How to take steps toward crafting your personal brand on social media
Everyone has a personal brand, whether they know it or not.
Nivita Sriram, Contributor
There is so much opportunity to grow that comes with social media, and we might not be aware of it. I find myself wishing that I had started this journey earlier, but I’m thankful that I started a few months ago. A common misconception many people have regarding personal brands is that it’s only for aspiring influencers or business owners—and that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Essentially, your personal brand should speak to who you are, what you do, and why you’re doing it, within a sentence.
With a strong personal brand, viewers of your page will have the ability to distinguish you from others online within a few seconds of scrolling. A strong personal brand has the potential to open doors in different career areas, or any area of interest simultaneously.
Speaking from personal experience, without beginning to develop my personal brand, I wouldn’t have the wonderful opportunity to become a writer for Kulfi Bites. Personal branding is for everyone—especially in creative fields, or for freelancers working to acquire more clients and establish themselves. Developing your story is a way to reach a like-minded audience, while (hopefully) getting on the radars of admirable individuals and organizations.
Now, I fully recognize that there is a fear factor when it comes to building a personal brand. Although I consult clients on their social media strategy with LifesforSocial, it’s quite daunting to do it for myself.
It’s intimidating to open up yourself to the internet. I constantly struggle with this. After all, we are our harshest critics.
I prefer to be a private person, but I’ve seen the value in opening up on social media, as I’m always looking to connect with digital marketers, writers, journalists, activists, and more. Without a social media presence, these individuals would be unaware of my skills, experiences, and interests. By posting my work, passions, and showcasing a bit of my personality online, I’ve had opportunities of interacting with inspiring individuals, especially fellow Women of Color. Social media has taught me quite a bit the last few months—and that wouldn’t have happened unless content creators shared their knowledge on their pages. You have the potential to impact people in the same way.
Don't overthink it. It’s never too late, or too early, to start working on your personal brand.
Let’s get down to it: How do you create your personal brand?
First, recognize that we’re multi-faceted humans. Your personal brand is subject to change as life does, and that is totally fine. For example, I’m still in the (very) early stages of creating content that’s meaningful to me, sharing my writing, thoughts, and work. However, I would say that I’m (attempting to) share my thoughts on topics that I find important through different content formats and sharing about my work, style, and culture. I also aim to bridge the gap between my American and Indian heritage and raise awareness of the experiences of WOC in our world. My goals may change over time—and that’s okay! Your social media platform should flow naturally, in whatever form works best for you.
I’ll break it down further.
1. Sit down, and brainstorm what you want your page to be about.
Are you an artist showcasing your talent? A freelance writer sharing your writing style and thought pieces? Are you a business owner? Use your platform to elevate yourself, your passions and your work. Try to come up with 2 to 4 ‘themes’ you could discuss deeply. As I mentioned earlier, these themes can and will change as life goes on.
So, go with the flow and treat your platform as a way to express yourself.
There are no ‘off topics,’ but the more niche your themes are, the better. Put yourself in another person’s shoes: If you were an individual viewing your page, how would you want them to consume it? What would you like their key takeaways to be?
2. Visuals, visuals, visuals.
What is Instagram without strong visual content? Let’s face it, people do make snap judgements on whether or not they’ll engage with a post within the first few seconds.
Don’t let this stop you from creating and posting visuals that make YOU happy.
In the long run, it’ll pay off. I’ve noticed that posts that mainly contain text don’t do as well, but I’m proud of my work, and I think it’s important to share on my page for others to consume. Visuals can range from artwork, to photos, to branded graphics, to videos, text, and more. Don’t box yourself in; try to differentiate yourself from others. Over time, you’ll develop a style that becomes personal to you, and will be distinguishable to your audience.
photo credit: Badal Patel, @bybadal
3. Remember, consistency is key.
Keep your audience engaged at a pace that’s realistic for you. Social media should not feel like a burden! If spontaneous posting works for you, take that route. However, I do find that having some idea of what you would like to discuss helps streamline things, and you’ll never run out of meaningful content. Timeliness does matter. Take your time and do your research on topics you’re passionate about—but if something happens around the world that you’d like to raise awareness to, speak up! Don’t hesitate.
4. As Nike says, “Just Do It."
It’s easier said than done, but don’t pay attention to what your friends, peers, or others will think. People will always have something to say and question what you’re doing—so, don’t take it too seriously. It can be new, different, and scary (trust me, I feel the same way). People may not understand why you’re suddenly discussing topics online, but I’ve found great value in sharing my thoughts. Working on my personal brand has helped me grow tremendously, both professionally and personally. As long as it makes you happy, and you enjoy the content you’re putting out, that’s all that matters. You’ll find individuals who support you along the way. It can feel intimidating to put yourself out there. I’ve had my fair share of dealing with imposter syndrome: Who am I to be talking about this topic...Does anyone even care?!
But trust me: there are like-minded people who will resonate with your content.
Do this for YOU and not anyone else; that way it’s genuine, and you’ll build trusting, authentic relationships with your audience along the way.
5. Write down what you want to achieve with your platform and what value you bring to social media.
In this day and age, everything is online. Why not take advantage of social media platforms to reflect who you are? Personally, I didn’t see the value of building my own brand and never considered discussing topics close to my heart on my Instagram. Until I started freelancing, personal branding never crossed my mind. It’s a challenge, I will admit, but it’s allowed me to have a creative outlet and learn how to integrate social issues, my own experiences and my professional work with eye-catching visuals. Be yourself online; don’t try to imitate what others are doing. I strongly suggest to think about what your deeper vision is—more than gaining followers.
I’ve noticed how easy it is to distinguish genuine content creators from individuals who are online for the likes. Remember, social media is all about experimentation. We learn a lot from trying new things.
The algorithm won’t always be your best friend, and that’s okay. Don’t get disheartened!
Find what works for you and what you can keep consistent, real, and intimate with your audience. Everyone has a personal brand, whether they know it or not, it just takes a little thinking.
About — Nivita Sriram is a freelance digital marketer based in the Pacific Northwest. She studied Marketing and Psychology in college, and fell in love with freelancing as Digital Marketing Strategist + Account Manager at LifesforSocial. Nivita re-discovered her passion for reading and writing during quarantine. Bridging the gap between America and India is something Nivita is working towards every day, and she’s constantly looking for new ways to learn more about herself, her heritage, and history —while using her knowledge of marketing and social media to tell her story.