One of the questions I encounter frequently, especially by professionals who are just starting to use social media, is how I built a brand around being an expert. While I’m always happy to answer, I find myself at a partial loss simply because the answer is both amazingly simple and complicated. The short answer is that I acquire large amounts of information on my topic— practical social media, simplify it, and then present it to people who will find it useful. Simple, right? At the same time, a great deal of strategy went into creating my personal brand.

  1. Find a topic that you find interesting and that an audience would be interested in learning more about. Notice I didn’t simply suggest that you study what you’re passionate about. You may be passionate about size ten clown shoes, but if no audience wants to learn more about it, you will have a very difficult time building a following. Being an expert is a service position—you help people.
  2. Carve out a niche or develop a unique perspective. It’s not enough to jump on the bandwagon of a popular topic. You’ll simply blend in with other industry talking heads. If you want a dedicated following, you have to have a unique point of view.  How can you present the latest information in a new way? How can you make it simpler? Do you think popular opinion is wrong? Show your following how your expertise can simplify their lives or work.
  3. Build an online brand in alignment with your topic and perspective. If you’re known to be hard-core, butterflies and flowers on your marketing materials and social media cover images is not going to cut it. Make sure that your colors, images, language—everything—is in alignment.
  4. Post consistently. Just like in real life, when friends disappear for long periods of time, you become less attached and often think about them less. Don’t inundate your audience, but create a posting schedule and commit to sticking with it.

This post first appeared on Personal Branding Blog.