Influencer vs Brand Builder

During a recent conversation with a potential client they stated that their ideal outcome was to hit a HUGE amount of followers, and it stopped me in my tracks. Now, last year I posted a video on some of the reasons I was leaving Instagram, including the comparison trap and the lack of real value, and although the platform they wanted to utilize wasn't Instagram, it made me realize that no matter what social platform you find yourself on, there will be those seeking to become an 'influencer'.

Influencing is becoming harder and harder these day with the amount of noise we are finding across all platforms, not to mention the multitude of platforms to choose from and expand on your niche. However, influencing is easier then it's ever been, with apps such as TikTok being the only platform where virality is possible. Within a matter of moments, your first upload on TikTok can take you from zero views to over a million within a few hours, and what comes with that? Offers, exposure, money and the potential to leave your 'day job' behind and seek out another route of income and lifestyle. This all sounds incredible, and trust me, I secretly desire a viral TikTok video about Personal Branding (it will come), however the reasons behind this desire is very different to wanting to become an 'influencer'.

So my first question to ask those on this journey is; Do you really want to be an influencer or do you want to build a personal brand that is yours and yours alone?

Influencer vs Personal Brand

When understanding the direction in which you wish to pursue, the decision ultimately depends on what you want to accomplish with your personal brand and your career. Personal brands and careers do in fact go hand in hand, as we all have a brand in which we stand for, even as an employee. However, when looking to pursue a personal brand in an influencer state, the way in which you look to express is through different methodologies. In the world of social media and influencer marketing, there is a lot of hype around what it takes to be an "inspiration guru." But what many miss, is that you can have 10 followers and still have the power to influence, the only difference here is, you're letting go of the influencer title to actually step into the route of creating genuine change.

I'm not going to pretend I know everything there is to know about influencers, because quite frankly I'm not one, however when looking into what classifies as a 'micro-influencer', the majority of my team, including myself would fall within that category. But when we remove the basis of following away from what it is that we do, what stands out to me the most is the vision and value behind it all. If I was to take away everyone's following, would we still feel that we delivered value to the world around us?

When we talk about the desire to be an influencer, we're often thinking about these posts on social media, the free goodie bags, and the amazing brand collaborations. But what about when the brand collaboration stop and you're no longer making the income through posting on socials? Would we be better off learning how to;

1. Effectively communicate with ourselves
2. Effectively communicate with others

Which would then lead to us learning how we want to effectively communicate our message to the wider world, by standing true to our values and our vision.

The double-edged sword

To build both personal brand and influencer account, we do want to be noticed and accepted for the authority we are in our field. And building a solid reputation as a personal brand does in fact give you influence, but is it influence in the right place? To actually become an 'influencer' you have to build your personal brand. Therefore one does not come without the other. To build a successful personal brand, you have to build trust, a network, and a strong, deliverable message that empowers others around you to connect. When you combine these elements it does in fact make your brand more powerful, and it takes one single move or person to take your brand and turn it into an influencer. The difference being, are you levering your worth in the right way?

Building a brand means developing a personal connection with your consumers. It's about creating lifelong relationships with your customers and enabling them to know who you are by building trust and credibility. Behavioral economics has shown that consumers prefer brands that are memorable, based on how it feels to interact with them in real life, not just based on the advertising and promotional material that companies create. It's not enough to just be visible on the Internet or in print anymore, there needs to be backing; case studies, testimonials, assets.

April 22, 2021

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