Harnessing Social Media For Your Personal Branding

One of the key personal brand management tools is right at your fingertips. Here's how to use it wisely.

"You are what your record says you are”--or at least that’s what professional football coach and sports media darling Bill Parcells thinks.

When he made this declaration, Parcells was commenting about the local perception of his team as winners when, in reality, they were actually losing. He was saying that people are only what the results speak to, good or bad, not what others perceive them to be.

But I’d like to challenge this notion and suggest that one can shape how our peers, our competitors, our customers, and potential prospects perceive us. Armed with a plan for personal brand management, we can influence how we are perceived, regardless of the “scoreboard.”

Shaping perceptions

Whether you’re a CEO looking for product exposure or a career-minded professional just looking to freshen up your resume, one of the most important things that you can do is develop your personal brand. Social media tools from Twitter to Facebook to LinkedIn put personal image management at your fingertips.

What's important is aligning your online persona with the values of your personal brand. If you’re trying to convey that you’re socially conscious with a focus on local business trends, then the content--both words and images--of your status updates needs to be consistent with these values. Consistency is king.

For example, if you are aspiring to get a summer internship to put that political science degree to work, consider status updates that match the person you want to be: Follow your favorite local politician on Twitter, share a Politico article, or post a photo on your Facebook wall the next time you volunteer at a local polling station.

Here's how to get started on a path towards personal brand recognition:

1. Make a list of your personal brand attributes. What responses do you desire to elicit from your audience? Do you want people to label you as a trendy technologist, social butterfly, articulate blogger, sales guru, or master networker? How do you want to be perceived by your audience?

2. Connect with groups, people, places, events, that match your brand. Such co-branding is a staple of modern advertising, think of Doritos and Taco Bell or FedEx and the PGA Tour. By linking your name to said content, you’ll be able to add rocket-like acceleration in people’s understanding of what you are all about. Share, like, and connect with others--create content that matches the themes of your brand.

Avoid Branding Blunders

Founder and President of the consulting firm EmergenTek, Steven Rodgers suggests that aspiring social media mavens be wary of flooding their networks with content, especially within one social media platform. He prefers to adopt an advertising calendar, with scheduled updates across applications, allowing for good social media etiquette.

This focused planning is commonplace amongst advertising agencies and can be managed easily by anyone utilizing update aggregation applications like Hootsuite and Buffer.

Rodgers recommends exercising selflessness mixed with caution when it comes to LinkedIn's endorsements and written recommendations.

“Be generous with your recommendations and endorsements of other people,” he says. “Don’t give them with the thought of getting them back in return. Simply reward people where it is warranted and you will find that your reputation is strengthened as well.”

However, if you hand out recommendations like sidewalk hawkers on the Las Vegas strip, you’ll dilute the effectiveness of your endorsements. Recommendation rationing will give your commendations an air of individuality without the appearance of boilerplate.

Make an effort to get out there and post great content--your competition certainly will.

[Image: Flickr user olavf]

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