Why You Need to Start Building Your Brand on Social Media
Organizations understand the importance of branding. A brand differentiates a company and it is the promise of what the company will deliver. It is what we are. But what about who we are? As fundraisers, we tell the organization’s story. We highlight our mission and organization, not ourselves. We quietly serve others with the joy of advancing the mission. We add value by aligning the organization’s vision with what donors want to accomplish with their philanthropy. What if I suggested that your personal brand is also how you add value to others?
Personal branding is generally defined as marketing yourself and your career as a brand. You have a brand, whether you like it or not. If this makes you uncomfortable or you think this only applies to senior executives in your organization, I will show you why your brand matters and that sharing your brand is your chance to serve others.
Benefits of Building Your Brand on Social Media
Have you ever Googled yourself? Do those first few links reflect what is important to know about you? Creating a presence on social media helps you represent what you want people to think or know about you.
Connect with Others
Connect with people you want to know, as well as peers and colleagues. You can follow influencers and leaders you admire on LinkedIn and Twitter, so you stay informed of their content. People enjoy seeing that their posts motivated someone else to think/feel/do something and will often interact with followers. Comment on the article that resonated with you or ask a question. If that feels like too much at first, focus on learning new ideas from other organizations and different industries. Keep working toward creating meaningful interactions online through shared interests.
Stay Current on Industry News/Trends
You can stay up to date with what is happening in your industry by following news publications, industry journals and professional/trade organizations, among others. Discover best practices from industry experts and peer organizations; consider introducing these ideas to your workplace. When we stop learning, we stop progressing as individuals and organizations. Our donors and missions deserve to work with the best.
Advance Your Career
Remember when we talked about Googling yourself? Everyone else is Googling you, too. Keep engaging and sharing content to give others a sense of who you are and what you value. This presence will be important when people look to hire you for a job or say yes to your meeting request. Over time, you can become a leader who contributes to best practices. When others identify you as a resource and thought leader, they will ask for your feedback on their ideas, invite you to speak at conferences or write articles and want to follow and support your career advancement.
Ambassador for the Mission
If you are not ready to try this for yourself, would you do this to help your organization? You can help reach a new network for the organization’s message by sharing articles or accolades via social media. Our nonprofit organizations do inspiring, important work that are worthy of a wider audience. You can serve as an ambassador by posting articles about your organization’s recent discoveries, CEO profile and transformational gifts. As ambassadors, we represent the brand online, so use your best judgment to do this well.
How to Get Started
Spend a few minutes reflecting on the following questions:
What are your passions and interests?
What topics do you most enjoy reading about?
What words do you use to describe yourself?
What are you frequently asked to explain or give advice on?
What distinguishes you from your peers?
What should people know about you to want to work/make decisions with you?
What do you want to be known for professionally?
Organize these thoughts into categories or themes to see what emerges. You should be able to define your brand in a few words or phrases. (My brand: Leadership. Fundraising. Ladyboss. Gratitude. Be Yourself Boldly.) When choosing content, think about how it aligns with and reinforces your brand. Whether original or existing material, what you share tells the story of you and should reinforce what you stand for. It is okay to occasionally add in messages that show other interests, if you have first created a consistent brand concept. Now that you have an idea of what your brand is, let’s talk about sharing it with others.
How to Get Over the Fear of Putting Yourself Out There
Sharing your opinions can be scary...or invigorating. Remember, the point is to deliver value to others.
If we have something to offer to the world and we hold it back,
we miss the chance to serve others.
This is where my brand, Be Yourself Boldly, originated. Being yourself boldly doesn’t mean being fearless; it means being strong even when you feel afraid, because the world needs you. Some of my writings that generated the most inspired reader feedback have been the bravest things I have shared online and I hesitated before publishing. I would have missed the opportunity to connect with others and learn together. When sharing your message, the best advice is to be authentic, which I define as being yourself while understanding your effect on others. We have to work to develop a voice that can effectively do that. It can be hard to do all this on your own, so find a buddy to give you feedback and cheer you on. If you feel unsure about a message or topic, remember you have the option to draft and save for later, which will give you more time to confirm what you want to share.
How to Make Time for Social Media
People frequently ask me, “How do you have time to do all this?” No one has extra time; how we spend time is a choice. Once you start connecting with others, social media can be informative, rewarding and fun. Start somewhere - you can accomplish a lot in five minutes each day. Give yourself a goal to work toward. I try to share at least one post a week on LinkedIn and one tweet a day on Twitter, while making time to frequently engage and comment on others’ content. Supporting and sharing others’ content demonstrates your willingness to give and create community. Whatever you do, consistency matters. You should be present enough that people look forward to reading your content and comments without overwhelming your connections with information.
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Whether you have decided this year to serve others more consciously or to support your personal and professional goals, this is your chance to write your own story. Know who you are, what you stand for and that sharing your story adds value to others.