Firstly, let me ask you a question: how many companies do you follow on social media? I’ll give you a moment to think about it. It may be that nothing comes to your mind immediately. Perhaps you follow a small amount of companies – or maybe none at all. Why is it so difficult to know for sure? It’s because people communicate with people, not brands. This has long been understood by social networks such as LinkedIn, which has a clear preference for displaying updates from personal profiles instead of those from company pages.
We can understand why this is the case if we take a moment to think about it. I use LinkedIn and other networks to connect with people who inspire me or who I want to exchange ideas with. Long gone are the days when we only used Xing (the German version of LinkedIn) and LinkedIn to post a bland online CV and search for jobs. If I receive new updates, important information or even opinions from people in my personal network, this is far more interesting than if the same information had come from a company. Why? Because we see, and perhaps even know, the people behind the posts. We’re simply closer to them. We know who we’re interacting with when we leave a nice comment. People just prefer to follow people rather than brands.
Becoming a thought leader is easy
That’s why personal branding is an absolute must – for board members, senior executives and freelancers, but also for any employee within a company. But what exactly is it?
Personal branding is not primarily about the products, services or image of a company, but instead focuses on the person who works for or runs the company. Personal branding turns an employee into a brand ambassador. This individual conveys the company’s messages, ideas and values – but much closer and always with a very personal touch. Personal branding enables you to gradually become recognized by others on social media as an expert in your field. It’s very easy for each of us to become thought leaders this way.
So is it even worth having a company page?
Yes, absolutely! For a start, authentic brand ambassadors need to be familiar with their own company’s messages. A properly maintained company page provides guidance and valid information in this respect: What issues are we currently addressing as a company? Why and, above all, how are we positioning ourselves? How do we speak to our community on social media? Employees can find content here that they can start to share on their own profiles. This is the first step to becoming a corporate influencer.
Speaking of corporate influencers and company pages – those at TÜV Rheinland, at least, are maintained by the social media team. We can provide colleagues with advice and support if they have any questions about social media.
Practical tips for personal branding
Many of you are still a little shy about putting yourselves out there publicly and simply stepping out of the shadows. It is something I always hear in conversations about personal branding. That’s why I want to bust a few myths today and give you some practical tips along the way.
- Personal branding is not about self-congratulation
Many people worry that having a strong presence on LinkedIn and similar social platforms could cause them to be perceived as egotistical and obtrusive. In fact, the very opposite is true. Why else would we be connected on LinkedIn? Networks like this wouldn’t be nearly as interesting if everyone hid away in dark corners and only looked at what others were doing. Get active – your network will welcome it.
- Personal branding is only for confident people
Wrong. Anyone, absolutely anyone, can establish a strong personal brand on social media – for being just the way they are in real life. After all, that’s precisely what it’s all about: authenticity. While one person might be strong and confident, posting daring arguments or communicating their own opinion via video, another will be quieter, preferring muted colors over bright ones and perhaps only sharing other people’s interesting links to start with. All that matters is that you start.
Here’s a little cheat sheet to get you started: Say something about yourself! What do you do in your professional and private life? What are your strengths and skills? What are your specialist subjects? Have you taken a note of this list? If so, take a moment to think about how you can communicate these points to your network without starting every sentence with “I”. Tell a good story.
- Am I being disloyal to my company by maintaining a personal brand?
Absolutely not. I’ve already explained why at the start of this article. Personal profiles are the future. The best way to be the perfect brand ambassador for your company is to first develop a strong personal brand in your own right. Show what you can do professionally and why it is worth connecting with you. You will very quickly be able to communicate why it is so great to work for your company, make use of your services or buy a particular product.
Tip: Editors, bloggers, influencers, podcasters and many more are always on the hunt for the right experts to interview. If nobody knows how well you know your field of expertise, nobody will be able to ask you. How great would it be if you were able to provide your company with a free advertising in a completely different medium or deliver a presentation at an industry conference?
Convinced? Then here’s a helpful checklist to get you started
- Create a meaningful profile (tips for XING from my colleague Ines Culmey: https://blog.tuv.com/en/creating-a-xing-profile-professional-networking-for-beginners/)
- Connect with people from your industry, even if you don’t know them (yet)
- Send a short personal message whenever you ask to connect with someone to explain why you would like to connect
- Pursue your own individual networking strategy! You don’t have to accept every request to connect. The other person does not receive a notification if you decline their request.
- Never send sales inquiries with or immediately after a request to connect
- Posting something yourself is preferable to sharing third-party content
- Add value! Share relevant, high-quality content that inspires or helps others
- Give people a glimpse of life behind the scenes at your company
- Share occasional updates from your company page in your personal profile
By now it is clear that personal branding via social media is an absolute must – for employees in marketing, HR and recruitment, communications and sales at the very least, but really for everyone. When will you get started?
Social Media Manager
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