The social media landscape has become crowded, and standing out is certainly no easy task. To find out more about standing out and creating a brand in cyberspace I decided to reach out to personal branding guru Dan Schawbel. In my conversation with Schawbel he stated that your brand is “what makes you special and stand out from the others.” Considering there are over 500 million users on Facebook, over 100 million on Twitter, and roughly 85 million on LinkedIn, having a stand out brand can be a challenge.
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When it comes to the social media world, Schawbel believes “you have to have a presence and a message that creates visibility, because visibility creates opportunity.” Schawbel went on to tell me that “the online world is the global talent pool” and having a solid brand message is critical to standing out in that pool.
So, I asked Schawbel to share the five most common mistakes people make when trying to build their personal brand in the social media world.
According to Schawbel, “If you don’t define your brand someone will do it for you.” The last thing you want is someone dictating who you are and how you are seen. When it comes to building your brand online, you must start offline. In other words, you have to take the time to create a message and a brand package that accurately and distinctly projects who you are and the value you bring to those you are targeting. Before setting up your profiles and reaching out to others, be sure to define your brand.
With all of the different social media platforms out there it can be tough to keep up with it all. However, if you want to own your brand message you must be sure the information you are putting out through these platforms is consistent. One of Shawbel’s biggest pet peeves is incomplete profiles, particularly on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is your online resume, so it must be accurate and up to date. Whether it’s LinkedIn or any other tool, when your information is incomplete or inconsistent it creates confusion. Remember, a brand is a promise, so when you are inconsistent, you aren’t keeping the promise
In order to effectively use any of your social media platforms, you have to have a sense of who is out there and how to reach them. Whether you are selling products or looking for a job, you have to define your targets. Schawbel says that all too often he sees people pushing products or services online without any real sense of who they are actually reaching. Be sure to do your homework and pick your targets.
It’s one thing to draw someone onto your LinkedIn or Facebook page, but it’s entirely another to get them to take some kind of action as a result of that visit. According to Schawbel, converting is about getting your targeted visitors to buy your message and take action. When you fail to convert, it’s likely that your message and targeting is probably flawed. Schawbel believes you must take stock of what you are selling and how you are presenting it. Make sure that those who find you understand your message and know how to consume that which you are offering.
At the end of the day, social media is a platform, it’s a means for reaching prospective customers, clients, and employers. Schawbel says that one of the greatest mistakes is not taking relationships created on-line into the off-line world. At the end of the day, social media is a means for reaching out to and connecting with people. If you are unable to take those connections to the next level you have failed to capitalize on your efforts. Social media is not an end in-and-of itself, rather it is a means to an end, an end that you must clearly define.
Successfully building a personal brand requires thoughtful planning and a clear understanding of the end game you are going for. As you go into the New Year, be mindful of these five pitfalls as you build your brand!
Michael “Dr. Woody” Woodward, PhD is a CEC certified professional coach who holds a PhD in organizational psychology. Dr. Woody is founder of the consulting firm HCI and author of the new book The YOU Plan: A 5-step Guide to Taking Charge of Your Career in the New Economy.