I started using social media December 2008 with a fake Twitter account called Gerard La Lune (@GerardLaLune), not my own name. At that moment I was working at a Sales & Marketing department of a medium sized ICT company and was curious how social media could be used internal or external by companies.
To my surprise It did not take long before I had around 1.000 followers and I learned by doing how to use it. After some time I did not like the fact that it was an anonymous account. This account still exist although I don’t use it any more, it has more followers than the new one I now use: @gerardgeerlings. While twittering I learned that with my tweets I was creating my own personal brand. I defined some personal social media rules which I still apply: 1) always be positive and supportive, so no negative tweeting 2) be creative and tell something new, do not repeat what others are saying 3) don’t tweet about family, friends or their business. Twittering was a lot of fun in the beginning, I made new friends who were also twittering and were living nearby. I even organized once a local Twitter Party and invited my followers nearby: 7 people showed up and it was great meeting them (all women apart from me by the way).
After Twitter I also started using other Social Media, in the beginning each for completely different purposes and a different audience: Twitter (for fun), Facebook (for friends and family) and linkedIn (for business). But after some time my social media communities slowly merged together, this had a big impact on my behaviour on social media. When friends, family, students and colleagues follow your activities on these different social media your need to be consistent in your messages and content.
Although I now also have profiles on other social media like Instagram, Foursquare etc. I only use the three mentioned before. After some time I experienced issues around social media which I did not like:
- I did not have one place where I can see all my content
- I was jumping from Facebook to Twitter etc. while a lot of the same people were active in these tools, I want one interface!
- These tools are changing all the time, adding new functions which are copied from succesful other Apps and merge together on functionality
- For commercial reasons social media are adding commercial content and advertisements, my profile and content is probably used for purposes I’m not aware off…
That’s why I decided to develop my own blog which should not have a fixed format like social media but create a flexible environment where I could share my ideas and experiences with the people around me and also directly communicate with my readers. I first asked someone what to use, I was advised to use WordPress because this is a broadly used and gives the flexibility to start small, add functions while already using it and even change the format by applying another template.
In April this year I wrote my first blog an now 7 months later I wrote 44 blogs, had visitor number 5.100 this week and more than 13.000 views until now. The first months there was only limited response but at this moment I have already around 100 visits when I wake up and between 250 and 400 visits by the end of the day, even when I did not blog that day. What’s helped speeding up the number of visitors is the link from my ‘old’ social media and my blog, I always communicate with my followers when new blogs published (now Facebook 227 friends, Twitter 875 followers and LinkedIn 607 followers). With 5.000 visitors+ in a short time I now have a much bigger audience and exposure then before only using social media.
While most people use social media only for following, sharing, liking or retweeting content created by others, blogging is all about creating content yourself: a blog without content is empty! With blogging you communicate your idea’s and thoughts using not only words but also images, video’s etc.. It’s a new way of writing in between writing a book or a newspaper column without spending time on convincing publishers or newspapers to publish your content before you get something published. Blogging is the new writing today and you can post a blog online in a view seconds in the format you like! I think it will not take long before there will be more people reading blogs on their devices than reading newspapers or books: the number of blogs is growing rapidly. Blogging is a great tool because it enables you also to directly communicate with your audience. I would recommend to all professionals to start a blog because this gives them visibility on their activities, skills and knowledge.
I learned a lot about personal branding while creating my own blogging environment, here some lesson learned I want to share:
- Jus start, its easy!
- Start small and simple and slowly add new functions to your blog
- Only blog when you have something to say and take your time before publishing
- Link with other social media: you need to communicate with your existing audience otherwise they will not find your blog
- Don’t trust statistics, a view can be a person but also a machine or robot scanning the internet. And the biggest user is you generating traffic while maintaining the blogs…
Finally, be aware that your potential audience is bigger. When you have a meeting it could happen they have looked at your blog and probably know more about you than the other way around. The first time this happened I was surprised and it was a strange experience. It’s the same feeling as probably the rich and famous have when they are approach by complete strangers: they know you but you don’t know them, but remember: you are the owner of your own personal brand by the content you create and publish. My advise; start your own blog!