A mistake I make all too often is that I write about things that have no substance — they’re fun for me to write, but don’t give you, the reader, anything solid to consider after you finish reading. I can write about what I would do if I could relive an hour of my childhood or what kind of a story a certain image might provoke, but the truth is that outside of expressing some personal creativity, the bus stops at that last period.
I recognize that blogging posts like these doesn’t build my personal brand and doesn’t represent me in the way that I would like to be perceived online.
This is the issue with a lot of the content that gets posted to the internet. We live in a generation of picture-swipers that have a hard enough time deciding which filter to use on Instagram, let alone reading to the end of a 1,000 word blog post.
But building an online presence is more than just writing good blog posts or saying all the right things on Twitter. If your medium of choice is Instagram or Snapchat, you can still follow some key considerations that will help you build a strong and successful brand. The big things that need to be considered are:
Being authentic in your blog or social media is paramount in establishing a good online presence. If someone is hilarious in real life, but blogs like a robot I am not going to be all too interested in what they have to say. That’s not to say funny people HAVE to be funny online, but you have to be true to who you are. If the real you and the person you’re portraying don’t add up, people will see through you. As sad as it is for me to say, the reason the Kardashians are as successful as they are is because they are as vain in real life as they are on social media (I say this as someone who has never kept up with any of the Kardashians, but I don’t think my saying they’re a little full of themselves is too far off base).
Value begins and ends with letting go of ego and having a genuine desire to improve what it is you’re doing. In order to make something more valuable, you have to continue learning, improving, and challenging yourself to make a better product. Being derogatory to your friends was great in college, but there is no place for it if you are trying to establish an online brand. Unless you’re Rob Delaney, save the fart jokes for the bar and make an effort to put out a consistent voice through social media that makes your brand appear world-class to other users.
If you just want to post pictures of your dog and fill out those “which animal cracker best defines your childhood” surveys on Facebook, more power to you. I’m going to block you from my feed, but by all means, Nilla-penguin, live your life. However, if you want to have people pay attention to you, you have to add some value to someone’s life. Tell stories with a purpose, comment on people’s blogs ONLY IF YOU’VE READ THEM. Inspiring people come from all walks of life, and you don’t have to be a revolutionary to be inspiring. Start with being yourself and be kind to others, and you’ll be surprised at how people will pay attention to you.
When I first began blogging, I was all over the place. I wrote about poker, running, my dog (who still might make an appearance here or there)… I did some “creative fiction,” talked about my marriage, and about how poor my golf game gets in the winter time. The point is, I was lost and just reaching in every direction trying to get views. Specificity doesn’t mean you have to talk about one subject only for the rest of your life, but have some direction and stick to it. If ESPN started showing election coverage, they wouldn’t be true to their audience. Think of your online presence in the same way. Decide who you are and focus your content on that across all social platforms.
Plausibility means how likely is it that what you represent or have to say is realistic or applicable to the real world? Building a powerful brand online means what you say have to have real meaning to a wide audience on the other side of the screen. I could tell you why Israel is the next hotbed for rare diamonds, but how many people would be able to fly out to Jerusalem and start asking around for some buyers? Probably not many. But, if I tell you that waking up five minutes early and doing 50 push ups will jump start your metabolism and give you more energy throughout the day, that is something you could actually do. (For the record, doing 50 push ups will jump start your metabolism and I really couldn’t tell you left from right about diamonds in Jerusalem.)
So once you have figured out how to be online, the trick is making the most of it. The simple truth is, you have to be diligent and keep your eyes open for opportunity. The best way to do this is to connect with as many other influencers as your can by reaching out and doing your best to network online. Explore every open door that might lead to another opportunity, and never be afraid to say “yes.”
The process is not a fast moving one, but little by little, you’ll see that by being authentic to who you are and having a consistent message will open doors and lead to real opportunities in the real world.