We live in a world where image is everything. It’s common for people to base their decisions — on anything from candy bars to new cars — on appearance alone. That being said, there are good ways (and not-so-good ways) to make your personal brand stand out. Here are some guidelines for creating content that shines a positive light on your image, without coming off as overly self-serving. Content marketing is extremely influential for your brand, and if you come across as an egomaniac, you will be taking two steps back, rather than taking your brand to a new level.
Focus your content on information, not self-promotion
The best way to promote your professional brand is with content that does not seem promotional. For example, as entertaining as it is to watch someone like Charlie Sheen rant about his “awesome achievements,” people respond much more positively to information that’s beneficial and useful to them. Likewise, people will see right through your message and content if it’s centered on self-promotion. If you start with genuine, useful, and insightful content that people can relate to or take away practical knowledge from, you’re much more likely to gain the credibility and authority that you want — and minimize your chances of going the way of the “Sheen machine.”
Make honest friends
Despite your mom’s insistence that you’re perfect in every way, the opinions of friends and colleagues can be a great indicator of how people actually perceive you. Ask them to be honest and transparent with you about how they perceive your image through your content — whether you come across as a genuinely helpful contributor or as a self-centered grandstander. In most cases, close friends and colleagues are the best people to bring you back from an ego trip before it’s too late.
Interact and collaborate
People expect immediacy through the internet, so you want to make yourself accessible by frequently interacting with your community. Cross-collaboration and contributing to other people’s discussions and projects will help you show that you’re a team player. Rather than just putting your knowledge out there, take it to the next level by applying it to real-time situations in the world. That will truly add value to the community through problem-solving, and the kudos will come back to you.
Even as a newly established brand, it’s possible to gain credibility and authority rather quickly — but it might take some sacrifice on your part. If you do some work for free or at a discount for major influencers who may not normally pay for your service, you’ll have credible samples and results to show prospective clients. They’ll be able to tell you’re the “real deal” because they’ll know your brand and the quality of your product.
It also helps to gain approval from third-party publications and listings. When a publication allows you to contribute, it naturally passes on some of its credibility to you. There is a difference between someone seeing an article on your own blog compared to a third-party site. If your articles are featured in print or online publications, you’re already gaining respect and validation in your industry.
It’s very important to pay attention to search engine optimization (SEO) as well. When you hear of a new Google update like Panda or Penguin, make an effort to read some articles summarizing the update. The most recent update mentioned that Google would be giving more credit for links at the top of articles, due to a lack of people reading the full articles. You don’t have to link-build, but if you are going to do content marketing, make sure you are maximizing your SEO value. It makes a huge difference if you show up in the top results of major search engines — and if those results show positive feedback from other sites, too. Providing content that adds real value and getting published on multiple sites will help you achieve that goal. The more you establish your credibility this way, the less you have to speak about yourself. People will naturally be attracted to you by your presence all over Google.
Manage your reputation
If you need to do some damage control with your personal brand, the cleanup will likely start with search engines because Google results will be the first thing people search if they hear something bad about you. If you’re able to clean up search results to maintain a positive reflection of your image, you’re definitely on the right track to recovery. It really helps to keep contributing your valuable expertise through various venues and keep moving in a positive direction. Make an effort to get company spotlights, interviews, mentions, and overall press out there so the positive overtakes the negative. Although there’s truth to the phrase “People don’t forget!” from the movie “Superbad,” you can usually safely and successfully repair your brand with enough quality content and community interaction.
No matter what stage you’re in with your personal brand, it’s important to remember that people love to connect. If you’re approachable, helpful, and humble, you’re well on your way to keeping ego out of your enterprise. And people won’t forget that.
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