I know many of the moms on this site are working moms and mompreneurs, so I wanted to take a moment today to talk today to drop a marketer’s lens on our personal brands. In the grand scheme of things in today’s digital world, we all are who Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp, TikTok, and YouTube say we are. That means we can both cultivate value on social media and digital channels and unintentionally damage our brands. So how can we be sure we get it right?
There are many things we think of when someone says “personal branding”, so let’s commit to a working definition here. Personal branding is the process of identifying, building, and amplifying your online and offline reputation. These efforts are deliberately cultivated and are a reflection of our skills, abilities, and lifestyle.
Social media can help us cultivate our personal brands, develop relationships, and gain insight in a way that is budget friendly. It can increase recognition of our work, aid in positioning us as thought leaders, and even introduce us to opportunities for new partnerships. But it is not without risk.
That said, let’s start with the challenges and consider what we need to be mindful of. Studies have found that a variety of behaviors can be damaging to the personal brands of entrepreneurs and employees. These include posting provocative or inappropriate photos, videos, or information; making discriminatory comments; showcasing poor lifestyle choices such as drinking or using drugs; and engaging in, or being affiliated with those engaging in, criminal behaviors. Does that mean that the nice photo of you with some friends at the local winery is taboo? No. Does it mean you should crawl back into your old Facebook photos albums and hide those photos of you at college parties? Maybe.
But it goes deeper than those factors I just described, which you may have arrived at on your own. Personal brands are also damaged when users bad mouth former bosses or coworkers, have unprofessional screen names or email addresses, use poor grammar, or exaggerate their qualifications. Further yet, posting things that are spammy, scammy, or deceptive, or appearing too opinionated or self-involved also received negative feedback in industry surveys.
So, what if you are trying to elevate your personal brand and you have made some of these mistakes in the past? First of all, don’t freak out and delete your digital footprint, it has all been cached anyhow. Definitely clean up any content you are concerned about and then do a little fix-up to be sure everything that remains meets your new standards. It is good to get into the habit of Googling yourself from time to time, as well as checking your activity log on your social profiles. Also, make sure to check your connections including who you follow and the groups you belong to. Are they people you would advocate for in real life? Take a little journey down the rabbit hole.
Once the housekeeping on your digital presence is done, prepare to take it up a notch by defining your branding goals. Decide on a brand voice, image, and tone that matches your expertise and be consistent with it. Update your social media profiles regularly and use them to build authentic relationships.
Infuse your brand with the value you bring and showcase your knowledge. A personal branding statement can be helpful and can provide you with a way to filter any content you might post to be sure it fits with your goals. Make sure your personal branding statement identifies: What You Do, How You Do It, Why People Should Care, and What Makes You Unique.
Leverage digital mediums and social media platforms to your advantage, personally and professionally. Shine a light on who you are and what you offer. Build your brand! As Dr. Suess said, “There is no one alive who is youer than you.”