Whether you’re a tennis fan or not, you’ve probably heard of Roger Federer. He’s one of the most influential athletes in the world right now, and has been for the past 15 years. During this time, Federer has cultivated a very strong personal brand; so powerful in fact that mega sponsors like Rolex, Mercedes-Benz and Nike all want a slice of it.
With Wimbledon upon us, we thought it would be good to take a look at how Federer rose to prominence off the tennis court, in a bid to understand how companies can learn from his personal branding exploits …
What is a personal brand?
Before the internet, personal brands extended as far as a business card and a handshake. However, social media made it more complex than this and, ultimately, a far more powerful concept. Personal branding is how you’re remembered as an individual. It’s the way you’re perceived by people who’ve never even met you. It’s your trustworthiness and your trademark, all rolled into one.
Quite simply, personal brands can build companies up or burn them to the ground.
The advantages of having a good personal brand
A recent Nielson Consumer Survey found that only 33% of buyers trust messages from a brand, while 90% trust messages from an individual they know. As a business, this should make it pretty clear – bonding with customers on a human level is three times more effective than selling as a faceless corporation.
Allowing yourself (and your employees) to develop their personal brands will help you to:
- Connect with potential customers on common ground.
- Create a more relaxed working relationship in the long-term.
- Build a shape-shifting brand perception that appeals to wider audiences.
Now that we know what it is and what the advantages are, let’s serve up some stats on how Roger Federer built his own personal brand into one of the world’s best …
In 2001, Federer announced himself to the world by defeating the four-time Wimbledon champion, Pete Sampras. This was the tennis equivalent of saying,
“look, I’m going to be a pretty big deal. I know what I’m doing.”
It was only a couple of years after this famous victory that a ponytailed Federer lifted the Wimbledon trophy – his first grand slam singles title. The following year he won three of the four grand slams available to him.
His ascent was meteoric. His dominance was growing. His stock was rising.
Exploding onto the scene in such a way meant that Federer had established himself as an authority, fairly early on in his career. From a branding perspective, this is invaluable, as it sets a firm foundation to grow upon – something which he did, emphatically.
Federer wearing his famous ‘RF’ branded clothing in Rome, 2016.
Whether you’re a new company starting up, or an old company undergoing an overhaul, ensuring your social media campaigns and content are both completed to high standards is the most effective way to become an authority. This doesn’t mean retweeting content without reading it, rewriting other people’s articles, and only using the same four hashtags on every single post.
Everything you share should be relevant to your sector or (at least) topical. Everything you write should be original and (ideally) contain quotes and data garnered by you. This is the best way to make people stand up and take notice … after all, you want them to think,
“Hey, these people are a pretty big deal. They know what they’re doing.”
Remember: you are what you tweet.
Specifically as a recruitment agency, it can be pretty hard to stand out. With around 20,000 recruitment agencies in the UK, establishing an authority in your niche won’t be a walk in the park. You’ll need to factor in a number of things, including your brand voice, the content you want to be known for, why you want to be known for it, and what will it deliver in terms of ROI.
As a recruitment-focused digital marketing agency, we can help you discover and implement all of this – just take a look at our services page to learn more.
Increasing your popularity
After establishing authority from the beginning, the next phase of developing your personal brand is to make it grow. This is where social media comes in. Reaching your target audience has never been easier, with various platforms offering different ways to get in touch with them.
From Twitter to LinkedIn, Instagram to Facebook, choosing the most relevant platforms for your business is important, as you don’t want to waste time marketing to the wrong demographics. Profiling your target audience and conducting some research can help to establish which social media platforms best suit your marketing goals.
Once you’ve done this, you need to become familiar with the content your chosen platform(s) likes. As a general rule, the following types of content are the most effective:
- Facebook – video, statuses and imagery.
- Twitter – quotes, gifs, memes and article links.
- LinkedIn – business-related news, articles, insight and advice.
- Instagram – photographs, although short videos are making a breakthrough.
Social media is far more complex than this though, as all kinds of things need to be taken into account (what time of day to post, consistency, groups, lists etc.). We’ll cover this in a future article but, for now, let’s take a look at Roger’s impressive numbers on social media:
Remember how we mentioned consistency above? Well Federer joined Twitter in April 2013 (just over four years ago) and has made 1,366 tweets in that time. When you break that down, that’s 341 tweets per year – almost one per day! It’s this consistency that’s allowed him to increase his popularity all over the world, gaining new fans and followers.
In case you don’t know what a Klout score is, it’s the level of influence you have online – measured across multiple social media channels. With a score of 90.8, Federer is among the highest in the world, ranking as the 28th most influential celebrity on Twitter. In terms of fellow athletes, only Cristiano Ronaldo and LeBron James outrank him.
Remember: social media is a lifestyle, not something you do on a whim.
Again, from a recruitment agency point of view, there aren’t too many agencies out there at the moment who are utilising social media as effectively as they could be. But there is evidence that this will change in the coming years, as our very own Dan Whitelegg points out in his article on social media and recruitment:
“Over the course of 2016, the average agency Klout score grew from 30.8 to 34.1; a 10.7% increase. This is the highest level of growth since records began. In fact, if this rate of growth continues, the average score in 2017 will hit 37.7, and reach the 40 mark around 2018/2019.”
The trend he’s talking about can be seen in graph form here:
With this kind of foresight then, it’s worth any recruitment agency taking some time to assess their social media strategy (or lack of) and jump on board before the right moment passes by – because catching a train at the right time is easy, catching up to a train that you’ve missed is far more difficult.
For more information on how we can help you grow your social media, check out the benefits of using our social media services here.
Associate with influencers
Something else many companies can learn from Federer is his ability to associate with other influencers. Now, of course his networking pool is slightly more glamorous than most, but the concept remains the same. He gets involved with other influencers, whether on a small or large scale, and this provides access to their world of contacts.
Align yourself with other influencers and you’ll unlock opportunities and reach new fans.
These influencers aren’t necessarily related to his field of specialism, but that doesn’t make them less important. Branching out can find you fans (customers) you never knew you had, and they never knew you existed. Not only this, but by aligning yourself with influencers (particularly ones in your field of specialism) your brand is elevated and you eventually start being seen as one yourself.
‘Getting involved’ with other influencers can be a simple as retweeting and interacting with them, referencing or gain quotes from them or (if you’re very lucky) making guest blog posts or getting them to share your stuff to all of their followers.
Remember: the only way to get better is to surround yourself with people better than you.
As social media continues to advance and form a bigger part of our daily lives (both at work and in our leisure time), personal branding will become more important to businesses. By taking a look at somebody like Roger Federer, we can see how he has managed to translate his tennis success into commercial success – more so than any other athlete in the game. And the defining difference isn’t just because he’s a better player than anyone else; it’s because he’s got his personal brand just right.
Of course, not every company is lucky enough to be world famous and have huge brands knocking on their door with wads of sponsorship money, but it doesn’t matter as this entire concept can be scaled back.
As some post-article reading homework, go and have a look across Federer’s social media channels and even his website. It’s here that you’ll realise just how well the Swiss maestro has got his personal brand nailed down.
Game. Set. Match.
What are your thoughts on personal brand? Does your own personal brand convey the right message about you? Get in touch below!