Ideas that spread win
The Secrets to Managing Personal Brands Online
We are often more familiar with how businesses and companies use social media to position their brand and their products. But what do you think people see when they see or read your posts on social media? How do you think your blog followers experience you as a person? These are questions you probably pay very less attention to. And yet, this kind of personal branding is as crucial as business branding.
No matter who you are, your use of online technology and social media in particular, purposely or not, influences and has influenced your personal branding and the way people experience yourself. Therefore, first tip, you may want to get down on this personal brand online, like you would want to take the control back of a plane without a pilot.
Why a personal brand online : to sell characteristics
But why do people feel compelled to build their personal brand online in the first place?
A study by a team of researchers led by Lauren Labrecque from Northern Illinois University revealed that personal branding is motivated by a range of factors: for employment, to expand business contacts and network (for freelancers and self-employed individuals), for dating, making friends, or simply for self-expression. Like product branding, the objective of a personal brand is to sell, albeit this time, it’s a person’s traits, strengths, talents, and skills to a particular target audience.
Understanding personal branding
Personal branding consists of two components: brand identity and brand positioning.
1 – Brand identity
In most cases, people use brands to paint their own online identities, associating themselves with certain products. In other cases, one’s brand identity is created and shaped through the content shared by other people about the person, such as comments made on their online feeds and posts and photos they are tagged in. In almost all cases, people tend to create a certain identify online that is different from their offline selves.
2 – Brand positioning
Brand positioning is concerned with how you set yourself apart from the others. In personal branding, brand positioning entails highlighting one’s positive attributes while at the same time, establishing one’s uniqueness from others.
In the study, brand positioning was generally carried out through impression management. This is easily evident in the kind of information people choose to share – from photos shared to the information shared in the “About Me” fields (i.e. books read, music listened to, movies watched, etc.). Any information that does not align or match with the brand identity is filtered out.
Managing personal brands
In essence, personal branding is a confluence of the information shared by the user/person and the information shared by other people about that user. In instances when there is a discrepancy in these information, branding becomes inconsistent, misdirected or simply lacking and insufficient. What is needed, as found in the study, is optimized branding.
A few suggestions to achieve these include:
- Removing offensively tagged photos
- Deleting sensitive or unsavoury wall posts on Facebook
- Being more selective in kinds of social media networks to use.
Still, managing one’s personal brand online is dependent on the kind of audience you want to reach and the kind and extent of personal information you want to share to your audience. There may be very few and loose restrictions in the information you can share on social media, but remember that any information you share will always find its way to an HR manager, a potential employer, a prospective client, etc. One final tip? Be careful what you share.
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