Forget gifs and emojis. Are you building your professional networking online? This guide will get you started so your online community is ready for your next big project.
It shouldn’t surprise you that 90 percent of the world’s social media users are aged 18 to 29.
With that kind of social media gusto, all new graduates and young professionals should be personal branding pros, right? But transitioning social media usage from the fun and games of youth to the professional world can be more challenging than it looks.
Still, those social media skills provide an opportunity for young professionals: to build a personal brand by creating a platform of engaged and passionate followers. With careful branding and dedication, this online effort can establish you as an emerging leader. And the work can pay off in the form of a dream job, starting your own business, or even publishing a book.
By taking the time to identify, build, and engage with an online community through blogging and social media, you can discover where the conversation is happening, become an integral part of the conversation, and generate a loyal and engaged following all your own that will be beneficial in many facets of career development.
Here are a few ways that you can foster your online community. (Click here to tweet this guide.)
When building a personal brand, you should think of your online presence as a wheel. A blog is the hub of the wheel and social networks form the spokes radiating out from the center.
As the hub of any professional’s online presence, a blog should include original and timely content to establish expertise, highlight links to social media channels, feature a way for readers to subscribe to a feed or newsletter, and include a call to action welcoming comments and opinions for each post.
Blogging is no easy task, but the most important thing to remember when creating blog content is consistency. When readers know what to expect — expert content organized around a central theme — and when to expect it on a regular schedule, they begin to seek out your expert content and share it with their own communities.
Once you’ve established a blog as content hub and have been blogging consistently, it’s time to get the wheel moving with social media. These elements together form the community basis that’s instrumental to the successful launch of a project or book, no matter how far in the future.
Before getting overwhelmed by the number of social networks and their intricacies, know that experts don’t need to be everywhere — they just need to be where the conversation is happening.
Begin by evaluating each social network. Pew’s Social Networking Fact Sheet is an invaluable resource for evaluating social media usage trends and user demographics. Here is a snapshot of the basic demographics:
- Facebook skews female at 76 percent of users; fastest growing demographic is adults aged 65+; 77 percent of users earn less than $30,000 per year.
- Twitter skews primarily male; 36 percent of users engage multiple times daily; and 27 percent of users earn more than $50,000 per year.
- LinkedIn is more popular than Twitter among adults; accounts for 50 percent of college-educated internet users; only 13 percent of users engage daily and those users tend to be executive level.
- Pinterest is dominated by women; most active users are aged 18–29; income levels are split between limited and affluent.
Based on those statistics, LinkedIn is a natural fit for an emerging leadership expert because of the direct access to managers and C-suite executives. Those same managers and executives probably aren’t browsing Pinterest, so spending valuable time and resources developing that platform may not be necessary.
Professionals can also harness the power of the hashtag to review conversations on various social networks. Verify that the conversations you wish to be part of are truly happening and determine how you can add value to those conversations.
Connect with your core audience
Once you’ve identified which social networks reach your core audience, it’s time to build more momentum in the wheel by optimizing profiles, connecting with relevant influencers, and starting to share content.
It’s critical for those working to establish a personal brand to familiarize themselves with the best practices of their social networks of choice. Use great resources, such as The Art of Social Media by Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick, Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith, and Friends with Benefits by Darren Barefoot and Julie Szabo to help you navigate.
Above all, remember the 80/20 rule of sharing — 80 percent of what is shared should be promoting others and 20 percent should be self-promotional. Social media at its best exists to foster conversation and engage new people and audiences, not to toot horns.
Engage your community
At this point, you should have a firm grasp of where your core audience is engaging, how to establish a robust and consistent presence on those networks, and how to be comfortable sharing content. Now it’s time for others to hop on that wheel. Here are some things to remember about engagement:
- Follow back and interact. If someone makes the first move to connect, be responsive and reciprocate. This is how relationships are formed!
- Be proactive. Monitor conversations and don’t be afraid to make the first move. When establishing a social media presence, remember that the conversation won’t just come to you — you must go to the conversation.
- Offer help. Answering a question or providing a resource is the quickest and easiest way to establish expertise. Everyone loves a content concierge.
The golden takeaway
There’s a community out there for every young professional, emerging leader, and content expert. By establishing a consistent and content-rich blog as your hub, and giving that content momentum through the spokes of thoughtfully selected social media networks, you’ll be able to take your brand where you want to go.
When the time comes, you’ll then have the platform that’s instrumental to the success of your next big project.
Corrin Foster is Marketing Manager at Greenleaf Book Group, a publisher and distributor specializing in the growth of independent authors and small presses. Learn more at www.greenleafbookgroup.com.