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Social media had an image problem.
MySpace was where teenagers wasted their time and shared fluff. YouTube was for viral videos, cats and cute children.
But then it got serious.
Facebook worked out how to make itself attractive to major brands and grown-ups. Twitter became the place where influencers made a difference and reached large global audiences in real time. LinkedIn became the de facto social network for any thinking professional.
That social media fad has become a generational trend.
The social web is now woven into almost every nook and cranny of our personal and business lives. How we look online has become an important component of our persona and who we are in a digital world.
So creating, polishing and taking control of your personal brand online is now essential for the modern professional.
The content you create on social media now defines you, and social networks amplify your content creations as people discover and share them.
Why build a personal brand online?
In the past, security was having that same job for 40 years. Then you collected the gold watch, put on the slippers and put your feet up. Your identity and life centered around your employer. The job defined you.
That has changed.
It is estimated that the modern professional “millennial” will have 15-20 jobs during their working life. (Source)
No longer is your security employer-centric.
Your personal brand and how you control and define it have become vital. Starting your own online brand with your own blog or website as a hub will be the journey of a lifetime. It will evolve just like your career.
If the benevolent corporation is no longer your career foundation, then it’s key to start building your brand assets online.
Social media amplifies your personal brand
Our online world has become an extension of who we are. This virtual sphere is becoming real.
If you work in a knowledge industry (that’s most of us these days) or the creative arts, then it is essential to define and market yourself online. Influence, knowledge and power have been digitized.
There is no turning back.
If you want to continue to be effective and relevant, there’s no other choice. Jobs, careers and businesses are being created, driven and determined by the social web.
Your blog is your home base, and the portal where you publish your content.
But social media is where that content becomes distributed and amplified as people discover your content on social networks and share it with their friends.
So what social media outlet should you be using to build a powerful personal brand online that will enhance your career?
Recent research shows that Twitter’s role is much more than sharing breaking news in 140-character snippets.
It is now a social network that gives online influencers a platform to share their content and build powerful distribution globally. Build an audience before you need them.
You need to think of yourself as a media company.
That means content and distribution are paramount if you want to stand out. So start growing your followers now.
Many people and businesses incorrectly use LinkedIn.
Do you get that constant stream of people wanting to make connections and then they turn up the next day and ask you to buy something? Does that work?
Number one tip: Add value to your connections through sharing great content that you create and discover. Give till it hurts, and then you will earn the right to sell.
Also make sure your LinkedIn profile is a good representation of your personal brand. Join groups that will enhance your online presence. Use it to create powerful personal business networks.
Again, continue to grow that network.
SlideShare is underrated.
Creating presentations and sharing them on SlideShare is a great enhancer for a personal brand. It positions you as an expert, because experts present.
It’s also very visual, and visual content is shared more than just text.
A tip: You can also embed SlideShare presentations on your LinkedIn profile.
The other social networks
OK, so there are other social networks. The rise of mobile-centric platforms such as Pinterest, Instagram and Vine should also be considered. It just depends on how much time and resources you have at your disposal.
There are some new entrants including Meerkat and Periscope. Live video streaming is predicted to feature in the future. So keep your eyes on that.
Wrapping it up
Building that personal brand online is not a zero-sum game.
Start creating content today on your blog, and build distribution for it on your social networks. In 10 years time, you will be way ahead of your peers and have a bank of great content (a digital asset) and tens of thousands of followers (your distribution network) that will market your brand for free as they share.
Take control of your future career. Over to you.
Disclaimer: I’m compensated by University of Phoenix for this blog. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.