Social Media Personal Branding Advice for the Class of 2019

Social Media Personal Branding Advice for the Class of 2019

So, as I thought about the personal branding advice I’d give to a 22-year-old, I started thinking about the typical advice they receive in this area. Typical advice: Utilize your LinkedIn profile In this Forbes piece, one expert says: “LinkedIn is a great tool for those who are looking to brand themselves professionally, yet there are still young professionals who are not taking advantage. Keeping your profile up to date and relevant allows you to use LinkedIn as your own personal resume and cover letter that can be seen by thousands of potential employers.” My advice: A polished LinkedIn profile is table-stakes for today’s 22-year-old–use LinkedIn as a research tool to find that first job instead “Utilizing your LinkedIn profile” as personal branding advice is akin to telling a millennial that Instagram is a great brand marketing platform! What many college seniors don’t know is the power of LinkedIn as a research and networking tool. For example, let’s say you wanted to get a social media job at Target. You start by looking at Target’s social media channels. If you don’t, find someone you know who DOES have a connection to someone at Target and ask for an intro. Typical advice: You need a web site! Building a web site isn’t necessarily the worst idea. Second, what better “portfolio” or example of your work than a living, breathing blog or podcast!

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Over the last week, I’ve spoke to two college classes about one hot topic: Personal branding. More specifically, how college seniors about to enter the workforce can build, nurture and sustain an effective personal brand online (photo credit below: Mark Jenson, professor, Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota).

It’s an area I do have some experience in. As a solo consultant, my personal brand is everything because, in essence, my personal brand = my reputation. Clients don’t necessarily buy “ACH Communications”–they buy Arik Hanson.

So, as I thought about the personal branding advice I’d give to a 22-year-old, I started thinking about the typical advice they receive in this area. And, I began to see that my advice kinda flew in the fact of many of those tips. For example:

Typical advice: “Clean up your social media accounts to establish a more professional online presence.”

In this NerdWallet post, one career expert said this: “inappropriate pictures or other online content can definitely harm a candidate’s chances, so it is important for students to gain control of their online presence and to have it reflect their professional identities.”

My advice: Double-down on posts and content that showcases your personality

While it’s definitely a good idea to clean up inappropriate content, I wouldn’t think about your social media accounts as your “professional identity.” I’d think about them as an extension of your whole self. After all, agencies and companies want to hire INTERESTING people–not buttoned-up, slick and polished robots. Your personality–whatever it is–should come through loud and clear in your social content. For me, over the years, that’s meant a heavy dose of family selfies, golf posts, craft beer shots and photos from KU, Gopher and Wolves games.

Typical advice: Utilize your LinkedIn profile

In this Forbes piece, one expert says: “LinkedIn is a great tool for those who are looking to brand themselves professionally, yet there are still young professionals who are not taking advantage. Keeping…

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