Social media can be so tricky.
When you’re as young as 11 years old with an Instagram account, you aren’t thinking about your future brand as a person. You don’t even know what a brand is, most likely. So, for about six years, you’re busy posting whatever you want.
I didn’t have any social media presence at 11. As a matter of fact, I had to ask permission to create a Sconex account and for years I went without a MySpace because my sister and mother were religious viewers of the news. I was about 16 when I finally made an account and I was ten days shy of 18 when I got my first cell phone. A slider phone. The Samsung Gravity. It wasn’t until I knew someone in college to invite me (a cousin) that I got on Facebook. I was a
late delayed bloomer.
Learning that what I posted online should be monitored was always a part of my social media life because I had a sister who was always checking over me. Mostly to make sure I wasn’t setting up any dates with random older men but also to make sure that the content I was putting out wasn’t offensive, derogatory, and didn’t defame my character. It wasn’t until my last few semesters in college, studying advertising, that this idea of monitoring what I posted online came up again. But this time, it was defined as “building my brand”. A brand? Like, Nike?
Yes. Like Nike.
Building a personal brand is curating your best self for the public to see. Imagine you are a museum. You want to put the best things on display for people to see. You may also try to keep the artifacts relative to one another because you don’t want people to be confused. You want to be able to tell a story. This is your brand. All the things you believe, believe in, are passionate about and how you do those things all make up your brand.
Everyone has a brand. Everyone. The way people perceive you on a daily basis has become your brand, so it is important that you showcase your best work. Please don’t confuse this for being fake or compromising who you really are. Building a brand is neither of those things, it is actually the opposite. When building your brand, you want to make sure that you are stressing who you are so that everyone has the same general idea.
By the time you graduate from college, you should be sure that your brand is as polished as possible. This is especially helpful when seeking employment. If you want to be a designer, writer, nurse, engineer, or teacher, your brand must reflect that.
So what does this have to do with social media?
When employers receive your information, the first thing they admit to doing is “Googling” you. If your social media handle(s) come up, you have to ensure that either, a) the things on display at your “museum” are best representations of yourself and your goals or, b) your privacy setting are set to display very little. The latter causes some to be concerned about whether or not showing little can hurt them but if you’re concerned about it, refer to option ‘A’.
Tip: If you are concerned about sharing social/political/animal or other issues that you’re passionate about, don’t be. Keep it respectful and professional and employers shouldn’t have a problem. If they do, ask yourself: do you want to work for a company that doesn’t align with your brand?
Building a brand takes time and can change over time as we grow professionally and personally. You shouldn’t be afraid to change just because you finally got a hang of how to display your brand. Sometimes people change drastically and sometimes people change linearly, but their brand will always follow them. Be aware of yours and make it the best that it can be for where you are in life.
I’ve gone to several seminars about brand building and every day I feel like there is something I can change, especially as I am entering the workforce as recent college graduate. Always make sure that the story you are trying to tell through your brand is consistent.
Have you started building your brand yet? What story are you trying to tell?
Leave any questions or comments below to continue the conversation.