“If content is the fuel for your personal brand, social media is the engine.”

Jayson DeMers

Let’s talk about branding. When we think of branding, we think of companies and corporations like Apple, Starbucks, Super Dry, Ikea, Subway – businesses with a distinct, immediately recognisable image. But it goes a lot further than a corporate logo. You and I, we are all brands, and whether you’re an entrepreneur or a creative, you need a good hook – something fresh and different, that sends a clear message about who you are and what you have to offer.

A strong personal brand will make you stand out from the crowd in a competitive marketplace, whatever your niche, and should be appealing enough that people want to connect with you. Social media is a major key to managing your brand online, and should be the backbone for your personal branding strategy.

Let’s take a look at what steps you need to follow to create and maintain a strong personal brand on social media.

 

Image credit: Feldman Creative
Image credit: Feldman Creative

YOUR PERSONAL BRAND STATEMENT

 

Firstly, you need to work out exactly what it is that makes you – you. What your areas of expertise are, and what sets you apart from the competition. This is also known as finding your USP, or Unique Selling Point. This will help you create your personal branding statement.

A personal branding statement is a short sentence statement that clearly tells people who you are, what you do best, your skills and what you enjoy. Knowing these will give you confidence in marketing yourself to others. It is recommended that you choose one to three areas of expertise. Think about what your passions and interests are – really sell your enthusiasm as well as your expertise. When creating your statement, always keep your audience in mind – the people you’re trying to connect with.

If you can boil this down to two sentences, you have a ready-made personal statement that you can use as your LinkedIn header, the blurb for your Facebook page or WordPress blog, and your Twitter biography.

 

CROSS-PLATFORM BRANDING

 

If you are reaching out to your audience across more than one social media platform, it’s really important to make sure that your social media profiles are consistent. We’ve already discussed in an earlier blog that having just one social media avatar and using it repeatedly across all your social networks is recommended.

It is recommended to keep the same name, profile photo or logo, and other imagery (banners, backgrounds, colour schemes). If your profiles match up, it creates a consistent image of you in the minds of others.

 

GETTING THE MOST OUT OF SOCIAL MEDIA PROFILES

 

Use your social profiles proactively to gain influence and followers. Sharing your enthusiasm, achievements and expertise with others is a great advertisement for effective collaboration. Use groups on Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ to find communities with like-minded people. On Twitter, follow hashtags and join conversations, to draw yourself to new connections who can reinforce your brand. Keep your LinkedIn profile professional; ensure the information on it is accurate and always up to date and garner endorsements from your connections to advertise your skills.

In terms of sharing content on these different platforms, the key is ‘quality over quantity’. One expert, Kevan Lee at BufferSocial, recommends posting on Facebook 2 x a day, Twitter 5 x a day, LinkedIn 1x a day, Google+ 2x a day, Pinterest 5x a day, and Instagram 1.5x a day. In the same piece, the writer goes on to suggest aiming for a 4:1 ratio of ‘staples’ and ‘variety’ in your daily posts: For example, of your five Tweets, four will be of subjects of interest to potential clients, and every fifth a link about yourself e.g. a new blog post.

You might also want to consider using a tool such as Hootsuite to schedule your social media updates, a topic we have previously covered here.

Share your content wisely – always keep your posts engaging, on topic and targeted, and reflective of your genuine interests. Your personal brand needs to be authentic and engaging, but everything you put out needs to be high quality fare.

 

STAY PROFESSIONAL

 

If you are an avid tweeter or Facebook addict in your downtime, it’s a good idea to have separate work and personal accounts. Establish a separate professional persona, and keep it polished. Keep your personal page strictly for personal contacts and check your privacy settings are locked down.

Personal profiles offer a window into your world, and while this is the great thing about social media, it is also why it requires constant, careful monitoring. A personal brand is not only about getting your name out there, but also about making sure you control what is out there.

 

SOCIAL MEDIA OPTIMISATION

 

You can use numerous social media management tools to measure the effectiveness of your engagement – this is called ‘social media optimisation’.

  • Use Mention to track your mentions.
  • Adjust your email notifications to see different types of interactions (followers, comments, mentions, messages) on your various profiles.
  • Sign up to Google Analytics, a highly recommended tool for optimising your reach on social media. It allows you to find out how your visitors locate your website, identify which pages and links get the most hits, identify your visitor demographics (aka visitor segmentation). All this and more, and it is completely free of charge.

These tools can let you discover how things are going, what is working well, and what needs to be fixed or dropped; this data will allow you to continually fine-tune your social media platforms.

 

NETWORKING

 

This is where social media comes into its own, and something that will enhance your profile and influence if you have an engaging and appealing personal brand.

  • Surround yourself with the best people, and be confident to reach out to leaders in their field, people you admire and respect and mentors you can learn from.
  • Make yourself available and follow it up by staying in touch with connections.
  • Celebrate and share your successes and achievements, and be sure to reciprocate with people who have helped you. Live up to your brand – if you have described yourself as reliable, follow this through in your collaborations, a bad reputation is easily gained and hard lost.

 

IN SUMMARY

 

Make yourself memorable, share your content wisely, increase your profile by making social media work for you, surround yourself with peers and mentors, establish a reputation and reinforce it (actions speak louder than words), and keep working to project a strong, authentic and consistent brand identity.

 

A versatile and creative freelancer with a keen interest in pop culture and social media, James Gent has contributed to numerous websites, blogs, magazines and books. In 2014, he wrote the biography for the official Monty Python website.

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