Best Social Platforms for Building Your Personal Brand
If you’ve already launched your career or you’re looking ahead to your post-college life, you’re probably using social media as a business networking tool. However, with so many platforms to choose from and the rapid evolution of the job market, it’s crucial to keep up. Remember too, as you begin to brand yourself as a professional, the “social” side of your social media exists concurrently with your business side. Many job applicants have been tripped up by not-so-flattering photos of themselves lingering in the corners of the internet. Here’s how to use social media as a pathway to a strong personal brand, and which platforms to focus on.
Get to Know the Platforms
Unless you are pursuing a career in digital marketing, you don’t necessarily need to use every social platform. Choose one or two that meet your needs best. Consider what information you need to showcase and who it needs to reach.
Research the demographics of each site to see who will most likely find your content. The Pew Research Center continuously produces useful reports on who uses what platforms when, where and how.
One thing you will consider is how your name or business name will rank in search engines. The “big four”–Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter–rank well, assuming you keep them up-to-date. Other platforms require more SEO savvy to earn a good ranking. Consider your skill level in SEO and how much time you want to invest in it.
Think beyond the major social networks, though. Forbes reported on the rise of niche social platforms in early 2017. Since the internet landscape changes by the day, keep your eyes on the horizon for niche platforms specific to your target industry or market.
Where to Network
Networking is more important in some industries than others. USA Today published this list of the industries where it matters most (and least). But rest assured, if starting your own business or becoming a leader is in your cards, you need to network.
However you feel about LinkedIn you kind of need to be there. Not only does it rank amazingly in search, it’s many people’s default location to learn about a new potential business partner or applicant. This article from The Balance makes a convincing argument that every professional should create a LinkedIn profile. They offer the caveat, however, that if you aren’t going to do it well, don’t do it at all.
Another platform that not everyone thinks of when they think of social media is Meetup. Many groups likely exist in your area for the express purpose of professional networking. If you don’t see one that fits your needs, starting your own is a low-cost option. By involving yourself in these groups you’re not only building your resume but also lasting relationships that could land you a job or clients down the road.
Other, more niche networks exist for specific industries. Some professional organizations offer online social profiles to their members. When you join such an organization, treat your profile there just like you would any other platform. Fill out your profile completely with a photo and links to your work. Then interact with others in your industry and seek to share valuable information.
Where to Build Your Portfolio
Linkedin can easily function as a mini-portfolio. However, think about the best showcase for your individual work. Photographers gravitate toward Instagram. Crafters generally focus on Pinterest. When you choose one of these platforms used widely for personal interaction, create a business account. Not only will it help you separate your work from your personal life (more on that below) but these platforms offer additional functions to businesses. You can, for example, track your analytics or pay to promote specific posts.
WordPress provides a relatively easy-to-use content management system you can use to build a portfolio. While not technically a social site, it integrates with all of the major social media platforms. And, you can follow and interact with other users within the platform itself.
Where to Find and Share Content
Once you’ve decided on the platform you want to use you need to supply it with content. Set yourself apart and showcase yourself as a leader and taste-maker. Here are three different approaches, which you can use in any combination.
Follow the people who inspire you. What kind of content are they sharing? If it’s content that you enjoy and feel is relevant, share it. You will start to build your brand and garner the gratitude of those whose content you share.
Creating your own content can seem intimidating. Clearly, you’re already passionate about whatever topic you plan to pursue in your career, so speak your mind. Share links to your work or voice an opinion on hot industry topics. Just remain respectful and professional. Remember, each post becomes part of your brand.
The fun doesn’t stop just because you’ve hit “post.” If followers comment on what you’ve written start a conversation with them. Let them know that you’re genuinely interested in what they have to say. That’s the best way to keep the followers you get. The followers that you engage with have to potential to bring the interest of others. It’s also a great way to show them your leadership.
Protect Your Personal Brand
Always remember that you are just a Google search away for anyone who wants to learn more about you. Don’t shatter a personal brand you’ve worked hard to earn by posting unprofessional pictures and statuses on your social media.
If you work in a lifestyle industry that perfectly integrates with your everyday life, great! If you like to keep things more separate, consider setting up business accounts for all of your social platforms and keeping your personal life personal. If you post things–or have posted things in the past–that you feel could harm your brand, set limits to who can see your content. Still, remember, the internet is a public forum and things have a way of getting out. For example, if your Facebook page is visible only to your handful of friends, but one of them reposts your embarrassing photos, voila! Those photos are now out there. So use caution.