Personal Digital Brand: Developing Your Strategy

Personal Digital Brand: Developing Your Strategy

Filter tag: AI and Digitisation, Change Management and Executive Outplacement, digital transformation

We know that digital is the new normal. As Nike CEO John Dinahoe has put it, the customer today is digitally grounded and simply will not revert back.

With more aspects of our lives incorporating digital, a strategic personal digital branding programme is now an essential component of a successful career plan.  In a previous blog, we discussed the steps you should take in order to define your personal digital brand. This stage required you to think realistically and critically about your personal and professional talents, strengths, achievements, and aspirations. You took the time to determine your purpose, set out your short to mid term goals, audit yourself, and identify the key accomplishments, skills, and attributes you need to champion to align to future market needs. The next step is it to delve into the ‘digital’ element, and how you can begin to convey that personal brand online.


The ‘Digital’ Aspects of Personal Digital Branding

For many, their perception of a ‘personal digital brand’ may be limited to a social media presence. While it is arguably the area with the most opportunity for growth and experimentation, your social profiles are not the only place where your brand comes to life.

Your online presence needs to match who you are in every other setting and scenario of your professional life. Your personal digital brand identity should be felt in the text and WhatsApp messages you send to your contacts. It needs to come across in the email communications you have with partners and prospects. Is the tone consistent? Do you convey similar messages across your digital footprint? This echoes the message in the earlier blog about consistency being the key to authenticity. Your personal digital brand will only work for you if it truly reflects who you are and what you have to offer professionally and how relevant it is for the future market trends and needs.

Social media is not the only digital element of your personal digital brand, but it is definitely where it will be leveraged and showcased the most. It is a tool that is proving too vital to ignore. According to a recent report, the most social media-savvy CEOs had a 5% higher Glassdoor rating, with their companies being rated 3% higher, too. C-suite leaders from some of the world’s top brands use social media daily to advocate for their organisations, establish themselves as industry voices and thought leaders, manage reputation, and build their own personal digital brand. To see some strong examples of this in action, visit the LinkedIn profiles of Walmart Inc’s Doug McMillon, Nasdaq’s Adena Friedman, or Royal Dutch Shell’s Ben van Beurden.

Looking at how other leading executives are using their social media to leverage their personal digital brand online should provide you with inspiration for developing your own strategy. Here is some guidance from us to get you started.


Deciding which Social Medium is right for you

We recommend that you choose one platform and focus your efforts on actively engaging your shareholders, employees, prospects, partners, industry peers, and the general public there. You do not need to maintain a presence on every single site. In fact, if you allocate your efforts properly, you can usually secure better results from a single platform than you would from attempting to be everywhere at once.

Typically, LinkedIn and Twitter are the two most popular platforms for professionals. LinkedIn is the most popular platform for corporate leaders with 44% of CEOs having some sort of presence, while Twitter is second choice with 15%. The choice of which platform to use may come down to personal preference. Some executives may feel overwhelmed by the range of available features on LinkedIn, while others may find Twitter’s character limit to be a bit challenging for detailed thought leadership.

There is a vast amount of data available about social media usage, segmented by a wide range of demographic and psychographic characteristics. If you know who you want to target, you should definitely look into where you have the best chance of reaching them and how they actually use their chosen platforms. It will vary by site.

It is called social networking for a reason, so ask your peers, colleagues, and contacts what platforms they use and how they use them. Check out your competitors’ profiles to see how they exploit social media. If there is a person you particularly admire, learn from their profiles and note what you believe they are doing right.

Even if you already have a social media presence, there is always something you can learn from your peers. Social media is not static. Platforms, trends, and user behaviours change regularly, and your strategy will need to evolve.


Top Tips for Social Media Engagement

Here are some general social media guidelines to follow for those wanting to build their own personal digital branding presence

  • Don’t Overwhelm Your Audience: The point of maintaining a professional social media presence is to get in front of your audiences, but there is a fine line between under sharing, oversharing, and just the right amount of frequency. You will of course want to post frequently enough to be seen and considered ‘active,’ but not so much that your posts become irritating and off-putting. If your posts clog their feeds, you risk your audience tuning out or unfollowing. A good rule of thumb is to post three to five times per week, and no more than twice in one day.
  • Build an Online Community: Treat your social media community the way you would treat your wider digital or offline contacts. Follow or connect with your colleagues, stakeholders, partners, contacts, and prospects. If you attend an event or speak at a conference, connect with the other attendees or speakers. Also, be sure to follow key figures in your specific industry, news sources, or prominent companies. Interact with others’ content by liking, resharing with commentary, or leaving value-add or encouraging comments. LinkedIn has a Groups feature, which allows professionals to connect with and share insights with professionals they share interests or characteristics with. There is a group for almost everything. Start by exploring relevant groups for your industry or job function, and then look into others related to your geography, education, or other characteristics (i.e. ‘Women in Business’ groups)
  • Be Personable: When reaching out to new connections on LinkedIn, be sure you always customise the invitation. These requests feel much more personal and are less likely to be ignored or denied. Your invitation should briefly introduce the contact to you, highlight any common ground you may share (i.e. attendance at a recent conference, group membership, mutual contacts), and close with a friendly message. Just as you would not lead with a sales pitch when meeting face-to-face, you should not attempt to sell overtly in these connection request messages.
  • Content is Key: Ensure that your content reflects the goals you set for yourself and the personal digital brand image you defined early on in the process. Your content should not be self-promotion, and to be considered a thought leader you need to contribute to the greater conversation. Share third-party articles relevant to your industry job function, new regulations, or pertaining to other areas of interest or causes you champion. However, instead of simply sharing links, be sure to add some analysis or commentary. If allowed, keep your followers updated about the projects you are working on, the events you are attending and participating in, or the latest news from your company. Your content should reflect that you are tuned into what is going on in your industry and you have valuable insights to offer. Your followers should be able to get a good sense of your interests and positioning based on the content you curate.
  • Pay Attention to Your Audience: Keep track of what’s working and what isn’t for your audience. What types of posts resonate the most or earn the most engagement? What time of day does your audience seem to be most active? Do not be afraid to experiment with different times and alternative types of content until you find what works for both you and your followers.

Your hard work in the early stages of digital personal branding will start to take a concrete shape once you begin applying the principles of your brand online. It will require trial and error, but so long as you remain authentic and stay focused on your goals, maintaining your brand will become a natural and integral part of your regular workday activity and attract opportunities you seek.

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