3 keys to personal branding online for millennials

Millennials seem able to use social media in their sleep. Envisioning and building a distinctive, credible online persona might be more challenging, so heed this advice.

As millennials, we have been surrounded by social media for most of our lives. Until now it’s been pretty easy to manage—post a status here, “like” an angry cat meme there.

Now that you’re entering the real world and you don’t have mom to protect you, how will you depict yourself on social media?

We’ve been told time and time again to be cautious about what we post, because it’s out there forever and anyone can see it. But no one, including our moms, has advised us how to make the most of Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr. How do you stand out among more than 1 billion users on Facebook, or 200 million (active) users on Twitter?

Developing a personal brand strategy

Personal branding is a way to convey to others who you are and what you do. It’s a way for you to get noticed on social media for all the right reasons.

However, it is not an easy process to undergo—it requires you to dig deep and understand how you want to portray yourself. Don’t fret. There are three basic actions you can focus on as you enter the branding process: build, connect, and engage.

Build

Before you dive headfirst into branding strategies, ask yourself: “How do I want people to think of me?” This will be the foundation of your brand. Keep this idea in mind as you begin to join various social media sites to build your presence. Great places to start are platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Vine, and Tumblr.

Get innovative with the design space by creating and applying personal designs that embody your image.

Furthermore, select and upload a picture that portrays the feeling of your brand and showcases your personality and skills. For example, if you’re an artist, upload a picture of yourself painting. Remember, you are the face of your brand.

Connect

Next, make valuable connections on social media. Don’t just dive into Twitter and begin following 500 people or accept every invitation you receive on LinkedIn. Be smart. You should benefit and gain knowledge from the people you follow. Connect with people who you are interested in and who add value to your social media experience.

Think about the people you would like to learn about and the companies they work for. For example, if you are trying to enter the culinary world, follow professional chefs, culinary schools, and culinary communities. This is a great way for you to find out more about the industry.

Don’t worry, we won’t tell anyone if you follow Cute Emergency or Jimmy Fallon—you can benefit from them, too, or at least get a good laugh.

Engage

It’s time for you to get involved and engage with your social media network. Think of this as the promotion phase of your brand. The more you get involved, the more you get seen. A great way to engage is to comment, retweet, and share content to encourage conversations between you and your followers.

For example, every Tuesday I converse with people worldwide through a Twitter chat. I interact with people whom I could not have reached five years ago, let alone shared ideas with them.

Responding is simple, because you’re just tweeting your thoughts on the subject. Posting original content is another great way to engage. People want to uncover fresh insights and opinions about various topics—it’s one of the reasons they joined social media in the first place. Don’t be afraid to let your opinion be heard.

Remember, the more you engage, the more you get noticed—and isn’t that what we’re all trying to achieve?

In the vast sea we call social media, there are 277,000 users logging in to Facebook, 100,000 new tweets being sent out, and more than 100 LinkedIn accounts being created each minute.

Standing out among all those numbers is not easy. It is crucial for us to harness social media and use it to its full potential. Creating a personal brand strategy is the unique and smart way to do so. It allows you to build distinctive platforms, connect with your chosen industry, and engage with your professional heroes.

Remember that building a brand is a process; you must take the time to let yourself and your brand build on social media. Make it a habit to be present every day and connect with new people. Give people a reason to want to talk with you and think about you in a positive way.

Also remember that your brand should promote one thing: you. Whether it’s content you are posting or a picture that you are uploading, you should be seen in every aspect of your brand. This is what will make you stand out from the millions of active users on social media.

Katie Yochem is freelance writer and recent graduate with degrees in marketing, management, and entrepreneurship pursuing a career in advertising and social marketing. Talk more with her via Twitter: @k_yochem. A version of this article first appeared on RegaleMag.

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