The following is a guest post by Veronica Hunt. Veronica Hunt is an experienced blogger and freelance content manager at aplusonly.com. She is passionate about education and technology, loves creating lifehacks and learning new stuff. Follow Veronica on Goo
Apart from publishing kitty images and messaging friends, how active are you in building your social media presence on a scale from one to ten? You probably never thought about it that way, but since social media contribute A LOT to creating your online persona, using them properly and productively requires a lot of time and effort. It also requires a plan, which only a few turn out to have.
When you first created a Facebook profile and posted a few frat party pictures that you thought were funny enough for everyone to see, could you possibly imagine that in a few years, this profile would become one of the primary sources of information for potential employers (and maybe Uncle Sam himself)? That you would be judged by your profile and that the first impression made on it would be extremely hard to overthrow? I use “employers” as a general concept – these could be people offering you to participate in promising projects or bringing any other kinds of opportunities.
Today, it is not enough to delete party images and other provocative content. Today, you have to actively work on your social media presence to make it work for you, instead of against. It is hard to believe how much more effort you have to invest compared to what Marshall from How I Met Your Mother did dealing with half-naked videos of him.
I suggest a business development approach. Building your online presence is pretty much like building your brand – but on social media. Hence, you can take the very same steps as you would for increasing your brand awareness and increasing clientele.
1. Identifying relevant channels
Every social media has its unique voice. Instagram is for foodies and fashionistas. Facebook is for those addicted to reading world political news of whatever origin. Pinterest is for people with a collector’s spirit. Google+ is for men working in the tech industry. Twitter is for all things shallow, from celebrity fights to amateur sports coverage.
It is easy to find statistics on average users of each network, not to mention that you already know them if you have been on social media for a while. Identify which channels are the most relevant for your online persona and abandon the others – they will only suck away your time.
2. Formulate your unique value proposition
Just as a company would try to convince its customers that they are producing unrivaled quality goods, your social media persona has to be interesting and differ from the rest. In other words, what should make people view your profile and read your feed? At this stage, you might be tempted to say that you’re using social media for yourself and don’t bother checking the opinions of others. Discard this point of view as irrelevant and even harmful to your interests. Social means public, and public means engaging with the audience.
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3. Identify the competition
Carrying on with the business brand metaphor, you have to monitor your competition and make sure you are at least keeping abreast. What does competition mean in terms of personal brand building? It depends significantly on the kind of image you are working on. But whatever it is, you always know that one Instagrammer who publishes better images, or that one guy who writes better reviews. You can’t possibly keep track of all of them, but you can always find someone who you feel is better at all this social media brand building.
4. Identify your tone and other unique features
While the benefits of cross-posting are still under scrutiny, your social media profile should make an image of you as a strong personality. It is strange and even outward suspicious when you come off as an advanced political thinker on Facebook and post Jaden Smith-style ideas on Twitter. It harms your online integrity, so whatever the tone you are choosing, make sure it stays with you throughout social media profiles.
5. Get into content curation
You probably didn’t know it up until know, but content curation is what they call reposting someone else’s content to your own feed. However, even if you’ve been doing it without knowing all the benefits, now you can put a little more thought to it. It will never harm your image to have relevant news in your feed and be the first to react to world events.
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6. Aim to become a thought leader
Leaders are looming far ahead, but you can always gain on them. The beauty of social media is that everything is possible, and nothing is standing between you and Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates. I am aiming a little high with these names, but you get the idea. Providing meaningful insights and analysis of events will get you far, far beyond your initial goals.
7. Provide quality content
It can be tempting to repost unsupported scoops, but what will be the cost for your credibility? Won’t you become the boy who cried wolf? It is extremely difficult to regain trust once you have reposted an article about Donald Trump eating babies (this one is humorous, but I bet there are serious ones – media are merciless these days). If we are talking about image-centered media like Instagram or Snapchat, photo-streaming events are always valuable content for others users.
8. Engage and don’t be afraid to provoke discussion
Nobody likes an instigator, but a healthy bit of controversy and opposition will add some spice. There are so many topics users debate on – Hillary or Donald, religion or science, first milk then cereals or first cereals then milk, to be or not to be for god’s sake. You can pull from all of those topics depending on what you are into and what your online presence aims to be like.
9. Use paid campaigns for personal needs, too
Not only companies can sponsor content to get more exposure. You can easily do it, too. Say you have an already popular post – why not support its organic reach with paid advertising? It will help you get more followers and better ROI. Most social media (I am looking at you, Snapchat) will let you promote your content for a moderate fee, and it is getting much more convenient and effective to use this option.
10. Cherish consistency
Even though you don’t need to post content every day like most companies do to build or at least retain their engagement levels, being consistent in your schedule will help in building a solid online presence. People will expect your witty tweets twice a day or your merciless political event reviews twice a week. Once you develop a habit in your readers of consuming your content in certain portions and with a certain frequency, it will be much easier for you to satisfy their demand.
Summing it up, your own online personality is a project that can improve your career. People get paid for doing social media management for companies, so why should personal promotion be any different? There are methods and techniques that work, and you can make them work for your own purposes by making just a few adjustments. At the end of the day, it all boils down to this: be consistent in your opinions (at least those you make public), bring value to you readers and followers, and don’t be shy to use appropriate types of self-advertising. The rest will take care of itself.