Last week we had an interesting discussion in my MBA class about managing your personal brand on social media sites. Most of us use applications like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and blogs in a haphazard manner. Have you considered what overall image emerges from your participation on these sites? Even if you don’t know it, potential employers and collaborators are looking at these and forming an informed (?) opinion about you.
Here are some tips that came out of the class discussion
Point of view: blogs are about having an opinion about events around us and articulating that with passion. If you have a domain of interest—football, technology, cooking recipes, etc.—start talking about that on your blog. This is a way to engage and learn from friends and followers. The takeaway here was that opinions don’t have to be exclusively job related. People like to engage with you if you have diverse interests.
Event filtering: As you read about world events, does something catch your attention? In many instances you are not sure how this relates to what else we know. This is ideal for a tweet. I use my twitter feeds as a filtered source for information on technology strategy. I follow less than forty people and this allows me to actually pay attention to the triggers that I get. Before I start to follow them, I track their feeds for some time to see if they are interesting. If I do not get relevant feeds from those I follow, I stop following them.
Evaluating presence: How do you assess the “goodness” of your personal investment in social media? We talked about using the social graph application on Facebook. This shows your social network as a visual. My network was dense, with all my friends (mostly students) connected to one another. I had a small set of professional colleagues and a smaller set of family members off to the side. Look at your network and see how the nodes cluster. Do you have a diverse network? Research has shown that diversity in your network is a good thing and that connecting otherwise disconnected groups (brokerage) is also good. Another application – twitter.grader.com – can help you compute your influence on twitter. The application also gives you some tips on improving your network.
Network fragmentation: Maintaining your social networks across these sites can be challenging. Some efforts are underway to interoperate across these networks (see the action streams initiative). Today it is possible to connect your event streams between Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and your blog. Since you may have a different network on each one of them, it is important to filter what you cross post.
Exhibiting expertise: Is it OK for us to avoid participating in these communities? Examples from Amazon and Salesforce.com communities show that expertise in some areas can be gained only by participating. On Amazon Web Services (AWS) participants earn badges based on how much they add to the discourse. These badges will be used as proxies for expertise in a chosen area. Today this trend is only for technical communities but this could easily spill over into other areas. Learning how to participate and navigate in these communities could be vital to your success as an employee or entrepreneur.
Did I miss anything from our discussion? Please add your thoughts to this.