There are two main reasons why personal branding is becoming a core part of our culture. Sadly, it’s nothing revolutionary! First, we are all being judged all the time, even when we’re sleeping (our online profiles are still up!). Second, we have to constantly sell our ideas to teachers, managers, venture capitalists, our friends and family, to make things happen in our lives. We have to convince them to take action.
The above statement is taken from Dan Schawbel’s Personal Branding Blog. Dan, a world renowned personal branding expert, defines personal branding as: “How we market ourselves to others.”
Think I’m just trying to impress you with big words? Think again…
How about the following names… Do they sound familiar?
Oprah, Gordon Ramsay, Lady Gaga, Madonna, Barack Obama, David Beckham, Justin Bieber.
Well, if it hadn’t been for their personal branding efforts, chances are Obama wouldn’t be president today, nor would Bieber have over 13 million raving fans on Twitter. Would Gillette pay millions for an unbranded Beckham to shave with their Mach 3? You get the point…
Now here’s the thing:
You’re lucky, because now you can brand yourself too, using social media.
And you don’t need to be a TV host, a football player or a singer to do that.
You don’t need a PR firm or a personal stylist.
You hardly need any money.
Heck, you don’t even need a blog to get started…
How I started branding myself
When I started out online I had no blog and hardly any connections. However, I managed to brand myself as an authority in my area (Internet marketing) in a relatively short period. When I did get my blog off the ground I’d already established an ample, engaged following on social media (mainly on Twitter). I’d also built connections with many other bloggers, social media experts and influencers.
Here’s what I did:
I started by curating other people’s content. Every few days I cherry-picked the most helpful posts I could find out of hundreds of blogs around the Web, and shared them on Twitter. As more and more people were reading my tweets, they started associating me with value. Bloggers, in turn, were happy to get more visitors to their sites. Win-win!
Now you can do the same! Here are 10 compelling reasons why you’d want to become a curator as well, starting today:
1. You don’t need a blog
This has got to be my favorite. There is no need to have your own blog in order to share content from other people’s blogs. Is it ethical? Yes, as long as you credit the content owner and link to the content source. Is it helpful? Yes, times three! It helps your audience solve their problems. It helps you gain credibility and authority. It helps the content owner get more traffic. Blogging-skeptics, your excuses are over!
2. Content sells better than pitches
Earlier today I got an email whose subject line was: WP ****** Plugin is a NO BRAINER. Now this plugin may be the next best thing since Comment Luv, but guess what happened to that email? That’s right, it landed in SpamLand. Do you know why? Because that marketer was trying to pitch me right off the bat. Before I even opened her email. I don’t like being sold to, and I bet you don’t either.
It’s much easier to give value and educate than it is to sell. When it’s time for you to offer your product people will be much more likely to buy because they already know you and trust you.
3. Become the go-to person
A person who interviews experts can gain an expert status himself, by association, just like Napoleon Hill did when creating Think and Grow Rich. In attempt to find the formula for success, Hill had interviewed over 500 successful people, many of them millionaires. This, in turn, granted him an expert status in the success teaching space, and he became an advisor of two US presidents.
Likewise, when you share other people’s content you become associated with their expertise and recognized as a source of value. If you stick to your guns you can become the go-to person whenever your followers need advice, recommendations, etc. Just remember: no selling, no hidden affiliate links!
4. Engage and build connections
As your followers and your authority grow, you can put more effort into engaging with like-minded people and with potential customers. At first you’ll be the one breaking the ice. For example, you could search for people needing help and reply to them via Twitter. Over time you’ll have other people approaching you. There’s no better starting point for a relationship than when a blogger thanks you for sharing his/her post!
5. Get writing offers and attract writers
The more you share content from other blogs, whether big or small, the more blog owners will approach you and ask you to contribute. When you start your own blog even more offers will start pouring in, asking you to be a guest blogger or to accept guest posts on your own site. Provided your blog is of high quality, of course.
6. Get others to promote your own posts
If you’ve done your job right, after a few short weeks you’ll start seeing people sharing your tweets around. When you start adding your own posts to the mix, they will naturally be shared as well because you’ve already got the reputation of a value provider. When I promote my posts with the right titles I often get about 1 out of 100 Twitter followers visit my blog. With a few thousand followers the numbers quickly add up.
Paper.li enables you to curate your own newspaper out of your followees’ tweets and Facebook posts. One of my papers, The Honest IM Daily, promotes links shared by people I follow, on a daily basis. As people get excited to see the articles they tweeted or shared in the paper, they share the paper’s link in return with their own followers. Thus the paper gets more popular and helps me brand myself even further. Sweet!
7. Get more quality followers
On a social network like Twitter it’s pretty easy to get followers. The hard part, however, is to get quality followers. And that’s where being a curator shines: as you share more valuable stuff, you’ll attract more of the people who are really interested in what you have to offer. So once you get into the swing of curating, you’ll be able to spend more time on finding quality content and building connection, rather than taking part in the old follow/unfollow game. (sigh.)
8. Learn to recognize value
As you go through endless blog posts in search of quality content, you’ll develop a ‘value radar’. You will be able to tell a meaty, value-packed post from a fluffy, yawn-inducing one. You will see what titles work best to attract readers. You will spot the blog posts that take the cake and get to know the key players in your industry. And the list goes on. All of this information will prove invaluable when you start blogging yourself.
9. Be the first to know
When sifting through the content you’re about to share, you’ll be skimming and reading many posts to determine their relevance to your followers. Doing this on a regular basis will give you an unfair advantage in your space as you’ll be the first to know about any industry developments as well as contests, giveaways, webinars and a lot more. I can’t even begin to tell you how many hidden gems I find when I search for content to share.
10. Use the same content on various networks
So, you’ve spent a whole day curating content and scheduling tweets, eh? Well, here is the good news: you can actually use these links you’ve shared over and over again! Assuming you’ve posted them on Twitter, you can now share them on Facebook, StumbleUpon, Delicious, DIGG and elsewhere. This way you’ll attract more followers on other networks and extend your reach. Now, why not create a few Top 10 posts on your blog where you share links to your favorite resources according to categories?
What about you?
What are you doing to brand yourself online? Where do you find fresh content to share on social media? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Photo credit: Domain Barnyard / Flickr