A Case Study in Social Media Branding


Have you ever thought about your social media presence and what it tells the world about you? Do you think it’s possible to draw conclusions about a person simply by observing a few social media posts? I wondered, so I thought I’d try an experiment. Below you will find 4 exhibits consisting of 3 social media posts.

Each exhibit includes only posts from one person. As you read through them, describe these people to yourself. Who are they? What are their professions? What are their passions? What is their personality?

Exhibit #1

His profile picture is a headshot image with the American flag in the background. He is wearing a suit.

·      “During the Month of the Military Child, it was such a joy for my wife and me to host the kids of American troops who are overseas at our residence yesterday.”

·      An image of himself in a full suit, going down a line of uniformed soldiers, shaking each of their hands.

·      “During my visit to the Asia-Pacific, I met with some incredible Americans who are stationed overseas while serving our nation, and I'd like one of these four photos of them to be the new cover photo on my Facebook page. Help me decide by LIKING your favorite photo.”

Exhibit #2

In his profile picture, he is wearing a white t-shirt, tight black pants with several rips, and a plaid shirt tied around his waist. Tattoos cover his outstretched arms. His eyes are hidden behind large dark glasses and his hair style includes longer side swept bangs.

·      “LOOK AT ALL THOSE DIAMONDSSS....UHH. I MEAN HEY TEAM! HOPE YOU GUYS HAVE A WONDERFUL DAY now back to dem diamonds ^x^” – followed by a photo of a pile of Minecraft diamonds

·      Photo of him sitting in a desk chair behind his computer in his bedroom


Exhibit #3

The profile picture is a headshot of a smiling woman in an off the shoulder shirt. In the background is a park sidewalk.

·      “My accountability group is doing a "Hold a plank for as long as you can" challenge today. It can be done anywhere. Challenge accepted, even when I'm on my vacation. 2 min 8 sec per hubby's timer. Not my personal best, but that's what it is today. I looked at the picture he took and the first thing I thought: "Wow... that tummy! Delete that pic!" But I didn't. This is me. My tummy hangs like that. I'm work in progress. “

·      A quote meme which reads, “Today is Monday. Set the tone for the week with a good workout and a healthy meal.”

·      A video of her demonstrating the proper form while doing leg lifts.

Exhibit #4

The profile picture is of a woman holding a book under her nose. She is very excited about the book, which has her name on it.

·      “Tell me about any decluttering progress you made this week! Or tell me about the struggles you faced.”

·      A link to a blog post entitled, “Making Shower Cleaning as Easy as Possible”

·      A quote meme which reads, “Doing the dishes is the first step to this whole change-your-house process. Doing them again tomorrow is where the magic will happen.” – Dana K. White

Think you’ve got each one pinned? Let’s see how well you did

·      Exhibit #1: Vice President Mike Pence

·      Exhibit #2: Youtube gamer, DanTDM

·      Exhibit #3: Fitness enthusiast, Kate Neal

·      Exhibit #4: Cleaning/organizing blogger and author, Dana K. White

These four social media users all share a common trait. Their online presence reflects their personal and career brand. You can get a quick over-all feel for their brand simply by noting a few posts.

Think for a minute about your social media presence.

What brand are you yelling to the world? Look at your last three posts, if you need to. Is this the brand you want for yourself? Does it reflect the goals you have? Does it reflect your true self? Because social media is so public, we are left with the responsibility of finding that delicate balance of being completely authentic while guarding our public brand (which is simply a fancy word for how we want the public world to think of us).

Let’s speculate that Vice- President Mike Pence was actually annoyed with all the kids in his home. It would not align with his sophisticated, professional brand to have posted, “These snotty brats are messing up my lawn!” even if he very much felt that way. He would have quickly lost the respect of a large number of people, including and especially of those who serve our country in the military.

Not everyone’s brand is as clear cut, however. You would think that a woman who is a fitness enthusiast would only want to post photos that show her body at good athletic angles. But her brand is not the same as Jillian Michaels would be. She is not a kick-your-butt trainer. Her passion is to encourage women to care for and love their bodies, no matter what they look like. So when she had the choice to post her hanging belly photo or delete it, she chose to post it.

Only you can decide what your personal brand should look like and how much of your own personality and thoughts are for public display. Just keep in mind that your social media brand does affect your career.

If you have intentions of keeping your job, moving up in leadership, pushing forward into entrepreneurship, or promoting your career, here are some practical tips to follow when it comes to your social media presence.

1.    Never complain about your boss, job, coworkers or customers publicly on social media. You never know who it can get around to. People have been fired for negative comments like this.

2.    In order to move up, get that raise or get that promotion, your manager or boss is going to want to see leadership and enthusiasm. Post what makes you excited about your job. Tag a co-worker who has been exceptionally helpful in your current project.

3.    Do not post information about your pay, including raises. This is confidential information between you and your employer.

4.    Show intelligence and confidence by posting with correct grammar. Avoid text language and always use punctuation. It just proves to the world that you have a brain.

5.    Be cautious when posting party photos. Just because you had the time of your life, does not mean the whole world needs to know you got wasted. This often reflects poorly on most professional brands.

6.    Think about the wording in your comments. Even if your privacy settings are high, your friends’ and other pages’ may not be, and your comments may show up on thousands of newsfeeds. Make sure your comments, even in debates, are tactful and respectful.

7.    If you are job searching while still employed, do not post about interviews or job offers. This could get you terminated before you’re ready.

If you're interested in identifying, developing, and aligning your personal brand on social media to advance your career or change jobs, setup a 30 minute strategy session.