With social media, You Are Your Brand. But what exactly does that mean? If you are part of a larger firm or business, you may be using social media to promote the products and services your company/firm offers, but you are doing so as an individual. Social media is about sharing content and building relationships. The general voice of your company/firm would not work in social media, nor in face to face networking for that matter, without each individual representative of the company displaying their own personalities and adding unique insight which ultimately is what attracts new, potential clients.
Social media is all about relationship building. Even if everyone in your company/firm were using social media, it is the personalities, knowledge, insights and expertise of each individual person that others are looking to connect with. Essentially, social media has broken the mold of traditional marketing which is all about the products and services a company or firm has to offer. In this new form of media, if all you do is sell, sell, sell, you will all but surely turn people away.
Think of it this way. In social media, when someone comes to you with questions about your company and firm, do you put them on hold and transfer them to someone else? No, you, yourself, personally interact and engage in dialect with that individual. But what is it that leads an individual to to you in the first place? To connect/friend/follow and contact you through social media and in traditional forms of face to face networking? It is because they feel you have the knowledge and expertise they are seeking in answer to the needs that they have. Yes, your firm or company name may be what leads them to finding you in the first place, but if they do not feel a connection with you they will simply move on to the next person they feel will be able to fulfill their needs.
I remember hearing stories when I was a kid of people always buying from the same companies, no matter the cost because they had always purchased from that company before. But with the inception of the Internet, search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing, and with social media free and available to anyone with a computer, customer loyalty is just not what it used to be. A consumer is not going to buy from a company or use a firm anymore simply because of the name or brand. Nor do most people pick up the phone to find out more. Rather, they first go to the Internet, seeking out information on the company/firm they are interested in trying out. And in social media, this is where you, the individual, comes in. This is where you begin to build your own personal brand.
Yes, you have the knowledge that others seek on your company/firm, and you may even be quite important at your company/firm, but none of that matters if the people who seek you out cannot connect to you. Do you have your Twitter account locked so you cannot receive direct messages? If so, why? How do you expect to get new business if people cannot reach you? This makes others feel you are untouchable and will result in potential clients seeking out others who will allow direct messages. Even if you are quite high up in a company/firm, blocking access will surly result in lost connections and ultimately lost work or sales.
So how does one go about building their own personal brand while still representing the company/firm they work for according to company/firm policy. First you must know your company’s rules of conduct for engaging others through social media. Once you know what the company/firm policies are, the sky is the limit for you. Now is your chance to shine as a representative of your company/firm. Think about how you want others to perceive you; helpful, knowledgeable, easy going, reachable, approachable, friendly, polite, responsive, motivated to connect, willing to interact and so on. Incorporate these traits into your interactions with others. Do not simply try to sell yourself, your company/firm or it’s products and services. Rather, educate, inform and demonstrate in the way you want others to perceive you.
Create a group that is pertinent to your target audience. Lead discussions on topics related to your industry and answer questions that your group members may have. You can also go to the question and answer sections of LinkedIn, Facebook and even Yahoo. Seek out questions that others have asked about your area of knowledge and expertise, and answer the questions that you know the answers to. People will see your responses and will more likely than not look at your personal profile to learn more about you.
Make sure your profile(s) is (are) complete. Personalize your profiles with a professional yet friendly picture of yourself and be consistent with your brand by using the same photograph and company logos on all social media profiles. Make sure you give your followers a way to contact you via email, telephone or direct message through the social media sites you have profiles on. Don’t be afraid to add a little bit about yourself in what you share on your profiles. For example, most everyone knows that I am married to Gene Quinn of IPWatchdog. Although this is certainly the reason why some people seek me out in the first place, it is my own personal brand as a marketing, brand building and social media expert that ultimately leads people to connect with me and hire me to work with them to harness the power of social media. IPWatchdog is a venue for others to find me, but it is my personal brand that keeps them coming back.