After writing several articles about how to establish or improve your brand, I decided it was time to throw in a couple PLEASE DO NOTs. Everyone knows that social media marketing is the new thing, that branding yourself online is just as important as having a good resume or a strong company, and that getting it all right isn’t that easy. This is by no means a comprehensive list of all the things you shouldn’t do, but instead a short list of common mistakes that I just can’t bear the thought of you making!
1. Broadcast me, me, me – You should follow the rule of thumb that for every post about you, post 7 or 8 about your industry or niche. Personal branding isn’t about ‘this is me, aren’t I great?’ It is about putting your ideas out there and adding value to your community. The purpose of personal branding is to get people interested in what you have to say and provide links back to your website (where you are free to self promote). Social media is about having a conversation; it is not like traditional advertising.
2. Talk just to be heard – You are not Kim Kardashian or Justin Beiber…please do not overflow your social networks with pointless blabber. Add value, be poignant, engage others. Didn’t anyone ever teach you that quality is almost always better than quantity?
3. Be Negative – Describing how crazy your boss was or how much you hate a company may feel good after leaving a job, but future employers will not look highly upon this. Talking smack about a competitor usually makes you look worse in the long run. Whatever you do, be positive: it is much easier to read and doesn’t leave a bad taste in anyone’s mouth!
4. Be the master of it all – Pick a niche, don’t try to be an expert on everything! It is okay if you are not what someone is looking for. You want your brand to attract the kind of people to whom you will be of value. Be specific when picking your niche, try to find something that you have that thousands of other people aren’t already claiming. Originality is what makes a good brand, and it is much easier to be original if you find something that sets you apart from everyone else. Once you have found your niche, research to find out where your people are and put your message there. Trying to be everywhere on the web is exhausting and you often end up not putting your best self out there.
5. Inconsistency is exciting! – Actually inconsistency is confusing! Reinforce your efforts to build your brand by being consistent. Be consistent with your pictures for all social network sites, be consistent with your message, be consistent with your bio…be as consistent as you can be! Another important form of online consistency is your activity level. It is not easy to build a relationship with someone who is here one week and gone the next. Consistency reminds people who you are, and isn’t that the whole point of branding? To get people to recognize who you are?
6. Keep your nose where it belongs (out of everyone else’s business) – Go ahead, give your opinion. Success in an internet community means being part of the conversation. This means responding when people talk to you, having insightful comments for others, sharing your ideas, and always saying thank you. It is very important to let people know you value their feedback, that you aren’t just posting thoughts and moving on from them. Remember, your goal is not to simply advertise, but to establish relationships.
7. Lie, fib or anything in between – Lying on your resume will most likely get you black-listed in the industry. Lying anywhere on the web can just as easily come back to haunt you. In a world where we connect to others through the internet, we base our relationships on trust. We follow people we trust, we buy products from companies we trust, we read our news from sources we trust. You want your brand to be trustworthy, or you might as well throw it under a bus!
Hopefully you can avoid these simple but costly mistakes in your own branding efforts!