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Whether you’re building your personal brand, your business brand or both, one thing remains true: You need content to help you build trust and followers.

If you’re marketing your small business, it’s important to remember to build your personal brand along with your business’s brand. There are several ways to do this—one is to make yourself the face of the brand.

People want to communicate with other people, not with corporations. Too many companies try to build up their brands in the social world, without having a “face” of the brand, which in the end just hurts them. For example, Scott Monty has been the face of the Ford Motor Company in the social world for the past six years. Monty left Ford at the end of May, and his presence will  go with him. However, the halo will remain around Ford, especially if the company gets someone else to pick up where Monty left off and continue with the conversation and humanization of its brand.

Some companies worry that someone who is the face of the brand will eventually change jobs. But building the face of the brand can be done by more than one person. This can really extend a company’s reach, credibility and authenticity. It can build trust and loyalty in customers.

How to Get Your Brand Out There

Once you’ve decided to be the brand, a blog is a great next step. Many people in social media just publish other people’s links and retweet other people’s thoughts. Then they wonder why social media isn’t working for them. They need to do more.

There’s a huge opportunity for people who can produce original content for social media. My advice: Write what you’re thinking. By that, I mean write what you’re thinking of as a small-business owner. Tweet about it. Start writing one-liners. Put them on Twitter and Facebook and then go from there.

Write Blogs, Build Trust

Take your most popular tweets and posts, or the ones you feel most passionately about, and use them to develop blog posts. You don’t have to write three pages; you don’t even have to write four paragraphs. Seth Godin is one of the most successful bloggers in the marketing world, and he writes in two- to three-sentence paragraphs. He’s a master at expressing ideas that are thought-provoking and easy to read. People are time pressed these days and content can be overwhelming, so make it valuable and easy to read.

Another way to get ideas is start commenting on the things you read, such as other people’s blogs and newsletters, media publications and anything else relevant to your business. You’re already absorbing the content and you probably have opinions when you’re reading it; go ahead and comment on those blogs. One benefit of commenting is that people will start recognizing your name, another is it gives you material for a blog post.

For example, I save the comments I write in my email Drafts folder. I use the subject line as a label for the topic. After I’ve saved the drafts I can come back and turn these comments into blog posts. I can even make the comment itself the blog post. After all, it’s still my writing. (Check out Meddle.it, which makes this whole process easy and allows you to share/syndicate your comments to your social platforms with a few easy clicks.)

The New Networking

Is this an easy process? No. Is your time investment going to pay off? Absolutely. Think of it this way: When you walk into a new networking group, one where you know nobody, and you start shaking hands, does everyone in the room offer to buy your product and connect you with their best friends?

No. You have to come back five, six times, or maybe even more over the course of an entire year. People want to buy things from and work with people they know and trust—and you can work on those relationships through your content every day from your office, from your home, the train. You can be building that trust by communicating on the social platforms and building relationships and looking people in the eye digitally.

Return on Relationship

Every blog post I write I publish on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. I also publish it on Tumblr and on Listly, which is a site just for lists—people love lists. All these things will grow your relationships and enhance the trust and loyalty of people who follow you. In the end it produces what I call a Return on Relationship, which leads directly to your return on investment.

We live in this new world—it’s the Age of Influence—where anyone can build an audience and effect change, advocate brands (personal or business), build relationships and make a difference. You can, too.

Read more articles on marketing.

Photo: iStockphoto

Originally posted SEPTEMBER 15, 2015 American Express OPEN Forum blog

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