You don’t have to be a business to be a brand — in fact, branding doesn’t always have to do with the business world. The digital age we live in makes it nearly impossible for you to avoid having a personal brand based on what you share about yourself online. And, because the Internet provides the world at large with access to your brand, it’s only normal to want to cultivate one that’s truly representative of who you are.
So, how do you ensure your online brand matches the person behind the keyboard? It’s actually pretty simple if you follow the five tips we’ve gathered below:
1. Review What’s out There
You are probably well aware of what you last posted on Facebook, but many other pieces of social media make up your personal brand online. A great way to figure out where you stand personal-brand wise is to Google yourself and see what pops up first.
You might have a long-forgotten Google+ page, a neglected Twitter feed or a very basic resume on LinkedIn. By updating — or erasing — the pieces that don’t necessarily show who you are today, you’re actively improving your online brand.
2. Post More
You can’t have an online brand if you’re not online. If you’re not already actively posting on social media, start! You don’t have to be online for every waking hour, but it is a good idea to maintain a steady presence. You can post statuses that show off your personality or share articles that express your opinions — whatever you do, though, make sure it’s something that reflects who you are in order to strengthen your brand.
3. Interact With Others
The Internet is a pretty big and interconnected place, which means you’re never going to be able to create your brand in a vacuum. That’s why you have to use your personal brand to connect with others. Just as networking is important to business branders, you’re going to have to comment on others’ posts, respond to comments on yours and even give posts the thumbs-up. These declarations of approval will further build an image of who you are.
4. Be Flexible
If there’s one thing to learn about social media, it’s that the trends can change in an instant — remember MySpace?
That’s why you have to be flexible as you start to build your online presence. You might have to switch to a new medium at moment’s notice to reach the most people. At the same time, you’ll probably want to minimize your presence on sites that are a bit passé. In other words, make sure your MySpace account has been deleted.
5. Be Yourself
It sounds corny, but it’s true. The most important way to brand yourself online is to follow your instincts and be true to who you are. It’s the best way to create an authentic online persona, after all, since it’s just a virtual version of you. With the proper information presented, you can rest assured that all of your online connections will be just as real — how can you truly connect with others if you’re not showing them who you really are?
With this information — and your self-image — in mind, it’s time to create the best version of your virtual self. Log in, post, like, share and see as others begin to appreciate your presence just as much as you do.
Sarah Landrum is a writer, marketer, and Penn State grad with degrees in Marketing and Economics. She writes about career development and happiness on her blog, Punched Clocks. Want more great tips? Subscribe to her newsletter and follow her on social media: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Pinterest | Google+