Back in 1997, I entered a competition to be the face for a website called ‘Boy’s Stuff’ and it ended up haunting me for years to come. If you searched my name in any of the search engines of the day, what came up was my competition entry, along with a ridiculous photo of me trying to look model-like (not easy when you were spotty and overweight). What made it worse was that the business went under, the page was still being indexed and there was no one I could complain to and nothing I could do.
I vowed that I would never do something so stupid and would spend both time and effort building a personal brand that I could be proud of. This article is my advice to the newbies in the industry, along with how I still managed to get it wrong some 15 years later.
Why Does It Matter?
Do you want the best digital marketing job? To be well respected and to command the largest salary possible? If that’s right then listen to my basic advice. When you rock up to an interview, how do you differentiate yourself from your peers?
Interview processes, no matter how elongated, only provide a short time for a potential employer to get to know you and a limited window for you to stand above the crowd. Your competitors might also stretch the truth further than you’re prepared to, have shared contacts with the potential employer and a natural ability to perform well in interviews.
Now picture you attending that same interview with an online brand any PR agency would be envious of? When asked the question – “why are you the right candidate for the role?” – your sales-point isn’t empty words, it’s written all over town (the internet).
Your Own Blog
I never did this – still threaten to do so almost weekly – but it’s not as important as it would be if I was just starting out. It doesn’t have to be populated purely with industry information, you would want it be professional and I’d recommend making sure your personal interests and personality are clearly evident. I’d suggest implementing Google Analytics, Google Search Console and conducting some basic SEO to add further gravitas for trying to impress a new employer. Maybe even accept guest posts.
You’re now on route to controlling your personal brand.
The Company Blog
It has value and you need to contribute. Not because you have to, but because you care about the company you work for, the industry and are truly passionate about what you do. Passion for the industry is a key trait all employers are looking for.
I’d firstly make sure that your company blog has a section where your personal profile can sit so it will appear for a personal brand search. If you write about what’s topical and what you are truly interested in, posts can be written quickly and your passion felt by the audience. You then need to promote these posts through your own personal contacts and social profiles and ensure the company does the same, which they are extremely likely to be doing anyway.
There are corporate sites, bloggers and journalists crying out for your content. You can contact sites yourself or use third parties such as SourceBottle to see who wants what. You probably have opportunities far closer to home and I have content on my suppliers’ sites, clients’ sites and industry sites.
It’s a symbiotic relationship that works for everyone, but please make sure the content is unique and relevant for the audience – we all hate content for content’s sake. Opinions, like this article, are okay, but data-led is so much more appealing.
Content Distribution & PR
If you’re working for a digital agency, then they are more than likely looking to increase their SEO rankings and links are still a very important ranking factor. If you can find sources that want to link to your personal or employer’s blog then great news. Write them a teaser with a hyperlink to the relevant post. One of our employees has positioned himself as a Google My Business expert (with due reason) and has had his articles distributed on a range of sites that are key drivers of traffic to our site. They also rank for his personal brand.
Digital marketers love to talk shop in forums and some disciplines, SEO’ers for sure, love to talk and reveal their newest strategies. Be one of those people and contribute to the wider conversation. Get your personal brand in the places your employers are looking at themselves, and on sites / forums that have a strong organic presence.
For all of us, LinkedIn is our online CV and needs to be respected as such. You’re in digital marketing so you need a decent number of contacts, recommendations, endorsements and to be generally seen as active. This is the first port of call for any potential employer.
You also need to tend to your personal social profiles and use the privacy settings to ensure your content is exactly that – private. In saying that, if it’s online it can be found and if you wouldn’t want an employer to see it, it shouldn’t be online full stop. I was recently alerted to a video of myself on YouTube at a pub after the 2013 Ashes Series, inebriated and in fancy dress, that didn’t paint me in the best light. It was not intended to cause offence and was a foolish thing to post, but you can see it here. (Sign up to Cricket Australia to ensure you get first dibs when the 2017 Ashes tickets are released)
Good luck, set your sights high, stand out and get that job you’ve worked so hard for.
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