With the holiday season upon us, I’ve been doing some online shopping – trying to find the perfect gifts for friends and family. I love to shop local, and I am always looking to support smaller businesses. 

Right now you may be thinking ‘hey, that sounds like me!’ Well, according to Adaptive Marketing, 97% of consumers search for local businesses online. Crazy right? Meaning, if that’s where the vast majority of consumers are – then that’s where your brand has to be visible! And the same goes for your personal brand.

Let’s look at it this way…

What do you do before you meet up on a first date? You look the person up online right?

How about before you hire someone? You look them up online.

Hmm… What about before you onboard a new client? Oh yeah, you look them up online!

Being visible and having a presence online is vital, as it helps potential clients find you or your business and learn about your reputation, vision and overarching values before purchasing your product or going into business with you. Thus, core to your online presence is credibility, brand awareness and authenticity. 

What many business owners overlook is the importance of their personal brand, in addition to their company’s brand. But what’s the difference? Well, your company’s brand is the identity you create around your company and includes how it is perceived by others – including your service, product, vision and customer experience. Whereas, your personal brand is how you are perceived by others – your message, your expertise, your actions and your unique insights. 

And in the world we find ourselves in today, having a personal brand is more important than ever! According to Becca Vines, over at Linkedin, it helps grow your network, attracts career opportunities and strengthens your digital image – making it an essential in the 21st century.

So where do you start? Well, that’s where we can help you! Here are five effective ways to build your online presence:

Tip 1 | Create a compelling website

Your website makes up your ‘owned presence’ – it’s the part of your personal brand that you have complete control of – so own it! 

Use your website to enhance your personal brand by making it a reflection of yourself and what you offer. 

A great example of an individual using their website to enhance their personal brand is Marie Forleo. On her homepage she includes a short bio, her intentions, highlights her authenticity through testimonials and her passion for helping others. 

Tip 2 | Master SEO

Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, is quoted as saying, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” But what does Google say about you?

For this step I want you to put yourself in the client’s shoes – take a couple minutes to go ahead and Google yourself. Go ahead. I’ll wait. You’re back? Great! 

First impressions matter… Googling yourself is a great way to monitor your personal brand and your online presence. According to Forbes it takes around 7 seconds to make a first impression; so it’s super important that those first Google results portray your brand in a positive light. 

Harnessing the power of SEO can help you curate this first impression – ensuring your website and social media are optimized for search engines.

Our partner agency Yellow Door has an Ultimate Guide to SEO which will help get you started.

Tip 3 | Build an email list

Email lists are a great way to build a relationship with potential clients and drive traffic to your website. Just make sure you build your list in a way that is POPI Act compliant in South Africa, or abide by similar legislation wherever you’re based – essentially following the right steps to get customers to opt in. 

So what is best practice for building an email list? We recommend the following:Include a CTA (call-to-action) button on each page of your website

Promote your newsletter on social media

Include a pop-up subscription form on your website’s landing page

Make it easy for your followers to share your emails to social media

And lastly… create valuable content!

Tip 4 | Be authentic and transparent

According to HubSpot, up to 86% of potential clients will look up a brand on social media before going into business with them or purchasing from them. In addition, 94% of customers identify more with a brand that emphasizes transparency and honesty (Label Insight). 

“A great personal brand is one that is authentic and intrinsically connected to who you are as a person. It magnifies your talents and knowledge in a way that makes them appealing to a specific audience — in this case, your coworkers, clients, and extended network.”

Guidehouse

Tip 5 |  Create a social media presence

This one may seem obvious; however, many people don’t take advantage of the power it holds to boost their brand.

Choose social media platforms that align with you and your brand. Hate Twitter? Then don’t use it! Find platforms that YOU enjoy using and where your audience can connect with you.