When most people think of using social media responsibly, they think of the first two keys: protecting privacy and reputation. But the third key is the most overlooked and the most powerful: build your personal brand. A strong personal brand will not only position you positively in the eyes of potential employers and clients, it will fill a well of loyalty that will protect you in a negative event or crisis.

Keys1Consider this recent data from Reppler, an online reputation management company. They surveyed professionals involved in the hiring process at their companies and found the following:

  • 91% use social media to screen potential employees.
  • Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are the major channels screened.
  • 69% have rejected a candidate because of what they saw on social media sites.
  • The major reasons for rejection were because they lied about their qualifications, posted inappropriate photos, posted inappropriate comments, posted negative comments about a previous employer, and demonstrated poor communication skills.
  • 68% said they hired someone because of what they saw on a social networking site. The major reasons those hires were made:
    • They gave a positive impression of their personality and organizational fit.
    • They presented themselves professionally.
    • Their profile supported their qualifications.
    • Their profile showed the candidate was creative.
    • The candidate had good references posted by others.
    • Showed solid communications skills.
    • Profile showed the candidate was well-rounded.

Social media benefits to personal brands are the same as those for corporate brands, only scaled to one: increased likes and followers, increased reach, developing a loyal army of advocates that will cover you in a crisis, placing your brand top of mind in a given sector, being tagged as an influencer, and increasing the opportunities for a better paying job by networking with key influencers.

The first step in building a personal brand is setting up a series of online profiles that have SEO power. These profiles will help positive information about you show up in search results for your name. The best go-to resource I have found for this process is a small and easy-to-read book by Herbert Tabin and Craig Agranoff called Do It Yourself Online Reputation Management (2010). Even though it is almost three years old, it’s still my favorite resource. This book is a practical manual with step-by-step advice on how to build an effective online profile from the ground up. It’s less than 20 dollars and well worth the investment. The book also contains helpful information on how to fix a problem, should you need online reputation repair.

Building a personal brand takes time and diligence. Many people see it as self-promotional and, well, it is. You are your own best advocate.  Build your own online image, or someone else will build it for you.

This is an excerpt from the new book, Practice Safe Social, available on Amazon.com in print or e-book. Get your copy today.