Consider This A Sign: Now Is The Time To Create A Social Media Plan For Your Personal Brand.

So much of our life is impacted by our online presence today that many are managing their careers by treating themselves as a brand. Personal branding is marketing yourself and your career like a product.

Personal branding incorporates many disciplines: Marketing to create your brand, advertising to promote yourself, and public relations for reputation management and press coverage. Not a once and done project, personal branding is an ongoing process of establishing a desired image to obtain career opportunities.

Like it or not, you have an online personal brand. You might as well be intentional about managing it and invest time in a plan.

What signs are you sending when people search you on social media? Do you have a social media plan for your personal brand? What signs are you sending on social media? Do you have a social media plan for your personal brand?

 

What signs are you sending?

A Career Builder survey found 70% of employers use social media to research job candidates and 54% have decided not to hire a candidate based on their social media. Not managing your personal social media can keep you from advancing in the hiring process.

On the other hand, 57% of employers say they’re less likely to interview you if they find no information about you online. Not having any social media presence or trying to keep it all private can negatively impact your career job prospects as well.

Other research says that 91% of employers today use social media to hire talent. If you don’t participate you may be missing exciting opportunities. You can’t find your dream job if you’re not looking in the right place. With these stats in mind perhaps it is time to create or revisit your personal brand and manage it through a social media plan.

The good news is that if you know how to market a business you know how to market yourself. With some tweaking the same strategies that work for forming social media plans for organizations and corporations can be applied to your own personal brand.

How to develop a social media plan for your personal brand:

  1. Identify your personal brand objective. What is that dream job, position, or service opportunity you are ultimately seeking? List specific titles and/or companies/organizations.
  2. Define your target audience. Who would be the decision maker to put you in that position? Develop a “buyer persona” for the hiring manager.
  3. Perform a personal situation analysis. Conduct a social media audit of your personal social media channels. Summarize results in a SWOT graphic or matrix.
  4. Formulate your personal brand message. Identify what you want the hiring managers to think. What messages will get them there? Establish a brand voice and set focused topic guidelines to direct your posts.
  5. Identify key social media platforms. What social channels do you need to deliver the right message to the right people? What needs to change in your current social media platforms and which do you need to add?
  6. List key skills employers are seeking. Search job descriptions and ads. Emphasize those skills with keyword optimization of your social media content, profiles, and digital résumés. In direct messages add personalized insights about the company or person.
  7. Become a lifelong learner. Are you missing any important skills? Find courses, certifications, full degrees or certificates to learn those those skills and earn signal sending qualifications. Then add those degrees/badges to your social profiles.

Don’t forget the value of live connections.

Finally, keep your online personal brand, but also don’t underestimate the importance of in-person connections. Seek out professional networking opportunities and attend all you can – even when many have become virtual. That live, face-to-face connection is still important and nothing is better for relationship building.

Those conversations that occur in the hallways between sessions and in chat boxes make a difference. Since the pandemic 71% of employers are rapidly expanding their digital recruiting capabilities adding information sessions, video panels and one-on-one video sessions.

Personal connections are remembered when new opportunities arise. Whether it’s a professional conference, industry trade show or career fair, invest time building in-person relationships that can be cultivated online through social media.

If you haven’t been intentional about your social media personal brand get started today.

Social Media Not Meeting Expectations? Perform A Social Media Audit.

Companies have been active in social media for years. Today 97% of Fortune 500 companies are on LinkedIn, 84% are on Facebook and 86% are on Twitter. But those efforts were likely created in a piecemeal fashion. Different brand accounts were added for different reasons at different times. Objectives or options may have changed. Or you may be so focused on current social accounts you are missing out on opportunities elsewhere. How do you know you are posting the right content in the right places to drive the right consumer actions? Perform a social media audit.

Social Media Audit TemplateWhat Is A Social Media Audit?

A social media audit is simply a systematic examination of social media data. It is a snapshot of all social media activity in and around a brand evaluated for strategic insights. Why? Different organizational objectives and target markets may require different social media messages and platforms. Existing brand accounts may be wrong for current business objectives and new social media platforms may be ideal, but were never considered. Perhaps brand social media was started by marketing or public relations, but now customer service requests are overwhelming the system and increased integration is needed.

First Start By Listening.

Use social media tools to gather data about brand social media channels and content. Discover what consumers are saying about the brand, product, service, and key personnel in any social platform. Listen to what is being said by and about brand competitors. You may be monitoring social media daily, but simply responding to what comes your way.

Analyze the bigger picture. Qualify and quantify social media action looking for patterns and opportunity. Listen with an outside perspective to the social talk about your brand, employees, customers and competitors. Look on both official corporate social media accounts and unofficial or personal accounts.

If you don’t have a social media monitoring software or if you are a startup or student just getting started simply go to each social media platform and search the brand name to find the conversations. Look on official brand accounts to see what the brand is doing and look at the conversation happening on those official brand accounts.

Start with the social channels you know the brand has brand pages (they are probably listed on the brand website). Then search other popular social media channels the brand does not have official accounts to find additional consumer brand content. Do the same for one main competitor to find their social channels, brand content and consumer brand conversations. This Social Media Channel Template provides a list of top social platforms by category for ideas on where to look for official brand accounts and consumer brand conversations.

An audit need not capture every mention, but should gather a complete picture. Find conversation on all social platforms. Be sure to consider social networks, blogs and forums, microblogs, media sharing platforms, geosocial, ratings and reviews, social bookmarking, social knowledge, plus podcasts. This Social Media Channel Category Guide provides a quick guide to the top social media platforms in each category by kind and key characteristics.

Next Organize Social Talk Data.

When collecting social talk data it should be organized for meaningful analysis. This can be done by following a social media audit template such as the one I created from the concept of the Five Ws that journalists use to write news stories. Gather social talk into three categories of company, consumer, and competitor (down first row) then record observations by where, what, when, and why (across columns).

Collect and Analyze Social Media Audit Data by:

  • Who—company, consumers, competitors
  • Where—social media channel (YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.) and environment (describe the look and feel)
  • What—type of content (articles, photos, videos, links, questions, etc.) and sentiment (positive, negative, neutral)
  • When—frequency of activity (number of posts, comments, views, shares, etc. per day, week, or month)
  • Why—purpose (brand awareness, promotion, drive traffic, customer complaint, praise, etc.)

The number of rows under “Who” will vary based on the number of brand and competitor social accounts and the number of social media platforms where consumer brand talk is found. Larger organizations may need to divide the “Company” category further into departments, offices, or employees. Capture what each location or executive is communicating.

If the brand has an official social media account (such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc) you place it under “Company” with its own row for insights. This is where you describe what the company is doing on those platforms. Under “Consumer” you should list all the social platforms where consumers are participating in discussion about the brand. If they are engaging on an official company social media account list it here and provide those insights in a row (such as Facebook and Pinterest). Also search the brand name and see what people are saying off the official account be sure to include that discussion as well.

If a brand has an account on a social platform and there is no consumer engagement (such as Twitter) then list it under “Company,” but don’t list it under “Consumer.” This may be a platform the brand may want to close. Search main platforms where the brand doesn’t have an account (such as Instagram). Are consumers talking about the brand? List that platform in a row under “Consumer” and describe what is being said. There may be a brand community but no official brand account and they may want to add this platform. For “Competitor” you don’t need to go as in depth to capture insights. Simply list each official brand account on a row and describe what the brand is doing and their customers are doing on those channels.

Then Determine What The Data Is Saying.

Does the data point to opportunities? Are there trouble spots? Do brand social media platforms present a consistent look, voice and unified message? Are customers complaining about similar product or service issues? Is the brand consistently posting quality content and consistently responding to customers? Are there social platforms where customers are talking about the brand, yet there isn’t an official brand presence? Is the social media channel a problem or an opportunity for a defensive or offensive social media strategy.

Determining the “Why” for each social action is important. If you can’t think of a strategic purpose then reevaluate the effort. Is maintaining a brand account on specific social media platforms worth the organization’s time? Once a purpose is determined, identify the social media metrics to measure performance. Ask questions such as, “Why does the organization have a Pinterest page and how is success being measured?” “Because everyone is there” and “to increase followers” is not enough. If you know the business purpose and metrics ask, “How has the platform performed? With roughly 10% of marketing budgets spent on social media it is more important than ever to connect social action to higher-level business objectives and justify expense.

Finally Evaluate Brand Engagement.

Are your consumer’s engaging with your brand? How are views, likes, comments and shares? Have they gone up or down over time? Advertising Hall of Famer Howard Gossage said, “Nobody reads ads. People read what interests them.” In social media reach is gained when consumers find content interesting enough to share. Quality content is important. Whether educational or entertaining it must be considered valuable. Only social media that is viewed and shared reaches an audience that can then take action to meet business objectives.

Today you can also interrupt people’s social feeds with paid social media or native advertising. Paid social media can buy reach to a targeted audience, but that does not replace the need to create interesting content. Social media advertising merely buys exposure. Content must convey value to drive consumer action, further distribution, and ultimate ROI.

Is It Time For A Social Media Audit?

If you haven’t evaluated your brand’s social media presence in a while it may be time for a social media audit. Use this template to see how consumers are experiencing your brand in social media. You may uncover some problem areas, promising opportunities, social channels you should be in and ones you should leave behind.

A social media audit can help you:

  • Realize the need for increased integration with other departments.
  • Find gaps in brand promise and product/service performance.
  • Uncover inconsistencies across brand social accounts.
  • Reveal blind spots in current social action with content, schedule and response.
  • Discover consumer ideas for product/service improvements.
  • Optimize brand content to drive engagement.
  • Find unexpected consumer generated content on other platforms.
  • Discover valuable brand or industry influencers.
  • Optimize time devoted to most effective social media platforms.
  • Learn from successful competitor social strategies.
  • Uncover a need for metrics to connect social action to business objectives.

Whether launching a new social media effort or evaluating current social activity, a social media audit can deliver valuable insights to create or optimize any social media strategy. For the bigger picture in social media strategy, more tools, templates and guides, plus a framework for creating and executing a complete social media plan consider the 2nd Edition of Social Media Strategy: Marketing, Advertising and Public Relations in the Consumer Revolution. bit.ly/QSocialBook