An author I very much respect told an audience that when it comes to building your online presence, you should plant many seeds. He’s right. But every garden can only have so many seeds. And as you build your personal brand, it can seem like a daunting task to choose exactly where to dedicate that brand’s time.
After all, it seems like every day we have a new channel to consider. Google Plus. Tumblr. Instagram. Before long, you can feel like that Best Buy commercial where the poor Dad buys a TV only to find out a new model has already been launched. You’re left saying, “Wait – I’ve got a new place where I have to post things? Does this mean I have to give up the old place now?”
Everyone’s different in what their exact selections will be, but I have some suggestions for how you can make some sense of it all when it comes to choosing the online platforms for telling your personal brand’s story:
Consider your natural style
Are you a person who likes to write long-form? Perhaps that lends itself to blogging. Do you express yourself in short bursts at a time? Maybe that steers you more toward Twitter or Tumblr. Are you a person who excels more at the spoken word than the written one? Podcasts or video blogging via YouTube may be a greater strength.
Start small, focus on frequency and consistency
There is no social media channel that is The One place you should be. What’s “Hot” today will be just another tool in the mix tomorrow. Human beings are a little too complicated and fragmented in online behavior in that way. So rather than thinking about the ten sites you’re going to put yourself on right out of the gate, narrow your focus based on what’s realistic for helping you keep your momentum.
Most of us tend to have at least one primary social media platform and one secondary platform. So saying that you’re going to devote yourself completely to any one channel is selling yourself short. The primary platform is exactly how it sounds – if nothing else, if you’re going to get one message out there to the world in the day’s time, it’s going to come from that place regularly because that’s your audience’s expectation of you. A blog is a good example. But if you can, try to couple that with at least one secondary place to amplify the message – Twitter might be an example.
As you consider which channels to select for your message, think about this – is the effort something you can see yourself keeping up week after week without fail? It’s better to be honest with what you know you can handle than to say that you’re going to ramp up your activity so outside of your comfort zone that the activity is going to tail off before it even gets going. Be realistic about how far you can push yourself. For example, if you blog once a week, can you see yourself taking it up a notch to twice a week? Great. But trying to blog every day? That’s a large leap that you don’t necessarily need to take right away.
Where’s all this traffic coming from?
As you create content, don’t forget to use analytics to tell you where traffic is being referred to you from as well as what’s being shared and viewed. This can point the way toward new places that make sense to tell your story based on what your audience’s behavior is telling you.
Let me give you an example. On one of my blogs, I noticed that Facebook was by far driving traffic to it and it was where that blog’s content was being shared most. I was surprised by this because, since my content was business-focused, I thought LinkedIn might be the top referrer and sharer. Not only was this a clue that Facebook was a source of readership where many people were already comfortable “living” but that I should create a special Facebook Page for that blog, enabling Fans to get that content through a feed.
I hadn’t decided on my own to create a Facebook Page, but it was as if the data was telling me to do it. Listen to what the data is telling you and listen well. It may take a little while to see a readership pattern, but it will surface as long as your content creation is consistent.
There are a few shortcuts to help
I’m not a fan of posting exactly the same content all over the place. That said, you can connect accounts like LinkedIn with Twitter, so that you don’t have to continuously copy and paste. Again, just remember to be strategic in your thinking of where you place it.
I’m a much bigger fan of repurposing, slicing and dicing content so that it has new appeal to different audiences. There’s no bigger way to turn the seed of one message into mentions of you that pop up all over.
Nurture, grow and adjust the plantings
One last thought: While there will always be new tools to evaluate for sharing your story – and evaluate them you should – don’t panic that you have to replace what you’re currently using for the new channel. Maybe you will ultimately change out certain social media channels for others, but don’t automatically drop what you’ve built up in terms of a following.
I’ve focused a lot on the “where” of your brand message but of course, it’s the quality of the content itself that matters above all. Concentrate on getting that in a great place and you’ll have a major part of the equation covered even before you choose where to plant those seeds of amazing content.
Author: Dan Gershenson is a Chicago-based consultant focused on brand strategy and content marketing. Dan has guided a variety of CEOs and Marketing Directors at small to medium-sized companies, providing hundreds of strategic plans to help businesses identify their best niches and areas of opportunity. Dan blogs on Chicago Brander, mentors advertising students and cheers relentlessly for the Chicago Bears. Dan graduated from Drake University with a degree in Advertising.