Contrary to the past, the world we live in today mainly revolves around technology, access to quick information and saturated markets.
With the advancement of technology, now more than ever, consumers’ lifestyles have evolved as well – the way they interact with organizations, products, and even the people closest to them have dramatically changed over the years.
As a result, businesses have now been subject to increased difficulties in keeping up with today’s fast-paced digital world. However, Ahmad Imam, also known as the social media kingmaker, presents himself undeterred by these ever-changing and challenging circumstances. In fact, his hard work and unorthodox approach toward social media earned him the “International Influencer of the year 2022” award.
From the very start of his journey, Imam has utilized his social media platforms, specifically LinkedIn, with unfiltered transparency and honesty to relay his personal experiences and share his story.
Immigrating to Australia at the age of 4 and being a “small brown-skinned immigrant with thick glasses, and an unkempt Afro,” Imam had been subject to bullying most of his childhood and due to his name, race and appearance was subject to bias, both conscious and unconscious, in his adulthood.
Despite it being a sensitive topic, he decided to record and post a video on his LinkedIn profile detailing his experiences with bias, and the lessons he learned about society, human behaviour, and the fact that bias is built on a foundation of a lack of understanding which leads to dangerous assumptions.
He innately knew that speaking his truth and passing on his message would generate conversation and allow the community to explore topics often not discussed in order to potentially find a collective solution.
The video went on to garner thousands of likes, comments, and 100,000+ views, helping Imam learn two of the most powerful lessons; “nobody cares what you look like or sound like, however, what they do care about is your message” and “confidence is simply having the courage to speak your truth.”
Moving forth, Imam has subsequently gone on to reinforce his message of kindness and unity as the basis of his approach to social media. He believes that rendering truth and vulnerability in one’s content is the most impactful element to help build a strong personal brand and build trust in the process.
According to Imam, consumers are no longer gravitating towards businesses with the best brand image. The days of high-quality, inauthentic, and expensive marketing campaigns are long gone. Instead, Imam stresses the importance of businesses “connecting with their audience at a more personal level” by essentially amplifying the brands of individuals, building brand ambassadors, and strong personal brands who serve as the faces and voices of the business.
Today, consumers seem more inclined to make their buying decisions based on who they trust and who has similar values. In his very own words, Imam maintains his definitive claims that “you cannot get more personal than connecting with your audience as a human being.”
And there is no better way to connect than via social media. Today you can personally connect with thousands without spending thousands on a marketing budget. As Imam states “you only need two things to connect with your audience and build your personal brand, a phone and an impactful message. That’s it.”
Coming a long way from the awkward teenager who at one point felt undeserving of taking up the voice space, the Imam we know today never shies away from speaking his mind. The young kid who once felt that he didn’t have the confidence to look people in the eyes, is now giving his input on matters he deems necessary and has built a community of people who believe what he believes.
He projects on a critical front in regard to the autocratic approach to leadership he has experienced, labelling them as the “most toxic environments (he) had ever encountered.” Imam suggests that leading by fear fosters a culture where the entire organization is afraid to speak up, afraid to share ideas, and afraid to innovate. Which of course is detrimental to any organisation.
In this way, the social media kingmaker Ahmad Imam takes his approach a step further. He believes that in order to lead through influence as opposed to the standard and dated authoritative approach of leading through fear, one must peal back a few layers and show people the human being behind the business, the human being behind the title.
Core values shouldn’t remain limited to organisations. For a business to develop a solid brand, authenticity, and trust with their stakeholders, leaders must build a personal brand that shows that they genuinely care and encourage contribution, collaboration and freedom to share ideas, feedback, and innovations.
Having learned through his many failures as a business manager, Imam says, “Leadership is not about power… it’s about having a clear vision and the ability to inspire and empower others to willingly join you on that vision. Therefore, real leadership is about influence not authority.”
Throughout his journey on social media, Imam has not only stayed true to his inner self but also made a conscious effort to reinforce to those following, investing, and working with him, to express themselves with authenticity. Imam is of the view that it is essential that your personal brand should not be the creation of a ‘character’ but the amplification of your true, authentic self.
A firm believer that “there is no better way to communicate a message than via a story,” Ahmad Imam has always utilized his social media platforms to tell compelling true stories that have largely resonated with his audience.
As he has now amassed well over 1 million followers on LinkedIn and 100,000+ followers on Instagram in less than a few years and his content consistently gains 2 million views per month on average, Imam certainly walks the talk and proves that personal branding is not just ‘fluff’ but opens doors to real world opportunities, as he and his high profile executive clients have experienced first-hand.
Ahmad stays affirmative in his belief of staying true to oneself. It is essential to “not obsess about being popular, but to obsess about being yourself.” In fact, this is the key to not only remaining consistent on social media but building a strong personal brand, and trust with your ideal client profile.