It goes without saying that a strong social media presence is a major boon to the success of the typical businessperson. While researching my latest book, Getting to Like, Managing your digital persona is both an art and a skill, and while some people have a knack for it, most go through a trial and error period to learn what works and what doesn't. There are many different components involved in successfully managing your personal brand's digital presence.
Some of the most common pitfalls include:
1. Failing to have a detail-oriented plan.
Being organized is one of the most important qualities to have when you're managing your personal brand. Not only is an overarching strategy essential, but your day-to-day tactical plan requires some critical thinking. Before you launch a campaign, such as announcing your new small business, or appearing on the local news as an expert, it's crucial to have a step-by-step outline of how you plan to promote it. Too often, campaigns fall apart because one step wasn't fully thought out. Beat up your plan before putting it into action; that's far better than having someone else beat it up after it's already out in the open.
2. Posting too much.
Nobody likes a spammer--and if you do like spammers, I encourage you to reexamine your life choices. Posting too much is akin to spamming your followers, and the quickest way to turn off your readers. What's more: excessive posting lowers the value of each post. This is especially true on Facebook, but is relevant for other platforms as well. My Getting to Like co-author Ali B. Zagat and I have even run tests suggesting that posting a "B-level" asset immediately after an "A-level" asset will net the grade A piece of content less engagement over its lifetime.
Being more selective with your posts will allow you to invest more time and effort into making each one stand out, and it will also keep your audience more engaged--which is, of course, one of the chief goal of posting in the first place.
3. Forcing it.
No one's social media efforts have an A+ record. Just like in baseball, it's impossible to hit a home run every time. There will inevitably be campaigns that don't perform well, and when this happens you simply need to accept it. Don't make the common mistake of wasting more time and energy on something that is clearly not resonating with your audience. Instead, perform a post-mortem to figure out why the post or entire campaign didn't work, and what lessons you can learn for next time.
4. Spreading yourself (and your brand) too thin.
You can't be everywhere at once, so don't stress yourself out trying to promote your personal brand across every platform. Instead, you should target two or three where you are likely to get more readership and engagement; determining which platforms largely will depend on your audience's demographics. We see this proven out time and time again: an individual breaks his or her time investment out relatively equally amongst, say, seven different platforms--even though the majority of the value generated comes from one or two of those. If you were dating seven people at once, wouldn't you eventually phase out the less promising prospects so you could give more attention to the most appealing? Same principle applies here.
While on the topic of spreading yourself too thin: make sure you enlist the help of your biggest boosters to ensure your campaigns get the attention they deserve. Trying to do it all alone will only lead to burnout, poor results, or both.
5. Trying to please everyone.
Trying too hard to be likeable can often backfire. It's impossible to make everyone like you, and this real-life principle absolutely applies to building your brand. As you grow your personal brand and more people are reading your content, negative comments are unavoidable. In fact, some audience members get off on being trolls. If you take this type of feedback personally and get defensive, it'll wipe you out emotionally. The smarter course of action is to do your best to address the problem, learn from it, and move forward.
6. Being a selfish promoter.
If you are only promoting your content and aren't taking the time to support other professionals in your network, chances are slim that others will help you spread the word about your campaigns. Also, it's important to recognize the difference between actively engaging (participating in conversations, retweeting relevant content, etc.) and promoting like a used car salesman (indiscriminately hijacking hashtags, caring more about your promotion than what your audience can get out of it). You know that "friend" who only reaches out when they need a favor? Don't be that person.
7. Focusing on quantity, not quality.
Many businesspeople make the mistake of dwelling on the number of Twitter followers and Facebook likes and comments, rather than paying attention to who their visitors actually are. This is an easy trap to fall into; total Likes on your Facebook page are easy to track, yet it's a metric that's becoming increasingly less meaningful. A smaller, loyal following is twice as valuable as a large audience that doesn't care about anything you have to say.
Want more on how to build your brand using the latest digital tactics? Check out Getting to Like, my latest book (with co-author Ali B. Zagat), where we cover everything from analytics to content development to picking your social media channels, and more.