Personal branding isn’t easy. It’s far more complex, in fact, than executing certain tasks, and then sitting back to enjoy the benefits.
Related: 5 Steps to Build Your Personal Brand
As with any other marketing or identity-based strategy, mistakes are bound to occur along the way, and you’re probably going to wander off course. But the effort is worth it. We can see that from the success of countless influencers, from my own friends like Neil Patel and Morgan Brown, to Guy Kawasaki and Jay Baer.
They’ve all had their mishaps, as have I. But those mishaps won't matter in the long run if you first identify the reasons your personal brand has not been resonating -- and then make the necessary changes to move forward and grow.
1. Your branded search has a weak return.
It’s not about the specific platform you’re building a brand on. What matters is the quality of what you’re publishing.
Technology changes constantly, so who’s to say that a personal website is a better choice than guest blogging? A website is a great hub for your brand, but not if it’s full of mediocrity. What does a branded search in Google really say about the quality of what you’re sharing?
2. You’re hard-selling your brand.
Twitter is full of automated responses asking new followers to buy a product or “opt-in now.”
But those responses are trying to force a conversion with no relationship and zero brand credibility. This violates social etiquette. If you yourself do this, you need to pivot immediately. Stop trying to look good, and spend more time providing actionable takeaways that make your connections look good.
3. You’re confusing privacy with authenticity.
There’s a huge difference between broadcasting intimate thoughts and opinions (e.g., your breakfast choices), and sharing why followers should be paying attention to a certain startup.
You can build a personal brand without inviting people to dance with the skeletons in your closet.
4. You’re not putting in the work.
You have to hustle to build your personal brand, which develops because of the hard work you put in. Then, in order to maintain and grow that brand, you get to hustle some more.
“To position yourself as an expert is difficult, but most people aren’t asking the first important question, which is: expert in what?” writes Gary Vaynerchuk, founder of VaynerMedia. “What do you want to provide people with? What are you great at? What do you love? What is your legacy going to be? (because legacy is always above currency).”
5. You’re not managing your time well.
Building a brand boils down to time management. If you’re struggling to gain traction, you’re probably missing opportunities to fine-tune your workflow. Manually promoting yourself is eating up time better spent on more productive activities. Automation can give you more time for those activities. Some suggestions:
- Use Quuu.co to curate great content.
- Use Buffer to schedule content across your social channels.
- Use Notifier to engage influencers and build relationships.
6. You’re only broadcasting.
When you’re focused on building a brand, it’s easy to forget the "social" in social media. Don’t fall into the herd of sheep on Twitter bleating away and trying to consume but not giving anything in return.
Don’t try to cut through that noise using volume alone, either. Instead, make the effort to engage, converse and build relationships. Your audience members want a human connection. Give it to them.
7. You’re not being consistent.
With your friends and family, you can get away with a wide range of social posts, from cat videos to political memes to grocery-store-line rants.
Your personal brand needs a little more consistency, though. If it’s not consistent, you don’t have a brand. Create some brand standards for yourself, then hold yourself to them to avoid confusing or turning off your audience.
8. You’re just regurgitating
I like the way Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, addresses this issue. In his book Bankable Business Plans, he wrote, “If you never want to be criticized, for goodness’ sake don’t do anything new.”
Don’t fall into traps of prose, parroting the same content to the same audience time and again. A “me, too” approach to branding won’t garner attention. If you want to turn heads, offer a fresh and insightful perspective to your audience’s greatest problems.
9. You’ve limited your social channels.
There are a staggering number of channels available for your personal branding needs. Publishing platforms, social networks and random online communities are ripe for engagement. If you’re targeting only the most commonly used sites, then you’re seriously throttling your potential.
Don’t just post to Twitter and publish to your blog, either. You should also:
- Post to Reddit.
- Answer questions on Quora.
- Use Snapchat to engage followers, as I do.
- Leverage content marketing and guest blogging.
- Use apps like Canva or Adobe’s Spark Post to create engaging images on Instagram.
Treat your digital reach the way a company treats the expansion of its brand: Find markets you can grow into. “All of us need to understand the importance of branding,” wrote Tom Peters, author of In Search of Excellence. “We are CEOs of our own companies: 'Me, Inc.' To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called you.”