M is for Media: A Key in the Development of Your Personal Brand
Modern man is a nomadic and erratic channel-hopping media addict.
He or she is multitasking and question-asking. Content consuming. Instant response assuming. He or she is watching, listening, reading, scanning, buffering and planning, snapping, tapping, interacting and reacting. He or she is uploading and downloading, filtering and forwarding, retweeting and deleting, recording and reporting. He or she is changing his or her password, profile picture, privacy preferences, and professional references.
But sometimes he or she chooses just to listen to the radio and chill.
Who knows? The media landscape is nuts. Digital injected an infinity effect, fostered a serve-yourself free-for-all, and made everyone a media enigma to those with a brand promotion agenda.
Your job, should you choose to accept it, is to figure out how to connect with him and her. Let's talk about how.
"Ever wonder what happened to that personal brand guru who did nothing but focus on Google+? Yeah, they disappeared faster than a one-hit wonder in the 80s. The problem? Putting all of your proverbial eggs in one media basket. The importance of expanding your personal brand across a variety of social channels and media types cannot be overstated. When it comes to creating content, it's vital that, early on, you have a vision of how that message can be communicated effectively across different platforms through various media. Online, offline, visual, audio, text: how can you deliver your message with maximum potency while re-imagining and repurposing for longevity?" - Jason Miller, Author of Welcome to the Funnel and Global Content Marketing Leader at LinkedIn
Tune into what your audience tunes into
The essence of this post is two-fold (and essentially two overlapping ideas). The acceleration of your personal brand relies on identifying:
- The where: understanding the media channels you need to use to deploy your messaging, and
- The what: the type of media, or content, you create
Neither will be cut and dried to the point where the answers fall neatly into place and success comes quickly or easily. Experimentation and analysis will be paramount.
Uncovering the "where" is a critical starting point, especially if you haven't already succeeded in making your website or blog a popular destination (and few have). The end goal is to meet your audience where they spend time. Your first challenge is to figure out where that is and your second is to show up and engage them there.
Analyzing the footprint of your competition and industry influencers is your best starting point. Observe the platforms and channels your competitors are using.
Have leaders in your niche:
- Created strong followings on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, or SlideShare?
- Succeeded in getting significant engagement (as indicated by shares or comments) via specific digital publishing outlets?
- Established themselves as consistent producers of video or podcasts?
- Leaned heavily on the use of email marketing, search, or digital advertising such as pay-per-click?
- Developed obvious patterns in their use of print, radio, television, mail, or outdoor media?
Some more thoughts:
- Have you ever asked your audience about their media consumption preferences? Try interviews and/or surveys.
- Does the nature of your niche - and maybe its demographics - suggest a substantial leaning toward mobile consumption?
- Can you extract insights from your past efforts about the content that resonated with your audience? You might evaluate which pages get visited most, which assets get downloaded often, and what content invokes shares, comments, and questions.
- Do consumption patterns indicate preferences for certain types of communications over others?
Repurpose to increase your reach
Let's concede the answers to the many questions above don't come easily and certainly are not singular. Everyone in your audience doesn't have the same media preferences and most individuals consume a variety of media regularly.
By no means should these realities deter you from researching your audience's media preferences; however, in various forms or fashion, you'll want to cast a net to reach more people with the media they like on the channels they use.
So let's look at a seriously smart media strategy for enhancing and extending your personal branding efforts.
Your content should be repurposed in different forms enabling you to harness more media with less effort. The idea is to create a hub-and-spoke model with one strong, thematic idea at the center. I'll use an eBook as an example because it will clearly demonstrate the point.
You strategically develop a multi-chapter eBook addressing a specific but rich topic you can explore deeply.
Chapters (or variations of them) can be published on your blog and offered to other publications as guest posts. Perhaps some of the content is based on interviews.
- You might make an audio version or repurpose the interviews as podcasts and videos.
Here's an audio version of this article:
- Say the eBook features data culled from industry research. An important list is contained within. As such, you have the makings of at least one infographic and slide show.
- The eBook might have a mini-version, a cheat sheet of some sort. Creating a template or shortcut of some sort might be easily done.
- You could present the materials in a webinar or on stage.
- The artwork and interesting quotes from the eBook could fuel your updates across the social media channels you choose.
- You'll certainly want to create email to support the content, maybe even a series of emails or a mini-course.
I could go on but don't need to. You understand. I'm suggesting your content strategy also includes a preconceived media strategy. Your upfront efforts may be larger, but obviously, you wind up getting greater bang for your buck.
Be sure to develop the content with continuity, paying mind to your brand's standards. Take advantage of the "family plan" you've developed by linking your content assets. Cross-reference them whenever you can, and when the content is published in media other than your own, make every attempt to direct the audience to your website and blog. You might also want to create campaign-specific landing pages to capture leads and new subscribers.
As you develop media for various channels, think specifically about the dynamics of each channel. What would your specific target want from you on Twitter? How might it differ to better support your efforts on LinkedIn? Would you write in a different voice for a white paper? Would your guest post need a new spin for the audience it's presented to?
Your target is a real person accessing your information for different reasons in different media. Keep that in mind. In this fragmented media age, you want to be in many places, but you don't want to be "all over the place." Strive to represent your brand with continuity and maintain its standards.
Take it in stride, execute in steps
From the time I was a kid, media's always fascinated me, and it continues to. The rise of 21st-century digital technologies has sparked a revolution in media.
A good part of my fixation for media traces to my passion for music, which serves as a perfect example. In my (not-so-short) lifetime, music media has evolved to include: radio, MTV, satellite, cable stations, iTunes, podcasts, Spotify, Pandora, Rhapsody, Apple music, Beats, Google Play, Amazon Echo - to name a few.
To say new media has proliferated might be the understatement of this book. Thanks to the Internet, media has been democratized. We can all own a piece of it now and use it as we like. With commitment, strategy, a solid understanding of your audience, and creativity, the potential to build your brand in modern media is limitless.
Given the road we've just traveled in this article, I'm now struck with this fear: what if media doesn't fascinate you the way it does me? Perhaps you're intrigued and eager to publish new things, but you're overwhelmed by the unfamiliar territory.
You might have learned Gen Y is all about messaging, commuters consume podcasts, IT geeks download white papers, moms are partial to Pinterest, bloggers read blogs, speakers scan slides, and the C-suite prefers video.
What can you do? If you took it all literally, you'd go out of your media-loving mind. We don't want that.
My advice is to take it in stride - and take it in steps. Neither Rome or Oprah Winfrey's personal brand and media empire were built in a day.
If you want to accelerate your career with the tactics presented in here, you do need to warm-up to new media - but it'd be reckless to "floor it." Rather than trying to race your way to a litany of media types and channels, simply devise a way to shift to the next gear. Select a media play that makes sense for your brand and roll with it.
This post is adapted from Barry Feldman's new book "The Road to Recognition: The A to Z Guide to Personal Branding"
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