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Personal Branding: Dan Schawbel

Build a Marketing Platform Like a Celebrity

Historically, marketing has been departmentalized in corporations and positioned as a college major. With the advent of social media and our current economic situation, marketing has become a topic that everyone should—and can—care about and have expertise in. Now anyone with an Internet connection and some ambition can develop their own marketing platform, which can be harnessed for both career and financial success.

The results of a recent study conducted on July 20 by Wetpaint and the Altimeter Group showed that the most engaged brands on social media saw their revenue grow by 18%!

Your online "social graph," a term used by Facebook to describe your real-life relationships and how you're connected to everyone else, has become a channel by which business is conducted and jobs are distributed. It is an opportunity marketplace, where people come together and messages are streaming at the speed of light. Your mission, if you wish you accept it, is to build your network, so that it can support your business or personal objectives. In a world where everyone can build their own marketing platform, we are all free agents and our personal brands have become the only accepted currency.

How Celebrities Build Personal Brands To further examine the impact of social media on marketing, I had in-depth conversations with a few celebrities who have unearthed the potential of their own marketing platforms to achieve maximum success. Here's what I learned from them that can be helpful to you.

MC Hammer, a famed multiplatinum selling rapper, dancer, and entertainer turned preacher and now the co-founder of and the executive producer and star of his own reality TV show, Hammertime, was an early adopter of social networks and is one of the more engaged participants, with more than 1.2 million followers. He believes that the appeal of social media is that it allows for immediate human interaction, feedback, and research.

"The distance and relationship between the creator of content and consumer has shortened," Hammer says. He makes the point that not everyone is cut out for the commitment of building a marketing platform of their own. Hammer has benefited from his personal commitment to using social media, such as his blog and Twitter feed, to connect with his fans. "My followers have a better understanding of my brand as a result of social media," Hammer explains. He instructs people that they need both quality and quantity in their social networks because it allows for more brand awareness, which ultimately increases the quality and quantity of your followers.

Kathy Ireland, whose name and appearance you might recall on the cover of the Sports Illustrated issues the 80s and 90s, now has her own enterpris, called Kathy Ireland Worldwide, and she recently published a book called Real Solutions for Busy Moms. This "model-turned-mogul," as Forbes calls her, has made her new home on Twitter. Kathy was reluctant to use Twitter at first, but with a push from her COO Stephen Roseberry, she started using the network to connect on a personal level, by answering health-related questions, giving inspirational advice, and talking openly about her family.

She quickly saw the impact her brand on Twitter had on her professional life. "Twitter has informed us of issues, unauthorized sales, media opportunities, and new exposure to people," explains Kathy. She has made the correlation between her activity on Twitter and sales and wholeheartedly believes that participation in social media cannot be avoided. "Even if you elect not to be involved in these media platforms, your absence is a statement and therefore a form of participation," she states. Kathy has profiles on LinkedIn and Facebook, but spends most of her energy interacting on Twitter.

Tim Ferriss' book, The 4-Hour Workweek, remained on the The New York Times best-seller list for more than two years. He leveraged the success of his book to create demand for his blog, which then promoted his Twitter feed, and so on, creating a powerful brand name in the process. He considers his blog the engine that keeps his book on top of best-seller lists several years after publication. Tim believes that anyone can have an online presence in multiple forms and that people should be cautious as to what they put online.

"You should go into the digital jungle with a clear idea about what you want to accomplish and what success would look like at the end," says Tim. He has over 54,000 followers on Twitter, which may seem insignificant in comparison to other celebrities, but he values quality over quantity. "I would rather have fewer, higher quality, more influential readers or followers," Tim says. He feels that if you game the system, you might be able to fool some publishers or partners into working with you because they don't understand the subtleties of social media, but you won't be able to get on the best-seller list because the value of each follower is next to nothing. In other words, if people opt-in to follow your Twitter feed, they are much more likely to hire you, purchase your products, or support you in some way. Tim recommends that you understand what your desired outcome is before you build a marketing platform.

Gary Vaynerchuk, a brand name that exudes both excitement and passion, grew his marketing platform, starting with his Wine Library TV video blog, and then with Twitter and Facebook. You bet all of his hard work and branding efforts will pay off when his first business book, Crush It! Turn Your Passion into Profits in a Digital World, hits stores in October. Gary preaches about being a jack of all trades by working hard, listening, caring, and putting out quality content online.

"There are no shortcuts," Gary says. "
Dan Schawbel is the New York Times bestselling author of Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success, now in an expanded paperback edition. He is also a managing partner of Millennial Branding, a branding company that serves individuals and corporations.

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