Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat: Most people today have an online presence. But how can you use that presence to communicate your personal brand? In this lesson, we'll answer this question.
Lou wants to become a business consultant. He thinks his creativity and analytical skills could help him, but he isn't sure how to communicate those skills to potential employers and clients. He's heard that personal branding could help him, but he's not sure what it is or how to do it.
Personal branding means creating a message about how you differ from others in your field. This includes setting yourself apart from other job candidates and showing people what you bring to the table. For example, Lou is a creative thinker who also has a keen ability to analyze problems. His creativity and analytical thinking set him apart.
Personal branding doesn't just happen and isn't something that occurs only face-to-face. Sure, Lou could tell people in a job interview that he's creative and analytical, but personal branding also includes all the ways people see you even before you're in the same room. An online presence, including social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, can help build a personal brand.
Let's help Lou look at how he can use his online presence as part of his personal branding.
Lou's first impression on many people these days will be via social media and other online platforms. For a potential employer or potential client, Lou's online presence will form an indelible impression early on; so how can he make sure that first impression is a good one?
Lou should start by looking at the message of his social media profiles, starting with his profile picture and profile description. A profile picture, an image used on a website like Twitter or Facebook to represent a person, is like a visual calling card. It's best for Lou to use the same profile picture across platforms. This creates consistency: if he has the same picture attached to his Twitter account and his Instagram account, it's clear those profiles go together.
Lou has several good photos of himself and wonders which one he should use as his profile picture. It depends. If his social media accounts are for business purposes only, then he should use a photo that looks professional. He should probably wear a suit, for example. This gives him a businesslike air. Of course, if his profession is scuba diving, he probably won't want to be in a suit, but for most businesses, a nice-looking headshot in professional dress should work best.
But what if he wants to use his Facebook and other social media accounts to connect with friends as well as to promote his personal brand? In that case, he can have a more relaxed photo, showing him at home or on vacation. However, he should make sure it's tame. For example, he shouldn't post a photo of himself in a compromising situation, including one with alcohol, drugs, or anything that could be considered offensive.
In addition to his profile photo, Lou will want a profile description. Depending on the website, this can be a few sentences or just a few words. Regardless, coming up with a profile description is similar to choosing a profile picture: it depends on whether Lou is using the account for business only or for personal connections.
For a business-only account, Lou will want to include a short description of his brand message. Remember that he wants to stress how he's creative and analytical, so he might come up with a profile description like ''Creative, analytical professional'' or ''Finding solutions through creativity and analysis.''
In contrast, if Lou's online presence is mostly personal, his profile description will probably be personal, too, but that doesn't mean anything goes! Just like with his photo, Lou will want to keep things pretty tame. For example, he might describe himself as a ''hiker and lover of chocolate.'' He won't want to talk about his political views, drug or alcohol consumption, sexual escapades, or anything else that might turn off potential employers or clients.
Building a Brand
OK, Lou has his profile picture and description. Now what? How can he use his online presence to build his brand?
The first thing he'll want to do is make sure he's consistent across platforms and across time. Whether someone goes to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or his blog, they should see the same type of things (though not necessarily the exact same things). He won't want to make one site funny and witty, while keeping another site serious and pedantic. Likewise, he'll want to make sure that, month by month and year by year, his presence is consistent in support of his message.
In addition to consistency, Lou will also want to capture major elements of his brand. If his brand is creative and analytical, he'll want all his social media accounts to demonstrate that. His posts, tweets, and images should all be focused on giving out the message that he's creative and analytical.
Finally, Lou will want to engage with others authentically. It takes time to build a brand, and there are no shortcuts. Interacting with others on a platform -- by retweeting, for example -- will help him build his brand. Over time, he'll have more and more followers and friends. That's how his brand will grow online.
Personal branding means creating a message about how you're different from others in your field. This includes setting yourself apart from other job candidates and showing people what you bring to the table. An online presence, including social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, can help build a personal brand.
To build a personal brand using social media, you should use the same profile picture across platforms. This photo should be a professional headshot or tame personal photo. Likewise, your profile description should include either a short description of your branding message or a tame description of you personally. Your presence on social media should be consistent across platforms and across time, capture major elements of your personal brand, and allow you to engage with others authentically.