2017-03-26 / Insight

Build your personal brand

EMILY CASWELL

After your last birthday did you send thank you notes for your gifts? Are you comfortable talking with new people? How would you describe your style? Is your desk messy or neat?

The answers to these questions and so many more all help to make up your personal brand. And whether you want to acknowledge it or not, we all have a personal brand and should be mindful of it as it can lead to personal and professional failures and successes.

Social media is a great way to build your personal brand and just as any brand must have a social media strategy, so should you. Here are a few things to consider.

You as a brand:

Whether you’ve been on Facebook since it was only open to those with a .edu email or you are starting your page today, it’s never too late or too early to begin to build a brand. Do this by strategically choosing your profile photo and what words you use to describe yourself. Build your brand by sharing the content you want to reflect that brand.

It could be funny cat videos or articles on professional development or like me, #ootd (outfit of the day) posts. Maybe your brand is eclectic so it’s a mix of all of these things. What you publish on social media makes up your personal brand — it can help it or it can hurt it. So, remember, while almost all social media platforms have privacy settings, nothing on the internet is 100 percent guaranteed private, which is something to keep in mind before you publish anything on any platform. Streamline: It’s standard to have more than one social media account today so it’s important to keep things consistent. You want people to recognize your brand no matter what platform they find you on. Also, consider what platforms are worth your time. LinkedIn is a great tool for professionals, but only if you use it to its full potential. Snapchat is fun, but unless you post consistently and work to build an audience, it doesn’t do much for your personal brand. From a forbes.com article on the topic. “‘A once-weekly Twitter post or monthly Instagram photo are not going to accomplish much, if anything,’ writes Michael Noice, founder of Entrepreneur Coach. ‘For this reason, it’s 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.’”

Positivity is a plus: Some social media experts say “be mindful” of what you post on social media, but, in keeping with my personal brand, I’m a bit more bossy on this topic — be positive with what you post on social media. There is enough negativity in the world, so if you’re posting something crabby, or to make someone jealous or worse yet, if you’re straight up online bullying, stop it. Don’t do it. I might not know you, but I know you’re better than that. For more on the power of positivity see today’s Building Brands column on page 6C.

Beware before you share: I had the opportunity to speak with a group of middle schoolers last week on the topic of fake news and social media. After the talk one of the teachers thanked me and asked if I could speak at her next family gathering. She’s was joking (I think) but she’s right that you don’t have to be a preteen to be warned of the dangers of fake news. It’s out there and sharing it on your social media account is damaging to your personal brand. It’s easy to avoid this pitfall. First, develop trusted news sources and if you see an article and don’t know the source, check it against a source you trust. Second, read the article word for word before posting and lastly, think twice before sharing anything. Articles you share on social media today will be there 20 years later.

React with tact: Speaking of fake news, let’s say you see fake news or something else in your social media feed that you don’t like. How you react impacts your personal brand. My best advice is feel free to ignore it. Just because you read something on social media doesn’t mean you have to react to it. If you feel like you must say something remember that even in our highly-digital world, face to face is the best way to communicate a sensitive topic. If you are unable to speak with the poster one-on-one, private message is best.

Be you: Keeping all of the above in mind, remember that if you’re using social media to build your personal brand, the best way to do that is to be genuine. Do I love my puppy? Yes. Do I love fashion? Yes. Do I love Miller Lite? Yes. Whether you like these facts or can relate to them or not, they are part of what makes up my personal brand. The genuineness of your social media account is what allows it to be used to make in-person connections. In the end, those connections are what truly elevates your personal brand.

Have a question about social media and your personal brand? I am here to help! Contact me at ecaswell@mihomepaper.com

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