Personal or Business – building a brand takes work!
There are some who believe that there’s only so much you can do. After all, once you’ve shared your credentials and created an online presence, what’s left to do or say.
In competitive businesses and careers, our skills, products or services are largely undifferentiated in the minds of our audience. We all need to stand out!
Now, pause to consider – your Linkedin is static, the website has nothing new and your Facebook page and Instagram feeds show more products and the occasional promotion.
The result – those who like you might already have done business with you. Those who don’t know you will forget all about you after a networking event or two.
How do you stay connected and memorable? How do you offer proof of expertise? Engage your audience in conversations to stay on their front-runner list? Find new prospects and followers?
Content is an awesome way to accomplish all of this!
In a world rife with so much information, the appetite for new knowledge remains curiously never-ending. Every day, new articles become popular, more videos go viral and more ‘live’ content gets shared and re-shared.
Every digital media expert recommends content as a way to build a loyal following and credibility. Entrepreneurs to celebrities, and even company CEOs and employees are today recognizing the relevance of content to build an audience for your subject matter expertise.
It also enhances your placement in search results as Google keeps refining its programs and algorithms to locate, identify and distribute great content, in all its forms.
How can you build your brand with content?
Write it Right
Create a Blog – ‘long form’ content rocks. Blog writing can help you/ your company build credentials. A large no. of websites claim that their Blog gets them 55% more traffic. It helps Google find you more easily.
What kind of a blog should you have? There are general purpose ones that cover a large number of topics – lots of lifestyle bloggers write about family life, parenting, hobbies. On the other end are blogs in niches so fine that they have a passionate, dedicated following of their own. Most blogs however, lie somewhere in between these two.
You can use WordPress, Tumblr or Google’s Blogspot to host your Blog. Or if you already have a website, your Blog can quickly become the no.1 traffic source for you. Another great option is to Guest Blog for someone else.
Both of these can be a great stepping stone to writing for online and print publications.
What can you share:
Identify areas of expertise on which you can write consistently. If your website offers a product or service, write meaningful content around that. Or pick topics you are passionate about, and have loads to write.
How to’s and tips work great. Maybe an article on the use of fresh herbs and spices if you’re in the food business. Or a refreshing take on reusing food waste.
Ride the seasonal wave by writing about where to find the best fall fashions on a budget or self help ones like ways to reduce stress by organizing yourself.
If you are curious about a topic and your internet research hasn’t delivered, then why not write what you want to read. That’s the best way to come up with original ideas.
- Use a combination of words, quotes and even pictures.
- Write a rough draft and refine it after 2-3 reads.
- Give it a catchy title (the kind you yourself click on).
Share your posts on social media for better reach and traffic. Often they are more likely to show up higher on a Google search too.
Build a bank of 6-8 posts before you launch your Blog. Ideas and inspiration can sometimes dry up and you don’t want to go silent after building up good traffic for your Blog.
Use Google Apps, especially Docs to jot down ideas on the go. Since it works online and can be synced across devices, you can write on your smartphone and read it back on a Tablet or laptop later. This way the wait time at the swim class or the long ride on the commuter train doesn’t have to be a creative waste.
Add links to other pages on your Blog to keep visitors longer on your website. Offer a Subscribe to Blog option for getting fans on your mailing list. Maybe add a ‘you might also like to read’ section. Add pictures or info if you have a product or service.
Online Publishing Platforms
Do you have the gift for words, but no website or blog and don’t want to be bothered with one?
Use content platforms managed by others. It’s like living in a fancy condo rent free – you won’t own it but get to use the amenities all the same.
Most of them offer ease of usage, great editing tools, options to share images, videos and links, and a vastly superior reach that personal blogs can only aspire to.
Where can you Publish?
LinkedIn articles are a great way to share your ideas with your professional connects. Anything you publish will be visible to your connects and the more ‘reactions’ (likes and comments) you get, the more visible it remains. Articles is a great way to get followers – those who are not connected with you. To start, just click on ‘Write an Article’ (shown below).
Medium is another self blogging platform that allows you to publish. Plus, with a sophisticated engagement platform, you can get ‘claps’ or comments. The popular posts, editorial picks and trending posts also get featured on emails to thousands of subscribers.
You can link your Facebook or Twitter accounts to your Medium account for even better reach – your Twitter followers automatically become your Medium followers.
Similarly, Buzzfeed allows you to Publish and even ‘suggest’ a post to the Community Editors for a special feature. Do keep in mind that Buzzfeed doesn’t allow promotional posts (unless it’s a sponsored post) or links to your blog.
Another platform to consider is OnMogul which is targeted at a women audience who are professionally inclined.
Quora is a leading Q & A platform where users can ask and answer questions on various topics. You can choose to customize your Bio for every query you respond to, which is a cool feature illustrated in the examples below.
I picked the credential (from my saved list) to reflect the one most relevant to the question being asked on Quora.
Apart from picks and features, Quora shares well written, usually longer responses on Twitter. Leading publications like Inc. are known to re-share good Quora content on their website – it’s almost like getting published with them!
Or use AMA (Ask me Anything) on Reddit to gain a following and have your responses upvoted for more visibility.
What can you share:
Everything you can share on your own blog. If it’s a platform for personal sharing, you can also write ‘Opinion’ posts or on topics not necessarily related to your business. Many people also write occasional articles on parenting, culture, books etc – which are great for adding a personality to your brand.
You can repost articles from your Blog on these platforms too. Add a short descriptor and links ( like the ones below)both for backlinks and to build traffic.
Say it with pictures
Double your impact using pictures and words, especially if you post on social media.
Create a custom image and use it across multiple accounts – don’t forget to put your logo or website name. You can get pictures online, free or at a nominal cost ($3-5 each). Or shoot your own with cleverly grouped objects and smart use of lighting. Flatlays are a great option to showcase your products.
You can share a message via a simple text post – here are great ways to spend your Sunday.
Or, use everyday images with text overlay ( easily created on Canva) to say the same thing. Which one tells it better?
What can you share:
Quotes and tips work best for purely visual content. A large no. of Instagram users have attractive feeds that serve as a showcase for their product or expertise.
Adorn Market from NJ (below) use their products and inspirations as the visuals for their Instagram .
Feel challenged to create pretty images or cool graphics or pressed for time for very involved projects? Why not try the free resources available to amateurs to create awesome visual content.
Move them with Movies
Nothing wins like Video in today’s world.
Its continuous growth and mind boggling statistics only indicate that this channel is set to explode.
YouTube is not only the second largest engine today, it’s free features make having your own video channel a no-brainer. People love entertainment, and they love how-to videos even more. So much so, that many large companies are now starting to embrace video manuals instead of the age old boring pdf files or booklets.
For camera shy people, there are ways to get around while still creating awesome video content. Screen share and slide show videos are smart workarounds.
If you go Live on Facebook, they are more likely to notify your followers than not. Instagram stories is another quick way to voice (and show) your ideas through video.
If you’re on Twitter you can share live content via Periscope.
What can you share:
Living moving content: Product demos, Instructional videos, Why should you’s…
Tell a story – a travel blogger recently did a travel vlog about her visit to Thailand. She created 20 different videos, each centered around a different theme. One about the local temples, another at different beaches. Yet another on the funky ice cream parlors. That way, she could produce a lot of content and each can find a niche audience.
If you’re camera shy, ease yourself in with a few trials first. It doesn’t all have to be recorded in one go – you can shoot multiple clips and stitch them together on your smartphone using Apps like iMovie (iOS) and Adobe Premiere Clip (for Android & iOS). Even add titles, captions, music and special effects with a few quick swipes and clicks to create a professional looking video.
You can now download and save your Facebook Live videos to reuse in the future. Similarly pre-record a webinar and use it multiple times.
Those who write count. Those who ‘like’ count even more.
It’s a mistaken belief that content only refers to everything you create. Reacting to others’ shares is every bit as useful and important. It boosts visibility for the one who originally posted and in turn helps you.
That’s why platforms like Medium treat Comments as individual posts. LinkedIn puts the commenter upfront, so your comment on a post is treated like a share and your connects see both the article and the value you add with your comments.
In this post, Rosemarie adds a thoughtful question and advice, leaving us with her brand imprint.
What can you share:
Feedback, information, appreciation. Or seek an opinion through a question or with a poll.
Many users, especially on Linkedin, write ‘mini posts’ when they share an article (and sometimes even when they don’t share one). These minis generally range from 100-300 words and are readily available to read without you having to click to another link somewhere. Given that most people only gloss through content quickly, this format is becomingly very popular with well written posts netting a huge no. of likes and reshares. It is also a fantastic way to strengthen your personal brand amongst similar professionals and create awareness and engagement.
Comments that reflect knowledge or include honest feelings usually resonate the most with your audience. If you can strike the right note, humor in words is almost always fail-proof.
The image from Jeff Weiner (after meeting a namesake) got over 8K likes within 3 hours.
Speak your Heart Out!
Make your mark – share an idea, a story. Teach a workshop in person, or a webinar online. Moderate a discussion, host a virtual coffee chat. The possibilities for consolidating your brand strength through the spoken word are limitless.
You can cash on the rising demand for audio on-demand content by creating a Podcast or becoming a guest on one. Check out this awesome list of podcasts by women professionals.
Pick or even reach out to local organizations, library events, networking groups where you can speak to and connect directly with prospects and peers. People are very receptive to learning from experts and it’s an awesome way build both authority and your network.
Spoken content is a little more demanding – in formal settings like workshops and seminars, it needs more practise and there’s a smaller margin for error. Your audience will likely make an investment of their time and sometimes money to listen to you, so be sure you can deliver before you embark on this route.
What can you share:
Choose outcome based topics: It can be information based like Why Entrepreneurs need a Professional Brand or soft skill centric e.g. Claim your confidence and Find your Mojo
While you can speak extempore or use notes, having some visual cues like a presentation or a video makes it so much easier for your audience to grasp what you’re sharing.
Break it up. Share info, ask questions, throw in a quiz or a statement that invites, response, debate or even laughter.
Rehearse. Rinse. Repeat.
Use good quality equipment – whether it’s a slide projector or a microphone.
Create a buzz beforehand on social media. On the actual day, have someone take good quality pictures to share on your website and social media
It’s a great way to entice and then engage – that’s why Interactive is now its own category.
Any content that compels your audience to react or respond fits this category. Most people love to share opinions, pick choices or even answer questions. Interactive content works very well, both on the website and social media though the latter is usually better suited for it, traffic wise.
What can you share:
Quizzes, polls, ebooks, downloadables, contests.
Research beforehand on what content gets the best responses in your niche.
You can create any kind of content across platforms.
Content can inform, educate, entertain, advise, surprise, thrill and much more. But most of all, good content is about starting a great conversation.
Pooja Krishna is an Entrepreneur, Consultant and Mom. She has worked both in large corporates and managed startups over the last 20+ years. A co-founder of Maroon Oak, she’s also founded Win Thinks, a small business consulting company, and Trading Paces, which educates amateur and pro stock traders. She blogs and teaches workshops about Brand Strategy, Social Media & Future ready Career Solutions. She loves being a Classroom Mentor and teaching students across the U.S. about Job Skills and Entrepreneurship.
A trivia buff and yoga & hula hoop enthusiast, Pooja loves spending time with her family playing board games and watching documentaries.
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