Personal Branding Part 3: Social Media

If you haven’t, please read Personal Branding Part 1 & Part 2.  Hopefully by now you have taken some significant steps in reaching the right people and making sure your personal interactions with others align with how you want to be viewed.

The final step in solidifying your personal brand is the alignment of every communication method.  There are 2 basic ones – personal communications & your digital profiles.  We will spend this part on the digital profiles.

everything you post and every picture taken of you is a digital tattoo.

I heard once that everything you post and every picture taken of you is a digital tattoo.  In a sense that is very true.  You cannot take back a post on Facebook; even if you delete it.  Someone could have taken a screen shot or shared it with others.  Once it’s “out there” it’s “out there” for good.  First step here is to understand the concept and take no further actions that would provide a different image on any social media pages that contradicts with your professional personal brand.

For example, let’s say that your company is going through a future reorganization.  This could be difficult for you or it could provide some opportunity for advancement.  Let’s also say that the person that will be most influential as to the outcome for you doesn’t know you well and you want to make sure that they see you as professional and an expert in your field.  The last thing you want is that person to Google you and bring up a picture of you from the week before where you were dancing on a bar at your sister’s birthday party.

personal brandStep 1: Stop posting anything offensive to anyone.

Yes – it is a free country and you can post anything you want.  However, people will judge who you are by what you say and what you do – that is natural.  Stay away from strong political posts, strong posts about things that people feel very passionate about (you aren’t going to change someone’s long held belief on gun control laws with your post anyway).  There are exceptions to this – if you hold a political career or you work for a specific cause; in that case it would be expected of you to communicate these views even in personal social media interactions.

This doesn’t mean you don’t have opinions or can’t share them.  Just stay away from very strong comments and realize that others will judge you by them.

Step 2: Review your Profile

Have an objective friend review your profile and have them write down the 3-5 adjectives they glean from reading your profile. Do they match how you want to be perceived by a future employer, customer, or manager?  Make adjustments to your profile to better align with how you want others to see you.

Step 3: Update your photos on all social media sites profile picture should be a professional image with only you in the photo.  It should be in a professional setting.  It should show your eyes (no sunglasses) and you should smile so that you can see your teeth.  When people can see your eyes and your teeth you come across as honest and genuine.  Some even suggest a slight squint in your picture so you don’t get the “doe-eyed/deer in the headlights” look. Need more help?  Read my tips on photos.

good-linkedin-pictureHere is an example of a good picture to the left.  She had this professionally taken and you can tell.  She is a Global VP for a large public company.  She looks professional and approachable.  The lighting is well done, the background is neutral, and she is professionally dressed for her role.

Next pop over to FaceBook and look through ALL the photos that you are tagged in.  You may want to remove some of the tags on those photos that you really wouldn’t want a prospective employer or customer to see.  If they are really bad I would contact the person that posted them and ask them to take them down.

I would also check your FaceBook security settings and only allow access to your posts or photos to your friends only.  Remove access to “public” and “friends of friends”.  This won’t completely prevent your posts from being seen, but if something inappropriate gets posted it will hopefully provide you the time to correct it before your boss sees it.

Then look at all the photos you have posted – including those MIMEs that may be incredibly offensive to some people.  Delete them.

General Guidelines profile should be formal and professional.  No postings about kids, family, pets, politics unless those posts are directly related to your profession or industry.

FaceBook/InstaGram  profile people expect to be more personal.  Having photos that are casual in nature and talking about pets & family is expected here.  As we noted earlier in the series everything you say and do has an impact. Avoid strong opinions, rants, and insults to certain groups of people.

Twitter – you need to decide one way or the other and create posts/interactions with others the improve your brand.  Ask yourself before your tweet if this reinforces how you want others to perceive you – if it does – go for it!

Do the work up front and set up your foundation for success.

On a side note, this isn’t an easy task and for most people it may take 6 months to really create a personal brand that is seamlessly you and how you want others to perceive you.  It takes introspection and integration of your beliefs into your actions everyday.  It isn’t easy work, however it is rewarding and it sets you up to attract the types of people and opportunities that really connect to the real you.  This means that being yourself will launch you to success in those environments with less effort.  Do the work up front and set up your foundation for success.

Good Luck!

-Stephanie Simmons ACC; Career Coach