it more and more, I spoke with entrepreneur and CEO Tony Tran, whose company Lumanu simplifies business for creators. Lumanu provides anyone who’s passionate about becoming a creator, tools and resources to grow their personal brand and turn it into a business.
According to Tony, “In the past year, we’ve seen economic disruption from the pandemic lead to a huge surge in people going out on their own to focus on their personal brand and build businesses. In 2020 the increase in applications for new businesses in the U.S. hit a 13-year high, according to an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data from the Wall Street Journal.
“New platforms like Clubhouse with its $4B valuation, or Patreon that in just one month, had 30,000 creators flock to it in the early weeks of the pandemic,” help said Tran. “We’ve seen Lumanu creator followings explode with new fans and collaborations.”
Blake Michael is an actor, entrepreneur and creator, as well as Lumanu’s Chief Evangelist, a role in which he guides other creators to grow their personal brands. Blake started his career as a Disney star at the age of 13 and today, has an incredibly engaged fanbase with over 5 million followers across his social channels. That following grew by over one million fans during the first few months of the lock-down. Blake shared “During quarantine last year, I got into the habit of posting every day on TikTok and saw engagement rise exponentially. It was exciting to wake up in the morning and come up with something fresh — it became routine and an easy way to connect with fans on a more personal level. The thing I hear most from people is they’re worried they’ve missed the boat or it’s too late to establish yourself online. Do it now because it’s never been easier. Getting started is more important than perfection. Content isn’t expected to be super polished or professional — rawness and authenticity are what followers value.”
Tran noted, we’re in the middle of the “democratization of the creator economy.” It’s easier than ever for aspiring creators to make content using powerful phones and distribute it on platforms from TikTok to Clubhouse, LinkedIn and Instagram that can help them monetize it. “While It’s easier than ever to make content,” says Tran, “the question is can creators sustain it and turn that passion into something more than a hobby? That’s why we started Lumanu. We want to give creators – from influencers and artists, to business professionals and execs — the tools and resources to simplify the business part of creation, so they can do what they love and grow their personal brand.”
How to Start and Keys To Becoming A Successful Influencer
For many creators and entrepreneurs, the challenge is often how & where do I start? Tony notes that new creators are looking for:
– Support and guidance — many even pay for personal coaching classes from established creators
– Help negotiating contracts
– Help getting paid, and getting paid on time
Having observed which influencers’ careers take off and why, Tony developed 6 key insights that can help creators of all types build their personal brands:
1) Identify your Style, Personality & Content
- Influencers and thought leaders need a distinct personal style that’s telegraphic and easy to understand
- The content needs to be distilled for followers, from its initial complexity
- Creators need to explain what makes them unique and gives them their “superpowers” or special take on things: it could be their childhood, challenges they faced, training in another field, or a life-changing event
- They need to be a source of information, data or insights that no one else has
- They need a unique perspective, or way of interpreting what’s going on that’s important to a particular community
- The individual’s unique personality should be consistently infused throughout the content
2) Choose ONE Platform
Pick one platform to start with, ideally that you already spend time on and are comfortable with. Platforms can vary from more polished — like podcasts and YouTube — to more off-the-cuff like TikTok and Clubhouse. It’s important to be comfortable. By picking a platform you’re familiar with, you can focus your time and energy on the substance and nature of your content. According to Blake Michael, “building a personal brand, first on one platform, gave him the freedom to do what he wants. When you have an audience, you become your own distributor. Your audience will follow you wherever you go, making it easier to expand to other platforms that make sense.”
3) Determine Time, Commitment & Monetary Expectations
Early on, figure out how much time you want to devote. Ask yourself, is this a hobby or a career? How much money do I want/need to make? From there, you can determine how you want to monetize it, and how much time you’re willing to invest in building a following, knowing it may or may not materialize.
4) Build Followings Through Strategic Collaborations
There are opportunities to build followings through collaborations with other influencers or brands to cross-pollinate each other’s audiences. If you’re passionate about personal finance or a rockstar designer at your corporate job, try to find established creators to come on your platform with the same target audience. Don’t be afraid to reach out and suggest a way to work together!
5) Establish a Cadence
Posting should be regular — at least once a week, supplemented with additional audience touch points throughout the week, including stories and short-form content.
6) Network, and Network Some More
Community makes the creator economy thrive, so make sure you’re tapping into your network, while offering your experience and expertise to help others grow and succeed.
As Blake Michael says, “I think everyone has a brand and social media allows us to amplify it.”