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Sharing online allows you to craft an online persona that reflects your personal values and professional skills. Even if you only use social media occasionally, the content you create, share or react to feeds into this public narrative. How you conduct yourself online is now just as important as your behavior offline.
Building your personal brand on social media takes some work, but it could land you your next job opportunity or help you to foster valuable connections. Follow the ten steps below to ensure your online branding is working for you.
1. Fully Update Your Social Media Accounts
Decide which social media account(s) you are going to focus on, and delete any old accounts that you are no longer using. For the networks you will be using, make sure all of your information is complete and accurate. This will help you to build traffic to the networks you want to showcase your work. It can also remove any potential “questionable” content from years past that doesn’t have a positive effect on your professional image.
2. Identify Your Area of Expertise
Everyone's an expert at something - whether it’s content marketing or having an encyclopaedic knowledge of your favorite TV show. Is it time for you to experiment a bit more? What type of content have you created that your followers have responded to most? Can you replicate this with other similar content? The more unique and engaging content you create on your chosen topic of expertise, the more your followers will start to think of you as a leader in your chosen field.
3. Make Posting Easy with Apps
Forgotten passwords, busy day jobs and content creation; maintaining an online presence can be time-consuming; but there are many social media apps at hand to make life easier. Sprout, Buffer, and Hootsuite all connect to your social media networks and allow you to cross-post across different social networks and schedule posts; removing the need to login to multiple websites. Most major social media networks, including Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook are compatible with these applications.
4. Share Content On a Regular Basis
In the early days of social media, the more you posted, the more engagement you could drum up. Today, however, over-posting leads to fatigue and annoyance. You want to keep the lines of communication open with your audience, but you also don’t want to overshare so much that you look desperate. The sweet spot is posting around 3-4 times per week for individuals.
As Michael Noice, founder of Entrepreneur Coach, explains, “A once-weekly Twitter post or monthly Instagram photo are not going to accomplish much, if anything. For this reason, its best to focus on two or three carefully chosen social networks and try to be active on them, rather than posting sporadically to a half-dozen.”
There will be days when you don’t post, and that’s perfectly fine. Analyse the data associated with your posts and identify a pattern that works for you. If you’re having trouble finding content to share and want more insight into what’s popular among users, try searching via hashtag on Twitter, using news aggregator sites like Feedly, or signing up for Google Alerts.
5. Create & Curate Engaging Content
Reposting (or curating) others’ content is always a smart thing to do, but it’s not all you should be doing to build your personal brand. You also need to share content that you’ve written yourself, to demonstrate your expertise within your industry. This type of content shows you have knowledge of the latest trends in that industry and how it is evolving.
Creating engaging content means taking a fresh approach to the types of updates you share with your network. Don’t be afraid to occasionally talk about your own achievements, or even add engaging tidbits about your personal life (topics such as travel, hobbies, etc.are suitable). After all, social media is about individuals first. Sharing some of this information provides your audience with a glimpse of who you really are and what you’re about - just ensure you don’t overshare or make it all about you.
If you want to talk about your employer online, make sure you access your company’s social media guideline before doing so. Many companies encourage employees to share their content, but others can be very strict in prohibiting employees from advocating for their brand. Contact your HR department for more information.
6. Import Your Contacts
You might be amazed to see how many people you already know on the social media networks you’re using. There may be tens, or even hundreds, of people with whom you haven’t yet connected with. Import your email contacts from Gmail or Outlook, or contacts from your phonebook, into your social networks to find out how many connections you’re missing. Linkedin, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter all allow for a free import of a certain number of contacts.
7. Keep it Positive
You now know some of the things you should be doing on social media to build the best social impression for yourself, but do you know what not to do to keep that impression a positive one? Think of your social media interactions and content creation as part of a resume of your work and a reflection of your professional attitude and overall personality. Avoid inflammatory religious or racial comments, and be careful when making political commentary that others may consider offensive.
If you have concerns about not being able to voice your opinions to the extent you wish, consider creating two sets of social media accounts: one for private use (say whatever you want), and one for personal use (in which your responses and shares are heavily calculated). Keep your personal pages private to just close friends and family, and use your professional accounts to build new connections and career opportunities.
8. Find & Join Groups
Facebook and LinkedIn both offer thousands of opportunities to join groups focused on specific industries or topics. Use the search bar on each network to find groups that are linked to your specific area of expertise, then you’ll be able to share your insights and build authority around your personal brand. Keep in mind that industry groups may be overcrowded with your competitors, so smaller, topic-based groups may be more fruitful in terms of reaching your audience.
Social Media Groups Can Help You:
- Challenge and motivate yourself
- Push you to achieve your goals
- Keep you accountable
- Get ideas
- Receive feedback
- Gain confidence
- Expand your skills
- Test your knowledge
- Develop leadership skills
- Help others
- Do some good
- Make friends
- Discover new opportunities
Once you’re a member of your preferred social media groups, don’t be afraid to jump into discussions and add your unique insights. It can be difficult to remember sometimes that that’s what social media is all about. So don't be afraid to have conversations. If you simply join a group and don’t participate, you won’t gain any of the benefits listed above. On the other hand, showing that you’re responsive will help you build your personal brand in larger communities beyond your own.
9. Keep Your Brand Voice, Image & Tone Consistent
You’ve probably already figured out that sticking to your defined persona is important. If a popular political commentator suddenly and radically switched parties, no doubt he or she would lose a lot of fans overnight. You must also remain consistent with your ideas and the ways you present them so that you’re memorable and trustworthy.
Dining the tone of voice that works best for your brand may entail some trial and error, but there are personal branding guides you can use to determine the best fit for you. It’s not as easy as saying “I want to be funny,” you need to further develop your ideas to support your approach.
Following your brand guidelines helps to control people’s perceptions. You can damage an otherwise flawless reputation if one of your profiles shows up with content or images that don’t match up with your brand’s voice.
10. Study Influencers
Connecting with and collaborating with influences is a great way to get your brand known, but it does take some time. You have to spend time developing relationships with influencers before they’ll see you as an expert.
LinkedIn is a great place to find and engage with other experts in your industry, as are several influencer marketing tools. Once you’ve found the top influencers in your area, analyze their networks, posting habits and content to determine what you could be doing better. Notice how their followers respond to what they post, and learn best practices from their personal branding strategies and execution.
Creating a personal brand on social media isn’t easy. It requires a lot of thought and research to do successfully. It is not about what you look like or where you live, it’s about what you stand for and what people should expect when they see you’ve posted a new piece of content. Think long-term and remember to take note of what’s working and not working and adjust as necessary.