How to leverage personal branding for your agencyBy Emily Dyrland
Personal branding is an art unto itself because it’s your unique chance to frame how others see you. It requires attention to detail, careful planning, and consistent messaging. On an individual level, social media is a great way to elevate a personal brand within a company, perhaps leading to recognition and promotions for that employee. On a company level, your top performers have already put in the work, they’ve most likely acquired a following on LinkedIn, and they’re also masters of their craft.
By lifting up your key players and asking them to have a voice on social media you create awareness, increase your website traffic, and generate leads. Top athletes, who build their personal brands on and off the court blaze a trail to endorsing big brands where money really talks. Branding efforts promote both the key player and the sponsors with whom they collaborate. Everyone wins.
So consider these two questions:
- Are you leveraging the personal brands of top performers to grow your company?
- Have you given your best customers the tools and support they need to endorse your agency?
Why elevate an employees personal brand
Everyone agrees employees are the number one resource at any company, but how can you show appreciation for your top performers? Increase their pay or offer kudos for a job well done? What about asking them to make a series of strategic video posts for their personal LinkedIn network?
Nina Blankenship, CEO of Let’s Brainstorm began experimenting with video posts on LinkedIn in 2017. Under her personal profile, her goals were to educate clients and improve engagement with her employer at the time - LinkedIn. On a personal level, she took the initiative and became top-of-mind within her company. LinkedIn celebrated Blankenship’s initiative by awarding her accolades, including the 2020 LinkedIn Learning Author for video strategies for high engagement.
At a company level, her video posts drove up traffic, engagement, and positioned LinkedIn as a platform that professionals should use for learning, not just connecting. Both LinkedIn and Blankenship were able to reap the benefits of this simple video strategy.
According to Social Media Today, video marketing drives more engagement than any other type of social post. In fact, 72 percent of customers prefer learning about a product or service through video posts as opposed to text. Part of the viral video strategy that Blankenship worked on with clients included encouraging employees to create videos with their cell phones and post the content on their personal profiles as she had done. This strategy saves businesses thousands of dollars that would have been spent on professional footage and editing.
"My job at LinkedIn was analyzing the click-through rates and the performance rates of all the videos and it’s pretty much 50/50. Fifty percent can just be organic, using your cell phone as long as it’s done correctly. You can have just as much of a high engagement for your video as a professionally-produced video."
Seven steps to building a personal branding strategy
Before executing a campaign on social media with your top performers, you’ll want to ensure they speak to a niche market, and this begins by defining their brand. Building a personal brand is much like building a company brand. The following tactics outline how you, your employees, and your customers can build a personal brand to ultimately grow a business.
- Identify your strengths and passions
- Ask yourself what you’ve always excelled with and what you are passionate about. Find the items that cross over from those questions and you’ll have a good focal point.
- Identify your desired outcome
- You have a focus, now what is your goal?
- Make the effort to become a subject matter expert
- Become proven in your field. This means you should be able to demonstrate your knowledge and be the person people reach out to for the subject matter you focus on.
- Select key social platforms
- Which social platforms will serve your purpose best? Hubspot outlines the pros and cons of five different types of social media, including best practices of choosing which platforms to use.
- Frequently share content and deliver value
- To stay top-of-mind content needs to be valuable to your audience and it needs to be shared frequently.
- Seek to build a community of followers and like-minded experts
- Share with your first-degree connections, and as your content resonates with them watch your message spread through those second, third, and fourth-degree connections.
- Connect your personal brand to business outcomes
- “The key here is that the business proposition that you aim to deliver must be aligned with the type of brand you built.” - Brock Andony, Vendasta
Work with your key players
Every business has its key players. NBA star Kevin Durant (KD) played with the Oklahoma City Thunder (OKC) for nine seasons. He is the player acknowledged for putting that franchise on the map, and because of KD, OKC gained a much larger fan base. The team leveraged his fame and talent, gave him abundant playing time, paid him extremely well, and promoted his persona to the public.
Using his personal brand, Durant drove his name deeper into the psyche of the general public by endorsing big brands like Nike, Gatorade, and the video game NBA 2K. According to Sports Khabri, in 2019, Durant was the tenth highest-paid athlete in the world, and his name was recognized internationally. It’s the ultimate branding goal for individuals as well as businesses.
In this analogy, Kevin Durant represents two groups: top-performing internal employees, and your best customers. Your agency - or in this case, team - is represented by the big brands Durant endorses. By elevating the personal brand of your top employees you gain that “fan-base” of customers and brand champions who love what you do and want to share their enthusiasm with their networks.
How to use personal branding to grow an agency
Understanding why you should be elevating the personal brands of your top performers is the first step. The next step is for agencies to take advantage of that momentum.
LinkedIn wanted to be top-of-mind as a place for business professionals to learn. Blankenship’s amateur video strategy promoting that concept boosted her own brand as well as that of LinkedIn Learning. By creating a video strategy that leverages the authority of your key players, agencies also become top-of-mind for their expertise.
Like Durant’s endorsement with NBA 2K, internal thought leaders who endorse your business, and their network connections will likewise associate those experts with your agency. Flip that over to your best customers, who will likely be more than happy to endorse your agency, and your brand should quickly gain traction on social media.
"If you have 20 employees, on average, every single one of your employees has 500 connections. So that’s 10,000 first-degree connections on LinkedIn."
Vendasta Marketplace helps agencies support customers with tools like Multi-location Brand Management that monitors online reviews, listings, and Google Business Profile. Vendasta Marketing Services team scales your agency to support online reputations by managing content, listings, and digital advertising.