Today, a positive digital footprint is the most valuable asset any student or professional can have. How you show up online influences everything from college acceptance, to job opportunities, to how your colleagues perceive you. In short, your digital footprint is the most important part of your personal brand.
And when it comes to personal brands, few people can match the insight of speaker, author, and entrepreneur David Meltzer. When I appeared as a guest on his show recently, I asked him to share his top three tips for building a successful digital footprint and personal brand. Below, learn what he had to say.
Strengthen Your Signal
Are you publishing enough content online to reinforce and grow your personal brand? The answer is almost certainly “no.”
“One of the biggest mistakes I made when I started building my own brand? I felt like I was putting too much content out there,” Meltzer recalls. “I didn’t realize the size, the scope, and the scale of the spectrum itself.”
In other words: The internet is a busy place. And so the occasional tweet or blog post simply isn’t enough to cut through the noise.
Meltzer recalls showing his Instagram account to marketing guru Gary Vaynerchuck. Vaynerchuck promptly scolded him: “You’re not posting enough.”
To maintain the right frequency, make sure to create a content calendar and stick to it. You should also monitor the news for relevant industry items to comment on. And lastly — don’t take it personally if someone says you’re posting too much.
“My family and friends say, ‘Dude you’re so annoying, I just want to be a friend, stop posting,’” Meltzer chuckles. “Now my philosophy is: If you’re not annoying the people who love you, you’re not posting nearly enough.”
Meltzer sums up: “You need to be loud, and you need to be loud often.”
- Know Your Audience, and Speak to Them
It’s astonishing how many people are online — almost half the world’s population. “When you’re able to reach 4.6 billion people,” Meltzer explains, “all of a sudden your digital footprint and personal brand have the same reach that NBC, ABC, and CBS had two decades ago. You can reach the whole world.”
Which means even the most niche people and brands can find an engaged audience. Take, for example, Sandra Lee — better known as Dr. Pimple Popper, the dermatologist and popular YouTuber.
“I still don’t think that most people and brands fully grasp it,” Meltzer says. “Even if you’re as narrow as Dr. Pimple Popper — even if 99.9% of the population has no interest — you can still be extremely profitable and popular.” Indeed, Dr. Pimple Popper now has her own television show.
Meltzer stresses the importance of focusing on your audience and not the whole world. “I spent the beginning of my own personal brand trying to please everyone, thinking that I had to appeal to 4.6 billion people,” he recalls. “But I eventually learned I had to be myself and have my own opinion.”
Still not convinced? “Dr. Pimple Popper has more subscribers than the entire Pro Football Hall of Fame,” Meltzer says matter-of-factly. “People would rather watch Dr. Pimple Popper than Joe Montana and Joe Namath and all the other greats.”
- Practice, Practice, Practice
Practice isn’t just for athletes — it’s for any professional who is building their personal brand online.
“Videotape yourself, watch yourself in the mirror, get onto Clubhouse, get onto Instagram Live,” Meltzer urges. And don’t hesitate to engage a media coach or trainer. “One-on-one coaching and private coaching work,” he explains. “Everybody wants to make that investment, but are they really willing to follow through?”
Meltzer acknowledges that sometimes personal branding can be daunting. He recalls when he first started building his personal brand, and brooded about the seemingly insurmountable task ahead of him.
“I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s too late to do a podcast, there are already 400,000 podcasts out there, how am I ever going to get heard?’” he says. “But now there are two million podcasts out there — and I have a top 50 podcast in the world.”
In addition to these three tips, Meltzer offers simple but worthwhile words of encouragement to everyone who’s building a personal brand, regardless of where they are in their careers. “I don’t care how old you are,” he says. “Two followers turns into four, four to eight, eight to 16.”
He adds: “If all 8 billion people on Earth end up on social media, and 7.999 billion people don’t know who you are, you’re still going to be one of the biggest brands out there. So, get to work.”