In my computer class as a child I remember the teacher telling us that under no circumstances should we use an email address that is our actual name. Twenty years later that advice is counterintuitive. Millennials grew up in an age of diminishing privacy—Facebook, blogging, LinkedIn and Ok Cupid are all regular parts of our lives now that make up your personal brand.
The thought follows that if we must accept all of these things as part of our life, we should at least leverage them to reflect how we want to be seen to the public. Use your personal brand to show a strong interest in a topic, display a portfolio or develop professional relationships.
Years ago, I maintained a travel blog as I traipsed through South America and Europe. As an afterthought, I inserted a hyperlink to my blog in the signature of my emails. Months later when I was searching for a job, I ended up getting an interview due to that blog because it showed 1) I knew the basics of WordPress and 2) I could write relatively well.
My mom just learned how to use Facebook in the past year; her relationship with it is tenuous at best. She mostly reposts meme’s or sometimes (okay, always) comments on my photos. But successfully interacting with her on social media is a lost cause, sending her a carrier pigeon would be more reliable. This list of pointers is generated for people like her.
Content is key
You’ve heard this time and again, but the internet loves original, thought provoking material. If you’re trying to stand out in a crowd, the best way to do that is through content creation. We are in the age of the Thought Leader and TED talks celebrities. The internet has an ability to elevate otherwise anonymous folks to a position of influence overnight. Don’t worry so much about creating the best content right away. Instead, focus on getting it out there, consistency matters.
Cite your sources
If you are going to retweet or repost something, make sure to tag the person you got your information from—it’s common courtesy and you might be able to develop a relationship with that person. We all know it’s impossible to create great content all of the time, so reposting can be a great way to support your position on things or keep the conversation going.
Consider your demographics
Is your post short and time sensitive? Then use Twitter or Facebook. Don’t forget your hashtags! Longer pieces belong on your blog or Medium (you can always hyperlink to them on Facebook and Twitter). Do you really just want to show off photos of your vacation? Use Instagram or Snapchat. Reddit and message boards generally help you establish credibility in specialized topics. Unending photos of your baby/cat/popsicle stick collection are best kept to yourself.
Google Alerts is essential
Go sign up for a Google Alert with your name, your business, anything you care about. This is a great way to passively monitor the evolution of your personal brand specifically when a third party mentions you. Think of this as preventative personal brand strategy.
Over time, your personal brand will change. I am not the same person I was five years ago (thank god!) and it’s OK to change what you want the world to see. Just consider your content carefully, don’t write things you wouldn’t want your angelic grandmother to read to her book club.
By: Elise Omaits