Were you ever curious about a person and looked him or her up online? You might’ve come across his or her social media accounts, personal website, pictures and work. While doing this casual research, did you notice that you were beginning to develop an opinion or understanding of who that person is and what he or she is all about?
This image, often curated, is a personal brand.
In the digital age, anyone with an online presence can have a personal brand, whether it’s intentional or not. The act of personal branding is the deliberate marketing of yourself and your career. It’s a constantly evolving process of establishing in the mind of others the impression you’d like them to have of you.
As you might imagine, without careful curation and thought put into your personal brand, your professional work can easily be misinterpreted in a way that you might not want. Simple things like having a website that’s not mobile friendly or a Facebook business page that hasn’t had a new post in a week could easily become personal brand killers.
To make sure this doesn’t happen, you have to understand the importance of your personal brand, and then actively work to build and promote it.
Personal branding in the financial services industry
What people take away from your brand can have real business implications. Online branding is more than just logos, ad copy and talking about why your products and services are the best – it’s all about letting your personality shine through the noise and showing prospects and clients what you have to offer. The more people like what they see and hear about your brand on social media, the more they will be inclined to check out what you have to offer.
When it comes to the financial services industry, your online personal brand can make or break your business. Why? It comes down to trust.
According to the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer study, trust is significantly declining across all industries. They say 2018 will be the the year for the “Battle for Truth.” Distrust is high and it’s up to organisations to continue being proactive about building trust with their constituents, including advisers in the financial services industry. It’s great that the public’s trust of the industry is improving (albeit still very low), but it’s up to us to not rest on our laurels and to keep this momentum growing. A powerful way to do that is by making sure your personal brand is as professional and trustworthy as it can be.
How to build your personal brand
To begin building your personal brand, you need to first define your brand’s personality across different online channels. It’s important to determine which social profiles you plan to use for business purposes and ensure that your pages are all current and consistent across platforms.
As you think about developing your brand, think of these questions and prompts to help you get started:
- what would you like people to associate with you when they think of your name? (e.g. trustworthy, knowledgeable, etc.)
- what is your subject matter expertise?
- what general qualities would you like to link to your brand? (financial services, dependability, honesty etc.)
- describe your brand’s personality. (trusted, dependable, long lasting, etc.)
- how do you deliver high-quality customer service?
- what do your customers and prospects already think of you and your company?
- what qualities do you want them to associate with your company?
Keep these qualities and associations in mind when working on more public-facing online channels like social media and your website, but personal branding should be something that is incorporated into everything you do. This includes what you write in private messages, texts, and emails, too.
Once you have an idea of what you want your personal brand will be, here are a few social media action items to implement these learnings.
1. Interact with your online networks
Scan your newsfeeds and timelines for important posts to interact with. Social media is a place for you to share your thoughts, but commenting on, liking, and sharing others’ posts are just as important to building your brand.
2. Demonstrate thought leadership
Post engaging, timely and thought-provoking content to build your reputation as a thought leader in your field. Your brand can be anything you want it to be, but having the goal of being a thought leader is a general best practice as it cements your reputation as a trusted and well-informed professional.
3. Post about life and office successes
This one might be a little intuitive as you’re trying to build up your professional career. However, a large part of building trust online is by being vulnerable and personal. This doesn’t mean you should start treating your professional networks like they’re your personal pages, but it’s highly encouraged that you let yourself be a little human online. Feel free to post about exciting life events (having a baby, buying a house, hobbies) and fun happenings in your office (birthdays, outings, office remodeling).
These are just a few suggestions/examples, and might not apply to whatever personal brand you come up with! So be sure to continue to revisit your answers to the questions above and see if the tactics you’re using are matching up with your brand strategy.
With this foundation, you can stay one step ahead of the competition by curating your online presence. You’ll have an awesome personal brand in no time and prospects will flock to your business because of your trustworthy reputation.
Hearsay is a leader in social business for the financial services industry, helping over 160,000 advisers and agents efficiently and successfully use social media to attract prospects, retain customers and grow their business.