A brand? That only relates to companies, right? Ah, gather around and I shall tell you a tale!
While we typically think of a ‘brand’ as all the things that come to mind when you picture your favourite coffee, shoes, or cars, it can also be applied to us as people, and the impression we give off to others we meet or connect with.
Personal branding – deciding how you want people to think of you – is something that can be traced back to when we were all fighting for survival in caves, but the official term has only really been used since the early 2000s, bang in line with the rise of social media as a networking tool.
Develop your own brand well and it can help to open doors both personally and professionally, and the best place to do this is through social media. Here are a few tips on nailing your online presence:
Decide where to set up camp
The most common social platform for establishing your personal brand is unsurprisingly LinkedIn, with over 500 million people using it to make connections, find jobs and put themselves ‘out there’ professionally. Other platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram could work for you as well, depending on what industry you’re in.
Delete any old accounts on your preferred platform that may be knocking around, make sure that your profile is up to date (update it as often as you need to), and let’s go!
What’s your tagline?
As it’s the largest professional network, let’s go with LinkedIn as an example of using a platform to set yourself up. Think of yourself as a business and what your tagline/slogan is: this is your value proposition.
Within the recruitment industry recruiters expect candidates to use their LinkedIn profiles to show off their abilities and experience, but it’s not often utilised by recruiters themselves. Make sure you’re using the ‘About’ section of your profile to clearly and concisely describe yourself in a way that will interest your followers.
Gather some easy followers
You can import contacts into your social network from your Outlook or Gmail accounts as well as your phonebook to give your follower numbers a boost, and this can sometimes produce a domino effect: you establish one connection which then creates another five. The main social platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram let you import a certain number of contacts for free.
Establish your strengths
What are you good at? What do you stand for? Have you created or shared any content that can demonstrate this? Take a look back through your posting history, work out what received the most engagement and make an effort to post similar content to increase the number of visitors to your page, and how much they engage with you. The more you do this, the quicker you’ll be thought of as an opinion-leader in your industry.
Content, content, content
Back in the early 2000s when social media was shiny and new the advice was to flood your platforms with content, but with the rise of algorithms and user preference it's become trickier to get your content in front of the right people.
Stick to posting to your page three or four times a week to maintain a good amount of engagement and avoid looking like you’re spamming your followers. At the beginning of each week look back over last week’s content performance and see if there are any patterns forming, such as more popular days and/or specific types of content. This will help you decide how often – and what – to post.
If you’re struggling to think of something to post, search for relevant hashtags to give you some ideas for popular content. As well as industry-specific hashtags don’t forget the tried and tested #MondayMotivation and #FridayFeeling tags to give you some timely suggestions.
IMPORTANT: Ensure that you have read your employer’s social media policy and checked the dos and don’ts before posting anything that references them.
Locate the influencers
Leading on from the above, sniffing out the most influential people in your industry is a good tactic for learning more about what content does well. As well as what they’re posting, look at who they’re connected to, how often they’re engaged and what kinds of responses they’re getting.
Being known as a thought-leader is something that in time you may have yourself, but when you’re just starting out, finding, engaging with and sharing content created by influential people within your industry is a great way to get noticed.
The main point of a brand is that it’s consistent. You wouldn’t expect your favourite companies to suddenly change what they stand for, and the same is true of your followers and – to an extent – what they expect to see from you.
As with deciding what kinds of content to create and curate (share), working out how you want to say things is as important. Decide on your own personal guidelines and stick to them to avoid confusing your audience, and probably yourself!
Join relevant groups
Platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn have thousands of groups geared towards more or less anything you can think of. Joining the right one(s) for you can prove very valuable for making connections and learning about key issues in your industry.
Use groups to give your personal brand a boost - sharing your insight on key topics and building your influence as you create great connections. These groups can become saturated with lots of people trying to do the same thing, so posting shorter, more relevant updates are more likely to work well for you.
Your personal brand online is ultimately what you make it and is your chance to influence how you’re thought of by peers and followers alike. Do it well and you may eventually be thought of as the ‘go-to’ person for opinions on industry issues.
Who knows, you may even have a hashtag of your own one day!