Your relationships and reputation are intangible assets.
Foster your personal brand, and you’ll build perceived value, trustworthiness, credibility, and reliability—ingredients that contribute to audience building and revenue.
But to showcase your expertise and stand out, you need to have something interesting to say. And you need to say it consistently.
In this article, we’ll share tips for how to build your personal brand, grow your audience, and expand your online presence.
Position yourself as an authority in your area of expertise with content
To position yourself authentically, you need to showcase what makes you unique.
Don’t regurgitate what everyone else is saying—that may read as inauthentic. It always won’t help you differentiate yourself (thus your brand), so your audience won’t know why they should listen to you instead of others.
What do you bring to the table? Why should your audience care about what you have to say?
The more you read, the more you’ll have to say. Immerse yourself in industry trends, read the news, read books no one is talking about. Inspiration can come from anywhere. The more you learn, the more interesting and unique your ideas will become.
Done right, creating and sharing content can help you position yourself as an authority worth paying attention to within your area of expertise.
Create engaging thought leadership content on social media
LinkedIn is the top network for B2B content marketers—96% use the platform. This is closely followed by Twitter (82% of B2B marketers use it).
This is for good reason—LinkedIn and Twitter allow you to build a following on social media by sharing your expertise and building through leadership.
There is an art to posting on LinkedIn.
Long-form posts (those with 1,900 to 2,000 words) perform the best in terms of views and engagement. And skimmable posts with multiple headlines perform well too.
Kevan Lee, VP of Marketing at Oyster, leans into the skimmable method when sharing his thoughts and relevant insights about YouTube ads:
He also shares his personal newsletter on LinkedIn, expanding his potential audience of subscribers within his LinkedIn audience.
- Sharing a personal newsletter in a social post, which shows his broad range of expertise outside of his role at Oyster. It’s still industry-relevant, allowing him to share unique insights that his target audience will be interested in.
- Tagging another creator to expose the post to their audience, working to broaden his reach.
- Including relevant hashtags to get his post in front of new potential audiences.
- Sharing an instance of being featured as a contributor on another creator’s platform, which builds social proof.
LinkedIn posts with images get twice as much engagement as those without. A mix of content formats keeps your posts fresh, and you can conduct your own analysis to understand what types of posts your audience engages with the most.
Business leaders can also tap into their employees’ audiences by sharing regular, interesting content on the company page.
A company’s employees are 14x more likely to share content from the company page compared to other content types. This helps your employees build their personal brand while expanding your brand’s reach in tandem.
On Twitter, Hootsuite research recommends implementing a rule of thirds when it comes to planning your content strategy:
⅓ of tweets promote your business
⅓ share personal stories
⅓ are informative insights from experts or influencers
Experiment with different formats on Twitter, too.
Greg Bernhardt, an SEO lead at Shopify, maintains a balanced content mix on his Twitter account.
He also promotes his workplace as part of his personal brand:
Twitter topics are also growing in popularity, with an increase of 40% from Q2 to Q3 2020. With more than 5,100 topics available to follow, you can build your reputation by regularly tweeting about the topics most relevant to your followers
As we said above, post daily. Hootsuite research found that on Twitter, marketers should post between 1 and 5 Tweets a day. The same goes for LinkedIn.
But quality trumps quantity every time. Lain Beable, social media strategist at Hootsuite makes this clear:
“I personally have always found the topic of how many times per day should I post a little over-thought and definitely secondary to the quality of the content one is publishing.”
Experiment until you find your sweet spot, and keep in mind that building a successful personal brand across social networks is a long-term activity.
Building a blog
To grow your sphere of influence, produce long-form content at least once a week. Companies with a blog have on average 55% more site visitors than those without.
Buffer helps its internal experts build their own personal brands through its blog. Posts include a name, photo, and title of the author, allowing the employee to receive public credit for their expertise.
Play with a mix of formats. Build thought leadership by exploring trends in your industry. Write guides that allow you to teach your readers something new, or to think about it from a unique angle.
As CXL’s founder Peep Leja says:
“This content can’t be what’s already been overdone, you need a new angle/lens/format to stand out.”
Producing content that analyzes current or emerging trends is a valuable way to contribute to a growing conversation.
Brian Dean does this well; positioning himself as a trusted industry expert as well as the person to turn to for timely takeaways.
Become a contributor to other publications (the power of guest blogging)
Guest post for every relevant blog that will have you. By contributing to established blogs, you open yourself and your ideas up to a new audience and bolster your personal brand.
When writing a guest blog, link back to your own blog as much as possible. This drives traffic to your personal website while inviting readers to explore more of your content. Include internal links as well to improve SEO and increase search engine traffic.
Pitch yourself within your own network as a starting point, as these people likely already know and respect your work.
Introduce yourself in the context of the blog you’re pitching to, and highlight your “why.” Be specific about why you want to write for that publication and what value you bring. Share a few previous pieces of content you’re proud of to underscore your credibility.
Give the editor a few ideas of what you’d like to write about, and be specific. How will you add value to the conversation around those topics? Show you’ve done your research and personalize everything in the context of their niche.
Once approved as a blogger, set deadlines and expectations with the editor. The writing process can vary from brand to brand, but generally, share an outline to make sure you’re on the right path and meeting the tone and guidelines.
Building authority with a new audience via guest blogging can convert those readers into followers.
Start an email newsletter
Newsletters afford you intimacy and attention that’s difficult to foster through other content marketing channels.
Email marketing has a huge ROI ($42 for every $1 spent). It’s a direct, unobstructed line to your subscribers. This explains why 4 out of 5 marketers say they’d rather erase social media than email marketing from their content strategy.
Like other content channels, building a subscriber base for your newsletter is about sharing consistent, valuable insights.
Tools like Substack make this process easier. Take Jason Bradwell’s The B2B Bite, for example.
He leveraged Substack to build a successful subscriber base and recently was able to move his newsletter onto his own platform.
“When I first started sending a weekly essay on how to build and scale modern-day B2B marketing strategies all the way back in November 2020, I needed a platform that allowed me to just get writing and not worry about all the design/hosting/payment malarky that comes with “running a blog” … And Substack gave that to me.”
Leveraging a platform like Substack can cut down on the nerves of getting started. Sometimes the lowest barrier to entry when building your brand can be the most effective.
Networking with your peers and building connections through social media
Dedicate time to responding to comments, threads, and DMs, where appropriate. These interactions can help you virtually network, build your following, and find opportunities to collaborate.
On Twitter, build a culture of respect and admiration by sharing others’ content, retweeting their ideas, and responding to give kudos to particularly insightful tweets.
Writer and thought leader Julian Shapiro regularly shares on Twitter and makes sure to nurture the ensuing conversations.
On LinkedIn, topics, groups, and messages are all essential to building your brand. Follow relevant topics via hashtags and participate in conversations. Do the same in groups, where you can have more intimate, focused conversations with other industry experts.
When making connections on LinkedIn, personalize your message to make it clear what you hope to get out of the interaction. Lead with what you can offer them to ensure a mutually beneficial conversation.
Deepen your connections offline by attending industry events, conferences, and meetups in your area. Build in facetime to foster more meaningful relationships, build trust, and cement your status as a valued expert.
How to empower employees to build their brand and spread your message
Your people are your company’s greatest asset. 72% of consumers report feeling a bond with brands when employees share information about the business online.
That translates into real business results—a highly engaged workforce leads to 20% higher sales and 21% higher profitability.
To capitalize on an engaged workforce, managers and entrepreneurs should create a culture of employee advocacy (a mutually beneficial relationship between employees and their company).
Empowering your employees to be your ambassadors allows them to build their own brands while bolstering yours.
Employee advocacy can—and should—start on day one. But building a culture of employee advocacy takes work, just like any culture-building activity. Despite its benefits, only 17% of businesses have implemented a formal, comprehensive program.
Successful employee advocacy programs begin with employees feeling supported at work. Unhappy employees will certainly not make good advocates.
But happy employees won’t necessarily share proactively, either. According to research from Long—Dash, 86% of employees feel proud to work for their organizations, but less than half are willing to share about their companies on social media.
“Happy employees don’t necessarily let people know that they are happy. While creating a positive work environment is foundational, savvy brands must now connect what motivates people with new structures that complement that motivation.”
That’s why your employee advocacy strategy should be intentional, with goals, KPIs, and guidelines. Then, you can begin seeking out potential leaders.
Introduce the benefits—from building a strong personal brand, to becoming a thought leader, and any potential opportunities for incentives around their commitment to employee advocacy.
Almost 86% of advocates in a formal program said that their involvement in social media had a positive impact on their career.
To show this kind of support, call out your employees as thought leaders on Twitter by tagging them in your posts and retweeting theirs.
Creative consultancy Long–Dash does this often.
When sharing employee-written content on social media, make sure to tag the author. This reinforces your employees’ expertise, gives them public credit for their work, and can open them up to opportunities and interactions with other thought leaders in the space.
Long—Dash also retweets its employees regularly.
To set your program up for success, create social media guidelines that help your employees understand your goals and guidelines for posting about the company. Provide them with a library of assets and resources to use in their posts.
Note that authenticity should underscore everything about your employee advocacy strategy. Otherwise, employee posts could come off as robotic or scripted.
A personal branding strategy helps you cement yourself as an expert and trusted source of information.
Get yourself in front of as many audiences as you can. Share valuable insights consistently and practice relationship building to boost reach and engagement. Audience growth will follow in short order.