Personal branding involves the creation of a consistent image and reputation that people associate with you. What do you want your public persona to be, and how can you use social media to influence the way people perceive you? Many women at the San Diego Women in Tech meet-up that I participate in expressed a desire to build their personal brand. In November, I presented to the group to share my knowledge on the topic. There were 15 women who attended and we had a very engaging conversation following the presentation. Shout out to WeWork for generously allowing us to use their space every month!
I’ve attended the Social Media Marketing World conference in San Diego for the past couple of years (and I am excited for my third in March!). During Jasmine Star’s session last year she shared a tip that really resonated with me— She asked, “Are you on social media or are you using social media?” The steps below will help you answer this important question for yourself as you develop a sense of purpose behind your social media efforts. Following these steps will help you build and maintain a consistent and impactful personal brand.
Step 1: Determine Your Mission and Goals 🤔
Having a clear mission or goal will help you define your audience and develop a strategy to successfully engage them. Do you want to establish yourself as a thought leader? Promote your brand or product? Generate leads? Being clear on the primary purpose of your social media presence will give you a sense of direction and provide a strong foundation to build from. It is also helpful to define what success looks like for you and which metrics are relevant for measuring the performance of your efforts.
Think about how you want to be perceived, who you are trying to reach, and how you can get your message across to them. It is important to keep your audience in mind when determining what to post and how that content will be of value to them. Try to keep them in mind when planning your social media.
Step 2: Develop Your Strategy 💡
Align your strategy to your mission and goals. It is helpful to break down your goals into specific tactics and consider how each tactic furthers your mission. Determine how often you want to post on each platform, the topics of your posts, your voice and tone, and remember to remain consistent. Listen in to conversations that are relevant to your audience to help you decide what to post about. Use what your followers or peers are posting about to guide you. On Instagram, you can even follow specific hashtags.
An important piece of your strategy is determining which social channels to leverage. If you have visual content, Instagram may be your go to. Or if you want to post about professional topics or business related posts, LinkedIn or Twitter may be better. Blogging or posting articles on LinkedIn are great ways to share your knowledge through long-form content. If you are just starting to build out a strong social media presence, I recommend focusing on building out a strategy for one platform to start with and expanding once you have a handle on it and have established a maintainable cadence.
A question a lot of people ask is how often to post on social media. The answer is that it varies by platform. On Facebook and LinkedIn, start with 3-7 posts per week, gather some data for a few weeks, and decide if your audience is apt to consume more content or not. When deciding when to post, keep in mind that 75% of engagement on Facebook happens within the first 5 hours of the post. The lifespan of a Tweet is about 18 minutes, so you can really post on Twitter as often as you have relevant content to share. Once a day, or at least every few days, is a good cadence for Instagram, where the lifespan of a post greatly depends on its quality.
Step 3: Plan and Schedule Your Posts 📅
After you have decided which social channels to focus on and how many posts you want to make per week, it’s time to put together a content calendar. You can share your own content (if you are a content creator), or content created by your company or third-party articles (example here) by industry influencers.
Efficiency tip: use a tool to plan and schedule your social posts. I personally use Buffer, which has a free version that allows you to connect up to 3 social accounts and pre-schedule as many as 10 posts at a time on each.
Buffer also has a great Google Chrome extension that makes it really easy to draft posts from a web page if you find 3rd party content you want to share. Batching your posts will save you time and help you adhere to a coherent strategy.
Step 4: Adhere to Best Practices ✅
I recommend developing a structured testing strategy and using analytics to uncover insights that will help your social media presence evolve. Test posting at different times to determine the sweet spot for your audience. On my personal Twitter account, I have found that the mornings and evenings on weekdays are when my audience is most engaged. Share different types of posts (images, videos, live streams, polls, etc.), test out different content topics, and discover which platforms your audience is most active on.
Tips and tricks to help you succeed:
- Be authentic and let your personality shine
- Spend time on social media engaging with, rather than just consuming, content
- Re-tweet your own top-performing tweets to expand reach
- Take the top to optimize your Twitter profile
- Take initiative to connect with your followers and peers
- Use hashtags that already have conversations around them to expand your reach of your Tweets (see how I used #TwitterSmarter in this post)
- Take social growth one step at a time
- Take time to reflect on what is working/not working
- Provide the links to your social channels across other channels
- Share posts from your peers and tag them
Improving your personal brand and expanding your reach on social media has so many potential benefits and is more important than ever in this day and age.
Do you have any of your own personal branding tips or best practices to share? Drop a comment below!