Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Personal Branding in Social Media: First Steps

Personal branding is the topic of a presentation I will be giving this week and it got me thinking how social media has changed everything.

We used to be able “tell” a future employer, client or customer about ourselves with a resume, a college transcript and/or a list of references.

Today we are more likely to “show” them a little about ourselves with all our online presences (whether we intend to or not).

I’m not saying the old way is dead, but it may well be on life support.

So in the next few posts I’ll look at some aspects of personal branding with social media – since that is likely to dominate most of our online visibility. I’ll start with things that assume you want to be found and then deal with how to handle the things you’re not so proud of and how to deal with that proactively.

Let’s start with Five Personal Branding Basics in Social Media:

1. Have your avatar be the same across all presences: That little image of you needs to be instantly recognizable. We recognize a face before we recognize a name. And, even if you have a common name, your face is distinctive. Also, make sure your face is what dominates the space. Anything less makes it hard to recognize.

2. Have your name be your real name OR a consistent name with a consistent bio: Your name on your social media presences should be the same. This may not be practical if you have a very common name or a long or difficult-to-remember name. In that case come up with a memorable name for your account and be sure your real name is prominent. For example, I am
mikefixs on Twitter, but my real name is right there at the top of the bio. In the bio say concisely who you are and say it consistently across platforms. This consistency will ultimately help with the search engine optimization (SEO) of your name.

3. Have all your social media presences linked (as much as is practicable): Reference all of your social media presences (as much as you can) from each of your social media pages. There is a whole blog post in how to do this for SEO value and that will come later. For now it’s enough to say that anyone finding you on one social media platform needs to know all of the other places they can connect with you.

4. Have a consistent stated reason for being in social media: It says a lot about some people who are on Linkedin to find their next job but on Facebook to recall all the partying. It may reflect your true nature, but it sends a mixed message. Decide why you really need to be in social media, spell it out in your bio spaces on each page and stick to it.

5. Have a clear vision for how you add value in social media: This is trickiest part if you’re relatively new to social media on many platforms. Do you know how you are adding value to others by being here? It may be to answer questions from others. It may be to share great stuff you find. It may be to help others connect. How you are perceived on the “giving” side of social media will have a huge impact on the likelihood you will be on the “receiving” end of good things in social media. What kind of good things? Introductions to new networks, tips on great jobs, leads on the latest information in your field … the list does go on. The important thing is that ultimately this may be the real reason to be in social media.

So, does this list do a good job getting you started? To the more experienced out there: What did I forget from my list for social media newbies?

Possibly related links:
Part 2: Social Media Optimization for Personal Branding
10 Commandments for Social Media
5 Really Useful Sites for Social Media Newbies

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