"Everything you do in public, your behavior, appearance, things you say and even people you associate with, every act is done with self-promotion in mind."
I thought it was a bit of an over exaggeration when I heard it several years ago at a seminar on communication. However, sometimes, and more often at that, I can understand quite clearly what the speaker meant by that somewhat disturbing sentence.
Whether we wanted or not, we have to admit that we sometimes do judge the book by its covers. We also judge people by what we see or hear. It is perhaps better to say that we judge people by what we are presented with. Naturally, people who care about their "brand" started presenting only what they want to be perceived as. Some might say that most of us pretend to be what we actually want to be.
In the last several years, people have had the unique chance to completely choose what they will be presented as, at least in the online world. Social networks are the best self-promotion platforms. With Twitter being limited to 140 characters, and Instagram leaning more to the shallow side, Facebook comes out on top as the perfect tool for personal branding. It contains your pictures, your opinions, interactions with friends and acquaintances, bands you listen to, books you have read, TV shows you can't live without, other rich content and causes you care for. Allegedly. Also, Facebook can be easily connected to Twitter, Instagram, and any other social network, making it easy to use for constructing one's brand.
With all things said, it is also very easy to mess things up. We certainly wouldn't want that. Most marketing experts agree that personal branding has strict rules in this digital "Esse est percipi" game. These 13 simple rules will make your personal brand as strong as Coca-Cola.
#1 Defining yourself is the first step. Try to figure out what your personal brand stands for. In order to do this, you need to get to know yourself. Or figure out what you want to be. The important thing is that you plan ahead. There should not be any inconsistencies in what you represent. Your story needs to be cohesive. You also need to think about how other people will react to your brand. Future interactions are extremely important. But most importantly, you will need to work with what you already have since that is the only way of being genuine. Whether it is what you are or what you would like to be, it needs to be a part of you.
#2 Choose your friends carefully. It is not just an advice your parents would give you when you were young, it is also a great advice for building a strong network. You need to choose who you share your information with, as well as whom you are "seen" with. If you are trying to build a brand out of yourself, you should focus on interacting with people who you are building that brand for, your boss, colleagues, a future employee, and the likes of that.
#3 Decide on a strategy. Yes, you should have a branding strategy. Maybe it is too strong of a word, but it does include everything you need to do. You need to analyze how you are being perceived and what your current brand stands for, think of ways how you can change that for the better and start implementing the plan on a daily basis at a time and speed manner that lets people adjust to the improved you. You should also choose content carefully, so it would fit in with your desired brand effect.
#4 Change your privacy settings. If you are serious about creating a brand out of yourself, you need to filter information and content you put out there. Depending on your wishes and/or preferences, you can limit the information viewed on your profile to certain groups, or let even people who are not your Facebook friends have access to it. If you want to attract more Facebook connections, it would be wise to let some information be accessible to the public (aka the ones you are not friends with). However, you should never reveal too much of personal information. On the other hand, your work information, successes, and education information can only do you good if left with unlimited access. That kind of information can attract fellow colleagues, people with similar interests and finally strengthen your personal brand.
#5 Turn off the tagging option for pictures so that no surprise can be unpleasant. This way, you will protect yourself from spam, malicious attacks or even good friends who just do not care about their Internet presence. You will avoid embarrassing photos from that night out on the town or anything of the sort.
#6 What you should do next is making a vanity URL. It is sort of a Facebook domain if you prefer. If your name is Tammy Banini, for example, your vanity URL could be www.facebook.com/tammybanini. And if you use the Facebook e-mail address, it could be [email protected]. It makes your profile more accessible and recognizable.
#7 Fill in professional details. Unlike some networks, Facebook lets you explain what you do, not just what your position at the firm is. So, explain what your jobs consist of in a few choice words and make it sound as interesting and crucial as you want it to be perceived. Differentiate yourself from other people in the same profession by doing just that. Many of them will just write "sales advisor", and there are plenty of those. In addition, be sure to add your complete education information. You never know which successful ex-classmate might be on a lookout.
#8 Do networking properly and increase your "friend" base by interacting with your Facebook friends on a regular basis and importing contacts more often. Engage with your existing friends over quality content with a fresh personal approach to things, making your brand more appealing and distinguished.
#9 Post updates. Let your network be aware of your opinions, things you care about, clever thoughts on current events. Or post articles that carry the message you want to be heard from you. Bear one thing in mind, do everything according to your pre-existing strategy (point #3). It should follow a certain image you want to create for yourself, but it must never appear as disingenuous.
#10 Put up a professional-quality profile photo. It should be decent, in every way possible. However, that does not mean that you shouldn't be attractive in it. Some say that is it best to have a picture of you smiling, as opposed to one posing, as it gives away a more positive and light-hearted feel. You should complete it with a professional outfit. Avoid pictures with glasses of alcohol or cigarettes at all costs.
#11 Link your Facebook page to your blog or Twitter page or any other social network if its contents adhere to the strategy. This way you can raise interest in yourself and what you do. The more people visit your blog or read your thoughts, the stronger your personal brand is. If something does not fit into the brand vision you had, do not link it. Be sure that you do not use the same username or e-mail address for those of the accounts that do not suit your branding needs.
#12 Start running a new Facebook page or a group. If you have a significant number of Facebook friends, you can increase it even further more by starting a new page. This way you can promote your business, your interests and of course yourself. By making a group, you will connect with other community members. People who are interested in the same matter will connect with you and your network will be growing organically, as well as your brand.
#13 Use Facebook events to your advantage. You can promote an industry event or a gathering of your peers. You should open the event to everyone interested and attract new people to your circle of acquaintances. Once you have set the event, keep engaging with the attendees by posting fresh updates. By organizing events like this more than once, you can establish yourself as an important figure in your respected community.
With these 13 simple rules for using Facebook for your personal branding purposes, you will cement your role as a pillar of your community, attract wanted attention and accumulate influence. Who knows, if you pay enough attention to detail, you might even be more successful at it than my seminar speaker.