This post is part of the 7 Steps to a Personal Brand series.
Read the previous post: Establish Your Personal Brand.
Now that you understand how to establish your online platform, it’s time to figure out what you’re going to say. When we work with clients to develop their content strategy, we often run into one of two problems:
- The client feels they have nothing interesting to share or say
- The client feels that everything about them is interesting and should be shared online
The content you share online, whether it’s your website copy, tweets, or Instagram photos, should be authentic and a part of who you are.
Emphasis on part.
You are more than your job
You have hobbies, pets, kids, and other interests. Your life outside your career should be incorporated into your personal brand, but selectively.
For example, I am more than a book publicist. I am on a swim team and compete in triathlons. I love stand-up comedy, and have even been on stage a time or two. I’m a mom, a wife, and a dog owner. I’m a proud Chicagoan. These are all parts of me, but as you can garner from what I share online or in the talks that I give, not everything is a part of my brand. I carefully thought about what I would share with the public and what I would keep to myself. Swimming and triathlons don’t just show another dimension of who I am, they speak to my work ethic and determination, things that are key components of my brand summary. Same goes for being a Chicagoan–we are tough and work hard. The stand-up comedy, while I’d never deny I’ve done it or try to hide the videos that are posted online, doesn’t do anything to convey the message I want to send. And while my family is the most important thing in my life, I’m not writing about parenting, relationships, or LGBT issues, so they’re not included in my online content. My dog, on the other hand—who is an integral part of our office—does have a regular cameo on my social media channels. Everyone loves a cute dog.
Staying on brand
Brainstorm and make a list of every part of yourself. (If you couldn’t tell already, I’m a big fan of lists.) This should include where you live, the members of your family, what you do in your spare time, causes you’re passionate about, and any other parts of yourself you can think of.
Then, go through and jot down notes about what each of these characteristics says about you. This will help you determine whether or not it should be included in your personal brand. If you’re a pioneer for women climbing the corporate ladder and getting into the C-Suite, then the fact that you’re a parent or a member of Step Up Women’s Network should be included in your content strategy. But if you’re launching your craft beer blog, then those elements aren’t necessarily relevant.
Once you’ve highlighted the aspects of your life that will be included as part of your content strategy, print them out or write them on a post it near your computer. Every time you post to social media, write a blog post, or participate in an interview, refer back to the list. You may be tempted to re-tweet something about the election, post the cutest photo of your kid to Facebook, or Instagram pictures of your food, but if it’s not a part of your content strategy, then don’t. When you’re at a work function or other networking event, people may ask you about your family or your hobbies, and while you shouldn’t lie, you shouldn’t focus on it either. Steer conversations towards your brand topics, or redirect the conversation back to the other person. If you’re asked to do a radio interview or speak at a conference, scrutinize the topic and platform. Does it fall in line with your content strategy? No? Then politely decline.
The people in your personal life may know about all the other aspects of you, but the people who only see you at work—or connect with you after a speaking event, or meet you via social media—will only know you by what you’re presenting to them. The clearer and more consistent your message, the easier it will be for people to remember you and understand who you are and what you do. And that is the key to having a successful personal brand.
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