Whether you are a CIO, project manager or freelance web developer, you need to be able to articulate your value and establish yourself as an authority in your niche to set yourself apart and avoid commoditization. While establishing a strong personal brand can help you achieve those objectives, you need to put yourself out there to get noticed. That’s where social media comes in.
To make sure you focus on activities that will deliver the biggest impact with the least amount of effort, here are some tips for using social media to market your personal brand and increase your influence as a tech professional.
Start with a Social Media Strategy
Before you start promoting your accomplishments or sharing your views, it’s important to understand what will bring value to your target audience and industry. What will interest them? What are the problems they are trying to solve? And most importantly, where do the people you want to influence hang out online?
“You’re competing for attention online,” explained Rajesh Setty, co-founder and chief relationship officer of Audvisor, a platform that provides audio insights from world-class experts. People won’t read, share, engage or react unless you provide advice and content they care about, so focus on strategy first and tactics later.
Learn everything that you can about your target audience by observing conversations, listening to the marketplace, and studying content from key influencers before selecting an area of specialization. For instance, try using RiteTag to gauge the volume of conversations happening around a particular technical topic or issue on social media. Alternatively, you can use any number of free tools to find potential tech influencers across social channels.
Only then will you be in a position to amplify and promote your brand on social media by identifying a list of topics and conversation starters that marry your value proposition and core strengths with your audience’s needs and wants.
Once you find groups and discussions that match your area of expertise, break the ice by jumping into the conversations or asking thought-provoking questions. As you increase your level of participation, encourage people to learn more about you; create a consistent perception of your brand by using the same unique “handle” across all social media platforms.
If you need help with creating an ideal handle or profile name, check out the availability of your potential username on over 500 social media sites with KnowEm.
Promote Yourself Without Promoting Yourself
Don’t keep posting the same thing over and over again, warned Erik Deckers, president of Pro Blog Service and co-author of “No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing.” People will perceive that as advertising and tune you out.
“Have real conversations with people instead,” he said. Every time your audience engages with you on social media, it increases your visibility.
Keep in mind that you can’t be all things to all people. Strategically select one or two social channels in addition to staples such as LinkedIn and focus your efforts there… at least initially.
For example, if you want to brand yourself as an expert in solving business problems by using R for data analysis, boost your reputation and following by engaging with others in one or two forums dedicated to R and data analytics (in addition to sharing tips on Twitter and articles on LinkedIn).
“Follow the 90-10 rule so it doesn’t feel like you’re selling something,” Deckers advised. In other words, promote the accomplishments and content of others 90 percent of the time and make the other 10 percent about you.
Tech pros who are just starting out and haven’t built a large arsenal of accomplishments or experiences to post about should take special care to follow the 90-10 rule. “Shine a light on someone else who is doing good work to build your social media presence and relationships first,” Setty advised.
Once you’ve developed a core area of expertise or branding message that will come across as unique, relevant and appealing to members of the tech community, then you’ll be ready to share your best practices, success stories and opinions. As your reputation grows, so will your opportunities.