What Gaining 1MM Followers Has Taught Me About Personal Branding3 min read
Shaun McBride is kind of a big deal.
Shaun—better known as Shonduras—has 900K YouTube subscribers, 600K Snapchat followers and has worked with some of the world’s most iconic brands like Google, Samsung and Taco Bell. Recently, he was named to Forbes’ uber-exclusive roster of the 30 best and brightest creatives and entrepreneurs under 30. So, if you don’t know, now you know.
What Forbes doesn’t tell you about Shaun is how he has achieved this level of success while working for himself and staying authentic to his brand. To kick off Hustle&Co’s new series on the most inspiring and influential “hustlers” among us, we sat down with Shaun to better understand what makes him tick.
The influencer-creator thing—everybody’s doing it. How do you differentiate yourself?
“Attention is important, but the right [kind of] attention is even more important,” says Shaun. “I try to do things differently by creating things people aren’t usually expecting. I keep my ideas unique. My goal is to always share my story in a different way than most others are doing it.”
Takeaway: When working on your personal brand, remain authentic and know your value as an individual. Nielsen research found that while just 15 percent of people trust what a brand says about itself, 90 percent will believe endorsement of a friend, peer or family member. In other words, no matter how differentiated you think you are, your work and your business relationships should ultimately speak for themselves.
What websites do you use for personal branding?
“Shonduras.com is where I share my strengths and give an overview of how I create. I also try to stand out by making sure I have little pitch decks for unique campaigns I put together and share those often with potential clients.”
Takeaway: Many entrepreneurs and creatives are so focused on client work that they neglect their own personal brand. Storytelling as it pertains to your brand and your business is critically important, especially in hyper-crowded industries. Need some inspiration? The Muse and SquareSpace recently published a piece highlighting 35 of the best personal branding sites they’d ever seen. Each is unique and authentic—have a look.
How do you use Twitter, Instagram and other social platforms to build your brand?
“For me, Twitter is great for connecting with new people and opportunities. Instagram is more about showcasing my story and my content. YouTube is where I go hard to interact and create daily! Snapchat is also a tool I use often, as it’s super engaging and [allows me to collect] instant feedback on content.”
Takeaway: When it comes to using social media for personal branding objectives, avoid falling into the trap of auto updating across each of the major platforms. For each channel, consider that platform’s core strengths: Is it visual content? Is it real-time conversations and networking? Is it short-form video? Next, study your audience composition on each. A designer might have similar follower counts on Twitter and Instagram for example, but Twitter might have more business networking potential, whereas Instagram might amass more peer followers.
How important has networking been to your success?
“Networking is huge,” says Shaun. “Most of my biggest opportunities have come from friends and people I met through networking. As they say it’s not what you know, rather who you know … whoever ‘they’ is.. [they] are right.”
He adds: “To find the right events, I look at how many people will be attending and how many days it will take away from my work flow. I always find reasons to make networking trips worthwhile.”
Takeaway: Networking works, but you must approach it wisely. Simply showing up at an event or conference is unlikely to yield ROI. You should always approach these events with a game-plan: Can you set up meetings in advance? Can you browse an attendee or speaker list beforehand? Consider your goals and how you plan to achieve those through communications, in-person meetings, presentations on the ground and even collateral.
This interview is part of Hustle&Co‘s series, “The Hustlers,” which profiles inspirational, influential and up-and-coming independent talent.</em?