With a Klout score of 89/100, Donald Trump is considered one of the most influential people on social media, and owes a big part of his current Presidential election success to it.
Trump has become the first ever Presidential candidate to build his popularity and voice his somewhat controversial views on social media, uncovering the potential it has to build a personal brand at the highest level.
Up until now, candidates only ever used media outlets, debates and held public rallies.
In this article, we dissect the dos and don’ts of using social media to build a personal brand, using Donald Trump as our case study.
Don’t have someone manage your account
It’s quite obvious to the world that Donald Trump manages his own social media accounts, as no competent PR manager would allow their clients to bash or insult others publicly through social media.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 5, 2016
While I’m not saying you should insult others to build your personal brand (you shouldn’t), you must be in charge of your social media account as nobody can communicate your words or thoughts better than you.
There’s nothing personal about building a personal brand when you have someone else writing all your updates or telling you what you can and cannot say.
What if one day they decide they no longer want to work for you? Your personal brand may be compromised.
Nobody, for a second, thinks someone else is posting on Trump’s behalf.
Key takeaway: Be involved in the creative process of creating your social media updates. Even if you don’t have time to post every comment yourself, don’t give your PR manager or team full control of your account, or limit you in what you should or should not say.
Build a brand around hashtags
Every personal brand should have its own hashtags. They act as a free branding tool as others will use them and spread the word, and they make it very easy for you to see what is being said about your brand by doing a simple hashtag search.
Trump’s most popular hashtag is #MakeAmericaGreatAgain.
#MakeAmericaGreatAgain reached more than three million users on Twitter alone in the 24 hours from October 17th to 18th.
His catchphrase has become the centre of his political campaign, and has even become an Internet meme.
Key takeaway: Create meaningful hashtags that align with your personal brand and that resonate with fans.
Do a Q&A (but make sure it doesn’t backfire)
To build a personal brand, you have to get personal with your fans. One of the best ways to do this is by hosting a question and answer session on social media, which Trump did using the hashtag #AskTrump.
In less than six hours, Trump received over 50,000 questions using the hashtag #AskTrump. However, it goes without saying that many of them were trolls out in full force to get him.
#AskTrump if you dig under your hair, down thru the scalp, underneath the skull, is there just a bunch of orange chicken from Panda Express
— Jim Gabriel (@flipyourface) September 21, 2015
The reason for his failure? Donald’s persona is centralised around a “love me or hate me” relationship with fans. This persona adds to authenticity and aligns with a lot of his heavy-handed policies, but it also makes him a target to trolls.
While he thought his #AskTrump Q&A was going to be huge, it backfired because his persona was too eccentric.
Key takeaway: Social media question and answer sessions are a great way to reach your fans and can be done successfully if you have built the right online persona. Team GB did a Q&A and received dozens of useful interactions with fans.
— Team GB (@TeamGB) August 5, 2014
If your personal brand is built on isolating a large group of people or around controversial topics, they are best avoided.
He says what he believes
The Achilles heel for most personal brands is they don’t say what they actually believe in. Instead, they say what they think their fans want to hear. While some people think Trump is like a bull in a china shop on social media, he isn’t scared to say what he believes in.
While I don’t support all of his opinions, I do respect the fact that he has the courage to say what others wouldn’t dare to say, and it’s one of the reasons he’s gotten so far in the presidential election campaign.
The political environment is very canned and it’s unheard of for someone to slander or insult the opposing party, but that doesn’t stop him.
Yet more evidence of a media-rigged election: https://t.co/rVh4ocgx3r
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 17, 2016
Instead of following the norm in politics, Trump is re-writing the playbook and doing what he thinks is best.
Again, I don’t agree with his comments, but his drive and direction show how being brave and authentic can help you get millions of followers.
Key takeaway: Don’t be like everyone else in your industry. To stand out, you have to be different.
Instagram and Twitter have become the Mecca of creating a personal brand in almost any niche. But with so many people doing it, you have re-write the playbook and do things differently to get noticed and become successful.
In the last six months, nobody reached the levels of success that Donald Trump has on social media. If we ignore his political opinions and focus on dissecting his approach to social media, there’s a lot you can learn and implement when building your personal brand.