I had the pleasure of speaking on a social media panel at the recent Asia Professional Speakers Singapore Annual Convention (pic above from the talented Berry Happy Photography). The conversation was spirited, but one topic that came up is: what are you willing (or not willing) to do as an influencer on social media?

For me personally, clearly sitting in the B2B space, I am very straight on this. I don’t blog or share information on social media to receive financial gain to endorse any brand or service. I am happy to write about companies I like and use – Hootsuite, Twitter, LinkedIn are recent examples  – but it is definitely never because brands ask me to do it.

Occasionally I am invited to events – such as Big Bang Data by ArtScience Museum Singapore. This was a launch event for Singapore’s media and bloggers, so I was thrilled to go along – because I’m super interested in the topic. I also returned the favour by socializing my experience, which hopefully means my followers will potentially become customers for this exhibition. That’s a fair deal in my opinion, and I thought it was excellent too – a win-win as they say.

Because of my blogging heritage, I have been able to achieve a lot, but a big success metric for me is getting invited to speak at industry events. I spoke at three LinkedIn events in the last 12 months, and one Hootsuite event as well. I always appreciate these invitations, because it is a great opportunity for me to elevate my personal brand, however I am being invited because of what I write after the fact. I’m not being rewarded for writing blogs on their behalf. I just can’t do it. It’s not me. More on that in a bit.

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All of this is a fine line and anyone who wants to move into the influencer space should consider it seriously. It’s definitely a huge honour to be invited to attend openings or speak to industry peers, but knowing what you will and will not do with your personal brand is important.

As an example, I was speaking to a friend the other day who is in the consumer influencer space and she is currently working hard to build her profile on Instagram. She is starting to lose out to people who have a higher Instagram following, which is interesting, as she is significantly more experienced and influential than the people she is competing against. But brands value numbers and interactions – especially consumer brands.

This side of influencer marketing is a whole other world to me. It’s about being an aspirational person. Someone others want to be like. I could never sit in the consumer influencer space (even if I had the look), but I certainly admire those who do. It’s not an easy game that one.

But speaking more generically about building a personal brand, I believe that having a firm line in the sand is critical long before you become an influencer.

When you start building a personal brand it needs to have at its core what you stand for. What you want to be known for. That is how you ensure you build a strong personal brand. It has focus and you become known and valued for your knowledge in your niche area.

As you move forward in building your brand, you need to be laser focused on this. Therefore, if you are working for a company and they ask you to share content, you don’t have to say yes – it’s your personal brand after all, not theirs.

Instead, ask yourself, is it aligned to my brand? Is it content I am happy to associate my brand with? If it’s not, don’t share it – especially if it delivers no value at all to your audience – aka pure marketing content.

It is definitely important to be a good corporate citizen and you should be valued for that. I do believe now is the time employees must become ambassadors for their brand, but no one should ever do it blindly. Equally, if you don’t think the content is good enough, tell your company and demand better.

If you stick with it and your personal brand grows, I encourage you to remember your core driver. It may change and it may not. But ask yourself: What are you willing to do? What are you willing to say and share? What rewards are you happy to receive? If you are happy to become an advocate for brands, that’s terrific, but if you’re not, can you stand firm? It’s alluring stuff.

Why is all of this important in building a personal brand?

I started building mine a decade ago. Over that time my “loyal fans” have been friends and colleagues I’ve worked with around the world. We like each other, know each other, respect each other and trust each other. My tribe also knows I’m down-to-earth, irreverent, and a no-nonsense-kind-of-gal.

If I started endorsing brands for money, products or accolades, my core tribe would think I’d lost my marbles and I know they would lose respect for me – especially in the field I’ve become known for. I’m not a foodie or a travel blogger right? I talk about this stuff – personal branding, content marketing, etc…

I’m clearly in the B2B space and endorsing brands is as far away from the real Andrea as you could get. So my tribe would be quite right to walk away from me. People step away when you’re not authentic.

However, being true to myself has always been the most important thing to me. That’s my line in the sand.

And while that means I’ll never draw in millions of dollars in potential earnings from building up a strong influencer presence, I’m OK with that. Because, instead, I’m working hard to build a business off the back of my brand. That’s far more me and it’s an opportunity to share my passion with others – which is all I care about. Using my brand to elevate other brands, especially if I don’t believe in it. Never.

So the question is, what about you? I believe it’s super important to work out what you’re comfortable with, and the place to start is to work out what your core tribe means to you, and what you mean to them. That’s the line to me. Your people.

In my case, the ones who’ve been with me from the start, cheering me on, long before anyone else was paying attention, are who matters. Their support (your support) means the world to me.

What do you think? What’s your line? Do you crave glory? Or do you crave credibility? Alternatively, can you have both?

Cheers

Andrea

Join my personal branding workshop – How to Build a Rock Star Professional Social Presence Today – happening in Singapore on June 10th. If you want to build a meaningful and authentic brand, that’s what this workshop is all about. I’d love to have you along. I also run employee advocacy workshops for corporates. Get in touch if I can help you get cracking. I love this stuff.

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