Personal Branding on Social Media 101

Personal Branding on Social Media 101

Whether you know it or not, you’re a brand! Every day, with everything you do, you’re marketing yourself to the outside world. Part of your self-packaging is what you wear, how much makeup you use, if you have facial hair, and the way you laugh. But your persona on social media is just as important, because that has the potential to reach many more people than your real-world self.

Some of you might be saying: “Now hold up, PicMonkey! I’m not a product! Stop commodifying me!!” We get it. But let’s not get all caught up in semantics. Being aware of your personal brand doesn’t mean you’re caving in to our capitalistic, consumeristic culture. It just means you care about how you come off to the outside world.

When you think about creating your personal brand, consider what it is about you that sets you apart from everyone else. What are your strengths? What are your passions? What are the things that you’re an expert on? Taking some time to think about what makes you special is a great way to boost your confidence. And if you can somehow project that confidence online, you’ll automatically draw people to you.

So call it what you will: Your brand, your persona, your character, your style. The important thing is that you cultivate it right so you can win in all aspects of your life—from love to friendship to career.

Get a job
get-a-job

The most obvious reason to care about your personal brand is that it affects what kind of job you get. When you apply for a job, the company will almost certainly check out your social media profiles, including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Employers want to get to know the real you as much as possible so they can be sure they’re making the right decision about whether to hire you or not.

That means it’s absolutely essential that your profiles are well put together. Experts agree that having a consistent profile across all social media platforms is ideal, which means one stellar profile pic, one version of your name, and a common bio that’s slightly tweaked for the social network it’s on. You also want to make sure there are no embarrassing photos or posts, which might include pics of you partying hard in the Bahamas over spring break or angry political rants that might offend someone who sees things differently than you. Take some time to delete any old accounts that you no longer use as well.

Your profile pic

profile-pic

The most conspicuous aspect of your personal brand is your profile pic. It’s what everyone sees first, which means people will form an impression of you from your pic before they ever read a single word you write or look at anything else you post. Without a doubt, your photo should be attractive. And PicMonkey has some amazing touch up tools to help you look your best. However, don’t take things too far. Most people can tell when a photo has been majorly altered. Plus, when and if you eventually meet the person viewing your photo, whether for a date or a job interview, you don’t want them to be bewildered when the real you shows up.

While smoothing out your skin, whitening your teeth, brightening your eyes, and getting rid of blemishes is all good, don’t put all your focus on the superficial aspects of your look. You should also pay attention to whether your true personality shines through. Posting a pic with a genuine smile, welcoming eyes, and an inviting demeanor is more important than meeting the ideals of conventional beauty.

Authenticity

personal-branding

You hear it all the time: When carefully constructing your online persona, be authentic! Ha! That’s like saying, “Be spontaneous! Be surprised! Be awesome!” How do you achieve authenticity in a completely contrived environment?

The truth is, you don’t always want to be your genuine self on social media. If we did that, we’d be posting far too many pics of ourselves eating unInstagram-ready food, lying on the couch watching second-rate ’90s sitcoms, and doing household chores.

Give people an intimate glimpse into who you are and what your life is like, but don’t feel like you have to show your lowest lows. If your car breaks down and you can make light of it with a funny story about the wacky repair guy who fixed it, go for it. But if your experience is depressing and harsh, save that story for your mom or close friend.

The best way to come off as authentic is to let your personality come out with the words, images, and links you post. Be funny, be witty, be charming. Or if you’re more of an introvert, go ahead and embrace that with more subdued posts. Is your passion something obscure like fencing or taxidermy? Don’t be afraid to post about those things, because there are definitely people out there who share your interests—and they WILL find you!

Persistent posting

persistent-posting

When it comes to social media, timing is everything. We say boatloads about ourselves simply based on when and how often we post. Keeping up with all of our social accounts by posting frequently is definitely recommended and goes a long way toward establishing your personal brand. However, there does come a point at which your power posting becomes bothersome, troublesome, and even worrisome.

What you definitely don’t want is for your friends and followers to say to themselves: “Does this person have a life?” You don’t want people to roll their eyes when they’re bombarded by constant posts, you want them to be excited when you do choose to post.

There are plenty of experts out there who claim to have the magic formula for posting frequency. You can certainly learn from their suggestions, but you also need to figure out what’s right for you and your social circles. For example, if you’re really trying to find a job, sell your latest self-published book, or establish yourself as an expert on Mayan pottery, lots of activity is critical. But if you’re a more casual social media participant simply trying to engage with friends and family, too much posting can be a nuisance.

Here are some general guidelines provided by Constant Contact:

  • Facebook: 3-10 times per week
  • Twitter: at least 5 times a day
  • LinkedIn: 2-5 times per week
  • Google+: 3-10 times per week
  • Pinterest: 5-10 times per day

For more detailed advice on posting frequency, check out this article from Buffer, which also provides a service for scheduling your posts.

Engage others

engage-others

One of the biggest personal branding mistakes you can make is not engaging with others on social media platforms. Posting and preening and soaking up the adulation of your fans is one of the surest ways to be branded a braggart.

So be sure to keep the “social” in social media by responding to anyone who comments on your posts or messages you directly; commenting on, sharing, and liking other people’s posts; and following others in addition to gathering your own followers. Remember: we all love to be liked. If you want your pics and posts to garner praise and admiration, shower your attention on the posts of others. Karma, baby. What goes around comes around.

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Molly Shapiro
Before joining PicMonkey’s editorial team, Molly wrote about topics as varied as politics, finance, global health, and online dating. As a fiction writer, she’s published two books, both available on Amazon through totally non-sketchy retailers. A midwestern transplant who now calls Seattle home, Molly firmly believes that the Space Needle is way cooler than the Eiffel Tower.