By Carole Hitter.
It’s fascinating how much you can learn about a person without ever meeting them. And no, we’re not talking about a Joe Goldberg situation, for all the You fans out there.
Unless you live off the grid, social media is a fundamental part of our daily lives. What you like, the causes you support, your occupation, and your network are all available for anyone to see. It’s slightly terrifying, but business leaders can leverage this to create a highly personalized brand.
While each platform has its own purpose, rules, and structure, social media networks are the foundation for attracting audiences in a personal way.
Stand out by staying authentic
We tend to forget that there are real people behind the likes and comments on a social post. Each one of those people carries different values, interests, experiences, and backgrounds.
And just like in real life, people connect best over these human qualities.
When you think of an iconic brand, you also think about its founder or leading innovator. You don’t think of Apple without thinking of Steve Jobs, or Meta without Mark Zuckerberg. What makes them, and other celebrities, for that matter, such as Elon Musk, Beyoncé, or Eminem, so iconic? And what can you learn from them when building your personal brand?
Some will admire Elon Musk for his inventions, while others love him for his sassy tweets. Fans admire Beyoncé not only for her powerful voice and dance moves, but also for promoting female empowerment and women’s issues through her songs. People support Eminem for breaking the record of fast rapping, but also for speaking his mind, no matter how many times others have tried to shut him up.
While each comes with a different talent, background, and personality, they are all highly successful public figures. This is because, what sets them apart besides their artistic or scientific talent, is their authenticity and their ability to stay genuine across all platforms. Whether it’s through their music, television appearances, or social media presence, these celebrities uphold the same set of values and express themselves with a unique flair that no other person or AI can replicate. Just like them, you possess unique qualities within yourself that can serve as a tremendous source of inspiration.
The era of democratized branding
Traditional media used to hold a monopoly over your access to personal branding. Only the lucky ones landed interviews, and yet, they had little influence over the final outcome. Today, anyone can record themselves and control the content-creation process, from choosing to show your own face and picking the setting of your livestream to script writing and music selection. All you need is a phone with an internet connection.
While social media is designed to shape your public image, too many people prioritize growing their number of followers over creating meaningful content. This goal can lead to fabricating your achievements or reposting content from other influencers as your own. But this approach is never sustainable in the long run. It might attract attention at first, but sooner or later, it fails to establish credibility, which is one of the most important factors in determining somebody’s level of influence.
If you didn’t take a picture, it didn’t happen
As a social media and events manager for startups, I often encounter clients who express confusion about their lack of recognition at conferences. Founders can feel frustrated and disappointed if consumers, journalists, and investors are not aware of their brand. But no matter how much time and effort you put into your company, no one will know about you if you don’t share your progress online.
If no one knows you completed a killer funding round, and what it took to get there, did you really even accomplish those things?
In fact, even big-name, authentic celebrities don’t shy away from sharing their struggles with their fans. Think of Beyonce having released Hold Up in 2016 as a response to her husband, Jay-Z, cheating on her. Or when Eminem responded to critics with iconic punchlines, stating “I am whatever you say I am” (The Way I Am, 2000) and “It feels so empty without me” (Without Me, 2002). These songs have become popular for a reason. Their personal stories deeply resonate with their fans, positioning them as a source of empowerment and an uplifting influence for those who can identify with their challenges.
Promoting your knowledge, goals, and achievements consistently enhances your visibility and the chances of being invited to participate in diverse opportunities. These may include speaking on a podcast, collaborating on a project, being interviewed publicly, or sharing your expertise at a conference.
You never know which opportunity will arise by simply engaging with partners, followers, and even competitors. What’s for sure is that it will contribute to building your credibility as a key player in the industry.
Building a personal brand can make you feel less lonely in the process. By sharing your journey online, you enable others to witness your dedication, celebrate your successes, and encourage you in challenging times. Whether you’re a startup founder or a Hollywood superstar, one thing is certain: You can’t achieve your goals without the support of your fans.