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Personal Brand Management and Social Media

Introduction

Personal branding has existed for decades, but it is more prominent than ever with social media. It can be defined as the process of using one’s information to provide a comprehensive narrative to entice others for various purposes (Jacobson, 2020). For instance, traditional celebrities may use social media to maintain the existing brand, while some created their personas and identities through a specific platform, such as Instagram, so much depends on what is presented there. People usually have social media managers to help them develop an appropriate and appealing image, although one can perform both functions simultaneously. While the phenomenon is called personal branding, the developed identity is mostly professional, and many careful steps, including communication with the audience, are required to build it.

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Why People Invest in Personal Brands

Personal brands are not only a prerogative of celebrities, as anyone would benefit from marketing themselves. For example, students or those in the middle of job-hunting can use them to impress a potential employer (Johnson, 2017). Social capital is another advantage of personal brands, enabling one to establish beneficial connections for upward mobility (Johnson, 2017). The idea is that a person targets the future audience, which is an unpredictable component (Jacobson, 2020). Conversely, one should not neglect the existing following, especially if it is prominent, so the best option is to appeal to everyone (Jacobson, 2020). Sometimes, even hired personnel engages in personal branding, as an organization has certain expectations from its employees and wants their social media behavior to align with the corporate values (Potgieter & Doubell, 2018). Although it may result in additional pressure and lead to a creation of a separate private account, some benefits exist, such as increased visibility and self-promotion. Overall, everyone should recognize the importance of personal branding and attempt to build theirs, and the tools are readily available.

The Choice of the Platform

Before seriously engaging in establishing a personal brand, one should choose a social media platform as the basis. A perfect answer does not exist, as the selection depends on the content and the investment. For example, YouTube helped launch several successful careers, but those creators had to devote much time to managing their channels and expanding the audiences (Tarnovskaya, 2017). Moreover, they had to consider such factors as relevant topics, the environment, the voice tone, and the previous experiences of YouTubers (Tarnovskaya, 2017). Although all social media platforms will require to mind them to some extent, YouTube can be particularly demanding, considering that one’s goal is to engage people for a certain period (Tarnovskaya, 2017). Instagram is a popular choice, but it does suit everyone, as managing an account there is associated with occupying a certain niche, maintaining a social presence, and participating in relevant events (Jin et al., 2019). Still, it offers the benefit of appearing trustworthy, which is an important incentive (Jin et al., 2019). Based on the two examples, it is evident that platforms are not interchangeable and have unique characteristics.

The Content

Content curation is necessary to build one’s brand successfully. For instance, the ultimate goal of becoming employed implies that the account reflects a person’s skills and experience (Jacobson, 2020). Depending on the platform’s choice, the presentation tools can be limited or rather sufficient. For a while, the basic version of LinkedIn only allowed written descriptions, but these days, one can add a complementary video. Even such text-heavy platforms as Twitter and Facebook have numerous options to enhance a message. While curating social media content, people act as storytellers who stylize their online lives accordingly, highlighting accomplishments and hiding disappointments (Jacobson, 2020). However, certain narratives may require one to be as transparent as possible, so an individual strategy changes according to the audience’s demands (Potgieter & Doubell, 2018). Still, the core of personal brand management is presenting oneself (or a client) in a favorable way, so all means that can help achieve the goal are applicable (Jacobson, 2020). As the process of being on the job is indefinite, it necessitates persistent work to choose the right content.

As it was implied, the content type depends on the chosen platform. Visual-oriented ones will have a person post pictures or videos, which should reflect one’s purpose (Johnson, 2017). Beauty bloggers share themselves using different make-up brands, entrepreneurs may use photos related to their business, and aspiring artists or designers will find it useful to showcase sketches and other creative endeavors. Twitter, with its reposting and quote-retweet functions, can be used to demonstrate a person’s views and areas of interest. No matter the tools, it is important to establish a solid narrative and maintain one’s reputation. Using external websites and search engines is instrumental in determining the audience’s demographics and adjusting the content (Johnson, 2017). For instance, the younger generation may prefer more visual information, judging by the popularity of TikTok. On the other hand, seasoned employers might be interested in what and how a person writes. Sometimes, it becomes obvious that the strategy does not work because the level of engagement is minimum, so the content type should be reconsidered.

Authenticity

Arguments about the role of authenticity in personal brand management remain open. Some believe that it is crucial, and others find success while presenting a mostly exaggerated story. In the long run, authenticity is beneficial, as a person will remain true to themselves, and a crafted image has its limitations (Potgieter & Doubell, 2018). The essential criteria include consistency, specialization, integrity, persistence, and visibility, among others (Potgieter & Doubell, 2018). For example, a consistent individual will act similarly in various situations, while being visible separates one brand from the rest and indicates a full-fledged identity (Potgieter & Doubell, 2018). An exaggerated persona has its benefits, but it is akin to creating a fictional character who should also feel authentic. Perhaps, not straying far from one’s real personality will be an easier path.

The Dark Side

Social media does not solely work towards facilitating personal brands – it can destroy them with the same degree of certainty. If one is not careful about their content, the flaws can be used against the person and remove all potential opportunities (Jacobson, 2020). Although any information is prone to be harmful in the wrong hands, slips of the tongue, inappropriate jokes, and an informal attitude where it is not welcome are more likely to damage a personal brand. The issue can be partially alleviated by using private accounts, but they cannot guarantee full safety (Jacobson, 2020). If one genuinely intends to use social media for building a personal brand, some details should remain unposted online.

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Conclusion

Social media platforms provide great tools for building and maintaining personal brands. Once people grow aware of their importance, they can choose an appropriate website and start pursuing the goal, be it job-hunting, product promotion, or audience engagement. The content depends on the story one wants to tell, which, in turn, is determined by the objective. While acting as storytellers, people can be either true to themselves or idealize their image, although maintaining the latter is more challenging. Sharing disappointments may be beneficial for authenticity, but becoming disappointing by using offensive language or being overly familiar is generally destructive for a brand.

References

Jacobson, J. (2020). You are a brand: Social media managers’ personal branding and “the future audience.” Journal of Product & Brand Management, 29(6), 715-727.

Johnson, K. M. (2017). The importance of personal branding in social media: Educating students to create and manage their personal brand. International Journal of Education and Social Science, 4(1), 21-27.

Jin, S. V., Muqaddam, A., & Ryu, E. (2019). Instafamous and social media influencer marketing. Marketing Intelligence & Planning, 37(5), 567-579.

Potgieter, A., & Doubell, M. (2018). Authentic personal branding is not your social media page. Journal of Contemporary Management, 9(4), 71-83.

Tarnovskaya, V. (2017). Reinventing personal branding building a personal brand through content on YouTube. Journal of International Business Research and Marketing, 3(1), 29-35. Web.

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