It seems EVERYONE has a Facebook page, Twitter account, LinkedIn profile, Instagram and TikTok account, and blogs incessantly. It appears to be a necessity to be online… Or is it?
While social media plays an important role in business across the globe, building your personal brand requires you to have some questions answered before you create a digital footprint. If you’re a business owner, leader, or entrepreneur it would seem logical that the more people who can see you, hear from you, and learn what you offer, the better. But what about the rest of the professional world? Is the ability to connect with customers, audiences, staff, and stakeholders and to engage those audiences in non-traditional marketing ways also important?
Yes, if you are using social media wisely.
Social media should be your friend and ally–a powerful tool that offers you reach beyond your own industry, community, and company. However, it is important to get to know this friend slowly and carefully. Remember, social media is a communications and marketing tactic. Like advertising, public relations, direct mail, and networking, it works if you apply a well-crafted and intentional strategy to your efforts, and stay focused on the brand you’re seeking to build.
Here are 12 of my best tips to use social media wisely:
Begin by taking inventory of:
A) Who you are (what’s the brand you’re building and promoting?)
B) Who should know you
C) Where they are (online)
D) The best way to reach them (using social media)
Focusing on your audience is empowering, not limiting. It means you’re talking to people who will get you. Invest the time to develop your target audience.
Apply a strategy to your efforts. You could be damaging your personal brand and professional reputation if you just jump online and haphazardly mess around. You could befriend the wrong connections, post inappropriate or insensitive content, or miss key opportunities. And, without clear direction, objectives, goals, and planning, the returns you’ll see from your effort could be dismal. Instead, if you approach your online positioning, content, and brand with strategy and intention, you can learn, share, and connect in ways that are meaningful to your career. Have a goal, strategy, and game plan in mind before you venture online to collaborate, share and promote.
Nurture and cultivate relationships online. Be willing to share information, celebrate the success of others, ask questions and engage with your online audiences. This takes time, focus, and resources to maintain so make sure that you have the energy and dedication to deploy those resources to maintain your activity and visibility with your online network.
Get clear on your value proposition. Be very clear about what you offer, to whom, and why as you become more active on social media. You’ll want to communicate your value proposition in all ways as you comment, post, share, and engage, answering questions like: How are you different from others like you? How do you put action to the values you promote? What makes you compelling and relevant to the people who value you? Remember that there is only one you. Focus on and embrace what makes you unique.
The goal is consistency, not perfection. You’ve probably heard me say it before, but it still reigns true, consistency is key. Your messaging, behavior, voice, content, and connections should consistently reflect who you are and what you stand for, online just as they do in person. Your online audiences are craving transparency and consistency—the same language, tone, posturing, and attitude – before they will trust and engage with you online.
Place value on relationships. Social media is all about relationships and engagement. It is the give and take, collaboration, and sharing that makes the online forum rich and inviting. Make sure to listen to your clients, employees, and prospects online. They are sharing valuable information about their needs, likes, and dislikes, and they’re talking about you. If you won’t spend the time to listen and respond, then make room for your competitors to do so. The information gathered online is priceless if you pay attention.
Not every company or individual needs to have a pithy blog to be relevant online. There are other options to offer input, advice, and best practices. From LinkedIn groups to Facebook pages, there is a place for everyone to chime in and connect with others.
Know when to respond to a negative comment. Although I do not have a steadfast “rule”, I believe there are best practices to adhere to. For example, develop protocol and guidelines for responding. The last thing you want to do is react out of passion and frustration.
Remember to consider what NOT to post online. For example, someone else’s good news that might not be public yet. Unconfirmed news or suspicion. Private family information, among others.
Authenticity is at the root of personal branding. A target audience looking for someone with your knowledge, opinion, and style will find you if you stay true to your core (authentic) values. Start, and end with authenticity.
Share. Grow. Pay It Forward. Return the favor and help someone else. When you find something inspiring, share it. When you learn, teach others. Just imagine a world where we’re all empowered! The possibilities are endless!
Set goals. Measure. Benchmark. Assess. Tweak. Personal branding, as well as your social media strategy, is a lifelong process. It evolves, requires, and needs to be tested against goals and desired results on an ongoing basis.