Creating a social media brand is no longer an optional exercise, but a career management requirement. If you are to succeed in your profession and be taken seriously as a subject expert and leader in your industry, you must actively learn from, engage, influence and deliver value to peers, customers, clients, and potential employers. And it is hard to imagine being a truly effective networker without social media.
Most ambitious and high-performing corporate executives and business leaders accept the importance of reputation management on social media. However, they are often challenged by how best to create an authentic social media brand for themselves, while also enhancing and protecting the brands of the corporations they represent or are closely associated with. For some, creating a social media brand is instinctual. However, many others wrestle with or resist taking responsibility for creating a social media brand for themselves.
“#Influencer: Creating A Social Media Brand That Works for You,” held during the 2017 Women of Power Summit at the Arizona Grand Resort and Spa in Phoenix, provided corporate leaders and executives with valuable insights and advice from a panel of social media experts. Presented by AT&T and moderated by Black Enterprise Executive Editor-at-Large Alfred Edmond Jr., the panel was comprised of Blavity Founder and CEO Morgan DeBaun, AT&T Director of Digital and Social Media Joy Hays, and brand coach, blogger and certified personal brand strategist Jai Stone. Here some key takeaways from the session.
Defining your social media brand is your responsibility.
If you don’t do it, you’re leaving your brand—and your value—to be defined by everyone else.
Debaun: You have to do something. Just letting the world define you is not an option. If you’re saying, “I don’t want to do social media; I don’t want to put my life out there,” then someone else will; they’ll make the decision for you. You at least need to manage the basics of your social platforms.
Hays: What about all of the discussions that we are not a part of? How can we participate? Social media allows you to connect. You cannot be heard, if you do not speak. So if you want to be there, you can be there. No one is stopping you. The only thing stopping you from going out on social and presenting your points of view is yourself.
Stone: If you would not post it on a billboard on Time Square, do not post it on line. There is no such thing as being “off.” When it’s your brand, you’re always on.
Understand your “Why?” and don’t be afraid to start slow.
What’s important is that you get started; you’ll learn much of what you need to know by watching and doing.
Hays: Start with why you want to be on social media. For me there are three reasons: You want to brand yourself for awareness. You want to learn about something. Or you want to engage. When you start, it’s okay if you don’t want to speak; if you want to just listen to the conversation, to create the account to just learn more. You can find your community anywhere in the world on social. I don’t think being on social media necessarily means that you have to post, but it’s a starting place. And, then if you decide to engage, think about how you want to come across. Social media is just an amplifier of who you are.
Be true to who you are, but never forget who you represent.
This is the key to remaining professional even as you engage with personal transparency and authenticity.
Stone: Anytime you are affiliated with a brand—not just as an employee, but as a brand ambassador, spokesperson or any other way—you have to consider the culture of that brand, because you are an extension of it. So even though you are an individual, there is a balance between who you are and who you represent. You can’t do something that looks great for you, but looks bad for the brand. Do things with common sense and common decency, and it will generally keep you out of trouble.
You don’t have to be on every social media platform.
Give priority to the social media platforms that support why you are on social media, and which audiences are important for you to engage to bring value both to your company and to career or business.
Debaun: You want to think about what your platform is, and then figure out who your audience is for that platform. For example, if you look at my Instagram account, it’s very much this is my life as a CEO; this is where I’m traveling. I don’t post about articles that I’m writing or industry information because people want to get to know me as a person. Now on my Twitter account, it’s very much here’s an article I’m writing; here’s an article you can read about what Blavity is doing, because it’s a more industry-focused platform. So depending on what your goals are, you want to consider what social media platforms you should put first.
Black Enterprise Executive Editor-At-Large Alfred Edmond Jr. is an award-winning business and financial journalist, media executive, entrepreneurship expert, personal growth/relationship education coach, and co-founder of Grown Zone, a multimedia initiative focused on personal growth and healthy decision-making. This blog is dedicated to his thoughts about money, entrepreneurship, leadership and mentorship. Follow him on Twitter at @AlfredEdmondJr.