Social media has been amazingly effective for personal branding. If you aspire to become a thought leader in your field or if you are an author, consultant or a professional service provider – personal branding is very important to achieve high personal growth because the market place is crowded. If you cannot stand apart, you can never achieve high growth – you’ll remain average.
Apart from genuine thought leaders, authors, consultants, professionals out there, social media platforms have presence of many who label themselves as ‘experts’ who are actually pseudo-experts who keep trying to sell their half-baked skills. They make the already crowded market place even more crowded.
You need to stand apart in the crowded market place if you want establish yourself as a personal brand and even after reaching the top, you’ll be competing with the best in class – so, you need to carve a niche for yourself – ultimate personal branding is all about that.
When it comes to personal branding, we can surely take lessons from the man who has taken personal branding to the next level and has shown it to the world how it is done. Personal branding gets tougher when you have to build it from the scratch – meaning, when you don’t have huge financial support and high-level contacts. This guy, with a humble beginning, has literally built his way up to the top by purely hustling day in and day out.
Today, if you see, he is undoubtedly counted among the best in class modern-day digital marketers but what is noticeable is that he is the most popular and highly visible one among the top lot of amazing digital marketers on Social Media.
I did a social media popularity analysis of the top marketing influencers, out of these Gary comes out as a clear winner – both the follower count across platforms and also the mentions that he gets are far more than other digital marketers or digital marketing thought leaders/influencers across the world. To be certain about my findings, I further narrowed down my analysis – I tracked the social media popularity of 50 marketing influencers who were listed as the ones to be watched by Entrepreneur.com (authored by Jayson Demers) – out of that list – my findings show that the size of Gary Vaynerchuk’s audience is comparatively much bigger. I did a similar analysis of a list of marketing influencers published by Forbes.com (authored by Jules Schroeder).
Finally, I was quite convinced that Gary Vaynerchuk is the most popular modern-day marketing influencers in the world when I stumbled upon this report titled ‘Top 100 Marketing Influencers 2017 by brand24.com. Yes, Gary has topped the list.
Personally, I see that Gary stands out among the rest of the top marketing influencers. This is not in any way meant to belittle anyone – all the top marketing influencers are undoubtedly great people who have tremendously contributed to the field of marketing and are definitely talented and brainy. Some of them are probably better thought leaders than Gary Vaynerchuk. But, the point being made here is that, as far personal branding is concerned, Gary is certainly way ahead. His audience is bigger and he even has a cult following. He has definitely done a few things differently and/or has certain distinguishing qualities that help him to beat his competition on the branding front.
This article is not about the general rules followed or the best practices of personal branding. I’m sure all the amazing marketing influencers have already been implementing the best practices of personal branding effectively and yes, many have distinguishing qualities that make them what they are.
This piece is about analysing the x factors that help Gary stay ahead of competition on the personal branding front – What makes him to stand out? What are the exclusive personal branding lessons that we can take from this marketing wizard? What makes him more popular than his competitors on social media? Let’s discuss.
Note: The basics of personal branding remain the same – you need to be good at basics
Now, let us see what Gary does more than what his competitors do – couple of these qualities are possessed by others as well but Gary’s success lies in effective execution.
Energy – one of the most noticeable things about Gary is the enormous energy he possesses and the positive vibes that he spreads around. He simply charges up the audience with his power-packed speeches. Energy is contagious. People are naturally drawn to energetic people. Even when he appears in a short video, he never fails to impress. His energy is really captivating. I don’t mean to say that other marketing influencers/thought leaders lack energy, what I mean is that Gary takes it to the next level.
Take away – If you are serious about building your personal brand, apart from writing, you should seriously consider creating videos and delivering speeches. Videos are currently the favourite form of content on digital platforms. If you are planning to vlog (video blog), make sure to create energetic videos that may give positive vibes but be natural and genuine – do what comes naturally to you, enthusiastically – your energy level will shoot up naturally.
Authenticity and Directness – Just observe all of Gary’s contents including videos, posts, graphics etc. – you will most probably conclude that there is so much display of authenticity. He doesn’t sugar-coat. He says it to your face. He sounds practical and authentic. He sounds real. He’s direct. No BS. He calls a spade a spade. No flowery talks. He’s logical. His fan base/target audience love his authenticity and directness and they keep spreading the word. More like-minded people join in and the tribe grows. His practical and no non-sense approach attracts people.
Take away – Provide real value. Be authentic and real. No fooling around. Go out and do real work. The market happily rejects self-styled pseudo experts. If you are one, you won’t go too far.
Frequent delivery of Awesome content – This is a no-brainer. If you want build a personal brand, you need to create awesome content consistently but creating awesome content back to back is really a challenging work. Gary has a knack to foresee upcoming or future trends – he knew that video would become the most consumed form of content. Apart from using his keynote videos and other videos of his presentations/speeches for online promotion, he also creates mind-blowing, captivating short videos which are comparatively easier to create.
He comes up with smart and quick advices and tips, fresh ideas and implementable solutions through his videos and packs a punch every time.
This strategy helps him to create quality content consistently due to which he gains comparatively very high online visibility frequently and consistently Vs. Most of his competitors are lagging behind on the video creation front.
Take Away – I’m in no way suggesting that videos should be the major focus of your personal branding efforts. It totally depends on the nature of your audience, industry, profession and products/services that you offer. But, somehow videos should be a part of your content strategy as they are the current trend.
Secondly, to gain online visibility rapidly and to sustain it over time – you should focus on creating awesome micro-contents along with other forms of content. Some examples of micro-contents are – a captivating tweet, a highly interesting short video or a short blog revealing thought-provoking statistics etc.
Storytelling at its best – We humans love stories. Storytelling has been one of the most effective ways of communication. Gary keeps telling his inspiring story, yes in a very interesting manner and always manages to strike a chord with the audience. The story he tells is highly relevant to his audience and they can quickly connect to it. The stories of underdogs making it big in life are always inspiring and interesting to hear – Gary narrates about his life struggles and how he overcame them and he also talks about his dream of buying the New York Jets. He has a story to tell and that has become a major part of his identity. His audience relate to it.
He knows how to tell stories to his audience effectively – be it in a video or to a live audience. Effective storytelling works. Educative videos, in-depth and lengthy articles or a classroom style keynotes can be made more interesting using storytelling.
I find many of Gary’s competitors – those otherwise brilliant marketing thought-leaders/influencers just stick to strictly speaking/writing about marketing related topics only with those specific case-studies and examples of other brands/businesses. I hardly find any of them storytelling – telling captivating stories or real-life experiences relevant to your audience makes a significant difference in personal branding. Gary definitely has an edge on this front.
Take Away – One of the key aspects of personal branding is how well you connect with your audience. Effective storytelling helps you to accomplish that. If the story you tell is relevant to your audience, if they can relate to it – your connection with audience starts from that point. What’s your story?
Persuasive Personality and Assertiveness – Another most noticeable thing about Gary is his assertiveness and his persuasive personality – he always sounds convincing, the way he confidently and assertively puts across his points is simply captivating. The frequent use of the ‘f’ word and other colloquial words also adds up to his assertive approach and it is also one of the differentiating factors that separates him from rest of the marketing influencers who most of the time sound very formal.
Take away – Identify your strengths and develop a set of unique factors that will distinguish you from your competitors. The concept of brand positioning also applies to personal branding.
Knowing your stuff – Gary, undoubtedly, has tremendous experience and expertise in all the subjects he deals with including social media/digital and entrepreneurship. Whenever he speaks, you can sense that he speaks on a subject based on his own experience and observations and not just imparts theoretical knowledge. You have to really know your stuff if you want to build your personal brand, it is a basic criteria.
Moreover, as mentioned before, Gary has a knack to foresee upcoming or future trends and he is also great at analysing and leveraging the opportunities that the current trends offer.
Take away – This is a no-brainer. You should be willing to keep on learning and upgrading your knowledge consistently and rapidly if you aspire to become a thought leader or expert in your field. You should be a step ahead of the rest of the industry when it comes to knowledge acquisition and trends analysis.
Doesn’t take himself Seriously – Yes, he has a great strategy in place to build his personal brand and has been executing it rigorously. But, what he is not doing is that he is not trying to build a fake image. There are many thought-leaders and speakers who make a conscious effort to portray an image of them which is not true.
Gary comes to stage or appears in videos like a random guy wearing his normal t-shirt and jeans and goes on to speak naturally as he does – his casual, informal and friendly interaction with his audience makes him likeable – no conscious effort to pretend or portray himself as an ‘expert’ or a ‘thought leader’. As Robin Sharma puts it “What makes a master a master is that they never think they’re masters”.
Take Away – If you are damn good at what you do and intend to build your personal brand, swallow your ego or self-pride and genuinely connect with you audience. Be yourself. Don’t try to portray yourself as someone you are not.
Audience First – Gary has said a few times in his speeches that he loves people and he loves interacting with them. It shows when he interacts with his audience with lots of enthusiasm and positivity. Take a look at all his videos or listen to his speeches, yes he shares his life experiences but you never feel like he does self-promotion – he puts his audience first and makes them feel important. He shares his life experiences to motivate and energize people – provides value, shares life lessons which could help people who aspire to be successful.
Take away – If you wish to build your personal brand, put your audience first not your self-interest. Focus on providing them value maniacally, they will make sure to contribute to your brand value.
Passion – passion is a pre-requisite for personal branding. If you don’t love what you do – you cannot get good at it. As Robin Sharma puts it you have to be a ‘master of your craft’ to excel. Gary’s passion for social media, people and entrepreneurship shows blatantly in all his videos, speeches and writings. Passion is one of the most important factors that help you to deliver outstanding results. Delivering outstanding results consistently is what it takes to grab attention of more and more people and that’s how you become an authority in your field.
I’m not suggesting here that Gary’s competitors lack passion – not at all. But, the key difference is that Gary makes sure that his audience know that he is passionate about what he does not only thorough his excellent works but also through his interactions. Being upbeat while doing your core job is a way to show that you love what you do and it comes to Gary naturally.
Take away – if you are not passionate about what you do, don’t even try.
Hustling – Gary often talks about the importance of hustling to succeed in business and as well as social media. He practices what he preaches. Despite his busy schedule, he makes sure to create lots of awesome content and thus keeps his social profiles/channels lively and active. One of the reasons he is able to create a lots of content is that (as mentioned before), apart from his speech videos, he does create a lot of short videos which take comparatively lesser time. Also, he rehashes his contents, brings in fresh thoughts/ideas and tells interesting micro-stories to his audience on social media platforms which are really persuasive.
Take away – Building a personal brand takes a lot of efforts and consistency matters. Do you have what it takes?
Strategic Targeting – Gary Vaynerchuk’s brand positioning is a strategic one done with a clear focus on his target audience. Gary is a business man/entrepreneur, author and a speaker. He talks and writes about social media, entrepreneurship and success.
He positions himself as a marketing/social media influencer/thought leader who consults with businesses and delivers knowledge sessions and also as a veteran entrepreneur and a business leader who imparts life lessons and motivates people to succeed in business and life through his motivational speeches, videos and social media interaction. He is also a fierce advocate for social media and entrepreneurship and the best part is that he is not faking it. He is really passionate about these two subjects.
Now, how this brand positioning helps him to build his personal brand and also enables him to do develop his businesses.
Who are Gary’s target audience?
The difference here is that unlike other marketing influencers, he hasn’t just positioned himself as a marketing/social media thought leader and is not exclusively targeting businesses/businessmen only – instead he is also targeting aspiring entrepreneurs and also other people who want to succeed in their careers and lives. These aspiring entrepreneurs and others whom he motivates are the ones who may establish their businesses successfully in the future and may end up becoming his clients (Gary runs a social media/marketing agency).
Most importantly, they are not only his potential customers but they are also his personal brand advocates – they help him to amplify his brand image online and contribute to building his personal brand. As his loyal fans and followers, they not only consume contents created by him but they also spread them across their social networks and also actively engage with him online. More they talk about him and share his contents, more brand awareness is created. When he sleeps, they work for him. This article itself is one of the finest examples, if I wasn’t influenced by him, I wouldn’t have written this article.
Take away – leverage all your strengths, connect the dots and create synergy. To build a personal brand, you should develop a well-thought out brand positioning.
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