How to think about content creation and personal branding
“Consistency to me is a stubbornness of belief and not having a plan B.” - Goldie Chan
Even under the best of circumstances, the journey to becoming a fully fledged content creator is difficult and requires a massive amount of testing. Using that same process to build your personal brand or business reputation is another challenge altogether.
During quarantine, the content creation process has become increasingly laborious. Motivation is hard to muster, proper audio/video equipment may still be stuck at the office, and in-person interviews or panels are obviously impossible. The struggle to create even just a single blog post or other meaningful piece of content can seem insurmountable.
To determine how brands and personalities should be adjusting their thinking, we spoke with Goldie Chan about content creation, personal branding, the current marketing agency landscape and how organizations can better connect with their audiences.
Goldie is one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Marketing & Social Media, founder and head of content and creative at Warm Robots, a regular Forbes contributor and our favorite green-haired personal branding icon.
Here’s the video interview, along with a transcript that has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.
Your #DailyGoldie videos have amassed a global audience, more than 6 million views and even a video marketing course on LinkedIn Learning. How has your content creation approach changed during quarantine?
I think this is so hilarious, because I actually just did a first take of this question and had to do a second take, because during the first take a ton of police cars and also a lot of other noise was happening in the background!
Now that we are creating content primarily from home, it is so important to understand that if audio isn't perfect, take a break. Wait until it's quieter so you can create the kind of content that has clean audio. That's just one technical suggestion.
In terms of thinking about creating content during the quarantine as a brand, think as far as you can outside the box. Tap people who are already friends and fans of your brand and showcase them on whatever social media platforms you're active on.
Interview them, have them do a tutorial, have them do a demo, make sure that they are engaged, and make sure you're sharing that content publicly.
How should newcomers think about personal branding outside of content creation? What are some LinkedIn-specific tips?
There is so much to personal branding, obviously outside of doing really great, amazing memorable content, which is one of my favorite ways to build a personal brand.
But outside of that is networking. Make sure that people are aware of your personal brand by just being out there. Speak on panels, attend or speak at webinars, make sure that you are present in conversations and situations.
In terms of specific LinkedIn recommendations, I'd suggest that you once again think about how you can build your network effectively. This will help infinitely with personal branding outside of content creation.
Make sure that you add people that you went to school with or that were at your previous jobs and roles. Make sure that you are adding people to your network every single week.
I'll give you a piece of homework: Add at least five new people to your network, every single week.
What advice can you give others on creating a personal brand alongside a business, much like you have with Warm Robots?
I love this question, because not everyone has the luxury of creating a personal brand separately from their business. Some of us are just meant to shine a little bit more. So how can we think about doing both at the same time?
First of all, I think it's important to have separate presences for each. For example, on LinkedIn, I don’t just have a company brand page. This way, clients can tag Warm Robots and my personal page, Goldie Chan.
Now this is the double whammy: When people want to tag both of my accounts on Twitter or LinkedIn or any other platform, they can say: “@GoldieChan of @WarmRobots is now working on this new project with us.” Not only do you get that amazing boost for your personal brand, but also your agency or your brand also gets an extra second boost.
Create really defined, well-built-out separate presences for both, and make sure that your copy and your ethos for both are at least slightly different. Because if you exactly cut and paste images, if you exactly cut and paste the wording, then there's no reason why someone would tag your brand, as opposed to your personal account.
In your 2018 Forbes article, you said your “... best piece of advice for building a personal brand by creating content is to keep going.” How do you stay motivated and keep the content fresh?
I think motivation is such a tough concept right now, especially as we're going through so many changes globally. I like to always tell people, I don't have a plan B. Not having a plan B means that I try to stick with Plan A about 99.999% of the time.
We're going to get it out there and it's going to be amazing. And quite honestly, just like everything in life, if it's not absolutely top tier or your most amazing project, it's at least out there.
I think a lot about a few folks that I met on another project I was doing interviews for. It was a series of chefs who were coming from the Navy. They were doing a boot camp cooking class, and we were helping interview them for this school.
One of the things we learned was that when they are cooking for their cohort, it doesn't matter at the end of the day if the product is perfect. They just have to get it out there. That's how I think about consistency. Make sure you just get your content out there.
The crazy thing is that over time, all of your content -- or in the case of those amazing chefs, all of your food -- will slowly improve over time. It’s simply because you get into the practice, and every day you get a little bit better.
Consistency to me is a stubbornness of belief and not having a plan B.
Give us your best elevator pitch for Warm Robots. What makes your agency unique? What is your unique value at a time when many marketing agencies are moving in-house?
The main ethos behind Warm Robots is evolving brand storytelling.
We want to always make sure that we’re helping the brands and companies that we work with get to the next level with how they tell their story both externally, and of course when we do HR-related projects, internally.
What makes Warm Robots really different is that they are led by me! My team is amazing and I “heart” them to pieces.
One of my key personal beliefs is in telling stories that have meaning. I’m really thinking about diversity, thinking about culture, coming from a culture of listening, thinking about analytics and AI, and how all these elements can be built into making the perfect story that helps customers come back for more.
The last part of this question is, of course, that marketing agencies are moving in house. For example, I won't name them, but a big Fortune 500 company I just talked to has built a really strong, robust in-house marketing agency from scratch.
We at Warm Robots love to partner with those amazing in-house agencies to help them think strategically. Just like in life, sometimes it's incredibly helpful to have an outside point of view. That outside point of view will help clarify overall strategies in a way that, if you're in the weeds, if you're thinking too closely about the details, if you've worked in the atmosphere for so long, it's sometimes hard to have that kind of clarity.
So that’s what we do; we actually work with a lot of in-house teams to help them really think through strategy, clearly.
For those brands that do not have a known brand-purpose or cause, what initial steps should they take to create such a culture and brand reputation?
This is a tough question.
When I sit down with brands and we think about things from the very beginning, the very bottom of who they are and what their purpose is, I think sometimes it's helpful to think from the outside.
Who is your target demographic? Who are those key types of people, those key segments that you're attempting to target? Then we craft a brand purpose that makes sense through every single one of those key demographics.
For example, if you are building a brand purpose for a meditation app, it would make sense to think through: How can you help each of these different demographics remain calm during the day or remain relaxed?
If you're a wonderful B2B company working in the electronic field, maybe one of your goals is to make sure that people understand IoT better. Understanding your purpose can come from better understanding your audience demographics.
Many brands are scrambling to address the current social climate in a way that doesn’t come across as tone-deaf. What advice would you provide?
The first thing to do, of course, is to listen. You always want to be listening to what other people are saying. It's incredibly important to be able to learn during this time.
The next thing that I like to say about this subject is keeping a sense of calm. Calm and confidence, especially as a leader, especially as a leading brand during this time, will only help you look incredibly professional.
Finally, the third piece of advice is: open it up to your network. What do I mean by that? I mean opening up that question to your network once again, encouraging yourself to listen and encouraging yourself to learn. But also, making sure that you are growing your network constantly.
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Evan Lauterborn is Audience & Content Development Manager at SmartBrief. He focuses on subscriber growth, subscriber retention, content and managing the @SmartBrief Twitter account. Connect with him on LinkedIn.