Sunday, February 16, 2014

Personal Branding Using Social Media: Six Week Plan by Elizabeth Dehn

 MK225 – Blog

6 Week Plan to utilize Social Media to create or renovate your personal brand.
By: Elizabeth Dehn
Are you graduating soon? Is it time to reinvent your personal brand? What motivates others to create an image of you? These are questions that might be the instigator in that they make people want to evaluate, renovate, or create a personal brand. Per Internet Marketing, “If you are a student or young professional reading this text and you have already begun a planned effort to build your personal brand, congratulations! If you have not yet begun, it is never too late.” (Roberts & Zahay, 2013)
My goal is to give you a timeline and specific steps to follow when creating a plan to rejuvenate or renovate your personal brand via social media. Social media includes Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other sites that users communicate and socialize through.
As we saw in chapter 9 of our text, social media is exploding with hundreds of millions of users. For example, Facebook boasts 400 million users and LinkedIn has a following of 65 million users (Roberts & Zahay, 2013).
(See figure 9.1 on p.223)
So, now that you know there are plenty of people and professionals out there utilizing social media for all types of marketing strategies, what can you do to use these tools to promote yourself? I have created a six-step plan that could be implemented one after another or along a six-week timeline. These steps ensure that you are focused on your goals and unique talents, utilizing channels with messages that will promote your brand consistently, and broadcasting them across the correct or desired areas of exposure for your field or industry.

Week One/Step One – EVALUATE-Before you move forward you must define your starting point by evaluating what is out there now and what it says about you. Search all of the sites you have profiles on, print them out and pretend you are meeting yourself for the first time via social media.
Reddick states, “Do you know what your personal brand is and what it says about you?” (Reddick, 2012)
How else can you decide a focus or strategy? You must evaluate your current image and take note of what your personal brand is. If you know that it is time to reinvent yourself, take special notes. What part of your personal brand that is out there, that you are trying to move away from? Be especially focused on what is currently visible versus what you know to be true of yourself. If there are already conflicting facts out there, note them all so you can decide what stays and what needs to go.
Make sure you thoroughly research yourself and any possible other people that have your same name. All of this information will ensure that you design the right strategic messages to broadcast via social media.
Ask yourself, “What is your unique selling point?” (White, 2012)
Another good reflection question for this step is, “Do you have a consistent message?” (White, 2012)

Week Two/Step Two – Decide focal Points (main objectives and channels to market through) Will you focus on the groups you follow or the skills you have or both? What three goals are your main objectives for redefining your personal brand?
Some social media sites differ widely in the way they are communicated on. For example, Twitter focuses on Tweets which are usually condensed messages that summarize an event or marketing objective. Twitter has been utilized to communicate, call to action, and broadcast events via little sentences or even one-word concoctions of words that are very catchy. For example, at work we joke about #cubelife. We reference it but it is not a real hashtag to my knowledge. This is an example of how you can utilize a channel but you must consider the channel’s norms, expectations, and members. Is this the right way to reach your optimal audience?
In my opinion, even though LinkedIn started for HR and Service professionals, it is now a professional resource that can benefit anyone. Even if you are retired, you can benefit from the professional network that LinkedIn provides. There are groups, access to people worldwide that post lectures and webinars, and countless resources for you to use in creating a brand image for yourself.
Once you decide one to three channels to focus on, you must decide which objectives could be best satisfied via these channels.
From Harvard Business Journal, “Define your destination. [..] Start by determining where you really want to invest your energy. Check out relevant industry trade journals, do informational reviews, even try some internships. […] Leverage your points of difference. What’s your unique selling proposition? That’s what people will remember, and you can use it to your advantage.” (Clark, 2011)
For an example, as I brand myself in the field of service to the community to promote home horticultural practices, a way to leverage a point of difference would be to focus on my bilingual gardening abilities. Being that I am working to understand horticultural terms in English (some Latin) and Spanish, I would use that point of differentiation as leverage to create and define my personal brand. Maybe my chosen channel for the message regarding my bilingual abilities involves creating a Tweet that is about spring gardening tips in both English and Spanish.

Week Three/Step Three – Define the chosen consistent and relevant message(s), and the channels you will use to communicate the message(s).
Having a specific list and channels to implement the messages through will help you document your efforts for later evaluation and critique.
Your goals and objectives should be clearly visible by your plan. The messages should be relevant to you and sound confident and natural, yet not overly arrogant. For example, creating a Tweet about my abilities to educate regarding horticulture in English or Spanish should not include any disdain for the large Spanish community. If your message is appropriately designed, it will highlight your abilities without diminishing others or expressing judgmental views.

From Harvard Business Journal, “Prove your worth. Every art student has a portfolio ready to be shown at a moment’s notice. It’s no different in the business world. […] I may like you a lot, but unless I see proof of your skills, I’ll hesitate to put my own reputation on the line by sending you referrals. […] Finally, you have to be consistent and committed as you move forward. A desire to expand into international work won’t go far if you don’t make the effort to learn new languages or the nuances of other cultures. And a onetime charitable gift is nice but quickly forgotten. The key is long-term effort. Michael Milken-once best known as a 1980’s highflier jailed for securities violations-dramatically redeemed his reputation through more than three decades of committed philanthropy.” (Clark, 2011)
An example of proving your worth would be showing pictures of a volunteer activity along with the printed details or a link to where the activity occurred. For example, I could put a link to the City of Golden Valley’s website for some work I did last summer regarding Habitat 4 Humanity. Simply stating on my LinkedIn profile does not prove that I serve my community. Providing proof via a credible source of my skills and efforts will go much further than simply listing it.

Week Four/Step Four & Week Five/Step Five – Implement messages and seek relevant AND critical feedback.
Now that you have done all the prep work to ensure that your personal branding efforts are successful, simply posting the messages via the appropriate channels is not enough. You must seek relevant and critical feedback. In this, I mean that your 12 year old cousin might not be the best judge, unless you work at an elementary school as a 5th grade teacher. Make sure you seek honest feedback and even push your mentors or peer leaders to criticize your efforts. Through seeking feedback and critique, you will find out what is effective and what is missing the mark.
It could be that me Tweeting about being a bilingual MG is not as effective as posting a volunteer ad on Craigslist.
Evaluate the situation based on the feedback, your observations, and the visible differences since you have started this personal branding campaign via social media.
Week Five/Step Five – Create Adjustments and Objectives to correct areas that were unsuccessful.
Take all the information you have compiled, the feedback, and the results that you feel were a product of this personal branding plan via social media.
As you compile this overview with results and critiques, think creatively about what you could have done different or other avenues you can research that might be better for reaching your personal branding objectives.
Consider making a list of what was most successful, what was least successful, and where you feel that you could go in the future to support your goal for your personal brand.
Create the next plan based on successes & areas that need improvement. Use your perceptions, comparisons based on before & after, and critique from your peers and mentors.

Week Six/Step Six – Repeat steps 1-5!
This is not a joke! In order to continue to make you’re online and social media presence accurately represent your true self, you must update it and continually mold it to reflect the true you.
Tessa Hood lists “Top Tips for developing a recognized and valuable personal reputation.” (Hood, 2010)
Amongst them: “Build relationships through consistency, expertise, likeability, and effective targeted networking. Know your true value to your whole marketplace. Clarify exactly what you can do to help others. Develop your reputation through recognition-job title, awards, qualifications, achievements, and projects. Actions speak louder than words. Note your successes.” (Hood, 2010)
What not to do? Brenda Bence says it is not a good idea to avoid risk and critique, per “Your Personal Brand: Avoiding Behaviors that Damage it.”
“Here are five mistakes that can damage your personal brand: Not taking risks or accepting tough challenges. [..] Not speaking up when you disagree with someone. [..] Worrying about being liked, not respected. [..] Fearing feedback, both giving and receiving. [..] (and) Using destructive language.” (Bence, 2011)
As far as Ms. Bence is concerned, doing any of the above can quickly give you a brand you might not be happy with or challenge the brand you have invested your efforts in creating.
In summary, you must start by evaluating what your personal brand is now. Next you must decide what your focal points of this personal branding plan will be. Once you determine your focal points, you must then decide what channels they would be delivered best via. Once you have decided your focal points and ideal channels for this message, it is important to tailor your message to the social media channel. After you have implemented your messages, seek feedback from relevant authority figures in the field or industry associated with your optimal career path.
After you have implemented your messages and sought relevant feedback, you must compile that information along with the results you can qualify to decide what was successful and where you need to improve. The final step is to remember that this is a continual process and your social media image will best reflect your real life brand if you are evaluating and renovating it regularly to ensure your online presence is consistent with your real life.
IF you want to learn more about personal branding, I recommend this book:
“Managing Brand You: Seven steps to creating your most successful self.” (Wilson, 2008)

This is a link to a Prezi I created on this topic:

I hope that these tips and this plan can be of use to you as you develop your personal brand via social media.
Thank you for reading my blog post. I look forward to your feedback!

Elizabeth Dehn


Bence, B. (2011, Feb). Your Personal Brand. Personal Excellence, p. 6.
Clark, D. (2011). Reinventing Your Personal Brand. Harvard Business Review, 89(3), 78-81.
Hood, T. (2010). Your reputation rests on your own personal brand. Manager: British Journal Of Administrative Management(72), 24-25.
Reddick, E. (2012, June 4-10). Is your personal brand your professional best? Enterprise/Salt Lake City, pp. 12-13.
Roberts, M. L., & Zahay, D. (2013). Internet Marketing - Integrating Online and Offline Strategies (3rd ed.). South-Western Cengage Learning.
White, G. (2012, January 1). Three Steps to Creating Your Personal Brand. Banking Ireland, 116(1), pp. 20-21.
Wilson, J. S. (2008). Managing Brand You: Seven steps to creating your most successful self. New York: AMACOM/American Management Association.

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