13 May 2022
A little investment can yield big results when you're building your brand on social media
For the time-poor or the timid, Farrer Kane social media consultant Lou Laird reveals how to make building a personal brand on social media a painless experience
We all know how powerful social media can be - after all it's been credited with helping to swing elections and fuel revolutions. It can make or break the reputations of large corporates and high-profile people.
At an individual and professional level, we also know that done well, social media can be an effective shop window for our knowledge and expertise - and that a strong personal brand can help open doors to new business opportunities and build our profile.
Knowing this, many of us feel a nagging sense that we should be doing more, or doing better on social. We might feel under pressure from ourselves - or our colleagues or managers to jump in - without feeling confident that what we're doing will garner the right kind of attention. Some of us feel we lack the time to invest in using social media effectively, or we might be shy or reticent about beginning to post at all.
In fact - it doesn't have to be time consuming or difficult. Here are some simple steps to get you started.
First, be present. What do I mean by this? Picture how you approach face-to-face conversations at a networking event. In this scenario, you're unlikely to walk up to a group of people you've never met before and treat them to a monologue about yourself and walk off without a backward glance. Equally - you wouldn't approach strangers and begin firing questions at them entirely unrelated to the topic at hand and expect a fulsome response. Talking at people is not the same as talking with people.
The same conventions apply on social media. When you're just starting out, you'll want to show up on your chosen platform regularly, show an interest in what's engaging those in your community or network, and participate naturally in conversations as well as starting them.
A big part of being present is just taking the time to interact consistently- rather than posting and forgetting. At its best, social media is a collaborative arena, where the effort you make to engage with others is reciprocated and relationships build naturally, just as they do in the offline world.
Everyone's days are full and you might feel like this requires a lot of commitment. My advice is: if you have time to queue for a coffee or boil a kettle twice or three times a day, then you have time to be present on social media. If you can take 5 minutes at the beginning, middle and end of the day to see what your network is talking about, like or comment on a post or celebrate a colleague or client's achievement - you are already beginning to establish your presence and create a good foundation to build from. At this stage, it's much more important to immerse yourself and listen than to begin posting straight away. Spend time building your connections, observe what people are most interested in and the types of content they find valuable.
Second, be authentic. It's a cliché - but nonetheless useful to bear in mind - that 'people buy people'. This is especially true when you are working in or targeting clients in professional services where often there's not a tangible product to 'sell'. With this in mind, you can see why it's so important to be authentic and to post in a natural way that reflects your voice and your interests. Of course - context matters and no one is suggesting that your LinkedIn connections will benefit from updates covering the minutiae of every moment of your day. You'll need to make sure you match your content to the platform you have chosen. Your approach will vary between LinkedIn and Instagram and that's fine. Be yourself, but in a way that's appropriate for where you are.
Finally, get bragging. I often find this is one of the hardest hurdles for people to overcome. Many of us have an in-built filter that prevents self-promotion, and a horror of appearing self-absorbed. When we're working with clients, our advice here is that if you have put the time into steps one and two above - then you don't need to worry. You've built up a community of professional connections, friends and colleagues, who share your interests and have your back. You regularly celebrate their achievements and follow their progress - and they are here to do exactly the same for you. If you've accomplished something you are proud of or have something you would like to share - the chances are your network will want to hear it. And if you don't tell them - who else will?
If this all still feels like a leap of faith - then get help. Reach out to your marketing team or an external consultant for advice on anything you don't feel comfortable with - perhaps how you select the right image format for different platforms, or what the right number of hashtags is - so that you feel confident before you begin. We advise professionals looking to build their personal profile on social media not to set themselves any intimidating targets to start with - just start by listening and engaging and let the process flow.
If you need advice or just want to chat through how to get started, contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org