Thought of the day: “All of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called YOU.”

Whether you’re an established business owner, budding entrepreneur or an accomplished professional, social media can be a great way to open up new doors and opportunities. However, just as a business can’t create a profile, share a few links and then expect a stream of quality customers to come from that social platform, branding yourself in a meaningful way through social media is going to take some work. Fortunately, once you know where to focus your attention and effort, the personal branding work you put in on social media can be enjoyable and very rewarding.

With that in mind, I want to share some tips I’ve used to build a strong brand for myself across social media, as well as clients who have hired me for social media consulting:

Keep It Consistent and Clear

If you already have profiles on multiple platforms and the way your name is formatted in the URLs differs slightly, it’s not the end of the world. For example, I have twitter.com/michelle_hummel and pinterest.com/michelleshummel/. But if you’re setting up all your social profiles for the first time, it’s worth using a tool like Namechk to find a consistent username that’s available across all platforms.

Consistency is also very important in how you describe yourself. Since many people get anxious at the thought of describing themselves in a short bio, it helps to have a formula to follow. A popular recommendation for social media bios is to answer three questions and then weave those answers into a compelling bio that you can use on all your profiles. The three questions are: what do you do for a living, what are you passionate about and what value do you give to people?

Don’t Underestimate Local

Although the Internet is a global platform, there’s still a lot of value in using social to connect with people in your local area. You can do this by filling out the location field in your profiles, as well as occasionally sharing local links as part of your social media content strategy.

Use a Great Picture

First impressions matter just as much online as they do offline. That’s why it’s essential to have a great picture that you can use on all your profiles. As mentioned above, using the same picture is a good way to build consistency for your brand. If you don’t currently have a great headshot and are worried about having to pay quite a bit to get one, you can get an awesome picture at a reduced price by looking for a up & coming photographer who will be happy to offer a discounted rate in exchange for being able to build up a portfolio.

For more advice on using social media to build a strong personal brand, be sure to look at my online learning program offered through Web Media University.

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