Branding no longer is something only businesses need to worry about. In today’s world, developing your own personal brand is often viewed as being essential for career advancement. This is especially true for individuals in the communications and marketing world.
What is a personal brand? According to Kevan Lee (2015) it’s “the process of managing and optimizing the way that you are presented to others.” Developing a personal brand is a way to showcase the value you offer to potential employers. It means making a commitment to portraying your personality and identity to the world in a consistent way.
Using your selfies to land your next job
Why is social media an important component of establishing your personal brand? According to Susan B. Joyce, at least 80% of employers Google potential employees before arranging interviews. So if you’re looking for a job, your social media presence and what it says about your personal brand definitely matters.
Whether or not you think about developing and managing your personal brand, you have one. Each public social media platform is part of that persona and people are going to check them and evaluate you based on what they find on social media.
Instead of seeing this as a negative, look at it as an opportunity. Social media offers a way to connect with potential employers or clients to show off your ability to use social media platforms effectively and to associate yourself with a certain area of understanding or expertise in your industry. These platforms are also a chance to create a positive image to show potential employers who you are and what your personal interests are in a way that may not come up organically in an interview.
How to use social media to develop your personal brand
Social media is a tool you can use when you’re looking for a new job or trying to establish yourself as an expert in your industry. Think about how you want to be perceived by others and be considerate of what you post. Like branding for an organization, think about your target audience, or who you want to resonate with. You don’t need to have a perfectly-curated life, but developing an authentic personal style and theme that is mostly cohesive will stand out.
Keeping it real
Authenticity is important, your personal brand needs to really be you. Your personal brand on social media should reflect who you are as a person and your real values. Create a tone and voice on social media that reflects your voice in real life. If someone follows you on social media, they shouldn’t be surprised when they actually meet you.
Keep social media social
Social networks are referred to as networks for a reason. It isn’t enough to just post pretty pictures, use your social media platforms to engage in dialogue with your connections. Establishing an online repartee with local industry professionals or potential clients can make it easier to establish a real-life connection the next time you attend a networking event. In addition, these platforms provide an opportunity to expand professional contacts and generate business leads with individuals all over the world.
Don’t wait to evaluate
Your personal brand that you portray on social media is something you should monitor and evaluate on a regular basis. Look for ways to constantly improve your image and don’t be afraid to try something new. Similar to how you portray yourself in the real world, your personal brand on social media can and should always be evolving.
The power of social media
You have the power to decide and shape how you are perceived online. Some people might see social media as trivial, but having a great Instagram feed really can make you stand out when you are applying for a job.
As a soon-to-be public relations graduate, I see social media as an opportunity to showcase my writing, photography, branding and styling abilities. Maybe my future employer won’t look at my Instagram feed before hiring me (although statistically, they probably will), but either way I’m still getting social media management practice that I hope to use in my next workplace.