Most folks set up social media network accounts and leave it at that. But there’s a lot more to be done to make social media work for us. To make yourself ‘marketable’ to potential employers, or attract clients and sales leads, it’s essential to have an *active* online presence. As part of your personal brand’s marketing mix you cannot avoid the most popular of social networks, particularly, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Google+.
Create a social media strategy for your personal brand
Begin by learning everything you can about the audience you want to reach and what their needs are so you can provide them with valuable information they can use. Social media is a great means of spreading the word about your expertise or the products and services your business offers. However, there are numerous social media options to pick from. Many are well established while new ones are launched frequently. Generally, Facebook is used for personal networking with friends, LinkedIn for professional networking and Twitter for the most current and trending news. However, the lines between them are blurring. For instance, Facebook is now increasingly becoming a tool for small businesses to deliver their product and service messages to larger audiences – so it’s not just for sharing personal updates.
Focus some time and resource on selecting one or two social media platforms that you know will help you reach your particular audience. Assess if your audience is taking the call-to-action that you intended. If you aren’t sure about what will work, test it out for a while and decide based on the response. Then adapt your plan to increase your presence in these networks and grow your community. Also research what the competition or others with similar skill sets are doing on social media.
Protect your brand identity
Be aware of the blurry lines between personal social media networks and professional ones. There are numerous social media horror stories of personal Facebook content being subjected to scrutiny by HR departments, hiring managers and even critical decision makers when awarding business contracts. So the impression you make on any social media is critical to how your personal brand is perceived.
Graphic and web design entrepreneur, Suzanna Pereira, of suzannapereira.com, says, “By being professional on social media networks you can protect yourself. You never know who will look up you social media postings. It could be a first time client, potential hiring manager or a human resource professional. If you aren’t careful about your social media postings, you may find your social life might be a turn-off for a great potential career opportunity.”
Action the plan
Making social media work for you requires an actionable, sustainable plan. Social media is fueled by content. And a great post on social media can attract many visits, likes, and shares. Build a schedule of when and what type of content you will post. Get creative and try a few different things. Content can take many forms: infographics, videos, opinion posts, book reviews, interviews, case studies, how-to guides, what-posts, why-posts, lists, product reviews, e-books, link pages, podcasts, webinars, original research, and even memes. Producing some of these types of content takes longer than others, and sometimes requires hiring third party experts, like graphic designers, content writers. So plan accordingly and keep the plan manageable.
Sticking to the plan can be a tough feat. We can rationalize with numerous reasons why ‘the plan’ was compromised. One tip for tackling this is hiring a coach, or even a supportive friend, to check in on you to see where you stand with your plan and what progress you hope to make in the following week or two.
Building your community
Content needs to be relevant and useful to the audience you want to connect with. Most of your posts should not be hard-selling your expertise or your business offering. It has to represent substantial value to your audience. Promotional content should only be 20% of your posts. Each social network has an ideal time frame for posting. Research these up and build your schedule accordingly. You have to nurture your audience. By responding to their comments quickly you improve your chances to keeping them engaged.
There is no dearth of social media ‘experts’ and information on the internet that you can follow. But, be selective and chose to follow a few who speak your language as well as challenge you to take the next step. Look for experts who have demonstrated results in helping individuals or businesses. Several have interesting newsletters you can subscribe to – while some offer guides to implement your plan, others offer perspectives and analysis on trends and statistics in social media, yet others give you the whole scoop on the do’s and don’ts of particular social media platform.
Investing time and resource in social media can seem overwhelming. However, if you are able to solve something for your audience, you are valuable and have something worth sharing and a business worth building. Making a manageable social media plan can go a long way in enhancing your personal brand and growing your opportunities.
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