To say it's been interesting to watch the change in social media over recent months, would be putting it lightly. The online world of content creation and personal branding has seen a complete shift as more and more people recognize the need to be online at a time when being physically present isn't possible. From what I've witnessed, there have been three main changes to the world of personal branding, some good and some challenging.
So, let's start with the good.
The catastrophe of Coronavirus has shrunk the need for shiny, aesthetic photographs displaying the 'perfect life'. Instead, we're all united against a universal issue and people have opened up their social media to share more vulnerable, personal content. Opening up is a result of a couple of things, the first being that we couldn't have chats with our friends at the photocopier, or over a coffee, or down the pub. Social media has become a platform to share and inform others of more than just photos of Michelin-star dinners, it's replaced those conversations. The second reason, is that it is simply not appropriate to share perfect, showing-off content at a period of time where people are struggling both physically and mentally. The space for that is growing every smaller, and in its place is one of authenticity, transparency and being 'real'. Something which most of us are extremely relieved to see.
What happened when people realize they can't access products, courses and events in person? They went online. More people than ever are creating content, online courses, platforms and communities for others to use as online alternatives to what once was an in-person experience. Because of this, personal branding has never been more important to get your name out there on the internet, as in-person is no longer a possibility. People are seeing the ROI of having a personal brand during this time. And this sudden realization that demonstrating your abilities and skills in person is no longer viable, has led to a push for developing their personal brand so they can continue to build a business of the future. With furlough, redundancy and the impending need to find new clients, where personal branding may have once been a low priority, it has now been pushed to the top of the list. As somebody passionate about leadership, this increase in the personal branding space only means more people stepping up into those leading roles. For businesses such as mine, we are in a stronger position than ever to support people in achieving those goals.
Stastistica pulled the data for the increase in social media usage as of March 2020 - when much of the world was in lockdown.
The positive changes of one and two, have led to an residing challenge in the online sphere: an over-concentration of content. With more people putting content out there and creating new resources, the fight for attention of a target audience has never been more brutal. Content which used to perform well, no longer hold that traction as other content comes to light. This means, people need to have something different to say in order to stand out. That doesn't mean you need to say or do something shocking, or dig really deeply into your personal life to air on the internet. But it does mean you need to be clear on your niche and the audience that you serve. It's a brave step to niche down, and it isn't enough to do so just once. You need to find your niche, find the niche within that niche, and then niche down again.
Niching down is vital for making an impact, as the number of brands competing to share the same message continue to rise, there just isn't enough room for everyone to succeed. When you take out the 'traditional' platforms which were previously used as markers for notoriety, such as speaking events, you'll realize there is actually only a very small space for you to claim on the internet - but if you successfully create your personal brand, you'll become the go-to. I would love to hear your thoughts on the shift in personal branding and the online world. Have you changed your opinion on personal branding? Is it something you hadn't thought about before and are now beginning to? Are you still unsure of how a personal brand will benefit you in your career?