You Are What You Post: Managing Your Personal Brand Online

More than one billion people around the world use Facebook. Globally, there are over 500 million Twitter users, over 400 million LinkedIn users, over 300 million Instagram users, and over 100 million Pinterest users. As it stands, the chances that almost everyone you meet has at least one personal social media account are very high.

As an entrepreneur, you have both a business image and a personal image. And they are intertwined, whether it is intentional or not. When you are the face of your business, especially if you are a sole proprietor, your customers will equate whatever they hear about your personal story with your business. When you’re posting content online, it may not be so easy for your customers to draw the line between personal and business.

When we talk about personal branding, we are talking about how you choose the clothes and colours you wear, the way you pitch yourself and your business, the words you use to describe yourself and your business, and your story. In essence, personal branding is your overall self-packaging. So, when you post online, whether it is for a business account or a personal account, you are using words and visuals that build your narrative and your personal brand.

The content you post online contributes to your digital footprint—a collection of everything you’ve ever posted online, from commenting on a friend’s photo on Facebook this morning to writing an email to your boss fifteen years ago. When it comes to online content, the Internet never forgets. With this in mind, you should practice discretion when you do post online because you never know where your content will end up, or what kind of effect it could have on your business.

Posting online doesn’t always have negative impacts. Thoughtful, genuine, emotional (i.e., funny, thought-provoking, or sad) and sincere posts can go a long way in building customer relationships and customer loyalty. Positive posts can make people think favourably about your personal brand and want to affiliate themselves with that particular brand. The key to protecting your personal brand is to be mindful when you are posting.

Although the lines are blurry when it comes to detaching personal and business accounts, there are some ways you can protect your overall reputation when it comes to online content.

Google Yourself

Perform a Google search on yourself to see what kind of search results appear. If there’s anything unsavoury, take the necessary steps to remove it.

Manage Your Privacy Settings

You can manage your level of privacy in your social media accounts. You may have the option to have a locked account (your posts are not available to be viewed unless you give permission for someone to follow you), or your account may be unsearchable (no one will be able to find your account unless you give them your username). Just keep in mind though, screenshots and “click to save” options still exist, and even with a private account, your followers could share your content without your permission.

Split Business and Personal Handles

When it comes to splitting business and personal accounts, the lines can be hard to draw. However, one way to divide the personal and the business parts of your life is to have separate accounts with completely distinctive and different usernames. If you are using your business name as a username for a personal account, you may wish to change the username to reflect the purpose of your account. For example, instead of using a username of @businessname, you may want to change it to @personalname.

Avoid Controversy

A good guideline is to refrain from commenting, sharing, or liking anything that is controversial. Refusing to associate is the best and safest stance when it comes to controversy.

In today’s age of technology and social media, maintaining your privacy and keeping your personal brand intact is not an easy task, but it is certainly doable. Use social media accounts to promote your brand, remain consistent across all your platforms, and you will find your customers building their loyalty to you and your brand, both personal and business.

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