There countless stories of how Facebook antics or ill-conceived YouTube appearances have destroyed careers. Whether it is clients and recruiters finding information about contractors, the media uncovering information about political candidates or future executives being derailed for previous indiscretions, it pays to THINK before you do something that you will regret later. One of the descriptions given to this type of image awareness is personal branding.
In winter 2014, Eagle conducted a survey of 194 independent contractors across Canada to determine their social media presence. It concluded that most contractors have a profile on at least 2 social networks, and many are on 3 or 4. Like corporate branding, you want to develop a strategy that includes a consistent message or series of messages that people “get” when they think about you. Here are some ideas of how you can do this on Social Media:
Determine who you want to be, what is your goal?
Do you want to be thought of as the “party animal” or as a work hard, play hard type of person?
Do you want to be the “geek” or the intelligent, thoughtful type?
If you are still young, perhaps still in school, do you want to avoid future problems and think about ACTIVE personal branding today?
Develop your plan
If you’re looking to be a professional thought leader, provide your network with content relating to that topic. You can start a blog and share your posts, or keep it as simple as sharing other articles you think are informative.
If your brand strategy includes a “fun” element, include some content unrelated to your profession, but that you think is fun to share
Content sharing doesn’t even need to be part of your strategy. It’s perfectly fine to set your profile with the professional information you want so people can find you, and then leave it. You do need to keep it up-to-date.
Branding has to be consistent. It’s rare you’ll see your favourite family brand put out a racy ad through an adult medium. Do the same with your personal branding.
If your LinkedIn profile is professional, avoid having a Twitter account geared towards less professional activities
It is possible to have separate brands on different networks, but make sure you’re strategic about it. Never link the accounts, and avoid putting any professional information (place of work) on the account that’s got your “non-professional brand”
It pays to spend a little bit of time thinking about this now. If you don’t worry about it now, you may well be kicking yourself later! Have you consciously created your online brand or are you just letting it happen?