How Steve Stanulis Built a Lasting Personal Brand Online
Key takeaways on creating your own destiny from the filmmaker and influencer.
Ever since the world was shocked by Covid-19, the landscape of how we do business and consume content has changed forever. The focus has shifted to the online world in a multitude of ways. Social media, constant talks of a future metaverse, NFTs and cryptocurrency are at the helm of a shift in culture, connecting more of us than ever and also setting off an ongoing race for online real estate.
A sudden push to decentralize the power of major brands has taken effect across every single industry. Influencers now realize the value of their personal brands, promoting their own products — from energy drinks to cosmetics — rather than giving up a large percentage of their earnings to a major company.
One individual who's excelled at building their brand is film-industry entrepreneur and social media influencer Steve Stanulis. Aside from his notoriety as an actor and producer, Stanulis is also well-known for working security for some of today's biggest stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, among others. But Stanulis has taken his brand far beyond his role offering protection to Hollywood luminaries.
Leveraging his vast network, Stanulis has been able to build a powerful online brand that is recognized across the world. Despite initially working behind the scenes in the entertainment space, Stanulis has amassed an Instagram following of more than 700,000 users and started his own namesake independent-film company.
I recently spoke with Stanulis and took away some key tips about personal branding that will hopefully help guide you on your own journey.
1. Focus on creating good content
The main factor in building a lasting online brand is creating good content for your audience. It's vital to keep an audience engaged throughout your career, keeping your brand alive and well. "I kind of hope my work and content speak for themselves," explains Stanulis, whose output over the last several years has included directing and producing a documentary on A Bronx Tale star-turned-convicted criminal Lilo Brancato Jr. "I would say my content is unique due to all my prior career experiences."
By staying original, Stanulis gives his supporters content they can only find coming from him. And it's equally important to give people a reason to want to follow your brand and journey as you build from the ground up. No one will buy into your brand if it just looks like everything else.
2. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there
In order to grow your brand, you need to be willing to step outside your comfort zone and create your own opportunities. "I made myself indispensable by not waiting for my agent to call me," explains Stanulis. "I hated to wait for others to control my destiny, so I made my own projects. I learned how to produce and direct. I was never afraid to put myself out there, bad or good, and stayed proactive while others stood idle."
Finding the courage to put yourself out there in the initial stages of your brand development will be important for its longevity. Heed Stanulis' example amd take advantage of every opportunity to do so.
3. Build a strong social media presence
Stanulis' 700,000 Instagram followers are a testament to the marketing he's done online. There are millions of users on social media every day, and you can leverage the many different platforms available to build brand awareness and grow a following. Find which networks work best for your branding and interact with other users on each of them.
Partnering with other influencers and influential pages is a great way to get an initial boost of traffic to your social profiles. It's also very common for social media marketers to run targeted ads, which is another great way to get exposure early on.
4. Land in the media
Another aspect of Stanulis' brand building has always been PR. Getting your brand discovered and talked about is one of the most important things you can be doing to instantly elevate your profile. "I would say hire a great PR firm and social media marketer," Stanulis reiterates. "The media is unscrupulous; they can take 5% of fact and twist it to something totally different. This helps protect you from getting things spun in an incorrect manner. You need a great PR person to keep you out there in the press and continue to generate great content."
Your brand's image is everything. Finding ways to land media coverage boosts social presence and can help with SEO and other key elements of a person or brand's online presence. Contrary to popular belief, people do still read articles. You can get new eyes on your brand just by getting covered in a popular magazine. It's also important to be able to use press and the media during crucial moments in branding. Whether you need to announce something or clarify something with your audience, generating press coverage is essential.
Stanulis has now completely shifted focus on growing his Stanulis Films empire, continuing to work on projects in multiple roles as an actor, producer and director. His knowledge of the industry and strong personal brand only drive his business endeavors forward, making it easier to maneuver in his respective industries.
Although building a relevant personal brand can seem daunting at first, the benefits are well worth the effort, money and time investment. With talks surrounding the metaverse increasing, the world seems to be pointing to an even more online-focused era. It will be strong brands that have established themselves that will do the best in the long-term.
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