“Have you been published? Do you have a book?” are common questions I am asked when I deliver keynotes and workshops. I should collect my approach to personal branding into a book, and the idea has crossed my mind a million times, but I seem to have as many excuses not to.
I had an interesting discussion with a fellow speaker at a recent conference when we talked about this whole notion that a book does not generate significant revenue, but can help clarify in your own mind what you stand for and can help clearly position your expertise and knowledge.
My first ever blog post was December 2003, so it’s not that I don’t like writing or run out of things to say! I am also one of those people that prefers the kinesthetic feel of a physical rather then digital book. Market research suggests that the old fashioned book is not the rapidly dying media that some would have us believe.
But our social media streams are increasingly becoming a visual collection of videos, high quality images, You Tube links and GIF’s (Graphics Interchange Format).
“Visual media is the new headline.” – Unknown
The poll that I ran in one of my articles showed the following results when it came to the various visual media that people used as part of their publishing;
- Images 27%
- Video 18%
- Documents 15%
- Slides 12%
- Other 9%
- Polls 6%
- Audio 6%
- GIFs 3%
- Charts 3%
My copywriting colleagues always argue that a great headline (and great writing) makes the difference and I most certainly agree. Yet the written word is running the risk of being overlooked in favour of more eye-catching media.
The importance of visuals, the different types and how to use them were covered in the first two parts of this three part series;
How to Hog the LinkedIn Limelight with 3D Activity – Part 1 - outlined all the different types of visual media available to you that can be embedded into your LinkedIn profile.
How to Hog the LinkedIn Limelight - Part 2 outlined where media can be placed in your profile and how to use media in your day-to-day LinkedIn activity.
But wait a moment. Next time you are online (once you finish reading this article!) go to one of the more ‘popular’ news feed sites like Buzzfeed, Cracked or Upworthy and you will see headlines like:
“Kitten escapes glass box to play with puppy friend”
“The $29 hairbrush that Kate Middleton probably uses”
“Firefighters wrestle gigantic 8 foot snake from woman’s fireplace”
“Chewbacca Mum giggles way to half a million dollars”
“Why Is It So Damn Frustrating To Buy These Four Things?”
Once you click the headline and go to the content it is generally quite shallow but all of a sudden you wonder where the last hour went!
These are all click baiting headlines designed to get you jumping from one article to the next and being exposed to more potential advertisers. This is how these sites make their money.
Lets be honest, which headline are you more likely to click on?
- How writing clearly built my personal brand.
- I started living like a hermit and landed a book deal.
Here in Part 3 we look at the written word, publishing it, and how you can build a following, build your personal brand and not feel a need to resort to click bait tactics.
Publishing content is your opportunity to run your own media company of the brand called you.
All the big brands are doing it for themselves now and not relying on traditional media sources to do that – you can too. You need a simple formula to build out a plan and execute;
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.”
It is important to know why you are writing and establish what you are hoping to get out of the activity. Writing well and consistently can be time consuming and if you lack any concrete reasons for doing it then the momentum and desire will likely fade quickly. The reasons can be varied;
- Thought leadership – you have something that you feel is new
- Raise your profile – you want to be noticed more within your industry or vocation.
- Positioning – to help you gain clarity around what it is you do, offer or believe in and you want others to clearly see that too.
- You like writing.
Even the most successful writers are not writing for everyone. Build out a profile of who it is you want to reach with your writing and take time to understand as much about them as you can. Which communities of people are going to be most interested in what you have to say?
All the large media companies have conducted research on their readers. Check out the news media sites advertising pages and you will see very detailed readership demographics.
This is the hard data about your potential audience that you want to start to build out. This information can include age range, location, and ethnicity.
Extend your research and conduct some surveys with the communities and groups you have identified as your potential audience.
- What challenges are they facing?
- What problems could you solve for them?
- Who else is writing in this space and what are they saying?
- Is your message going to be different enough to stand out and get noticed?
Some controversy is ok. Not everything has to be palatable for your audience as long as your position is reasoned and relevant.
While the demographic research gave you hard data, you also need to build up a picture of your potential audience psychographics. This is the softer picture like behaviours and attitudes. One key element is lifestyles because this will give you the insights into what they like to do, where they hang out, what/where and how they read and any other insights so you are choosing the right medium. You need to hang out where your audience hangs out.
The old adage of the main social media sites may ring true to an extent;
Linked is the water-cooler
Facebook is the back yard BBQ
Twitter is the nightclub
You Tube is the TV channel
You still need to be sure that the media is the right one for you, your message and your audience. Just because one media has a huge audience or video is the popular way to go, if you hate the idea of speaking to a camera you don’t have to deliver your message in that way.
Once you have decided on the best media then set a schedule.
- How often do you plan to publish?
- What level of content creation can you realistically manage?
- What is typical for your audience and the chosen media?
Plan to be consistent first rather than focused on quantity. There is nothing worse for your audience or for your own motivation to get out there posting weekly and then a month or two in run out of steam and post more erratically.
Be sure that you are planning time on a regular basis to produce content. Don’t leave it to the last minute to get something out there.
Set up a content calendar. Pre-plan topics and posting schedules to give yourself the time to think, write and edit.
Ideas will come to you at all times of the day (and night!) so have a notebook (digital or good fashioned paper) handy so you don’t rely on memory!
The type of communication you are choosing and the media it is getting posted to, will determine how much help you might need to get your content out there.
Never under estimate the value of a second pair of eyes. My writing has improved tremendously since my partner takes the time to edit my pieces for which I am very grateful.
There is a lot to think about and once the content is written that really is only 25% of the equation. The way that most online media now works means that the first time you put out content, it is not going to get seen by everyone, even if they are direct connections.
Invest as much if not more time in spreading the word about a specific piece of content and engaging with those that do react to it. Also look for places that the content can be re-posted, either ‘as is’ or re-purposed to appeal to a new sub-set of your audience.
Never under estimate the importance of measuring the effectiveness of all this work. It is a lot of work. You will want to review the analytics around your work and then refine and adjust accordingly.
“Perfection is the enemy of progress” – Winston Churchill
Finally do not over think things or feel that it all has to be perfect before you ‘hit’ the publish button. Often I find that the pieces I spend more time on, or feel are really great and expect lots of reaction to, seem to never gain the same traction as an idea that comes to me quickly.
Publishing is just one way to communicate your personal brand and it will take a little time to find your groove. Make sure you have fun doing it.
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