Social media is everywhere, and we all know this. Brands are increasingly using social media to connect with consumers. This is with a view to either actively engage with the existing ones or even to quickly respond to their grievances or questions. Accordingly, the logical question that arises is: where do you stand ? Where is the brand YOU really placed in the wide social dimension, and is that in fact what you want it to be ?
Personal branding is not new, but the advent of the Internet age and dozens (soon to be hundreds) of social media platforms has made it easy and attractive for nearly anyone with a computer and something to say to start creating an on-line image. Developing a strong personal brand takes more than a couple of tweets and the occasional blog posts. If you don’t think about what your personal brand has to say and how you want to be known, you risk being overlooked, misunderstood or even worse, forgotten. So I am going to talk about personal branding with Social Media, what you can do in order to control and manage the brand YOU on social media.
Why are you on social media and what do you want from it ?
The first step is to introspect. Why are you on social media, and what would you desire from the social space. It’s great to be specific and narrow down your objective/s. Are you looking at being recognized as a specialist in a particular field ? Or, are you looking to connect with people who share the same hobby as yours ? Business or otherwise, pinpoint your objective/s.
Your Persona and building the brand YOU
A personal brand represents you to the public in a particular way. It may be for business purposes, personal reasons or a mixture of both, but in all cases, your personal brand should send a specific message or create an image in people’s minds about how you want them to see you and react to you or interact with you. Select your networks and your content carefully.
What do you want your brand to look like ? Ask yourself these questions to create an image which speaks for you:
• What do I stand for ?
• What special knowledge do I have that I can share and build on ?
• What is my area/s of expertise ?
• What are my interests ?
• Who do I want to reach with my message ?
• Do I want to persuade, educate, inform, and/or share ?
• Do I want to use my brand to build a leadership stance, or do I want to be headhunted ?
Once you have identified answers to these questions, it’s time to choose your media and networks for your content carefully.
Identify your platform
For example, if you are a creative person or are in a creative field, say writing articles, then you must be on Pinterest. Or, if you are an editor or an advertising professional, then you must have a YouTube presence. For most people, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter are great channels to begin with.
If you are promoting yourself as an individual, then it would be good to work on your personal profile. If you are a professional or self-employed, then you may consider creating a dedicated page and/or accounts in the name of your business. You can build a personal profile and then introduce your page to the world at a later stage. Works just as well !
It’s now time to clean up and shape up those networks. Get an interesting bio in place, work on your introduction and get a clean and appropriate picture up. Read through the security settings and clean up those naughty albums. People are bound to glance through your profile and drunk pictures, however much fun you had that evening, do not present a nice image to most professionals. It’s great to keep a healthy balance of content that won’t come across as too boring, but shows you as the interesting person that you are.
Build your network via sharing and co-creation
This is an ongoing process; however, here is what you can start with. Go through your address book and invite the relevant connections to your networks. Join relevant groups on LinkedIn, follow opinion leaders on twitter and on Google. If you have the time and are comfortable with the concept, consider starting a blog where you talk about yourself, your ideas and your message. Building an engaged network is serious work. You need to be interesting, consistent and relevant. And NO, you may no longer post any profanity, or loose opinions that may come to your mind. Remember: perceptions are being built and broken every time you post. It is advisable to be neutral online with respect to any personal opinions you may have of say, politics or religion.
Spend the Time contributing to your Social Media Platforms
Once you are a member of various social media networks, you must regularly contribute to them. Spend time on building conversations.
- Comment on what other people post and tweet on the platforms and networks you follow. Give advice that can help establish you as an expert in your chosen field.
- Create periodic (at least one per week) posts on your networks that advance your message. Tweet more often.
- Look for opportunities to write about your branding message, such as through guest blogging. If you write something that gets posted on-line, be sure to share it with all your networks and social media platforms.
- Cross link content in your platforms as most people have more than one network – just like you.
- Be honest. It’s important to come across as knowledgeable and equally important not to be preachy. No one knows everything, so please, don’t sound like you do.
- Respond. At times people are so busy delivering their message that they do not respond to some one else’s. If a person from your network asks for help or assistance reply, respond, be honest but don’t ignore.
Finally, create bonds !
Bonds are special and take time, but they last longer and have stronger mind shares. What ever your objective may be for being on social media, ensure that you allow a friendly down-to-earth persona to reflect. Not only should your network know about your work and expertise but also get a glimpse in to your fun and human side !