Social media and personal branding: an essential guide
In 2019, I presented information to several groups about the aspect of personal branding and its effectiveness online. I asserted that a strong social media brand could be:
1. An asset
2. An assistant
3. And an amplifier
A social media brand is an asset in that it provides valuable digital real estate in the event someone is searching for you or someone with your skills or expertise. It is an assistant, because it always works on your behalf, even on a 24/7 "always-on" approach. Finally, it's an amplifier because, in a world where it can be challenging to get your voice heard in a corporate environment, social media can amplify your voice to ensure it falls on the right audience's ears.
Where to get started
Getting started in creating an active social media personal brand doesn't have to be a daunting task. You just have to ensure you check off a few boxes on the right digital platforms.
For many executives or business leaders, these platforms include LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
I like thinking of LinkedIn as a social media whiteboard. What does a whiteboard in your office do? It allows you to collaborate, ask questions, form ideas, and demonstrate your knowledge base.
For many people, this means posting content relevant to your industry. For others, LinkedIn is the opportunity to discuss what you're working on right now (to some extent), treating it like a "work journal."
Twitter is a content waterfall. A real-time deluge of information. Therefore, it can be easy to get lost in the shuffle and not enjoy everything this platform has to offer.
Because of Twitter's attention-deficit, each user has the opportunity to talk about many different topics in a given day.
On Twitter, you don't have to "stick to your day job." You can discuss work, but you can also discuss sports or anything else you're interested in.
Now, Facebook is all about relationships and connections. This channel is the one in which you're more likely to be connected with family members. The most effective content on this channel is going to be that which focuses on your relationships with others.
That said, you can share information about work or what you do for a living, but it may not resonate unless there's a personal tone or commentary with it. Think of Facebook as a place where you have to explain your job to your parents, which can often be tricky.
Instagram hosts both aspirational and inspirational visual content. You should post images that showcase "your world," but there should be a balance between being real and showing your ideal self. Don't be fake. Don't get too airbrushed or heavily edit your photos. It's okay to be real on that platform.
You can also use Instagram as a research tool to find communities and topics you may be interested in. Not only can you follow people (and you might want to follow high-achieving people at that), but you can also follow hashtags.
Essential Elements to Include on Every Channel
Some basic elements you should include for optimal personal branding success are:
1. A profile photo (preferably taken by someone other than you) that looks like you do right now
2. A strong bio or "about me" information. Again, don't feel the need to stick to your day job. Give people a sense of what they're signing up for if they choose to follow you. Mention your company only if it makes sense to do so.
3. Consistent – not frequent – updates. You should post consistently on these platforms to make it look like someone's behind the wheel. Multiple times per day usually don't cut it unless you're active on Twitter. Otherwise, I would make sure you post NO MORE THAN once per day. On some channels, such as Instagram or LinkedIn, you can even get away with posting 2-3x per week, since the content carries on for a few days, reaching new people. No hard and fast rule says you must post X number of times on a specific social media channel to be successful. Any articles you read otherwise are merely theorizing, based on data. The amount of content shared is going to be different for everyone.
Your presence on all of these sites represents "Digital You." And much of it shows up when people search for you. Make sure you're setting up the right impressions and expectations when people search for you online.
Your digital presence has the potential to do so much for you. But only if you take the first few steps mentioned here to set digital you up for success.