By Ron Young, Founder/CEO, Shocase
In the world of communications and PR, brand management is part of your everyday job. Yet, in the process of working on and strengthening company brands, our own personal brands regularly fall by the wayside; often not receiving serious attention until we’re actively searching for a job. The good news is with the proper use of social media, effectively managing your personal brand can be less demanding than ever before. The trick is grasping the list of social options available and knowing some “strategic” tips to get the most out of them.
Personal Branding Strategies to Note:
1. Professional Social Networks
Professional social networks are the first place to start. LinkedIn has emerged as a top business site for individuals and companies around the world. There are more than 340 million people on LinkedIn at last count, which means it’s a place where professionals need to be, but it’s also a crowded community where you can easily get lost in all the noise.
As a business-oriented site, LinkedIn allows professionals to establish a broad range of professional relationships that can be leveraged when searching for a new job or building business. Profiles convey the same information as a resume, but endorsements and recommendations from colleagues and clients help users stand out from their competition.
2. Vertical-Specific Professional Networks
A more targeted approach can be accomplished by using a “vertical” professional social network. In recent years, sites for doctors (Doximity), IT professionals (Spiceworks), and teachers (Edmodo), to name just a few professions, have emerged. These sites reach a more direct audience, allowing members to efficiently brand themselves to the targets that matter most.
For communications and PR specialists, Shocase, the first network designed exclusively for the world of marketing, has recently launched. Similar to LinkedIn, users can upload their resumes and connect with others in their industry. However, with Shocase, it’s much easier to filter through the “noise” of more general-purpose sites. Shocase allows members to search and follow others, as well as monitor news and activities, by areas of narrowed interest. Additionally, the network enables members to visually present their best work in the form of videos, pictures, slide shares, PDFs and text documents. The combination of a resume and visually appealing work portfolio on a single site is a very powerful branding tool for professionals.
Shocase members can further strengthen their personal brand by actively engaging on the site’s News Feed. Posting thought-provoking content and sharing perspectives on other’s work lets your unique voice be heard in the marketing community and establishes your personal brand as a primary source for industry-specific information.
Another powerful feature on Shocase is the ability to add team members to projects. Crediting others will grow your network. Not only will your project now live on your profile, it lives on everyone’s profile you’ve given credit to, as well. This now boosts your virality on the site and adds credibility to your projects.
3. General Purpose Social Networks
While it’s easy to get lost in the crowd with general social networks like Twitter and Facebook, they can also be helpful for branding when used correctly. The keys are establishing meaningful contacts and producing consistent valuable content. Creating and sharing insights can create a rich network of interconnectivity that benefits everyone involved. While it can be frustrating to have a low number of followers or friends, it is more important to have 100 contacts who are deeply engaged than a million who aren’t.
ForTwitter, the key is regular and consistent updates. Ongoing “conversations” with contacts help to solidify relationships, which will lead to an ever-expanding circle of contacts. The amount of personal effort put into Twitter will determine its overall benefit to one’s brand.
With Facebook, “friends” tend to interact informally. Posts about work-related items are fine, but must be balanced out with posts about personal items. As a non-professional social network, Facebook is a great way to intimately connect with friends and colleagues. There are no built-in tools for searching for job openings or pitching new business, but if leveraged in the right way, it’s very possible to secure new opportunities by using the site as a networking and lead-generation tool.
Blogging is another important element of personal brand building. Blogging can be time consuming, but it is one of the best ways to establish credibility and create a platform for thought leadership.The key element of blogging is addressing the industry with a unique perspective that allows an individual to stand out from the competition. The content and style of a blog are a direct reflection of one’s style, voice and personal brand.
Building and maintaining a personal brand on social media is a long-term commitment, but the payoff is big. Fortunately, most professionals already have a presence on many social sites. The critical step is creating a targeted and strategic approach for each social channel. The starting point is finding and connecting with the people that matter most, regularly engaging with these targets and creating and sharing valuable content. A strong personal brand is ever evolving—remember to continue strengthening it. If not, there will always be competing brands ready to fill any gaps left behind.