5 Steps to Brand & Align Your Professional Digital Footprint

Many organizations are exploring the uses of social media to connect with their customers in new and more personal ways. These opportunities also extend to individuals seeking thought leader, entrepreneur or simply tech-savvy status. This is especially important for those who work in the digital communications field, but also for leadership looking to take a more proactive role in brand interaction. A great example in the higher education community is University of Cincinnati’s President Santa J. Ono.

While his background is in medicine, Ono is regarded as a social media trailblazer for making himself completely accessible to UC stakeholders. He actively tweets, posts and engages with students, parents, faculty, staff, alumni and fans. His success on social media demonstrates the power of digital platforms to foster strong and lasting connections with your community.

Whether you are looking to connect with peers, customers, prospective clients or the general public, there are five central steps to help you get on track with your social messaging strategy.

At this moment, sit down and consider who you are in relation to the industry you work. Review the activities  of industry leaders, including institutions and thought leaders, as well as top headlines. Get comfortable with today’s trends and challenges as well as tomorrow’s solutions. Next consider yourself in relation to your industry. What is your expertise and how can you contribute to the industry conversation? Who stands to learn from you? What would engage others in your industry in a conversation?

Once you’ve determined your audience and how to position yourself as an industry commentator or expert, select the platforms that will help form your professional social presence. Think carefully about the types of content you will be sharing and which platforms support that strategy. For example, I use LinkedIn, Twitter and a WordPress blog because they allow me to quickly share resources and contribute to community conversations. Ensure that your chosen property account names match and profile language is consistent to present a cohesive brand and user experience. Alignment should also apply to design elements like header and profile images.

Next, begin formally planning the types of content that will be shared on each platform, noting that different platforms call for different content. I recommend creating a spreadsheet that outlines each social platform, directly addressing the audience, goals, contributors of content (if there is more than one person) and categories of content. This early time investment will serve as a guiding light to help you determine what you should or should not share.

Also think through sources of inspiration or content. If you are going to curate information for your peers, set up Google alerts and follow appropriate news sources. Identify conferences or other events in the coming months that may require additional attention. Begin applying an industry expert lens on your day-to-day activities. This can include:

  •  reactions to industry news, webinars, books, training and leader activities
  • personal anecdotes where relevant, such as commenting on your son’s homework habits if you work in the education industry
  • work happenings kept at a high-level to avoid confidentiality concerns. Look past the specific details to grander lessons learned that will be applied to future work.

Spend some time organizing these ideas into an editorial calendar that extends at least three months out to give you a solid start.

With your editorial calendar in place, begin posting new content and sharing across your profiles to garner greater followings in multiple streams. You may want to consider leading with posts that recognize this launch and new targeted messaging. Perhaps, “The [blank] industry/field has seen a lot of change in the past couple years, and I have so much to share with [audience] to help them navigate these changes. Follow me on [platform] and [platform] where I’ll be sharing [types of content] to help [audience] [keep up with change, understand changes, etc.] This messaging should be guided by your audience, goals and content established in the planning phase.

As with all content strategies, measurement is critical to observing progress and meeting your goals. Keep track of follower fluctuations and review post engagement to see which topics and approaches warranted the most likes, shares and comments. Identify times of the day and week when you see more interaction. Use these insights to evolve the editorial calendar. Also keep up with where you’re tagged and referenced by others for the full view of your digital footprint.

I hope you found these five steps helpful and that you now feel empowered to share your insight with your community. Do you have any questions regarding any of these steps? Do you have any tips to add? Please comment below with any questions, concerns or thoughts.


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