I can’t believe I haven’t blogged on this before.
I often get asked to speak about personal branding, I’ve given a few university lectures on the topic and also include it in my individual coaching sessions.
So here goes …
For some of you, personal branding + social media may sound like bullsh*t.
The concept doesn’t suit everyone. Millions of social media users are happy to be online to chat to family and friends, be entertained, and keep up with the news. You don’t care how the rest of the world sees you – you are who you are. You might even have an alter ego online, or some sort of anonymous account.
But if you’re using social media to support your personal career and/or your business, it’s worth applying some branding principles to what you do.
Social media tools can support your career by helping you find potential employers, customers and project partners. Using spaces like Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs and online forums, you can create a name for yourself as an expert or leading commentator in your field.
This is particularly so if you consider social tools to be your personal newspaper / chat show / opinion column / town hall meeting. Today you don’t need to rely on the mainstream press for some publicity or being invited to speak at a conference. Done well, you can use your social media accounts to be your conduit to the wider world. (Note: gaining coverage in the mainstream media and being invited to speak at conferences are two potential outcomes of having a good social media profile).
Here’s two things to consider in your approach:
1. Define your communication goals
- These usually support your business goals. Remind yourself, what are you in the business of?
- Who’s your target customer or audience member?
- What do you want to be known for? They are your key messages.
- Write down your comms goals and then how you’re going to support this with social media.
For example: Imagine you’re Mr Fred and you create gorgeous letterboxes. Make sure you say just that in your bio: “I’m Mr Fred. I create gorgeous letterboxes”. A bio that says “Cat lover, #Qanda fan, can’t stomach coffee” may be fun, but it’s not doing your business goals any favours. Share lots of photos of letterboxes. Write a blog about bad letterboxes. Find sensational letterbox images for your background design on social networks. Find other people who write about letterboxes. You might talk about lots of other things online: your day, your garden, your new staff, community events. But a large percentage of what you write should be about letterboxes, to remind people of what you’re about.
Sounds simple, right? Yet I still see a lot of business accounts lose their way. And you don’t want to turn into Mr Fred who’s tweeting about politics or the AFL continually, when he originally embarked on using social to promote his letterbox business.
[Another teeny tip: look back over your profiles occasionally and see what you've been sharing overall. Are you spruiking too much? Looking spammy? Banging on about the same thing too much? Have you been too quiet?]
2. Consider how to represent yourself
Look at yourself as if you’re Pepsi or Mercedes Benz or Google or the World Wildlife Fund. Develop a brand image and try to maintain some consistency. On social networks, consider:
- Your profile image – a consistent image across networks will help build your brand recognition
- The words you use in your social network bios
- The type of content you share and the language you use
- Who you associate with (follow, retweets, conversations, re-blogs and so on)
It wouldn’t have escaped your notice that I am my product, and I use my image not only on this blog (and a large one!) but across all my platforms, most of them being the same image or very similar.
How you represent yourself visually can have a big impact on whether people engage with you. The more you share, the more reassuring your accounts are.
Take the two examples below. Which Twitter profile would you prefer to follow?
Any questions or tips of your own?
You can invite me to present at your next team training day or conference. Topics can include personal branding right through to ‘how to use LinkedIn’ and more. Email admin @prakky.com.au