Content Strategy + Personal Brands
Originally Posted On 9.14.22 (LinkedIn)
On content strategy (or lack thereof)
First, a little context.
If you’ve been following me since I started in late March, you’ve probably noticed.
I’m all over the place on topics.
I’ve written posts about management, recruiting, promotions, negotiation, business development, slide decks, professional failures, executive communication, work from home, lessons learned in poker, and the list goes on.
My primary goal in the last 6 months was to build my writing habit on LinkedIn.
Or said differently, could I keep writing in public beyond a few weeks of initial excitement?
I feel confident that I’ve checked that box.
How I'll develop my content strategy
Right now, my key questions are:
What topics can I write about credibly, easily, and consistently?
What topics land with my audience?
What topics could I build a presence with on LinkedIn?
It's easier for me to generate ideas when I'm not tied to a specific topic. But, it's hard to imagine I'll be able to build an audience bouncing around so much.
It'll be difficult for people to know:
Why they should follow me
What to expect from my writing
How I will help them
I see this in my data. I lose 2-3 followers on average each day I post (but gain back 6-10). The unfollows might be totally normal, or my topic-bouncing might be a culprit.
Nice post on management, Carlos. Following.
The next day. A post on what I learned playing poker. Huh? Unfollow.
Subjects I'm considering leaning into more
Startups; lessons from failed startups
Communication; how to make great slide decks
Management; how to manage with empathy
Pulling it all together
What I imagine my posts look like 4-6 months from now:
Content on a specific niche (60-70% of posts)
Personal stories/lessons, on a related but wider set of topics (20-30%)
Other stuff to show I’m a real human with real interests outside a niche (~10%)
I’ll probably change my mind 8 more times before I lock in on a plan.
Or, maybe I’m destined to be the guy who posts random stuff all the time.
Reactions to an article on personal brands
A few weeks ago, I stumbled on this article:
Personal Branding Is A Sick Nightmare That's Slowly Dying. Thank God.
The article is written by Tim Denning, a talented writer with a big social media following across many platforms. (Note: Article paywalled on Medium).
I like Tim and read his stuff often. I’m not totally sure why. But, I do.
The TL;DR from Tim on personal brands is:
Don’t self-promote; it’s cringe
Consider going anonymous - the cool kids are doing it
If you’re writing here to get promoted at work, LOL
Focus on being useful
My reactions to specific lines from his article:
“What makes LinkedIn sometimes feel cringe is everyone self-promoting. They do it to get ahead in their career, not to be helpful.”
I see this too. It made me wonder if people view me as self-promoting on LinkedIn. I’m trying to be helpful, but it’s unclear how it comes across.
“The trend you’ve all seen are those Bored Ape monkeys smoking cigars and not giving a f*ck. That’s the new kids on the block who hate personal branding. They don’t want to attach their names to their online profiles. They’re suspicious of bosses, employers & strangers lurking on the internet.”
Totally true. Worth considering an anonymous profile to test content you wouldn’t want associated with you on LinkedIn. Makes experimentation less risky.
“…whoever thinks a personal brand will get them a promotion at work is delusional.”
I don’t have any data on this, but it feels right. If you’re posting on LinkedIn hoping your company's leadership thinks "we should really promote Sarah - we love her riffs on LinkedIn", you may want to rethink your objectives.
“Either way, my message for you dear reader is to stay away from personal branding. Instead, focus on being useful online.”
If you’re useful online, you’ll end up building that personal brand you’re looking for. I think that’s where Tim is landing at the end of the day, though he doesn't say it outright.
We hear you, Tim. Thanks for the reminder avoid the cringe and keep our content helpful.
Post tear downs
I wrote a post using Dan Manning's Story Tracker framework (click image to learn more).
The post is below (click image to see it).
We'll unpack the post in detail in the next Newsletter.
This Week's Takeaways For New Creators
It's unlikely you'll create a winning content strategy on the sidelines. You need to get in there and write. Both to see what lands and to test what you enjoy writing about consistently.
Personal brands aren't about you. They're about how you can be useful to others.
Learning to tell stories is an unlock for getting and keeping attention. (Follow Dan Manning for great content on this topic).
In the next Newsletter, I’ll break down
The impact Dan’s story framework had on my writing process
Analyzing performance on the poker story post using Dan's framework
Dan’s feedback after seeing the post (he reviewed it after it went live)
On the horizon...
Why my profile views have dropped 75% in 3 months
Small tweaks can have a big impact: Editing a post for a friend
Post anatomy: How views and likes build for a single post over time
15-day post challenge retrospective
Post Engagement - Raw Data
Engagement data for each post YTD
Summary Post Stats (3.25.22 - 9.13.22)
Since Last Newsletter (8.27.22 - 9.13.22)
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