The 6 Arms of Building A Marketable Persona


You know that you need to create a personal brand. You’ve heard me say I think you need to develop a character to help you do that. You’ve even heard about all these social influence tools designed to help you measure how you’re doing and whether you’re interesting enough to be perked a free umbrella. But when you’re going about creating a persona – how do you know if you’re building a marketable one? One that you’ll be able to leverage in business and not one that just makes it clear you spend too much time talking to strangers on the Internet.

Like most social media consulting companies, we spend a fair amount of time evaluating the brands of others. We want to make sure that when we identify influencers or contacts for clients that we’re selecting the right people for them to engage and connect with. Below are six factors we use to help us measure how marketable a brand or persona may be. We recommend you use them when building up your own personal brand to ensure you’re creating something that is marketable in the future. Because while Klout and the other social influence measurement tools are interesting, it doesn’t always give you the best idea of what you should specifically be focusing on.

Here’s what we look at:

1. Influence

Do people listen when you speak? Have you built up enough authority to really influence someone’s decision? True Influencers know that there’s a difference between being “popular” and being “influential”. Someone who is influential can compel something to buy a product, sign up for a course or subscribe to an email newsletter simply be tweeting the link or asking people to give it a look. The higher your Influence Factor, the more likely it is you’re building engaged fans, not lifeless bodies. If you’re concerned your Influence Factor isn’t as high as it should be, devote some extra time to demonstrating your authority on a particular subject – whether that means creating content about it or doing a better job sharing others content.

2. Weirdness

The title of Seth Godin’s new book (which I plan to buy, BTW) is We Are All Weird. We have to be weird. Because weird is what gets noticed. It’s what stands out and it’s what resonates with us the most. Because as Seth says, we’re all a little weird. When I evaluate someone’s brand, I’m looking for that twinge of weirdness. I don’t want to see that you collect and eat hair, but I want to see that there’s something about you that’s different and memorable. Maybe this goes back to the idea of why you need to create a character. But, take a look at your own brand – what makes you weird and what are you doing to leverage it?

3. Reach

When you share something, how far does it go? How many communities, circles or groups have you created Influence in? Do you notice that it’s different people tweeting and sharing your content or is the same 15 people who have been following you for the past six years? It’s important to keep an idea on who is sharing your content to help you see how the platform you’re creating is or is not growing. Ideally, you want your ideas to spread into as many different communities as possible so that you can expose yourself to more people.

If you’re not Reach’ing as far as you’d like, start venturing out of your security bubble and creating a presence in different satellite communities. Jay Baer had a great post this morning about how blogger outreach changes the PR timeline forever. It’s applicable here, as well./

4. Engagement

Related to Influence and Reach, how likely is it that your followers, fans and customers are going to engage back with you when you send something out? Have you attracted/collected/bought 20,000 followers who are excited to be part of your brand and share your story OR do you have 20,000 who wouldn’t respond if you tweeted you had been kidnapped and were trapped in the back of some dude’s truck? If it’s the latter, it’s a sign you’re not building a very marketable brand and should spend some more time in the sandbox being a good social media citizen.

5. Who Knows You

I know. It’s a sad world when we’re judged not for who we are but for who knows us but, well, suck it up, because that’s life. In both business and social media, very often it’s not what you know, but who you know and who it is singing your praises and namedropping you in conversations. When you’re doing your brand monitoring, take note of who it is that’s mentioning you. How many (worthy) end-of-year lists are you making? How many of the people YOU want to connect with are also trying to connect with you or already sharing your name with their audiences? I know it’s nice to think that you’re an island and that you don’t need anyone else but, well, this is call social media, not sit-in-your-cave media.

6. Demand

What does your inbox look like? How about your @ Replies tab? How interested does it appear people are in the brand of you? Are they contacting you to be a source in their news article? Do they want your opinion on X? Are you being asked to speak at conferences (or are you accepted when you pitch) or try out people’s new products? I know it can be hard to take a look at your brand and measure how desirable people find you, but try to make it as data-specific as possible so your feelings don’t get hurt. The real question is – are people seeking you out or is it you constantly trying to be sought out? If it’s the latter, then maybe you need to continue to put yourself out there more to prove what you’re worth and get people biting. And that’s fine, but if that’s not overtime starting to turn around, that be a sign that you’re building something people aren’t interested in.

There are the arms (or legs or hats) we make note of when determining how marketable a persona is or whether that individual (or brand) is a good fit for our client. What do you think? Does your Watch For list look like mine? Or am I totally off base? You can tell me. ;)

Your Comments

  • Jill Whalen

    To me, the whole personal branding thing seems like such common sense. It’s something I’ve done naturally for my 16 years in business, without even knowing what I was doing.

    But when you look at so many companies out there it doesn’t seem to be as common as it should be. Granted, it’s got to be more difficult for a large company to create a marketable persona than an individual entrepreneur, but as this post and your related ones show, it can be done with a little thought put towards it.

    Another good one, Lisa!

  • Liz Dennery Sanders

    A great reminder, Lisa, that a powerful personal brand is about engagement and personality. At the end of the day, we are doing business with people, not computers and it’s still all about creating connections and building relationships.

    A little weirdness certainly goes a long way!

    Thanks for another great post.

  • Emily

    This post got me thinking about an ad I saw just last night on my phone. The ad was from coke, promoting this twitter account:!/docpemberton

    Doc Pemberton apparently invented the coke formula and Coke decided to create a character in his name. Reading through the feed, I can say I think coke does a great job of using this persona as a representative of their brand. He is engaging, informative and, yeah, a little weird. I don’t even drink Coke but I’m completely engaged in what he says.

  • Wasim Ismail

    Being weird is defiantly cool. Well it gets others interested in you and want to know more. When building your brand on social media, many are under the assumption it’s a number game, get more and more users to follow or like you, which is good, but if you can’t engage with them or they are not really bothered about what you post, there’s some serious issues to look at, like you said how many of them will actually respond to you at the time of help. Its better to have less so that they engage and interact with you, than to have more that don’t do anything.

  • Pam

    I am definitely weird. Everyone tells me that. I just haven’t figured out a way to make it really pay off for me yet.
    I just orderd the book, and also Uncertainty by J Fields.
    Now that I am officially unemployed, I will have time to read up and see if I can make my weirdness an asset somewhere!