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Making the Most Out of Social Media and Your Personal Brand

This is a follow up post to a previous article I wrote for Social Media Club about convincing the clueless to join Twitter.

So you’ve convinced someone to join Twitter. Now what?

The most common question I receive from people who are enthusiastic about Twitter’s possibility is: “I don’t know what to Tweet.”

It is a valid question and seemingly simple. But let’s step back. I argue that not knowing what to Tweet is indicative of a larger underlying problem. People are stumped for a reason – and the issue is not Twitter. It’s not being clear about what their personal brand is.

Outside of social media and the communications industry, “personal branding” is considered a dirty phrase. It prompts cringes and eye rolls. It is perceived as unauthentic and shallow. My response? Get over it. We live in a world where social media is your new calling card and your Google results are the 21st century resume. Understanding your personal brand is the first step to harnessing social media.

While social media does not begin and end with your personal brand, it’s a crucial element to building your online presence.

  1. Establish your industry expertise

According to experts, it takes 10,000 hours (or approximately 10 years) to become an expert in something. We spend 40+ work hours a week on a specific aspect in an industry. Maybe it’s in finance, education, IT, project management, human resources or operations – you have an area of industry. Use social media to highlight your industry knowledge.

  1. Define your niche

Understanding your personal brand is also about defining your speciality within your industry. What are your specialities? Carving a niche within your area of expertise can help narrow down what to share over social media and not, for example, be just another IT professional Tweeting. Think of 3 or 4 things you are or want to be known for and share topical informational related to your niche. For example, maybe you know a lot about privacy and security in IT software. Use Twitter to show what makes you unique.

  1. Find connections

Remember, Twitter is a social network and behind every avatar is a person. Be social! Connect with peers in the field. Building your personal brand online is also about establishing your reputation. Make friends with your peers. I have learned a lot about my industry from making online connections with others in my industry.

Twitter is not about broadcasting – it’s a relationship with another person. Tweet with people who care about the same things you do and share things you think your they will find interesting.

  1. Finally, define your personal and professional goals

If you are still unsure of what your personal brand is, think about your personal and professional goals instead. Frame your personal brand around your aspirations. Defining your goals are can help maximize how you use social media effectively. For example, if you hope to switch careers, start using social media as a way to demonstrate your passion for a new industry.
What are your experiences with personal branding and social media? Do you think it is a way to frame your social media identity? Comment below or better yet, Tweet me @melissadewitte!