There are many ways to build your personal brand and increase awareness. For example, you can build a personal website, join networking groups, get to know local influencers, launch an email marketing campaign and more. However, one of the best ways to build and promote your professional brand is to use social media. In this blog post, we explain how to use social media for your professional branding.
Define Your Professional Branding Goals
Why do you want to develop your professional brand? If you’re going to grow your brand, it makes sense you would have specific reasons to do this. Here are some of the goals you might have when it comes to your professional branding.
- Create and strengthen strategic professional relationships
- Increase your income
- Improve your presentation skills
- Become a recognized thought leader
- Attain your dream job
- Own a business
Keep in mind, you can have more than one goal. For example, maybe you want to become a recognized thought leader, then use that to help establish your credibility for when you create your own business. This will also tie in with building your income. Then again, maybe you just want to create and strengthen strategic professional relationships, with the hope that this will open other doors for you in the future.
Decide what it is you want to accomplish with your professional branding. Then, based on your goals, you strategically decide what your professional brand should be.
Create Your Brand Statement
What is your professional brand “supposed” to be? When someone says your name, what should they think? For example, our brand statement is “We specialize in making you get found online.” This describes exactly what we do and how we want to be perceived by those who come across our brand. What do you want others to say when they hear your name? Everything we do, when it comes to branding, is focused on reinforcing and adding credibility to our brand statement.
After deciding on your goals and your brand statement, you can start using that information to effectively use social media for your professional branding.
Define Your Areas of Expertise
What is it, within the scope of your brand, that you’re really good at? It’s important to identify your core strengths. At the same time, identify what it is you don’t care to focus on. For example, we have great expertise in search engine optimization and website development. But, we don’t specialize in sending press releases or providing IT tech support. Create a list of everything you specialize in. Also, make sure each item in that list is related to your professional brand statement.
Once your key areas of expertise are defined, it’s time to start thinking about your actual messaging on social media.
Use Best Practices for Creating a Post
Regardless of the social media platform(s) you use, it’s extremely important to follow best practices for the content you publish. Here are six factors to consider as you create your content:
Write for Your Target Audience
Who do you want and expect to read your posts? Put yourself in the shoes of the person who’s reading your content. What would they want to read? Make sure everything you publish is appropriate for your audience. In our case, everything we share is designed to help business owners, entrepreneurs, marketing professionals and other professionals with their online visibility.
Create Engaging Content
If your target audience isn’t interested in your content, then maybe you should change the type of content you’re sharing. Before you start to use social media for your professional branding, take a look at others in your industry. What are potential competitors and thought leaders in your industry doing? Do a Google search for the thought leaders in your industry. Find the thought leaders in several major cities and see what they post on social media. But more specifically, see which of their posts get the greatest engagement. Which content is most frequently liked, shared, commented on, etc.? This is likely the same type of content you should consider using, once you start promoting your brand via social media.
Make sure to use variety in the types of content you share. This keeps your posts fresh and interesting. Here are some examples of what you might use:
- Links to articles
Use Cohesive and Consistent Messaging
Regardless of the type of posts you create (whether they be memes, quotes or something else), it’s important to keep your messaging consistent. Earlier in this post we talked about defining your goals and defining your areas of expertise. When you use social media for your personal branding, be sure to keep every piece of content you create in alignment with your goals. Additionally, unless you have a good reason to break this rule, each piece of social media content should focus on at least one of your areas of expertise. If you do break this rule, it’s okay. But make sure your post still aligns with at least one of your professional branding goals.
There are several elements of the actual composition for a social media post. Keep these in mind as you craft your message:
- Length: Do some research to identify the ideal length of a post on each social media platform you intend to use. Different lengths will get different results. For example, according to an article by Sprout Social, Facebook posts with 80 characters or less get 88% more engagement than longer posts. This makes a good case for not using more than 80 characters in a Facebook post, unless you have a very good reason for doing so.
- Attitude: Is your post negative or positive? People are typically more likely to follow someone who is positive. Negativity can lead your audience to stop following you. Having said that, there are some very successful thought leaders who will gain a massive followership by creating content that will specifically drive controversy and debate. They do this because controversial posts can easily go viral. So, specifically being negative on occasion can be a very strategic tactic. But, consider whether this is something you should do. Will it enhance your brand or will it hurt your image?
- Mentions: When you “mention” someone in a social media post, it’s more likely that person will see the post. For example, let’s say you want to get the attention of a specific influencer in your industry. Let’s also assume they have no idea you exist. If that’s the case, then you can publish a social media post and then “mention” them specifically. Depending on the social media platform you use, they will be notified about the mention once your post is published. This is a way to get their attention.
- Hashtags: Hashtags are a great way to boost the reach of your post. A hashtag functions kind of like an index. You assign a specific hashtag to your post, to describe what the post is about. Then, when someone searches that hashtag, they are more likely to see your post. For example, when we publish a social media post that has to do with search engine optimization, we often use the “#SEOTips” hashtag. Then, even if someone doesn’t follow us on social media, if they do a search for “#SEOTips,” they will be able to see our post. Then, if they like our content, they will often start following us on social media. Different social media platforms will have different best practices regarding the number of hashtags to use in a post. Make sure you use an appropriate number.
One other best practice to consider is timing. When is your target audience most likely to be on social media? It’s a good idea to publish your content when your audience is most likely to view it. For example, if your audience is typically on social media in the middle of the afternoon, then that’s probably the time of day you should share your content. The same thing is true if your audience is on at midnight. Be strategic with the timing of your content.
What do you do if you need to publish content at a time of day when you aren’t able to be online? That leads us to our next main point!
Use the Right Tools
If you intend to use social media for your professional branding, you should definitely think about using automation tools. These tools will make it possible for you to schedule your social media posts in advance. So, you could sit down for a few hours, when you have time, and schedule out posts for an entire month. In addition to scheduling out posts in advance, some automation tools make it very easy for you to curate content from other relevant social media profiles. For example, one of our favorite blogs is by Ahrefs. With the automation tool we use (SEMRush), we are able to easily pick out the blog posts we like by Ahrefs, and other companies, and schedule them to be shared on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
You’ll find there are some differences in the leading automation tools available to you. However, they pretty much work the same, for the most part. Here are a few of the most popular tools:
Most of the tools above can work with all the major social media platforms. But, this leads us to a very important question. When you start using social media for your professional branding, which platforms should you use?
Decide on the Most Appropriate Social Media Platforms
There are many social media platforms in existence, and you should give careful consideration to the options that make sense for you. The most logical sites for someone to join may differ from industry to industry. For example, if your personal brand is centered around creating great food, then you’ll probably want to showcase your cooking skills. Social media sites that have a heavy photo emphasis would make a lot of sense for you. In this case, Pinterest and Instagram would likely be good platforms for you to use. You may find other social media sites to be a good fit as well.
In addition to selecting the most logical social networking websites to use, based on your industry, you should also think about your strengths. If you love making videos, then YouTube could be a really good fit for you. Then again, maybe the thought of creating videos seems very daunting, and you would prefer to write. If that’s you, then don’t worry about YouTube. Put your focus into publishing great articles in your own blog. And yes, most blogs are “technically” classified as social media.
Below are some of the most popular platforms you may want to include in your social media toolbox for personal branding.
- WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, etc. (Blogging platforms)
If you’re going to use a social media platform, make sure you do it well. One of the most common mistakes a person or company will make is to create a bunch of social media accounts, then post for a few weeks, then decide it’s a waste of time and stop maintaining their social media presence. If you create an account, and don’t have time to put a lot of work in it, that’s okay. But don’t create a social media account and then abandon it. If you’re going to do it, then do it right. If you know you won’t have time to maintain several accounts, then just create one or two… or however many you can manage.
As far as setting up your social media accounts, make sure you set them up as completely as possible.
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Fully Optimize Your Social Profiles
Although there are a great variety of social media platforms to choose from, most of them share very similar elements. When you create your social media profile, make sure you complete all the steps. In fact, some social networks will give you a percentage score, showing how well you’ve setup your account. If you join one of these websites, be sure to get a 100% completion score, if possible.
Here are some of the most common elements to a social media profile you should complete:
- Profile Photo
- Cover Photo
- Links to website and other social media profiles
- Privacy Settings
Networking is Necessary
You can create accounts for all the major social media platforms in your industry. After that, you may follow all the best practices and tips presented in this blog post. If you do this, you will see growth and your visibility and credibility will certainly improve. Everything presented in this post is helpful if you want to use social media for your professional branding. However, if you really want to see rapid growth, you need to focus on networking.
Form Quality Connections with Influencers
Identify the influencers in your industry. Who is already doing exactly what you should be doing? Find the individuals or companies who are doing an amazing job, and get their attention. You can do this by “mentioning” them in your own content. Consider writing a blog post about the “Top Movers & Shakers” in your industry. Make sure some of these movers and shakers are social media influencers. Then, when the blog post is published, send an email to each influencer and let them know you wrote about them in a blog post. Additionally, you can share your blog post on social media and tag the influencers with a “mention” to get their attention. The chances are pretty good that you’ll get their attention, if you do this. Then, continue to mention them and share their content.
Have a “Giving” Mentality
It’s great to promote your own blog posts and other original content on social media. You should do this. But make a point of sharing and promoting the work of others. This doesn’t mean you should focus on promoting your competition. However, promoting the content of those you respect can help you build a greater relationship with them. Additionally, it helps add diversity to your content and credibility to your brand. Strategically giving the spotlight to others can ultimately help you get more exposure and greater recognition.
Another great way to give, aside from sharing great content posted by others, is to participate in niche groups.
Participate in Niche Groups
Consider joining LinkedIn Groups or Facebook Groups. There are tons of industry specific groups you can join. In these groups, people will ask questions. For example, if you’re a photographer, find a group on Facebook that’s dedicated to photography. Then, when someone asks a photography question, give them a thorough answer they will appreciate. As you do this, you’ll get noticed. When you’re noticed, your following will grow.
Ready to Use Social Media for Your Professional Branding?
First, congratulations on your decision to use social media to establish or enhance your professional brand. Second, keep in mind that building a great brand doesn’t typically happen overnight. It usually takes time, commitment and a great deal of effort to build a solid and reputable professional brand. But, if you really work at it, you can expect to see great results. If you want to know how much time you should spend on your personal branding, read our blog post titled Personal Branding: How to Do It.
If you have any questions about personal branding, or digital marketing, let us know! You can do so by filling out the contact form below.