A digital presence has become more important than ever. Covid-19 forced businesses, and business leaders alike, to boost their online brand at an unprecedented rate as people were unable to network in person – a trend that looks set to stick as people embrace a hybrid working world.
“The pandemic has accelerated the trend towards a digital world. Now, the opportunities to proactively shape our reputations as businesspeople are endless,” says Joe Binder, whose company WOAW builds personal brands on social media for founders and CEOs including Dragons’ Den stars Tej Lalvani and James Caan CBE.
“In the volatile world of social media, being on the front foot is essential. The best way to network online is to create an aura where people want to network with you, rather than the other way around.”
An online profile is only as good as the content and brand you create, something Binder knows first-hand.
A former YouTuber and influencer, Binder, 25, built his YouTube channel from scratch. It grew to some 20,000 subscribers and attracted more than two million views before Binder, who has a geography degree from Cambridge University, decided to change direction.
“There had been a growing trend towards the ‘social CEO’ with more and more expected from a company’s leadership team,” says Binder.
“PR for business leaders has always existed, but social media was always an afterthought. For us, it’s the priority. I wanted to create a company to cater for this niche.”
Launched in 2018, WOAW services three main divisions: high-profile entrepreneurs, leadership teams of high-growth businesses and corporates. Monthly revenue for its personal branding services has tripled since the start of the pandemic. Recently added board members include Craig Fenton, Google’s strategy and operations lead for business in the UK, Ireland and Southern Europe, and Rubik’s brand CEO, Christoph Bettin.
While growth in business is a result of the crisis, as companies are increasingly allocating their spending towards technology and digital activity versus in-person events, it is also a reflection of Binder’s continued diligence and determination.
The former JFS student was mocked at school for being the “dumb kid”. He recalls: “I even earned the nickname ‘3B’ because I was in bottom sets for all subjects. People set low expectations of me, and I began to agree with them.”
But then something changed. “I knew I could do better, work harder and achieve more.” Determined to prove people wrong, Binder swapped lunch breaks for extra homework and convinced his teachers to move him up a set. His hard work paid off and he became deputy head boy before gaining a place at Cambridge University.
It was there that Binder started his own YouTube channel, documenting the life of a Cambridge student. “I would upload different segments of the same video to YouTube; some would get under 10,000 views while others would get over 40,000.
“Small things like this led me to question the branding and positioning of each video, which is arguably as important as the content of the videos themselves.”
Binder was able to leverage his personal brand to win his first few clients for WOAW. “It allowed me to say: ‘I’ve done it for myself, I can do it for you, too.’”
A big break was securing famous entrepreneur Caan as a client. “This gave us a new level of credibility.”
What advice would he give those looking to scale their public profile during an increasingly competitive digital world? “Identify your target demographic and optimise your LinkedIn profile and cater it to your desired audience; work on your tagline, profile banner and ‘about’ section. You have the ability to shape your own narrative; your profile is your own space, so it deserves a lot of strategic thought.
“Post regular content to bring people onto your profile – your profile is your shop window. Creating content is the main way for people to discover you. Engage with others on the platform: if you’re new to posting content, you’re unlikely to get a lot of engagement when you start. So spend time commenting on other people’s content. Start conversations. That way, you build familiarity with people who will see your content, and it will increase the likelihood of them engaging with your content. Finally, use conversational language on the platform.
“Remember: 1) LinkedIn makes money from users spending time on the platform, so your job is to create content that keeps other users engaged. If you do that, your content will be rewarded in the algorithm and will have a higher reach. 2) LinkedIn has changed a lot and people respond much better to a conversational tone. Reflect on the language of your copy and ask yourself: Does this sound like an advert or a conversation?”
Consumers are demanding more from brands and are holding the leadership more accountable than ever.
“It’s so important for leadership to build trust and authenticity online. We’ve now entered a world where the pace of the company’s values and ethics start at the top with its management team.
“The personal branding space is growing faster than ever before and we can’t wait to grow with it.”
Binder’s 5 Top Tips to boost your online profile
- Identify your target demographic
- Optimise your LinkedIn profile and cater it to your desired audience
- Post regular content to bring people onto your profile – your profile is your shop window
- . Engage with others on the platform via commenting and private messages
- Use conversational language on the platform; your job is to create content that keeps other users engaged.
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