Last weekend I was honored to be asked to speak about personal branding at the Los Angeles Latina Blogger event “Discovering Más,” which was (artfully, I should say) put on by Monique Frausto (@blogsbylatinas) of latinabloggers.com and blogsbylatinas.com. (Thanks to Elianne Ramos – @erkgeekgoddess – for the referral.)
It was a labor of love because for a year and a half now I’ve been observing a number of blogueras I met last year as they impressively developed their blogs and grew their stature in other social media touch-points. I loved seeing many of these ladies that day – including Marcela Beatty of Culturemami.com, Liz Cerezo of thoughtsofamommy.com, Ana Flores of spanglishbaby.com and Vanessa Torres of thathappenedtome.com. (I also totally geeked out upon finally meeting Marta Darby of mybigfatcubanfamily.com in person for the first time. And, yes, I asked her for a recipe for Cuban arroz con frijoles.)
Many more Latina bloggers I’d never met before – some I’d talked to on Twitter, others I’ve never heard of – were there, too . More than forty diverse chicas fabulosas in the same room! I’ve written (ad nauseum, I know) about the fact that marketers aren’t completely in tune with the diversity of the Hispanic market, and that the popularity of blogging and social media in general among Latinos is confusing the issue (because we do it in Spanglish!). The ladies I met at the event were a true representation of the diversity of the Hispanic community – in terms of heritage, acculturation and more.
Impressively, their blogs are equally diverse – I’ll list them at the end of this post. The truth is it’s not necessary for these women to self-identify as Latinas – the content many of them produce is not about being a Latina –it’s about all kinds of things you find in the general blogosphere. These women are mothers, artists, sassy shoe-lovers and more. But the bit of culture they bring to their blogs really adds a nice “no sé qué” that I really love. These ladies truly are different, creative and extraordinarily talented.
So what did I have to teach them? I say probably not a whole lot. In my view I was simply there to remind them of a few things that they probably already knew at their core. The recap:
About Personal Branding
- Keep in mind that your brand is Brand You. Everything you do, and say, who you talk to and more. And even the picture you choose to use in social media is representative of you. (Which explains the multiple mug picture I chose to use here and in my presentation.)
- Be consistent In delivering Brand You. In content, voice, style, etc. And by all means: DON’T SELL OUT. Make sure your blog stays true to your brand. Always.
- Be different: don’t just copy what another successful blogger is doing. It’s OK to learn from others but keep in mind who you are at your core. Doing so will also ensure that you’re authentic – which makes for a more attractive brand.
- Be relevant. To your social media community, and to others who are interested in the content you produce. The reactions of your core audience to your content will be your guide as you decide what content is most successful.
- Build esteem. Be a part of your community. Retweet and share others’ content. Comment on their blogs. But also become involved in relevant causes that you and your community feel are important.
- Expand your reach. To other social networking sites, with organizations and networks that make sense for your niche. You can’t just post stuff and expect people to find it. You need to share it with the right people and in multiple places.
About Working with Brands
I find it interesting that many of the things that make you a good online brand are the same ones that make you more attractive to brands.
- Be clear about your brand. Remember? Brand You?
- Work with brands that make sense for you: if they don’t make sense to your blog, or if you would never use their product, don’t promote the brand. It will just dilute / confuse yours.
- Don’t sell out: (yes, this again). Brands don’t want to work with bloggers who do nothing but giveaways on their blogs. They want you to have good and interesting content first and foremost. Why? Because people read blogs for their content. The better the content, the better the traffic.
- Be professional and consistent about how you do business: Get a media kit, know your stats, and have guidelines about what you will and won’t do for a brand. Then stick to it. This will make your life easier in the end.
- Add value: Think creatively about the kinds of programs you can create with a brand. It’s not just about posts. How can you use your expanded network to add value to a marketing program? You should also add value to your community. But that’s social media 101 and I didn’t need to tell them that.
I shared nothing “guru-like.” (I’m so not a guru.) Rather, I applied some fundamentals of brand-building to personal blogging. One of my favorite creatives – Wally Sabria (@Wallysabria) of Weber Shandwick/The Axis Agency http://viscomla.com/blog/ followed with additional great information about visual branding and storytelling, social media tools and more.
But I think Wally would agree that the magic was in the organic conversations that happened that afternoon. (Check out Eva Smith’s Flickr photo stream for a bunch of wonderful pictures: http://www.flickr.com/photos/familyfriendskidz/sets/72157625346730832/) And even on Twitter after the event. (Just ask them about the Twitter #bacon bot @baconfeed).
The magic continues to happen as these smart Latinas sit down at their computers to create content that they believe in so passionately. So who are these lovely ladies? Their blogs are listed below. I urge you to visit them and support them. And just maybe you too will be inspired. I also would love for those of you more experienced bloggers to share your tips. We could all use the support and inspiration.