The personal brand is no longer the exclusive domain of thought leaders and CEOs. Everyone has an opportunity to educate others in their industry, but before you can do so, you need to develop your brand.
Personal branding is about controlling the way others see you. Allowing you to showcase your expertise, and make new connections. In this article, we explain how to brand your personal social media accounts.
Know Your Audience
Defining your audience is an important step toward building a personal brand. If you don’t know who you’re talking to, how can you connect with anyone? If you don’t know where to start, look at others’ profiles and see who they follow and what they talk about.
Who to look at:
- Influencers in the industry
- Colleagues in a similar role
- People who work for companies you’re interested in working for
Take note of who responds to posts, what questions the audience has, and what content people tend to share most.
It’s also worth joining some relevant groups. LinkedIn and Facebook make it easy to connect with others who share your interests and expertise.
Keep in mind, some of these groups are really stuffed. This example, DesignersTalk, boasts over 180k members. Smaller, niche groups are better for making actual connections.
Select Your Channels
Decide which social media platforms make the most sense for your personal brand. While all of them are free, there’s no reason to use every single channel. You’ll also want to consider what kind of content you feel most comfortable posting.
If visuals aren’t your thing, stick to LinkedIn and Twitter. Here, the emphasis is less aesthetic-focused and more about the content you share.
LinkedIn is the most formal channel in the bunch, so be careful about following strangers or asking for recommendations. It’s better to prove your value first.
- Treat your profile like a digital brochure—it’s the first point of contact for potential connections
- Don’t blindly connect with people—take time to get to know them and send a personalized message.
- Ask for endorsements from your network
Twitter is something of a catch-all professional platform. It might be best known for trolls and political troublemakers, but it’s also a great way to keep track of industry leaders and brands.
- Post things relevant to your industry
- Use hashtags: Hashtagify.me is a good resource for hashtags related to your field or job opportunities.
- Use industry chats to showcase your expertise
- Start conversations with the people you want to meet
Facebook is more than a place to share fake news and get lost in old classmates’ vacation albums. It’s also a flexible platform where you can share videos, links, images, and more.
- Don’t be afraid to diversify your content mix
- Learn about your target audience
- Join groups and start your own
- Keep personal and professional separate—you may need to clean up your profile before kicking off your branding efforts.
Instagram is best for those working in creative industries. It’s great for designers, artists, and people working in the food and beverage industry. If you want to be known for eye-catching visuals, here’s how to craft the perfect Instagram profile.
- Don’t forget the hashtags
- Stay in your lane rather than straying away from your niche
- Post regularly
- Create an attractive bio
Establish a Tone
We get it, a lot of this “personal branding” stuff conjures up some cringeworthy feelings.
Establish a voice that both feels like “you” and fits in with your industry and audience. Are you the friendly expert, the cheeky and irreverent jokester, or perhaps, a bit more serious?
Social media is overcrowded with self-proclaimed experts, so you’ll need to position yourself in a way that differentiates you from your coworkers and competitors. Much like how corporate brands set social media goals, you’ll want to establish a few of your own.
Some potential goals:
- Build a well-connected network
- Attract a following for a blog or podcast
- Demonstrate expertise in your field
For example, if you want to be seen as an expert in the graphic design space, Google common phrases and start looking for articles, industry updates, and trends. From there, you can start writing your own posts or sharing your opinions about them on social media.
Embrace a Consistent Image
Think of any successful brand you’ve encountered—they have a distinct image and voice that spans platforms. Apple, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola. All of these achieve a certain consistency by using the same logo, colors, and tone across all representations of their brand.
To do this, brands create style guides with rules for everything from colors. You don’t need to write yourself an entire rulebook—but embracing consistency is one of the most important things you can do. It helps you build trust with your audience and make sure that they remember you long-term.
With that in mind, here are a few areas visuals can help communicate what you’re all about:
Headshots and Usernames Should Be Uniform
Keep it simple and use your first and last name as your username.
Your headshot and usernames should be the same (or similar) across every platform. While it might sound boring, it’s better to save your creativity for your actual posts.
This makes discoverability a breeze, allowing people to quickly identify you on Twitter, LinkedIn, or wherever else you hang out.
Be Sure to Get Your Bio Right
Your professional bio should be a clear, concise overview of your experience and expertise. This represents you across social channels, blogs, and websites, and serves as an online first impression.
Ann Handley’s two Twitter profiles (her business and personal) are a good example of using that same bio across different accounts.
People can quickly see that these belong to the same person based on her use of the same bullet points.
Choose a Color Scheme (And Stick With It)
Whether you think color psychology is bogus or a bonafide science, there’s no doubt that colors can visually communicate the personality you want to portray.
A good example of this is Rachel Parcell’s profile (pictured below). She sticks to this soft, feminine aesthetic, using pinks and whites throughout her feed.
Start by considering the colors you’re naturally drawn to, then think about how those colors fit with your brand.
Blue, for example, signifies clarity, intelligence, and authority. While red demonstrates power, attraction, love, and enthusiasm. Do you want to make people feel calm or excited?
We recommend selecting a color scheme, like this one from Design Seeds:
If you need help selecting your “paint swatches,” here are some tools to find beautiful color schemes that do the heavy lifting for you.
Unite Your Feed with the Right Filter
Generally, you’ll want to polish off your pics with a unifying filter. Stick to one or two filters and use the same editing process for every image.
In general, built-in photo editors are best left to the amateurs. Create your own using an app like Lightroom or VSCO and save your settings for easy access. This gives you the ability to maintain a consistent “mood” with a single click.
The Same Goes for Fonts
As with colors, developing a font palette is essential for creating a cohesive brand. Limit your font use to two or three options to keep things consistent.
If your main channels are social (rather than a personal website) the font rule applies to your logo and any pull-quote visuals you post in your feeds.
Engage with Your Audience
Social media is supposed to be a conversation, so it’s crucial that you give and take. Make sure you respond to every comment you receive, even if it’s just to say thanks.
We get that after a certain point, this might not be possible, but in the meantime, it’s a good way to connect with your audience.
People don’t visit social media platforms to look at ads. As such, you need to make sure you’re sharing useful information that can help others. Do this consistently, and your followers will share your content with others.
Branding Doesn’t Need to Be a Big Deal
Unless your end game is becoming a social media personality, remember to treat personal branding as a stepping stone to better opportunities in real life.
While there’s a lot to take in, the main thing to remember is to be consistent—both in terms of aesthetics and tone. You’ll also want to make sure you post regularly and respond to comments as they come in. After the initial “remodel” phase, your brand should just need some maintenance here and there.
If you’d like to learn more about sprucing up your social media, here’s how to create the perfect Instagram profile.