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You Need a Strategy for Branding Yourself Online as a Thought Leader

Adroit use of social media is essential for highlighting your industry knowledge.

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Whether you are employed in the field of marketing, a professional service provider or a representative of a business to consumer (B2C) or business to business (B2B) brand, it is important to establish a professional profile and digital footprint.

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Making the time in your busy schedule to be a frequent and regular contributor on social media networks, blogs and professional online communities help to position yourself as an individual who is actively involved within your industry.

Why does personal branding matter?

Let's begin with an entertaining visual exercise. Would you buy a luxury car from someone who drove a broken down vehicle? Be honest. While the sales professional may be the most skilled, informed and customer focused individual, when making a luxury purchase, you want the confidence in knowing that he or she knows the product. It may be an unfair expectation, but it is human nature. We identify people as a subject authority when they demonstrate the lifestyle and professional accomplishment that comes with being an expert in the field.

The same holds true for branding yourself online and it is critical for digital marketers to have an active and engaging presence via blogging and important social media channels, including LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. And being active involves contributing content on a regular basis, sharing your insights, and commenting on the content shared by other leaders in your industry.

Related: 4 Ways to Improve Personal Branding Using Facebook Live

Choosing the right channels for your brand.

Unless you have access to an entourage of administrative support, willing to post on your behalf daily, it is impossible to be present and active on every social media channel. There are 20 that are deemed to be the most relevant and active communities, but worldwide there are hundreds of different digital communities to choose from.

Does it sound overwhelming? It can be; which is why it is important to choose the networks that make the most sense for your promotional objectives and for your individual style of content sharing. The most established thought leaders are not afraid to jump in front of the camera and explore communities like Snapchat, Instagram or other visual content resources.

Sharing on LinkedIn.

No matter what your niche or industry, having an active presence on LinkedIn offers numerous professional opportunities and rewards. LinkedIn provides data that shows you where you rank in terms of profile views and engagements, compared to other professionals within your industry. Does that profile rank matter? The higher you rank, the more your information, profile and blogs will appear in the circulated feed, and that is valuable professional exposure.

Related: Your Personal Branding Strategy in 10 Steps (Infographic)

Tips to manage your LinkedIn.

Revamp your LinkedIn profile and keep it updated. Add portfolio items, and actively request endorsements and recommendations from colleagues.

"Like" notifications of new jobs or special benchmarks from other people in your network two to three times per week. Endorse individuals on your team (including contractors, freelancers and colleagues) for demonstrated professional excellence. Acknowledge their skills.

Contribute one to two blogs per month on LinkedIn Pulse. Build a portfolio of short articles that demonstrate your thought leadership and share insights about your industry.

It is important to remember that LinkedIn has evolved substantially, and it is an important digital ecosystem that provides networking opportunities, information and visual exposure for both your expertise and for your business or brand.

Sharing on Twitter.

Did you know that Twitter is an excellent resource for business professionals? Building an audience on Twitter is easier than other social media channels, which have more stringent privacy restrictions. You can follow businesses, brands and professionals that you are interested in and even crowd source for contract professionals and service providers. Be careful not to follow or unfollow excessively, as Twitter can suspend your account according to terms of service, that are meant to eliminate spam, or aggressive follow/unfollow churn.

Related: 5 Steps to Build Your Personal Brand

Tips to manage your Twitter account.

Use a quality profile image and banner. Spend time cultivating a profile that creates a call-to-action (CTA) that makes it easy for others to connect with you, or your business.

Create lists to help organize meaningful connections by service, product, competing brands and other categories that will help you see what other professionals in your space are discussing and sharing in the news feed.

Engage in conversations and watch for Twitter chats, where you can participate by adding your insights to the discussion. It is a proven method of expanding your network.

After you have successfully established your digital footprint and professional profile, encourage staff and other executives to follow suit. Some of your most powerful brand advocates are already on your team, empower them to "get social", and provide guidelines for best practice for your organization. It promotes exposure for your business, while supporting a positive digital corporate culture.

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