Personal Branding On Social Media – The Challenge Of Positioning Yourself

Personal brand and network

It wasn’t that long ago you could say ‘social media isn’t my thing’ and get away with not having a professional profile online. However, in these contemporary times, (and certainly more so for certain professions) it is expected that you have an engaging professional presence online as an individual.

Recently I happened to be dining with friends, several of whom are passively job hunting. The topic of your professional brand came up; each one of them agreed that it’s relatively easy to find help and advice on setting up and optimising your social profiles such as LinkedIn, Twitter and other industry related communities. However, the consensus was that they found themselves at a standstill when it came to working out how to pitch themselves without sounding generic, using clichés or sounding like a sales pitch for where they work.

For those of you who have always been active on your professional social media networks this of course isn’t a problem or hard to do, but for most people and particularly those who are not millennials, it can be quite daunting. Most of us struggle with this because there really isn’t one clear approach for developing and curating your personal brand online.

Essentially, you need to find an approach that resonates with you. So as a starting point consider these three areas to focus on when building your personal brand online: positioning, authenticity and engagement.


It’s important to think about where and how you are going to position yourself. When you put all your ducks in a row, how do you want to be viewed? What kind of personality do you want to project? If you’re still not sure, think about how your values relate to the professional you. How can you position yourself with those values in mind

Why authenticity?

In my view, authenticity is critical when building your personal brand strategy as authenticity goes hand in hand with trust. If you can build trust with your peers, colleagues and community, you will have a much stronger brand than those who haven’t.

  • Be 100% genuine and truthful about everything that you say, the detail in your profile to the interactions you have with people. If you tweak the truth or aren’t your true self-online, your network and community will soon find out.
  • Be real – you don’t want to come across as a robot by simply posting and never interacting or commenting. Find your own style and tone of voice that is similar to how you would normally speak and hold a conversation. Put yourself out there and show some emotion and opinion in your writing.
  • If you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face then don’t post it. No one likes people who hide behind their online profile, so be true to yourself.
  • Once you’re comfortable with writing and posting online, consider sharing some of your personal experiences, even those slip-ups or mistakes as these can be very powerful showing how you’ve dealt with situations, how others can learn from your experiences and how resilient you can be.

Engage with others

This may be an obvious one but in addition to starting discussions, you need to proactively engage with your networks content, posts, and shares. It may take a bit of time and you may need to schedule time into your calendar to do this but it is necessary as simply put, no one likes a one-sided relationship. Seek out those in your professional networks who you resonate with and share their content, give your two cents and praise where deserved. Also remember to have fun – not everything has to be serious, everyone loves a bit of good-natured humour.

You want to make sure people see you as a real person, that the image you put across focuses on what makes you unique and represents your worth, passion and ambitions. By being authentic, engaging with your community and by having the right positioning, your personal online brand will flourish. You will start increasing your networks, receiving recognition for your contributions, expand your knowledge in more areas and be able to showcase your skills to those who matter.

Finally, however you decide to look at it, the digital world and social media is here to stay. So it’s worth putting some time and thought into how you would like to represent yourself in the social sphere. Go on… give it a go!


This blog post was originally posted on the Potentia blog.


My advice for Kiwi and expat marketers wanting to work in London


I was recently contacted by a marketing graduate in New Zealand about coming to London, United Kingdom to work in Marketing, so I thought I might as well share my experience to other Kiwi/Expat marketers considering moving to London and seeking work.

To start off, if you want to do well in London, I would recommend getting experience before moving to the UK. It is not an easy job market for most and it is an even harder environment for a graduate. While I was in London I met several European graduates whose parents paid for them to go to London to do 6 to 8 month unpaid internships. So as you can imagine it’s not the easiest for a graduate without well off parents to support them while they do an unpaid internship!

Up skill and do your research before heading to the UK

It is good to know what part of marketing you prefer and research what recruiters are looking for in candidates in those types of roles. I worked in all rounded marketing roles before moving to the UK, however in all my roles I made an extra effort on focusing on improving the CRM and digital aspects of the businesses i.e. email marketing, social media, web/SEO and customer journeys. I learnt basic html coding skills at university and then self-taught email specific coding and best practices – this is what helped me stand out to recruiters and secure roles.

Before moving to the UK I went to a Global Career Link seminar where they told me all about the job market, life in the UK and what to expect. Following the seminar I was put in touch with one of their staff members who helped me tailor my CV to the UK job market. They also set realistic expectations on what type of role I could potentially get and what type of pay I would be looking at. Depending on what experience you have they can also set up interviews with recruiters for you when you arrive.

Will finding a job be easy?

Many people think getting a job in London will be easy. Unless you get lucky most people will need to put in a bit of work especially to secure their first job.

First, I would recommend building strong relationships with recruiters as most roles are recruited through agencies rather than direct (especially if you are after contract work).

Next network as much as you can and keep on top of the latest jobs as if you wait for the closing date your CV probably won’t get looked at.

A few good digital resources

If you enjoy digital marketing I would learn a bit of html and sign up to email newsletters that will help teach you the latest research and findings in the marketplace A few of my favourites are Jericho Smartmail (NZ email provider) have great newsletters , econsultancy, Sticky Content (writing for digital) and Smartbrief (daily email on any topic – the social media and career ones are great) . I can recommend others if there are particular areas you want to keep up to speed with. In addition, Twitter and LinkedIn are great places to learn off others, ask questions and sometimes find jobs. Recruiters use LinkedIn quite a lot in the UK and I was approached about several jobs through LinkedIn based on recruiters seeing my profile and experience on LinkedIn.

Finally, I absolutely loved working in London and would highly recommend at least giving it a go. If you have any specific questions I am happy to help out if I can, otherwise check out the websites that I mentioned above and good luck!

“Think not of yourself as the architect of your career but as the sculptor. Expect to have to do a lot of hard hammering and chiselling and scraping and polishing.” BC Forbes

*Disclaimer: these are just my thoughts and opinions from my experiences so please don’t take everything as gospel!


Have you found Twitter and LinkedIn useful for business?


I’m intrigued to know how many individuals have found Twitter and LinkedIn useful for business. I asked this question a few months ago on a LinkedIn group that I am a member of. It was interesting to see what responses people had. I asked the question as I wanted to hear more about other people’s personal experiences, so when I help people set up their own accounts I have other examples apart from my own experiences.

From asking the question and looking through similar questions on other LinkedIn groups many people indicated that simply having a presence on LinkedIn and Twitter, and engaging in the social communities resulted in enquiries.  I have found the same results personally and professionally.

When I worked for a membership association I was often personally contacted on LinkedIn for more information about the association. In that position I implemented a twitter account which also resulted in people contacting us. Being a membership association, businesses would often seek us out and contact us, but we also found by engaging and interacting in different forums we helped to put our name out there, gain more credibility and show what we were all about.

Recently I found Twitter personally helpful as I was looking for a designer to create me some personal business cards. Being relatively new in London I hadn’t yet met anyone who was quite right or knew enough people to be able to recommend someone, so I turned to Twitter for help. My tweet was quickly followed up by a person who suggested I try @Jilly_Pepper. Interestingly as soon as one person recommended her I realised that we had several Twitter friends in common and ones that I trusted and had engaged with on twitter who could back up the tweet recommendation. The designs she created were great and I am excited to receive my business cards in the next couple of days.

I am still interested to hear about other people’s experiences as it is interesting to see what has worked for different people and businesses – so please do share.

Is it possible to separate your personal life and work life on social networks like LinkedIn?


Many individuals join professional social networks like LinkedIn for their own professional development rather than as brand ambassadors for their work.

Over the last year I have engaged with many people on social media platforms and have found it hard to separate the two on some networks such as LinkedIn. In my last position for a membership organisation, I often was personally contacted on LinkedIn and Twitter about the organisation. This led me to think about how, if I should or if I even could separate work from play.

Like many people I know I initially joined LinkedIn for my professional development and to keep in touch with contacts who I have met through networking, events and work. At first I wasn’t too sure what I thought of people contacting me directly about my work seeking more information. But it made sense as people like dealing with people who they can put a face and name to. Inevitably if you work in marketing and are doing your job properly you will probably end up becoming a brand ambassador whether you like it or not. If you do not want to be a brand ambassador for your company then perhaps you should rethink what and who you should work for.

With the explosion of social media not only the marketing team and stakeholders need to be brand advocates – all employees need to be as well. Employers also have to take care in making sure all staff will represent their brand in the right light or at the least don’t do the opposite. This does not mean that every employee has to be out there promoting the brand and company through their social networks, but that they should at least know how to respond and act. For example, if an individual asks for information about their workplace via LinkedIn employees should know how to respond and direct them to the right person who can help in their organisation.

Ultimately, my active use of social media over the years for work and play has highlighted how important it is to become a brand ambassador for my work. To me, this can only be done if I am passionate and believe in the organisation I work for. This is now a key factor in my job hunt for my next London marketing role!

I am interested to hear whether you have had the same experience and/or whether you have chosen to keep the two separate?

Custom made Social Media Monitoring Centers

Dell Logo

Image via Wikipedia

Today I read a great article by John Lai (Social Media NZ) about Dell. Dell is the second company who has decided to create their own Social Media Command Centre and are using Radian6 to help them build a custom monitoring tool. The first company to do this was Gatorade and you can read a bit about their command centre in a blog by Adam Ostrow on Mashable.

John puts the question whether companies need to build their own command centres – I think that now we will only see big companies like Dell doing this. However, as monitoring social media becomes more the norm and part of everyday business it might also become the norm to build your own command centre. Although the biggest hurdle for most businesses will be getting the right resource to support a command centre and for small businesses, unless they see the benefit it might just not happen.

I believe Dell is smart in creating their own Social Media Command Centre, as they have the money and resource to do it well. They will easily benefit from having their own Social Media Command Centre if they have the right platform to help them respond to what their customers are saying.

It will be interesting to see how Radian6 design and build Dell’s custom monitoring centre and how efficient it is. Down the track, I would like to see if they share with the social media world how their monitoring tool works and the possible successes they do or don’t have with it.

Like John Lai I also wonder if this is the start of all companies creating their own social monitoring tools.

No security blankets for SMEs with social media


Small businesses are trying to keep up to speed with new age marketing and promotion through Social Media, yet many are making crucial mistakes and don’t realise until it’s too late. 

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

Traditionally if a business wanted to promote themselves they would advertise through mediums such as print/newspapers, radio or television. When placing an advert small businesses would usually have at least some sort of security that if they were doing something illegal or wrong  someone would pick it up and let them know before it was published.

However with Social Media anyone can jump on and initially post what you want without someone saying ‘hey you’re doing it wrong’ or ‘you will get banned from the site for doing that’. What I have noticed is that there are many small business owners who have heard that Facebook is great for promotion and brand awareness, so they jump on board before finding out how it should be done properly and without any guidance.

One major mistake that I keep on seeing time and time again is small businesses creating a Facebook page by setting up their profile as a personal profile instead of a fan/business page.  This error and its possible consequences are not great as Facebook are continually banning businesses from doing this. It doesn’t matter if a business tries to play innocent as if they actually read the terms and conditions for setting up a profile they would know they were not complying. Mobilize Mail have recently done some research on New Zealand businesses on Facebook. They found that almost 90% of the businesses they surveyed were using a personal profile to promote their business! (Scoop article on Mobilize)

Some may think that it is quite harsh of Facebook to ban businesses who make that crucial mistake, but really for privacy reasons they are not.  For example, when most people add a person as a friend on Facebook they do not add them to a limited profile (a privacy setting option). This means that if you accept a friend on your personal Facebook profile that is actually a business they will be able to see all your photos, access all your details that you have for only your friends to view.

Now you might think who would accept a friend request from a business? Well one example is a business where people sign up to their service and they then receive free drink vouchers for bars in their area. Who would say no to free drinks? As you can imagine they have quickly become  popular.  Not too long ago the business decided to create a Facebook page, but instead of being a fan page they created it under a personal profile.  As you would expect many people have added the business as a friend. 

With the consumer in mind, I expect many people have not thought about how much personal information they are inadvertently sharing with the business. With the business in mind, they now have a huge following on Facebook and all it will now take is Facebook noticing that they are a business and banning them from Facebook entirely and permanently.  Probably the one lucky thing for this business is that at least they maintain their database through their website and  will probably not lose too many fans from their profile being closed. However it will not have crossed many other small businesses and entrepreneurs minds to own their own database by taking fans off Facebook and gaining their details. As all it takes is making one mistake or Facebook making a judgement call for all those contacts and fans to disappear, and that goes for all social media.

Let’s face it, many of the small businesses who fall into this trap or make other crucial mistakes just don’t know what they are doing and don’t have the funds to use an agency to set it up for them and tell them what they should do. The question is as marketers do we say tough to all the businesses we see doing it wrong and let them eventually suffer the consequences or do we tell them out of our own good will? Considering that potentially 90% of New Zealand businesses are using Facebook the wrong way should we be more active and help those small businesses by getting out there and spreading the word?