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After 350 Sundays, it’s time to cut connection

Today marks the end of a journey of sorts. It’s a journey we’ve been on together for 6 1/2 years.

In 2014, I started writing for “The Vindicator” under the guidance of former editor-in-chief Todd Franko. He envisioned a weekly column that explored the connections we make with family and friends through technology. He asked me to write a few sample columns and, after some coaching, we embarked on this adventure.

Nearly 350 Sunday columns later, we did just that. Often using social media as a compass, we explored the technological links we maintain and cultivate with our communities. The column was aptly named “Connected.”

Thanks to the kindness of people like Brenda Linert (our fearless editor-in-chief) and Burton Cole (our talented lifestyles editor), we were able to keep the adventure going until today. Now other adventures require more of my attention, and it’s time to step aside from this one.

Since the beginning, the focus has always been on how we use technology to enhance, not necessarily hinder, our personal and professional lives. In fact, it was in the first column where I asked readers to reflect on the ways we use social media to brand ourselves.

Here are the tips I suggested for branding ourselves online. Does this advice hold up in 2020? You be the judge:

1. Stick to your point.

You’re good at something. Quilting? Balloon animals? Munster hurling? 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 and eventually your fans will find you.

2. Audience is everything.

Speaking of fans, 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 can (and will) find what you post.

Write for every audience member, even if you think some audiences won’t care. Although, chances are mom or dad will read everything you write — and think that it’s amazing.

3. 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, if you love what you do (e.g., quilting, balloon animals, Munster hurling), and you have something to say, say it on your social media profiles.

4. Use social media (often).

Ninety percent of what we 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.

Back to today: There are still more than 200 platforms and most of what we do online is still (relatively) free. But there remain costs to sharing our lives online, regardless if you want to be a TikTok superstar or you just want to share a pecan pie recipe.

We’re all on that journey for balance, about what to share and what to keep private. Balance is different for everyone. I just hope we’ve been able to help you find some balance on your social media journey.

So wherever your journey leads, online and in real life, please be safe and remember to share some love and kindness with fellow adventurers.

Follow Dr. Adam Earnheardt on Twitter at @adamearn and on his blog at www.adamearn.com.

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