The exponential growth of social media is stunning. Facebook currently has more than 800 million users sharing 900 million content shares a day, and is estimated to reach 1 billion users in the next few months. The micro-blogging platform, Twitter, adds 11 new accounts per second and currently has 465 million users and will reach 500 million users this month. Google Plus, just created within the last year has 170 million users, many added in the last few months. LinkedIn, a professional networking platform, has 147 million users.
These are the most popular social media channels, but there are estimated to be 26 widely used social media platforms (API’s- application program interfaces) out there right now that are growing and may soon emerge into the top tier of networks. Many of these are location based- geo social platforms such as Foursquare which currently has 15 million users.
Understanding the power of the social media; celebrities, politicians and popular brands are utilizing social media to promote themselves and their brand.
For example on Twitter, singers Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift have 18 million and 10 million followers respectfully. In the Presidential campaign race, President Obama has 12 million followers on Twitter while Newt Gingrich has 1.4 million followers and Mitt Romney has 303,000 followers. Among NFL athletes; Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow has 1.1 million followers and New England Patriots receiver Chad Ochocinco has 3.1 million.
On Facebook, some of the most liked pages are Coca-Cola with 38 million likes, Starbucks with 27 million likes and President Obama with 24 million likes.
So popular people, politicians and brands promote themselves on social media channels, and many of us promote our small businesses via social media. However, how many of us think about using social media to promote our personal brand?
In today’s fast changing global economy – so many people have had to undergo multiple transitions in their careers. My father worked at Georgia Tech as faculty researcher for 30 years. My maternal grandfather worked in a carpet mill for 40 years. They worked at the same place for decades. Unfortunately it does not work like that for most of us today. We have to promote ourselves and put our best foot forward with a strong personal brand. One important way to do that today is with social media.
You are a brand. People form their perceptions about you based on their interaction with you, but also on what they hear and learn about you from others such as friends, colleagues and members of the civic organizations to which you belong.
In today’s world, social media is the new social layer that influences how people perceive you. It is a powerful medium for influencing people regarding your personal brand.
What you say on social media channels such as Facebook and who you are connected with on channels such as LinkedIn, influence people’s perceptions about you.
Today we are in the world of the reverse elevator pitch. We are in a world where people are influenced by what folks say about you when you are not in the room and how you appear online influencers others. When people Google you – what do they see? Involution marketing is just as important as outward marketing.
Social media is a lot like a Washington D.C. cocktail party- you want to be sure that you get to know the right people and connect with them online and you want to look your best.
How do you promote your personal brand through the social media such as Facebook and Twitter? You want to think about those things that are unique about you, what makes you stand out apart from everyone else. Everyone has talents, characteristics, history that makes them unique and distinct.
In your social media posts, you want to be consistent, have conviction and talk about those things that you are passionate about. The key to personal branding is finding something that you love and share that passion and love with the larger world. If you love to grill – please share your expertise and knowledge with your followers. If you are passionate about a candidate for elected office, please share your thoughts and why you have worked so hard to get that person elected.
I know that not everyone is comfortable with projecting themselves online and some may be reluctant to use Twitter and Facebook, but there are some important things that you can do to promote your personal brand online so that you look your best.
- Utilize LinkedIn. Keep your profile complete, updated and include a picture. People will connect with you seven times more if you have a picture. 90% of businesses are using LinkedIn to recruit employees. You need 500+ contacts on LinkedIn, and 1 recommendation per 100 to attract the eye of a top notch employer. When you have done a great job at work on a project – ask your boss or civic organization leader to do a recommendation for you right then and there.
- Have a quality e-mail signature. E-mail is certainly not dead and is as important as ever in promoting personal brand. Your company should have an e-mail signature format that everyone adheres to. If not, WiseStamp, is a free and excellent application to offer professional e-mail that you can link to your LinkedIn or other social media. I would encourage WiseStamp for your personal e-mail as well.
- Set up a Google Profile – not Google Plus, but a Google Profile. It is the easiest way to insure that when people search online a positive snapshot of you appears.
The one thing you take with you from birth to death is your name and reputation. Don’t let the search engines or someone else create your reputation online. Own your personal brand online by putting your best foot forward. Through your engagement in social media you may learn more about yourself and how important it is to live an interesting life in the real world – so that you can post, tweet or blog about it in the digital one.