Brand YOU: Creating and growing your brand with social media

Brand YOU: Creating and growing your brand with social media

15 August 2017

Deirdre Robert / Communications Specialist NZTE / New Zealand

Whether we like it or not, we are all brands in this highly connected, digital world. How can we be more aware of our personal brand and, importantly, grow it to our professional advantage using social media?

We sat down with social media marketer and entrepreneur, Wendy Thompson, to get her tips and advice, drawing on insights garnered from her own social media journey.

Why your brand is so important

  • A brand IS your reputation – it’s what people are thinking or talking about you when you’re out of the room. Social media is a powerful tool from which to grow your brand.
  • You don’t have to be a business owner to create your own social media brand. If you want to be viewed as an expert in your field, or in a particular skill or topic (be it in sales, recruitment, science (you name it!), then social media is a fantastic way to build that reputation.
  • If you think social media is the sole domain of extroverts, think again. You don’t have to be an extrovert to ‘put yourself out there’ with social media. Wendy is a self-proclaimed introvert who hated writing. Having successfully launched Socialites, a full service social media agency for businesses, and Start Social, an online education hub that teaches small and medium businesses NZ businesses how to use social media to grow their businesses, Wendy knew she also needed to walk the talk and create her own personal social brand – to showcase the person behind these businesses. So at the start of this year, that’s exactly what Wendy did. 
  • Traditional forms of growing your brand, like speaking at conferences, PR and networking face-to-face, are still very relevant and valuable. But if you want to get maximum cut-through, you need to throw social media into the mix. You can talk to 100 people in a room, but with social media, you can write a blog and share it a wider network to truly amplify your message.

Tips for creating your brand

Develop your social persona
Your personal brand on social media can be separate from your private social media. To achieve this, Wendy advises thinking of your social persona as a different person. Wendy created a public page on Facebook for her persona, and still keeps her own personal profile private.

Work to three content pillars

These pillars should be based on what you are genuinely passionate about. If your content stems from a genuine position of passion, your brand is more likely to be authentic and therefore, more powerful. The pillars don’t necessarily need to be business related. When Wendy launched her brand, she decided to focus on the following three pillars:

  1. Women in leadership
  2. The power of communities
  3. Social media.

Wendy doesn’t talk about the micro details of her personal life, just these three things which are important to her.
With two young daughters, Wendy is also passionate about having more strong female business role models on social media.

Prioritise your content creation

Content creation is time consuming, but worth it in terms of return on investment. Wendy dedicates two hours a week to content creation, writing three articles that can be shared across her various social channels.

Sharing your content

  • With over 500 million registered users, LinkedIn is an ideal platform for writing articles and sharing them with your community. It’s a great platform to grow your profile and attract opportunity. If you’re not a natural writer, don’t worry – it gets easier.
  • Longer pieces on LinkedIn tend to get more engagement than shorter pieces – in spite of the more recent media trend for shorter, headline grabbing pieces. People are after opinion, not just fact.
  • Connection requests – should you accept random connections requests, or just people you know? It really depends on what you want to get out of it. If you’re a prolific writer wanting to broaden your reach, having a huge network is advantageous because your articles will be seen by more people.
With 2 billion monthly users, Facebook is great for sharing your blogs and generating discussion. The audiences for Facebook and LinkedIn differ slightly, so sharing your blogs on Facebook will help generate different conversations.
Twitter is useful for linking things through (like your blogs) or engaging with a hashtag that is relevant to one of your three pillars.    

A visual platform, Wendy uses this to showcase ‘a day in the life of Wendy' in her professional capacity.    

Responding to criticism

  • When we get a negative comment on a social media platform, our natural reaction is to be defensive. Don’t be!
  • If someone disagrees with you, often they have a really good point. Being open to criticism is a sign of a good leader. Good leaders don’t get defensive, they are open to many opinions and they don’t get personal.
  • If you put something out on social media that you know is going to cause reaction, take responsibility. Keep an eye on activity – let people have their say (a good debate is healthy!) – but don’t let them get nasty or personal with each other. Step in when needed and acknowledge the differing options, reminding readers to keep things professional and not personal.

Your digital footprint

  • You need to take responsibility for what you say on social media.
  • Social media has really exploded over the last 10 years, and society is busy running to keep up. We are developing the etiquette as we go, and the laws are catching up even later.
  • A good rule of thumb is to assume that anything you put online – be it a tweet, a snapchat, an email – will always be out there. Don’t be scared – just be aware.       

Switching off

  • If you ever feel overwhelmed with social media, a digital detox is a good idea.
  • Wendy places great importance on being present in the moment when she is with her two young daughters. And to do that, on weekends she’ll sometimes leave her phone at home, or if she wants to use the camera on her phone to capture some of the fun she gets up with her daughters, she’ll simply switch her phone to ‘flight mode’. 

3 Tips to grow your 'followers' and 'likes'

  1. Be consistent/regular
  2. Follow other people. Simple but it works.
  3. Engage – start conversations with people. Get your name out there.

Wendy's social media icons

  1. Sir Richard Branson (Twitter + LinkedIn + Facebook+ Instagram)
  2. Michelle Dickinson – Nanogirl (Twitter + Facebook+ Instagram)
  3. Arianna Huffington (Twitter + LinkedInFacebook + Instagram)

Check out Wendy's own social channels (Twitter + LinkedIn + Facebook + Instagram)