When you start building your personal brand, one of the many things to consider is how personal you get on your branded channels. How do you balance promoting your work and your brand with glimpses into what you do off the clock?
While the answer comes down to personal preference and what works best for you, here are some guidelines to help you walk that fine line while still remaining true to your personal brand.
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What Sort of Personal Content Should I Share?
The content you can share depends on what your brand offers, your brand’s tone, and what goes on in your day to day life. If you run a cooking channel, of course you’d share pictures from when you go out to eat. Video game streamers share pictures of their pets settling in around their gaming setup. Musicians share experiences from the places they visit on tour.
Something to consider from Tee Morris and Pip Ballantine’s Social Media for Writers: Marketing Strategies for Building Your Audience and Selling Books:
“Little moments in life can be fun to share with your community. If those in the picture are comfortable sharing these candid memories with your network, do it. Posting your adventures away from your keyboard is a great way to connect.”
– Tee Morris & Pip Ballantine
Social Media for Writers is by far my favorite book on social media. Not only does it provide specific advice for how writers can effectively use social platforms (an entire chapter on using Instagram as a writer!), but it’s also entertaining to read. Non-writers who have a personal brand would greatly benefit from the advice in this book because much of it can be adapted for your particular industry.
Why Share Personal Content at All?
First of all, showing off your personal life and activities on the internet isn’t for everyone. When you have a personal brand, however, avoiding a social media presence is a big mistake. Millions of users all around the world — your potential consumers — are on social media. If you’re not there, you’re missing out on the biggest avenues of online marketing.
Adding personal content to your branded channels reminds people that you’re not just trying to sell them something. You’re also a person. And people would rather interact with other people than a faceless entity.
“You have to be an authentic human being in your interactions. Anything less and your consumers might consider your attempt at conversation nothing more than a marketing ploy, no better than if you repeated a bland corporate mantra.”
– Dave Kerpen
Likeable Social Media is one of my favorite guides on social media marketing. Even though most of the advice is geared toward marketing for a larger brand, it’s still applicable to personal brands. Plus the focus is on not just creating content people will engage with, but also how to act like a brand people will genuinely like.
Consider the Platform
Your audiences will vary on each social media platform, and so will their expectations of what kind of content they’ll see. Approach personal content just as you would branded content you push for each social media channel.
For better or worse, Facebook remains the chief social media platform. In between updates about progress milestones and marketing whatever your personal brand sells, you can give a glimpse into your personality by sharing the things that inspire you. This can take the form of photos or videos. It can also be sharing websites and blog posts.
With the fast-paced nature of Twitter, the average tweet tends to work like a passing comment. Maybe it goes unacknowledged, and you go about your day. Ideally, it sparks a conversation. Twitter is built on interaction. And since making every tweet a push to promote or sell your brand is rude, spammy, and one of the worst practices for Twitter, you’ll need to engage with others as a person.
For personal brands, Twitter can be the after-work cocktail party of your social media platforms. You talk shop with your peers, thank the people who love your work, and maybe pull out your phone to show off pictures of your pets and kids.
Instagram offers personal brands the opportunity to tell their story visually. You can share teasers, moments from events, and other beautiful photos and videos that tell your brand’s story.
What if you already have your own personal Instagram account? Do you share your branded content there, or make a separate account just for your brand?
The answer depends on what will serve your brand’s needs best. If your brand is regularly creating and selling new products or services — thereby giving you more original content — you might consider a brand-dedicated Instagram account.
It can still feature the occasional glimpse into your private life, should you choose to share any. But if you have a lot of fresh content people will be looking for, you probably won’t want to bury product news under your vacation photos. Bear in mind that if you post more personal content and less about what your brand is up to, you might lose followers who care more about the brand and less about your #foodporn pictures.
What if your brand produces fewer products over large periods of time? It probably isn’t worth trying to maintain a separate Instagram account that will only have sporadic updates. You’re still working on new things, of course. And you should absolutely tease that content. But until you have something ready and available for public consumption, you can only spend so much time talking it up.
As the social media platform for networking professionals, content on LinkedIn generally sticks to themes of professional advice, industry insight, and thought leadership. Most personal content, then, wouldn’t really be appropriate here. However, you can share photos from seminars, workshops, or retreats. You could also write about personal experiences in your industry, such as dealing with stress, creative problem solving, and growth you experienced. The occasional peek into your workspace as you’re working on your next product or service wouldn’t be out of place, either.
A Final Thought on Personal Brands
The most important thing to remember: when you’re sharing the personal side of your brand — opinions, humor, what you do in your spare time, and the like — never forget that everything you reveal about who you are as a person reflects upon your brand.
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