The world has gone digital. There is no denying it.
Social media has become a vital part of building a personal brand, and that’s a good thing. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn give you the chance to show your personality, knowledge, and values quickly in a way that is often difficult in an in-person setting, and you can do so on your own schedule.
Some professionals have already set up their online profiles but do little else. They are just ‘there’ because they know they should be without addressing the reason or best practices for using these platforms. Others (understandably) find the idea of starting from zero amidst a vast array of platforms and already established creators intimidating so they never start at all.
But if you can set a goal, determine your audience, and establish healthy online habits, you can use this incredible modern tool to elevate your professional sphere and stand out from the crowd. Here is a basic step-by-step list to help you build your social media presence and enhance your personal brand.
So how do you start?
- Identify which platform(s) will be best for you.
—Who is your audience?
Even as an individual, you have a target audience. Do you want to connect with potential clients, recruiters, or decision makers within your own company? Find the platforms where they spend time. Facebook and Twitter are the largest social platforms, Instagram has the youngest audience, and LinkedIn has the most dedicated audience.
—What type of content do you find interesting?
Simply put, if you don’t like the platform you aren’t going to use it. I had a coworker ask recently whether they should be on Instagram even though they didn’t click with the photo-heavy platform. I told them no. You do not need to be on every site to be successful. Put your energy into where you want to be, and you will be happier with the results.
- Complete your bio section.
—Make your professional statement.
Aim for just one or two well-crafted sentences about who you are. The sheer number of people who don’t do this is staggering, so even putting this small amount of investment into your page and your brand will help set you apart.
—Get a hi-res professional headshot.
The day of grainy jpegs has passed. If your headshot is old or you do not have one, now is the time to upgrade. Show your audience that you take yourself seriously and they will, too.
- Build Your Network.
—Invite your friends and colleagues to connect.
Your close network will make up the core of your audience and help you branch out. Just a quick message can go a long way. If you’re on LinkedIn, you can also ask for recommendations or endorsements of your skills. Just like with reviews for a business, a good recommendation is one of the best reputation-builders you can have.
—Start following creators who make content related to your work.
This will help you stay informed with developments within your industry and identify others who share common interests that you may want to add to your network. A key part of being in the conversation is being informed, so make sure that your newsfeed is curated to your needs and interests.
- Post Strategically
—Try to post content 3 times a week.
This is just a good number to start with, not a strict rule. If you post too infrequently, the algorithms will not prioritize your content, but if you post too often, people will be less inclined to engage and are more likely to unfollow you. Keep in mind that every post doesn’t need to be a status update. You can share articles, post old photos, make polls, ask questions, get creative!
Hint: posts with images get significantly more traction than those without. If you have video content, even better!
—When in doubt, do not post.
A phrase that I have come to live by online is ‘No one is waiting to hear your take.’ The vast majority of the time, you will not receive negative attention for not posting something. Remember that everything you post online is public. Even if you are on a personal page and not a professional one, you are speaking in a town square that it is open to anyone. I repeat: When in doubt, Do. Not. Post.
- Interact with meaningful content
—Comment on posts from news platforms or other organizations that are relevant to your line of business.
Social Media platform providers are all businesses that sell advertisers access to their audience. As such, they want the highest quality audience on the market. They want you to perform actions other than scrolling, so they reward you for performing these actions, in turn making you more visible to your target audience.
—Elevate your coworkers and others in the industry.
This has become a way of being polite in the digital age, but importantly it also strengthens the connection between you and the original poster. Offer congratulations, share their achievement, or even post a public thank you for job well done to let them know you’re in their corner, and they’ll be in yours.
—When in doubt, do not post.
Yes, this applies to comments and engagement as well.
- Become a Contributor
—Write an article
Find a platform, either an industry newsletter, or create your own blog to contribute your thoughts and distinguish yourself as a leader in the field. The PLUS Blog is a great platform for reaching beyond your personal network to a highly engaged audience across the entire professional liability industry, but feel free to start small with even a 500-word article on LinkedIn to sharpen your writing skills.
—Appear on a panel or podcast
Podcasts have been one of the fastest growing mediums for content consumption for the past five years and this trend is not slowing down. If you want to quickly build a connection and show your expertise, there is no better way than engaging in a real-time conversation with other industry professionals. PLUS also offers a platform for our members to contribute via podcasts on the PLUS Connect App that I would highly recommend you consider if this is the medium for you.
Once you become comfortable online, you can start to play around with your content, engagement, and posting schedules. Ultimately, managing a social media presence does not need to be a time-consuming activity. Even five minutes a day can let your audience know that you are engaged, thoughtful, and active in your online community.
If you are interested in becoming a contributor through PLUS, visit our website and complete the content idea form. Our staff will work with you on determining the best content channel and time frame. For any questions, you can contact Katie Campbell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PLUS Marketing Coordinator