Today, branding yourself, “self branding,” or “personal branding” can be achieved by business professional and the average person through skillful and repeated use of social media. Ten years ago, to brand yourself, you needed to write a book, be a politician, appear on TV, or be in the news or sports. While those avenues are still valid, there is now a more accessible and, in some cases, more effective way to reach your audience with your personal brand message.
The problem with social media, or “social,” is that viewers typically watch an ever-changing newsfeed that whistles by almost as fast at the Times Square News of the World. Your post moves progressively down until it’s on the next page where very few readers will see it.
Unless your audience is following you specifically, your tweet, post, or comment is lost in a matter of hours or even minutes. This is one reason why you have to continually and repeatedly post, hoping to catch your audience when they are looking at their feed.
You want the number of your followers to grow and re-tweet your posts, which may make your message viral. Try to get popular bloggers to mention or link to you. Then you will have the opportunity to attract their followers. The number of followers is the currency of social media.
But even if you have the time and the patience to work with the limitations of social media, or even if you are fortunate enough to get conventional coverage, you still need a message that is consistent and sustainable. Are you now, or do you want to be, a go-to person, a thought leader, or an authority on a particular subject? Whatever your message is, over time it will brand you. It will be your brand identity.
Here are a few questions that may help you determine and craft that message:
1. What do you do, have you done, or want to do? What is the specific market segment you want to address?
2. What makes you an expert in this area? How can your expertise help others? What distinguishes you, your service, your information, or your product from others?
3. What do you stand for? What movements do you support? What are you doing in the community to demonstrate your values?
4. How will you package your service? Do you give advice? Do you teach? Will you offer webinars, seminars, books, subscriptions, or info-products?
5. What are the three most compelling reasons why your subscribers should follow you, and better yet, buy what you’re selling?
6. Who are the top thought leaders in your field? How can you help them get their messages across? Will they see you as a supporter, example, or case study, or do you take a different approach altogether?
7. What are the benefits to your audience if they purchase your products or services? What features will they receive that they find desirable?
Of course, branding yourself, especially in social media, requires credibility on a personal level as well. Your audience needs to believe that you are a sincere person and that you have their best interests at heart. So be prepared to give more than you receive over and over again.
Self-branding is not a vaccination – it is a process. It only lasts as long as your last mention, post, or tweet.
Who Are We.
Having built and sold a bestselling national brand, we appreciate the value of brands and everything it takes to make them successful. Companies are valued by their brand equity. Achieving and maximizing brand equity requires tremendous respect for all your customers, from your wholesaler to your end user.
Starting in our laundry room with no money and no knowledge of the industry, we built the famous Barefoot Wine brand. We learned a lot they don’t teach in school and much of it the hard way. Although our success was in consumer products, our real world experience will be helpful to anyone looking for information and advice about brands.
We have written the New York Times Bestselling Business Book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand, which chronicles the history of the famous brand from its inception through its acquisition. Our book is now required reading in schools of entrepreneurship across the country. We hope this book will provide inspiration and encouragement for all those contemplating starting a brand or wanting to improve their existing brand.
Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey
-Barefoot Wine Founders