But with so many networks vying for your attention, knowing where to focus on building a brand can be difficult. It's easy to lose track of accounts, forget to post, or let simple optimization opportunities slip away.
I recently taught a webinar for Poynter University in which we discussed the keys to growing and maintaining an effective personal brand. Here are the takeaways from that session: the six common mistakes you may be making and how to correct them.
1. Lacking clarity
To bring your brand to life across the internet, a deep understanding of your personal brand is key. Struggles with "off brand" posts or not knowing what to share often comes from being unsure what you can talk about or a lack of clarity on how you want to be perceived.
To gain clarity, make a mind map of the topics on which you are an authority, and the voice that you want to define your brand.
2. Leaving profiles incomplete
So many opportunities are missed because you only went 70 percent on bringing your brand to life. When someone arrives on your profile, that person should get a full snapshot of who you are and what your experience or expertise is. If all available fields aren't written, edited, and updated, your profiles will become dead ends that don't lead someone to a full picture of who you are.
Schedule some time in your calendar to bring your profiles to completion with a bio, a professional headshot, and other fields completed. Add in links to your work and your website, and any details about your jobs, awards, and affiliations.
3. Lacking continuity
With so many networks, it's easy for someone to stay siloed, only listening to you and connecting with you in one place. Make it easy for people to find you all across the internet, with username and avatar or photo continuity across your various networks and profiles. This makes you more discoverable and recognizable, no matter where someone first finds you.
Get a professional headshot and upload it as your default across networks. Spend some time unifying your URLs and usernames, so people recognize you.
4. Not connecting authentically
You're not a robot, so don't act like one online. Find balance between professional and personal posts and information so people feel like they know the real you. Employ the 70/30 rule: 70 percent of content shared is from other sources and for your audience's benefit, but 30 percent is personal updates, observations, and hobbies and to showcase your own work.
If you're not sure how to strike a balance, make a list of the (30 percent) "you" things (hobbies, family, food, etc.) that you'll share, and identify some professional "them" things. Then identify and follow accounts and users with shared interests.
5. Not engaging in conversation
Connecting with people is part of building your brand; you want your profiles and sites to be living things, with updated information and a clear invitation to interact with you, not mere destinations or a list of accomplishments from the past. Make an effort to mention or tag other users, respond to and engage in their content, and invite your connections to talk to you with questions and other engaging content.
To start the process, search for a weekly Twitter chat in your topic area to join, and schedule a time slot for engaging with other people's content or posts each day; make use of downtime during a commute, in a line for coffee, or on a lunch break to check in with the audience you're building.
Consistency is key. You don't have to be everywhere, every hour of every day (ain't nobody got time for that!), but you should carefully choose where you'll be active and how often, so that people know what to expect when they connect with you.
To help with this, choose your key networks where you'll focus your attention, and create a loose "post schedule" to ensure consistency; set reminders or calendar appointments, or use a post-scheduling tool, to make sure you keep to your desired post frequency.
If you can avoid these common mistakes, you'll be on your way to building a personal brand that effectively boosts your reputation.