Our Top Do’s And Don’ts Of Personal Branding On Social Media
Building a personal brand on social media isn’t rocket science, but it is a skill. And in this article we’ll look at what separates the savvy user from the lunch-photo-sharing dilettante.
No longer just the province of marketers, influencers, and entertainers, personal branding has become important across the spectrum. Whatever the career — architect, administrator, entrepreneur, CEO — a personal brand can help professionals stand out from the crowd and bring new opportunities.
And everyone has the tools to do it. If you’re not building a personal brand on social media, you’re missing an important piece of the business puzzle. And, as with everything in business – and in life – there are right and wrong ways to do it.
Be consistent and reliable
In social media and personal branding, consistency and reliability are job #1. Regular posting and engagement are crucial in making a positive impression, building your brand, gaining a following, and connecting with your peers.
Working with a content schedule can help you plan and organize regular updates and schedule posts in advance. Penciling in a specific time each day or week to spend on social media, including creating and sharing content, checking out the pages of people you follow, and reading and replying to comments on your own channels, are hallmarks of consistency and reliability in personal branding on social media.
When it comes to posting, publish just enough to keep your followers engaged. For individuals, three-to-four posts a week seems to be a sweet spot, though companies and businesses may have another strategy.
As well, focus on two or three social networks. This will allow you to concentrate your personal branding efforts rather than spreading yourself too thin on a half-dozen platforms.
Keep in mind that you can post the same content on different channels, but take the time to vary images and approaches to the topic at hand.
Also for consistency’s sake, add the same photo — preferably a professional, up-to-date one — across channels. This helps build your identity and credibility with your audience.
Please the algorithms
Like Google, social media channels employ algorithms when suggesting your profile to others. Different channels have different criteria; for example, the LinkedIn algorithm frowns upon bad grammar, multiple links, and tagging more than five people, among other no-nos.
Define your target audience and tailor your content to them
A good social media navigator knows whom they’re trying to reach and, where possible, their target audience’s online habits. Do they spend more time on LinkedIn or TikTok? Facebook or Pinterest? Are they Gen-Zers working in the tech industry or retirees spending their 401ks?
Having a clear audience profile in mind will help you choose where, when, and how to focus your energy on personal branding and social media.
Decide on a persona
Personal branding on social media depends a good deal on the image you are trying to project. Finding the right tone of voice to reach your desired audience and keep them engaged may take some effort, but there are linkedin personal branding guides you can use.
Following your chosen guidelines will help you to frame your narrative and control people’s perceptions. You can damage your reputation if one of your posts suddenly veers off-script into unknown and alien(ating) territory, such as when Burger King UK tweeted that “Women belong in the kitchen.”
Engage with your followers
Engagement is key to personal branding on social media. Liking, reposting and retweeting others’ posts, answering questions and responding to comments on yours, and commenting on other people’s posts are ways to build your presence and a network of followers and peers.
When engaging, it’s important to be generous with your time and knowledge. Give thoughtful responses, share anecdotes, and answer questions. Like or amplify content that you find engaging, inspiring, or useful.
Share industry stories but add a personal touch
Share interesting and relevant news stories from your industry, but add a comment, even if it’s simply “I came across this today and wanted to get your opinions. What do you think?”
Another tip: monitor trending subjects and adapt them to your business universe. This means staying on top of world events, pop culture, and the latest ideas in your field and figuring out if and how you can tie them into your business. Helpful tools in this regard include Google Trends, Twitter’s Trending Topics, and LinkedIn News.
Study thought leaders in your field
What are others in your field posting? How frequently do they post, and on what channels? How do they engage with followers? Notice how their followers respond to their content, and learn best practices from thought leaders in your industry who are building a personal brand on social media.
Among business thought leaders, for instance, Richard Branson is widely regarded as a model of personal branding. His LinkedIn profile links to Ask Richard, his monthly newsletter in which he answers questions from followers, regular posts (every two-to-three days) that range from nature footage to a share from musician Peter Gabriel about his friendship with former president Jimmy Carter, and a self-effacing list of Skills including “Entrepreneurship” and “Dyslexic thinking.”
Don’t engage in negative or controversial conversations or arguments
Avoid posts that might sound aggressive or offensive to parts of your audience. Weigh the benefits of expressing your personal opinion, especially on controversial matters. Any short-term gains, such as attention and likes, will be damaging and potentially alienating in the long term.
Of course, social media rewards authenticity, but before wading into controversial terrain do a risk analysis. Is sharing your opinion worth the impact in terms of potential backlash? Lululemon founder Chip Wilson has found himself in hot water due to off-the-cuff tweets more than once.
Don’t ignore or delete negative feedback or comments
Engaging with negative feedback in a respectful, courteous manner helps burnish your personal brand no matter what your goals are. Timely and thoughtful responses to your critics show that you are listening and help build trust, an essential component of personal branding on social media.
Don’t go crazy with emojis
You can utilize resources such as emojis, memes, and gifs to reflect the way your community interacts. However, using too many or using them too often can undermine your credibility. The informality conveyed by these shortcuts is personable up to a point, but can jeopardize your authority when they appear artificial and forced.
As mentioned, exercise some restraint in the amount of content that you share. Don’t overwhelm your followers with two or three posts a day. Two or three a week should be sufficient.
Likewise, be mindful about balancing your personal life and work life. An occasional post about your morning routine can help humanize your channel and build connection — especially if your routine is work-related or relatable to others in your industry. But, unless you’re CEO of Mr. Pet’s, keep your cat pics to a minimum.
For the most part, personal branding on social media boils down to common sense. Conduct yourself with humility, curiosity, and respect, and the meaningful engagement will follow.