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Curating Your Online Presence: How To Use The Power Of Snapchat For Personal Branding You've certainly heard of it. You may even use it already. But like most people, you're probably still working out how best to utilize the social media channel that's taking the world by storm.

By Tom Otton

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

Dean Drobot / Shutterstock.com

"Your brand is what people say about you when you're not in the room." Jeff Bezos

You've certainly heard of it. You may even use it already. But like most people, you're probably still working out how best to utilize the social media channel that's taking the world by storm. Snapchat is the latest tool to bring communities closer to individuals and is proving to be incredibly powerful when used correctly.

Unlike Facebook, Instagram and most other social channels, Snapchat is virtually raw. There are only a few filters and you can't edit your photos or videos before you post them (apart from adding text and emoji). It forces you to be real- not just a photoshopped version of yourself. And this is what people are craving. The reality is what makes it such a popular platform, giving you a unique opportunity to get your individual message out there. But this comes with a warning label: if you are pretending to be somebody that you're not, you will not last on Snapchat. It's the unedited you, so keep it real.

The key Snapchat tool is called Stories, where you can post images and 10-second videos to a feed that remains visible for 24 hours. You can keep adding to your Story throughout the day to build an ongoing dialogue. Some types of information shared include telling your audience where you are, what you're doing, and it also allows users know your views and gets your personality across in ways that other channels won't and can't: an open and honest reflection of brand You.

Before posting to Snapchat (or any other social channels), it's important to set out some fundamental guidelines to give yourself the best chance of building trust with your audience. I call them the three key pillars of personal branding.

Related: Choosing Your Medium: Is Snapchat Right For Your Business?

1. Self-awareness

Define who you want to be and ensure this aligns with who you really are; authenticity is essential. Those who position themselves effectively are very self-aware, hence knowing personal strengths and weaknesses and posting accordingly is integral. Play the game that you know you can win.

2. Consistency

You must stay on-brand at all times if you want others to believe in your message, what you stand for, and what you're "selling' which in some case, is an idea or type of persona. So the way you behave across your social channels shouldn't be any different than how you behave in person.

Related: How To Become More Likeable In The Business World

3. Engagement

Engage with those you wish to influence, whether it's through social or personal interactions. Utilizing multiple tools can place you in front of a potential audience of millions, so ensure you've nailed the first and second points that I put forward earlier, as mistakes can ruin a personal brand very quickly. (We've all heard stories of videos ruining a reputation after they go viral– Yes, Paris, we all saw it.)

Remember that Snapchat -like any other social platform- is just another tool in your kit. It's not the only answer, rather it's simply another method to build on a personal brand that you've already been working on through other mediums. That said, it's incredibly powerful as currently there are over 250 million Snapchat users (100 million active daily). If you're successful in building your personal brand on there, the potential rewards are enormous. This really is the next big thing, and the faster you master it, the faster you will be able to leverage its growth to support you personally. Be authentic, have a clear goal, a consistent message and get creative.

Most of all have some fun with it- you can find me on Snapchat with my username: TomOtton.

Consider these questions when using Snapchat to create a personal brand:

A. What message do I want to deliver? What do you want to be known for? How best can you leverage your strengths?

B. How am I going to structure my Story throughout the day? Will you go ad hoc or will you create an ongoing and engaging narrative?

C. What value am I providing the viewer? Are you providing entertainment or are you educating?

D. What will I not put on Snapchat? What limits are you setting in terms of shared public content?

E. How can I be more creative to attract more viewers to my content? Snapchat currently has no "discover' feature, so you need to drive people to your Snapchat content using your other channels. Here's how you do it:

  • Post your account details (Snapcode) on your other channels and tell people why they should follow you
  • Provide exclusive content on Snapchat and then talk about it on other channels
  • Put your Snapcode on your email signature and in all of your online bios
  • Work with other influencers to get visibility for your account on their channels

Related: The Social Media Handbook: Five Tips For Entrepreneurs Looking To Leverage The Internet

Tom Otton

Founder and Managing Director, Create Media Group

As the Managing Director and founder of digital communications agency Create Media Group, Tom Otton has been at the forefront of the growth in the digital space in the UAE in recent years. Taking the company from a startup to employing a team of 17 with an average growth in turnover of 50% year on year for the past three years. The company works with brands such as Red Bull, Jaguar Land Rover, Standard Chartered Bank, Flash Entertainment, and both Abu Dhabi and Dubai Governments.
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