The concept of building a brand has never been more alive and well. Even with brick-and-mortar operations taking a back seat to ecommerce stores across the globe, marketing remains one of the top focal points for companies of all shapes and sizes.
The emphasis on promotion doesn’t just stop with businesses, either. Promoting yourself on an individual level and building a personal brand, to boot — especially online — has never been more important.
The Importance of Individual Branding in the Modern World
Cultivating an individually focused brand has become an absolute must in the 21st-century. This isn’t just necessary to maintain a professional facade or cultivate workplace relationships that help you with your current job.
Your professional network can be your path to gainful employment. The modern business world revolves heavily around who knows who. Networking-based referrals dominate the modern hiring process, with roughly 30% of all hires in 2016 coming from referrals. This makes networking far and away the most important path to getting a job.
In other words, who you know and how they perceive you can make a big difference in your success, both in your current position and when you’re moving between employers.
The Challenge of Marketing Yourself
Though the need to market your personal brand is fairly easy to see, the ability to do so is anything but straightforward.
The problem is, networking is becoming more and more of an unwieldy pursuit. Gone are the days when you could simply hobnob with others at the office or attend giant conventions where countless similar individuals could rub shoulders and share knowledge. COVID-19 and the rise of the 100% remote office are quickly making larger gatherings a thing of the past.
Could conventions and giant cubicle bullpens make a return? You can bet they’ll try — and there’s no doubt that many companies will successfully (and happily) return to physical offices once the pandemic ends.
The truth is, for all of the criticism, remote work really does produce for many companies, and the lack of office space is so efficient that many businesses will likely never go back. Bigwig corporations like Twitter, Shopify, and Upwork have already announced a permanent shift to work-from-home status for their entire workforce.
This distancing in perpetuity may be beneficial for those who thrive in their home offices, but it leaves one glaring question: how can you still maintain a professional network when you work remotely?
The answer: social media.
Why Social Media?
Social media is a fascinating modern experiment. It brings out both the best and the worst in everyone — with the latter being particularly impactful on the collective modern mind. Many people regularly experience social media burnout and have to take breaks to unplug from their online lives.
And yet, social media consistently remains one of the most effective ways to market yourself to the outside world — especially when it comes to building your personal brand and developing your network. It’s a lifeline to other professionals that can enable you to expand your horizons, make new connections, and cultivate existing relationships. As social distancing has continued to have a damning effect on in-person business gatherings, social media has remained critical to making connections.
The Need for Networking Efficiency
Even if you’re convinced that social media is an acceptable alternative to traditional networking, the question that persists is how to propagate your personal brand without spending every waking moment updating your social profiles. The truth is, your approach will be remarkably similar to that of a brand’s social media strategy. The only real difference will be the scale of your operation, your target audience, and of course, a personal touch.
Though numerous factors influence how each person should specifically utilize social media marketing on a personal branding level, several essentials can provide a blueprint to help you do so efficiently and effectively:
Consider Who You’re Marketing To
Just because you’re networking doesn’t mean the marketing tactics will always be the same. One of the most important questions to ask yourself when planning to use social media is who you’re trying to reach with your message. Is it peers within your field, other professionals with complementary skills, or are you trying to build a younger audience?
The group you’re trying to reach will influence the content you post on social media. For instance, if you’re trying to build a following in the millennial segment, you’re going to want to:
- Establish yourself as an authority in your industry.
- Create easily shareable content.
- Focus on things like community and personalization as you interact with individuals.
- Express empathy and sensitivity to social issues. This isn’t just a draw for consumers, it’s a draw for most millennials and Gen Zers.
Regardless of the specific demographic, you should identify who you’re trying to speak to before you begin churning out social media content to promote your brand.
Use the Right Tools
Along with your demographic, you’re going to want to pinpoint the social tools that will be most effective for your marketing efforts.
Platforms like Facebook and Twitter can help you garner a larger public audience, but LinkedIn is one of the most effective tools that you can leverage for both professional and personal growth. It’s a great way to demonstrate thought leadership, utilize video sharing, and engage in professional development.
A tool like Hootsuite can also help you prep content and schedule when it should be posted. Additionally, a photo editor like Canva can be handy to generate eye-catching visual content. Make sure to have the right social tools lined up if you want your marketing to effectively reach your brand’s target audience.
Set Achievable Goals
Finally, even once you’ve pinpointed the right platform and demographic, don’t simply create a social account and begin uploading content in a scattershot manner. Consider what your end game is. If you’re trying to create a powerful personal brand, then make sure that you’re setting the right goals for that brand.
For instance, instead of aiming to double your followers or become an industry thought leader overnight, start by planning to regularly engage with a handful of individuals or post content at least once per day. By setting achievable goals, you can slowly and steadily gain some steam without stressing out or falling apart due to unrealistic expectations
Using Social Media to Develop Your Personal Brand
In a world where the idea of “in-person” interactions is quickly becoming less common, professionals around the globe must plug into social media to build their personal networks.
By using social platforms for individual branding, you can share knowledge with other professionals, build a personal following, and establish lifelines that can lead to referrals the next time you find yourself in need of employment.
The original version of this article was first published on V3Broadsuite.