Five Keys to Successful Personal Branding With Social Media


Defining personal branding as a thing or a process has been a well-documented struggle for our intelligentsia in academia. Perhaps an oversimplification will suit the utility of this article for our discussion. Unlike the personal brand phenomenon of the Internet marketing gurus who teach their followers to be equally phony, the personal branding I refer to in this article is all about an honest advertisement of you and a marketing plan of yourself (your personal product) using social media. While personal branding was once reserved for the very rich and powerful, it may now be well within the grasp of mere mortals with an intelligent use of a social media strategy.

With society increasingly becoming a knowledge-based economy, personal branding is more common today than ever before. Individuals representing a wide diversity of professions engage in personal branding as a necessary means of getting their name before the public—in most cases a very specific, targeted public, audience. With the advent and explosive growth of social media within the last two decades, but particularly with the introduction of Web 2.0 technologies, using social media represents a powerful means by which to engage in personal branding successfully. There are five keys to using social media as a platform for personal branding.

Your personal brand has a lot to do with the abilities and skills you have that can benefit others. The important thing is to make sure other people are aware that you possess these skills, and you can use them to help others. Showcasing your skills through various social media profiles is a great way to get your personal brand out there and make people aware of what you will do for them. Setting up social media profiles on sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Google Plus will go a long way in doing this.

It is important for you to maintain a consistent presence across your profiles on all of your social media. Inconsistencies will not help you build up your personal brand, but may hurt it instead. You need to clearly define what your personal brand is and then portray that brand across all chosen social media profiles. This includes pictures, your narrative, and any slogan(s) that you use to describe “you.” This will help your target public learn what your personal brand is and learn the ways in which they could benefit from it.

Coming up with an effective and catchy slogan should be part of your campaign to get your personal brand out there. You need to create a slogan for your personal brand that reflects your skills and abilities but will compel people to want to find out more about you. Brainstorm to come up with something memorable and original. Once you have your slogan chosen you will want to include it in your social media interactions with others. You should also develop long and short versions of your slogan that are appropriate to particular social media sites. You may also create variations on your basic slogan to highlight different skills and abilities that better fit in certain applications. For example, if I were posting in a discussion of an education forum on instructional technology, I might lift a key phrase from my longer format slogan that “fits” well with that discussion forum. Regardless of the social media application, by using an effective and catchy slogan gives you a better opportunity to leave a positive lasting impression of your personal brand.

Not to be overly obvious, but creating a successful personal brand with social media involves incorporating your own personality. This can be done through creatively portraying the story of your life to the public. Think about the importance of telling your story your way for a moment. It’s unique to you, and you control every aspect! Using the skills you want people to know about as the basis, tell a story that relates to why and how you can apply your skills to make your personal brand a valued asset in the marketplace of people and ideas. If you can connect with people on a personal level with your own story, they will be more likely to remember your personal brand.

Finally, your personal metrics play an important part in branding yourself. Your personal metrics include more than just your skills and abilities. They may include projects that you’ve completed, articles that you’ve had published, inventions or ides that you’ve had patented, your work history, any awards or special achievements, and your education and certifications. Think of ways to creatively aggregate your personal metrics so that your marketable you is readily apparent to your target public. Consider how to best leverage your different personal metrics with different social media. For example, if you’re an excellent public speaker, it would be far more effective to create a sample video of your ability and upload it to YouTube. Whereas YouTube might work well in this application, it may not be the most effective choice for conveying your work history as a personal metric. As you consider your personal metrics as chess pieces on your personal branding board, you need to determine what social media will allow you to best highlight their value.

If you do an excellent job of personal branding with social media, the more likely your target public is to find you—the right person. I have always found less than effective that bad habit of using peer pressure in a failed attempt to get people to buy my personal brand. Being pushy will get you the opposite of the results you want and need. If you can effectively convince people they need the services you have to offer you are more likely to be successful when it comes to building your personal brand. You may not be able to implement all five of these key ideas all at once, but the sooner you craft your personal brand and deploy it across the social media spectrum the more likely you are to reach your target public.