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  • Independent Schools
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How To Create An Authentic Personal Brand Online For Heads of School
Olivia Malaure

The concept of a personal brand is nothing new, but in a competitive world of influencers and experts, it’s becoming increasingly important if you want to stand out. In this blog, Olivia Malaure, Finalsite's UK Marketing Manager explores how to craft a personal brand online.

Why Do I Need A Personal Brand?

A strong personal brand will help you to lead and engage stakeholders at every level within your school. Having a personal brand helps you create a profile that is well-known for what you do and helps to enhance gravitas and impact in meetings, presentations as well as local/national media. A personal brand builds visibility internally and externally. In addition, delivering your brand clearly and consistently across a wide audience helps open doors to opportunities.   

When Should I Use My Personal Brand?

Every interaction you have has the opportunity to create a memorable experience, informing your audience what they can expect from you. When you’re consistent in delivering those experiences, you build a strong reputation. Your brand becomes a distinct and authentic representation of you. In building your brand, you define your individuality, maximise your strengths and manage your choices.  

Step 1. How To Build A Personal Brand

Firstly, it’s essential that you understand what your own personal values are. These are different from your school's values. In this instance, it's useful to make a list of all the personal values that are meaningful to you, and reduce them to your top 3 values. (This is harder to do than it sounds!)

What Brand Lines Do You Repeat To Yourself?

If you're in a collaborative situation, let's say an important meeting, are you the person who says "I'll make that happen!" or "Let me think about that?" What adjectives do you imagine people say about you when you are at your best? What words would you like people to use to describe you when you leave a meeting room having had your ideas met with positivity? 

Add ‘stretch adjectives’ to assist development, they are the words you'd like people to be using to describe you. Personally, I'm a fan of the following metaphor: your personal brand is like a soundtrack. You see, your soundtrack is playing around you wherever you go. It’s made up of many different things such as your body language and speech habits and those phrases we find ourselves repeating. This soundtrack can really impact on you. It can determine what opportunities come your way, so it’s really important to be aware of what your audience are hearing! Your natural repeated responses become the motifs we hear. 

Hand written envelope

Part 2. How To Market Your Personal Brand Online?

Create A Digital Marketing Plan

It's important to have a plan! This is something you can use to have more control over your brand if you're a new Head or perhaps you're in a situation that hasn’t gone to plan. Having a plan will help you carve time out of your busy schedule to make this stuff happen!

Situational Analysis/ Audit

  • Use Google and other search engines to search for your name. What you see is what the rest of the world sees (If you don’t like it, don’t despair, it can be changed).

  • Google your peers. Who do you know that has a strong personal brand and is doing a good job at crafting their brand? Assess their strengths and weaknesses.

Objectives

  • If you think of yourself as a Thought Leader, you can put your personal brand to good use to help drive admissions.

  • Use blogging to help your school’s website develop organic SEO. (You can work collaboratively with your marketing and school admissions team to achieve this.)

  • Use social media to drive traffic to your website.

  • Go the extra mile and set SMART objectives! Example: Increase traffic to the admissions pages on the school website using content marketing (Heads Blog, Twitter and Linkedin) by 15% from April-July 2019.

Strategy

  • If you’re thinking about creating a blog or using social media, think about which personas you are targetting. Are you writing for prospective/current families, alumni or faculty?

  • Consider what leaks in the marketing and admissions funnel you are you trying to plug? Use your content to add value to your community and help your school retain families.

  • What are your audience's pains/needs? 

Tactics

What type of marketing are you going to use to distribute your brand and content?

  • Paid/Earned

  • Outbound Marketing e.g events/conferences

  • Inbound Marketing e.g content strategy, school website blogs/guest blog Social Media/SEO/email marketing. Your marketing team can help you distribute these.

  • What keywords will you use? Avoid jargon and think about the terms parents will use when searching for independent schools.

  • What Hashtags will you use? It's helpful to narrow them down to a handful.

But how will you find the time to do all of this in your busy schedule? Your best bet is to create a simple editorial calendar. Try setting aside a few hours at the beginning of the term to create a few meaningful blogs that cover topics you feel passionate about. You can then publish these on your school website and publish on social media. This will take care of your original content for the month. Resist the temptation to share your blogs with other publishers as Google doesn't favour duplicate content and you may be handing over the SEO benefits of your own work to someone else's website! 

Action

  • What key topics will you write about? (What do you want to become known for?)

  • Create a content calendar (Be consistent and realistic).

  • Post your blogs on social media.

  • Use images.

  • Use the 3-1-1 rule as a guide.

Control

You want to know that the time you're spending on sharing your personal brand online through content marketing is worth your while. So how will you measure this? Below are examples of what you should be looking out for to measure your success:

  • Number of visits to your blog page.

  • Time spent on a page and a low bounce rate.

  • Number of visits to admissions page from a Call To Action (CTA) on your blog.

  • Increase in post engagements on social media.

Implement text on wooden squares

Take control of your personal brand and stay up-to-date by downloading this webinar 'Creating a School Brand Strategy' and explore the basics of why branding matters and how to relate it to your school.  

Download


Marketing Your Personal Brand On Social Media

Being Visible:

You can gain visibility rapidly by things you’re great at or passionate about. One key aspect of Social Media is that it creates visibility. You may decide you don’t want a Social Media presence and in that case, I would suggest you still create a Twitter account, but protect or hide your tweets. You can still use the platform to listen and monitor what is being said about you and your school! Obviously, in choosing not to have a social media presence, you dilute your reputation by the sheer fact that you’re not visible on social media.

 How to manage your personal brand on social media:

  • Your profile picture is one of the most impactful aspects of your social media presence.

  • Your image humanises you: people are unlikely to want to connect with an anonymous LinkedIn profile or a faceless Twitter profile.  

  • Use the same image across all your social media platforms- this will help you build a strong brand online, as well as ensuring you are easily recognised.

  • Use a professional headshot.

  • Use a consistent username across all sites. You create a personalised URL on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn Must Haves

Add a descriptive headline - Your headline should include popular keywords someone may include when searching for the profession with your career background. You can either simply use your job title or take things a step further by highlighting your career passions.

Add a summary that highlights your experience and supports your career development goals e.g ‘Educator with 16 years of experience as a senior manager at leading schools. My core aims are to continue improving and to be productive, happy and fulfilled so that the pupils in my care all prosper. In your profile summary, you should highlight your key skills and strategies of choice. If your goal is to advance within the education sector then your summary should highlight your past accomplishments and illustrate your future leadership potential.

Social media icons

6 Good Reasons To Blog:

  • Blogging is great for your SEO (people can find your website)

  • Help to establish yourself as a thought leader

  • Builds rapport and engagement

  • Create opportunities

  • Provides a platform for you to tell your unique story 

  • Makes you stand out

Blog text on square wood

Here are some brilliant examples of blogs that Heads are contributing to:

Felsted School

Canford

Lady Eleanor Holles

Royal School, Surrey

Dulwich College (A collection of articles published by the Master)

Dame Allens

You'll notice in the examples above that every leader has a unique title that they use to address themselves. Some Heads sign off using their official title, others on a first name basis. Have you considered the impact that your title has on your audience and how you're perceived? 

Lady Eleanor Holles Head's blog

Getting Your Content Found

Here are a few techniques you can use to ensure your hard work pays on and that your content is found in online searches.

  • Include the keywords that your audience is going to be searching for in your title/URL

  • If it's a blog that's hosted on your website ensure that you’ve added your keyword to your H1 tag, your URL and that your keywords are in the first few lines of your content. This makes it easy for search engines to understand what your page is about. It’s also a web accessibility best practice.

  • Add internal links within your website to the content you want to be found. This tells search engines this content is important.

  • Encourage sharing. Ensure you’ve got social share buttons on your website. The more your content is shared, the more potential parents/pupils you’ll be exposed to it and the higher you’ll be ranked in search engines!

magnifying-glass on multicoloured sheets

The Measure Of Success

  • It’s worth keeping track of the blogs and social posts that have been successful over the course of the year.

  • Which blog posts or news articles were most read in the past year?

  • Which social posts were most shared or liked?

  • These will give you a good indication of what your school audiences are interested in.

Monitor Your Brand Online

Google Alerts: By signing up to Google Alerts, each time you are mentioned online, you will receive an automatic alert sent directly to your inbox. You can then ensure you are the first to write a comment response, retweet or send personal message response, thus strengthening your personal brand even further.

Hootsuite: This tool lets you track conversation that mentions you across Facebook, Google+ and Twitter

Phew, there's a lot to think about here! In brief, in order to achieve and deliver an authentic personal brand online, you need to spend some time crafting your brand and then create a distribution plan! It takes work but having a personal brand helps to lead and engage your stakeholders. Plan ahead, plan your blogs and social media posts at the start of the year or term which will leave you enough time to manage your day-to-day schedule. Don't forget, your soundtrack is always playing around you!  

 

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Olivia Malaura, Finalste
Olivia began her career as an actor before transferring her performance skills into the corporate world. She has worked in schools across Australia and the UK. Prior to her role at Finalsite UK, she was Deputy Editor for "Families," a print a digital parenting publication. Holding a Bachelor of Dramatic Art and a Diploma of Digital Marketing, Olivia’s blend of experience gives her a unique understanding of audiences, branding and storytelling. 
  • Branding
  • Consistent Branding
  • Social Media

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