“Be unapologetically you.”
Personal Branding can sometimes be a tough cookie. Look at my Instagram feed and you will see: A lot of pictures of Personal Branding sessions, but not so much personality. So, who am I to write a blog post about Personal Branding and Connection Points? Well, quite frankly, the right person, because I know the struggle between presenting yourself on Social Media and oversharing. As I already wrote in several other blog posts Personal Branding is what you do on Social Media. On the other hand for Social Media, it is of the uttermost importance that you connect with your followers and start to get into a dialogue. But how can you do that? How can you find a crowd that’s actually interested in your content and like to see your personal brand? How do you even start finding the topics that you can represent? Make yourself a nice tea, grab a chair and I will hopefully shed some light on these two points.
Thoughts on starting with pictures before anything else.
We’ve all been there. We see these amazing Instagram accounts with x-k followers, engagement almost too hard to handle and a feed that looks like it has been made by one of those amazing ad-companies. And we be like “holy craponacracker, what am I doing wrong?” Or “where is my crowd?”, “why don’t I attract more people” and so on and so forth. Now we could start with content is key and of course, it would be best if you would have a channel that has the same color code in every picture, that always uses the same light, has high-class images or at least be super consistent with the look and feel of your pictures. But that’s just, let’s say, step 4 or 5 in long row things you need to consider before you go out and shoot 1k pictures. Otherwise, you end up with 1k pictures, edit them in the same way and still have nothing to say and gain no followers. Instead, your goal should be to get in touch with like-minded people. Not so that you live in a filter bubble but rather to make a meaningful connection with them. And for that, you need a different approach.
Who are you following and why.
As a German, I am super happy to talk about planning. I know it sounds dull at first, but hear me out. All of these really amazingly curated channels have one thing in common. They have a strategy. Some strategies may have come to life via trial and error. But I am very certain that usually the owner of these accounts sit down and think about posting before they post. Now before we get to the hard part – finding your Connection Points – let’s do a short exercise.
- Ask yourself what kind of Instagram channels are you following. Stop here for a second and think about this one really hard.
- Look at your favorite channels and then ask yourself what motivated you to push the “follow” button.
This is getting interesting.
I would guess the answer is “Channels that you are interested in”. Why are you interested in them? I can only speak for myself but for me but when I start to follow people it’s because they talk about or show me something that I can really connect with. Did you read this? I connect with it. Either because it is professionally relevant for me – hence the 150 wedding photographer I follow on Instagram. Or because it’s a topic that gets me into a good mood. Like – here it comes – motivational quotes. People are already making fun of me because I can quote so many motivational affirmations. But sorry, I find them really inspiring and – for a lack of a better word – motivating. The last area of channels I follow is those that offer me either advice, insights or behind-the-scenes of stuff I like. For example, really great snowboarders that show trailers for their upcoming movies. Or where they are currently riding. I love snowboarding and I really want to get more information on everything about that. So here I am, following snowboarders into their exotic snowy world.
Get yourself a Connection.
So you see where I am going, right? I follow channels that have three basic ways of getting in touch with me. Firstly I want to be informed about a relevant topic. Secondly, I love to be inspired. And thirdly I want to be updated on the newest developments when it comes to my hobbies. (Yes, we are talking snowboarding again 😉 ) How does this help you create your own Connection Points and get in touch with people? It helps because when you understand why you are following someone you can start thinking about why people would follow you. And with that, building good connections start. At this point, you can start going two different ways. The very strategic one: Thinking about who you want to have as a follower and then start to create only content that suits them. Or you go down the Personal Branding route. Instead of chasing a follower crowd that you think is the right one for you, you build your Personal Brand and wait for the right people to get attracted. Doing it the first way is great when you have a very distinctive knowledge about your ideal follower. For example, if you are marketing something really hard for a special group of clients. It comes with the downside that you are just reaching the followers you had in mind for doing business. With the Personal Branding approach, you might get in touch with an unexpected group of people and create or find another, better fitting target group.
Be unapologetically you.
This blog is about Personal Branding so of course, I will be talking more about making meaningful connections via Personal Branding. At this point, you know why you follow people, brands or Instagram channels. So you might be wondering: “I want to be inspired, informed or motivated, sure. But how can I do the same thing and find the crowd that I really click with?” Simple. By talking about things you know well. Things you are passionate about. And that reflects your brand. And of course, this is the perfect time for another exercise. So before you go out and create content for your channel think for a second about this:
- What are the topics I can actually chat with people about?
It might sound strange to you at first, but seriously. Imagine the following scenario. You are not sitting in front of your computer. Imagine you are at a party and a person approaches you and the two of you get into a very lively conversation.
- What are the topics you would talk about?
- What do you like to share?
- In which field are you an expert or very eager to learn more about and share?
And if you get stuck on this exercise think about the last time you got really into a conversation with someone else. What was this conversation about?
Want some more?
With this exercise, you get the first areas of expertise and interest you can share with your crowd. Still, there are many more things left that makes you you. So go and ask yourself: What am I really into? For me, it is traveling, doing sports and plants. I love plants and I would love to show more calm and relaxing pictures of plants on my Insta feed. For another friend of mine, it is sewing. She is a seamstress and she loves to be on Twitter and is constantly tweeting, re-tweeting and commenting on sewing tweets. Her account grows and grows ’cause she is sharing and engaging with people that are like her – sewing-crazy. It has nothing to do with her work but it makes her so much more real and personable that it just helps with building her own brand. Another guy I met is totally into disguises and being a clown. It’s a very special part of his personality and pretty outstanding. Showing this side of him on Social Media is actually helping to attract people with the same love for positive craziness or an open mindset.
What goes around comes around.
If you made it until here I hope you got some insights on how to make meaningful connections with a bunch of like-minded people. In Personal Branding, everything is about the word personal. So even making connections starts with something personal. Talk about the things you care about, talk about the things you do, talk about your work and show some behind the scenes. Talk about everything that really gets your boat floating. And with talk, I definitely mean: Create some visuals that support your story. Do you love reading books? Then show a mood pic of your favorite book stack. Or show yourself reading something. Maybe show a picture of a hand simply holding a book. Or the insight of your favorite bookstore, or the front or a library. The options are limitless if you have a starting point. Go and find your 3 to 5 areas you want to talk about and that support your brand. Besides your obvious business content like product shots or you in action while doing your business. And make sure that your chosen areas are in line with your brand. Not everything that is relevant to you in your private time will help you grow your brand. Therefore I am not showing anything sport related to my professional Instagram accounts. I simply do not want to have my brand connected with sports. Don’t ask me why but it doesn’t serve my mission: Using my photography as a tool for empowering other people and giving them a platform to get their message out. My sport would just stand in the way of that message and doesn’t seem to fit.