Do you have a digital handshake?Your personal brand has now become what Jenna Kutcher calls your “digital handshake.” It says to the world “Hey, this is me, nice to meet you.” It has a lot of potential for visibility. Consider the following statistics on consumer behavior and personal technology:
- People ‘Google it’ three times a day or more, according to a survey from Moz.
- 80% of Gen-Z consumers conduct company research — checking out company websites and social media pages — before purchasing, according to a survey from Amplify.
- Additionally, a study from Forrester found that over 51% of Gen-Zers researched a company’s views on corporate social responsibility before purchasing.
Why thought leadership will always outdo a fancy logoThis is the part where I’m probably going to ruffle some feathers, and I’m fine with it: Thought leadership is what drives a personal brand. Perfect social media templates and manicured Facebook group banners will only do so much. Eventually, there will come a time in which you need to draw your line in the sand, make bold claims and present evidence to back them up. Even the phrase “thought leader” is becoming overused; think of this strategy as “leading through thought” instead. The main goal of thought leadership content is to establish yourself as an expert and become a go-to resource in your field. Example: My personal brand focuses on longer-form written content. My distribution vehicles are articles and my email list. These days, I really don’t do a lot of social media and find that “being everywhere” is massively overrated. If people want to follow me, they know that my email list is where it’s at, and this focus on one platform helps me show up at my best and not get stuck in a content repurposing death spiral. This form of content allows me to assert my stance and go deep on topics I know well or that matter to me, which include online business, writing and the LGBTQ economy. Writing and email are in my sweet spot. Let’s just say that TikTok and Instagram Reels are not my sweet spot. So although they might be a “golden opportunity,” trying to compete on them would be a waste of my time. Choosing a platform that lets you show up consistently and authentically is critical for building traction around your thought leadership.
Three hot tips for establishing thought leadershipOrganizational psychologist Adam Grant says that “Creating knowledge for the purpose of sharing it is thought leadership.” That sounds great… but creating knowledge sounds hard. So here are a few actionable hot tips to help you get a running start.
Sharpen your perspectives. You are not the internet, so stop trying to be everything for everyone. Crisp, pointy perspectives slice through noise and compel your readers, which is why writing is a skill all entrepreneurs should develop.
Gather your audience. Real talk: If you’re not building an email list, you’re stunting your business’ potential, and I will die on this hill before I change my mind. Email is one of the only distribution techniques that truly lets you own the connection to your audience, and if someone actually signs up for your list in this day and age, they really want to hear from you.
Then choose one other platform in addition to email to start. Spreading your thought leadership far and wide requires mastery of a distribution platform. Instead of trying to show everywhere and being mediocre, choose one or two platforms at most for content marketing. Then learn those platforms and what content gets visibility on them like the back of your hand.
Your ability to form a personal brand that works without you being in the room is vital to your success. By pivoting your strategy towards thought leadership content, you too can develop a strong digital handshake that will serve you well in the post-pandemic world.