The online competition for attention and engagement has never been more intense. And the rapid rise of AI is exponentially increasing the tension, bringing things to a game-changing level. To stand out from the crowd and compete, leaders need to get their personal and business brands AI-ready.
“Any CEO or entrepreneur who is not preparing their personal and business brands for the coming AI tidal wave is in a dangerous place,” says Karen Tiber Leland, founder of Sterling Marketing Group and author of The Brand Mapping Strategy: Design, Build and Accelerate Your Brand.
Leland explains that AI language models (such as the hyper-popular ChatGPT) rely on large datasets of text from the Internet to learn and generate responses. “You have to teach Google who you are and what your company is about — across the net,” says Leland. “If you don’t have online discoverability, credibility and relatability, you can’t compete.”
Leland says that not having enough quality content that Google can find creates AI generated generic responses about a brand based on the limited information available. “I asked AI about a few new CEO clients recently,” says Leland. “Because they currently have very little online presence, the response was, ‘I don’t have enough information to provide an accurate response,’ or, ‘I’m sorry, I don’t know much about this person.’”
Leland explains that if you are looking to build thought leadership, do a capital raise, find investors, sell your company, entice potential employees or convert customers, not being on the radar becomes a huge opportunity cost. She recommends taking seven essential yet straightforward steps to prepare personal and business brands for AI.
1. Stop Avoiding AI and Embrace Education and Experimentation. The more you avoid AI, the further behind you will get. One way to stop avoiding AI and prepare your brand is to educate yourself with the abundant online resources and experiment to see how it could work for your personal and business brands.
2. Accept the Need to Create a Parallel CEO Brand. 82% of all Americans (88% of Older Millennials) agree that companies are more influential if their CEO and executives have a personal brand. Despite this, Leland says many C-suite leaders still believe they don’t need to create a parallel brand. “What they fail to understand,” says Leland, “is that they already have one. It is just a matter of if they want their brands to be by default or design.”
3. Consistently Create an Abundance of Online, High-Quality Content. AI models can better understand and generate contextually relevant and accurate responses as they become more advanced. If your content is visible on Google and considered an authoritative source, it is more likely to be referenced by AI models when generating answers to relevant queries. Content can be articles, blog posts, podcasts, media interviews, social media posts, videos, etc.
4. Take a Fresh Look at Your Target Audience. Knowing whom you are trying to reach and their concerns is critical in being AI-ready. AI itself can be a good source of gaining data and insights about what your target audience is now wanting and needing. This allows you to create brand messaging and content that resonates with them.
5. Monitor Your Online Reputation Monthly. Keeping track of when you are mentioned online, by whom and what is said is necessary in today’s wired world. A whole host of AI online reputation management tools can help you stay on top of your personal and business brands and allow you to address any issues sooner rather than later.
6. Flip the Focus of Your Social Media. A robust social media presence is undoubtedly essential in building a brand. Leland says the problem is that 80% of most companies’ posts focus on the company, with only 20% being educational or entertaining. “The key is to flip that and start having 80% of your posts written around keywords, industry topics, trends, customer interests and thought leadership,” says Leland.
7. Teach Google Who You Are and What You Stand For. “If you want to be an authority, you must author something,” says Leland. Leland suggests writing at least one long-form (600-1000 words) social media or blog post a month is the minimum you should go for. In addition, she says measuring social media solely through the lens of “engagement” is a mistake. “Part of the purpose of today’s social media posting is to make yourself discoverable to Google and to teach it who you are and what you stand for.”
Leland says the bottom line is that ignoring the trend of AI and chatbots in business and personal branding is a significant mistake. Remember that even if you are not preparing your personal and business brands for AI — your competitors are.