Ira Kalb just did what I was thinking about doing… He wrote a good post about personal branding – you the brand.
I just have some add-ons’ to his perspective.
There are key differences between a personal brand and a company brand
I think it’s vital to your personal brand not to mix too much of a business view with the personal part. When working on a company brand there is multiple ways you can follow to change the image of the company. The most important, and slowest, is to change the type of people working in the company, so that they are more in line with the image your are pursuing.
When it comes to you as a brand its much more personal. You can’t really change who you are (as Ira is pointing out in his post). Trying to be someone else will fail in the end. It’s impossible to play a role that differs from you deeper personality for an indefinite time.
Start with yourself
So instead of starting with your target audience, you should start with yourself. I would argue that most people (especially younger people) don’t really have a deep insight about what they want or what they stand for. The more you know about yourself the easier it is to be viewed as authentic.
Then you should start looking for the target audience that matches your brand.
If you don’t like what you find? Though luck – if you don’t have a Dissociative Identity Disorder there is really not much you can do about it. There is nothing harder than trying to change the view of an established brand.
A friend of a friend ones tried to use different personalities of him on a dating site. He was trying to adapt to different types of women (target groups) and used all the right words in describing himself, with suitable images of himself. I do not know how he is doing now, but he didn’t get married after that stunt.
You will always have different roles
You might find my perspective that you cant change to defensive. But you have to be aware of the distinction between your deeper personality and your roles. We all have a lot of roles that we are “playing” every day; Husband, father, boss, co-worker and so on, and people might perceive you as a different person in these roles. But the roles you will function best in will be the roles that have a strong connection to your deeper self.
An example: I sometimes have the role as a speaker. The feedback I get is very good. I am also an Diving Instructor and I really enjoy teaching people to dive and both the teacher and speaker roles is something that is well founded in my personality as outspoken, open, loves people and so on.
If you are familiar with personality testing, I was once certified to run the DISC test, you will know that many of these present to pictures. One image of your deeper personality, the part that is very difficult to change, and one image of you in the role you have when you are tested. Which can be altered. The more overlap between the two, the better you function in the role that is tested.
Find ways to measure your progress
As with all progress you should measure your development and for a person, especially if we are talking about our online life, a good tool is Klout. Since Klout included topics you will be able to track whether you are talking about the things you feel is right for you.
Lets take me as an example again: My online presence is driven by my wish to be viewed as an expert within my area of expertise. In my case, as a Director of Marketing, this includes, marketing, branding and so on. So my top 10 topics on Klout should reflect that. Even though Klout has some work to do to make this work better. According to Klout I am influential about “media marketing”, and “tools”, which I find odd…
The importance here is that you tag your tweeds with your topics.
My whole online appearance is based on how I am thinking about myself as a brand. And since I am not selling anything (other than myself, not as an consultant, but just hopefully as an expert), this is what I am trying to transfer to my audience.
So my strategy is as simple as this: On Facebook I prefer to connect with my close friends (or at least people I actually met and had some kind of relationship with). I don’t post much personal stuff, but mostly post some of the same things I do on LinkedIN and Twitter. On LinkedIN I have a broader group of contacts, more business connections, but still pretty close. On Twitter I tweet about my area of expertise, mentioned above. The same thing as I do on my blog. All my post are in English, because I want to connect to a broader audience, and so far only 30% of my readers are from Norway, the same with my Twitter followers.
If all the above is to much to read; Just remember to be yourself… (If you really know who that is…)