Be a shameless self-promoter with social media
My name is Adam Earnheardt.
My Facebook profile is open to the public under this name. My twitter handle is @adamearn. Feel free to follow me or to friend me, I’m always looking to expand my digital footprint.
This is because I am a shameless self-promoter. And I believe this is a good thing.
Social media has provided a free platform for marketing myself, my employer (Youngstown State) and my discipline (communication) to 10,000+ followers on Twitter and friends on Facebook who seem interested in my posts.
With every post and Tweet, I am working on my individual brand every time.
Branding is a term we typically associate with products like facial tissues, tires and processed cheese spreads (I love processed cheese spreads). Teams of experts spend resources trying to get consumers to distinguish between their product and similar products.
The same concept applies to our social media identities. However, we are not always aware we are a brand until it is too late.
Have you heard of “theconnor” on Twitter?
She was happy she had just landed a well-paid job from computer giant, Cisco.
“Theconnor” was unsure whether or not to accept the job. She tweeted “Cisco just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work.”
Soon after that tweet, Cisco rescinded the employment offer.
Since then, “theconnor” has set her Twitter account and tweets to private, most likely as an attempt to repair her online identity.
So, how do you create a quality brand for yourself? Here are a few tips to help you.
- Stick to your point. You’re good at something. Quilting? Balloon animals? Soccer? Tell people about it, and tell them often — using social media. The occasional post about your kids or morning cup of joe won’t harm your brand. But if you have good, useful information, share it with the world.
- Audience is everything.
Be sure to keep every potential audience member in mind when drafting that witty reportage. Is your mom or dad reading? Chances are your next boss or client is. Write for every audience member, even if you think some audiences won’t care (and chances are, mom or dad will read everything you write — and think that it’s amazing).
- Be your brand.
Award-winning brand strategist David Brier once said “if you love your brand, set it free.” Of course, he was referring to a company brand, but the same holds true for self-branding. If you love yourself, and think you have something to say, say it — using social media.
- Use social media (often).
Ninety percent of what we can do with social media is free. Still, very few people use social media effectively for self-branding. With more than 200 social media platforms out there, you’re bound to find something you like. Find it, sign up for it, use it and stick with it.
I’ll never reach Katy Perry status (last count has @katyperry at about 54 million followers). That’s OK. I don’t know if I want that kind of responsibility. But my Twitter followers expect something from my tweets.
They expect retweets of people I follow who research and write about social media. They expect the occasional tweet about sports, athletes and fans (my other research interest). They expect a few tweets about Youngstown State (OK, more than a few).
One follower once retweeted one of my tweets. This led to an online discussion with about four or five other Twitter users about appropriate social-media use. Those users now follow me and we communicate regularly about social media issues.
While I may not be retweeted as much as Lady Gaga (41 million followers) or Barack Obama (43 million), it was pretty gratifying to see someone care enough about what I had to say to share it with his followers. It led to more connections and, for me, a stronger brand.
The next time you’re tweeting or posting to Facebook, remember that you are a brand. The best person to promote that brand is you. Some of us are really good at this, and some are really bad. The point is we can all be a little bit better. My hope is that this column will help us all to be shameless self-promoters — and be really good at it.