A brand is more than a logo. It’s the way a company or a person is perceived by others. “A brand is what we form in our minds when we hear a name,” explained Jim Cahill, chief blogger and head of social media for Emerson. He and Lydia Miller, senior product engineer, level measurement, addressed a crowded room at Emerson Global Users Exchange in San Antonio and explained how to use social media to build your brand.
“The brand is in your mind,” he said. “What you think about products and brands are the neurons in your head that you’ve devoted to them. When you think of brands, don’t think about the logo. Think of people giving neurons to what you want them to know.”
Cahill equated a brand to a bird’s nest. “Birds find twigs and bring them back,” he explained. “As a marketer, you want to make sure those twigs are good ones, so the nest is good. A brand lives in the minds of others. It’s built based on what others happen upon. The more you influence what they happen upon, the stronger and more positive the brand.”
Cahill and Miller focused their attention on LinkedIn and Twitter, the most popular social media sites for business, along with Emerson Exchange 365, the site where user-group attendees can continue their conversations online—the same way that LinkedIn can do that for real-time encounters.
“Old-fashioned networking is a really good thing,” explained Miller. “LinkedIn is a good tool to help you continue that and find them again later. Your LinkedIn profile is a great place to start.”
LinkedIn is the top site for business professionals. “Well over half a billion people are on LinkedIn,” noted Cahill. “And 29% of online adults use LinkedIn.”
Your personal brand has become an online identity. Just try googling yourself, and see what comes up on the first page of results. But there are many ways to include real-world events in that personal brand, as well.
“It’s the things we do off-line, too, such as meetings we attend and presentations we give at conferences,” said Cahill. “Your personal brand is how others view your accomplishments, experience, capabilities and potential. The things you do off-line can be converted online.”
Social media is a useful tool with immediate impact. It can help you to exceed your sales quota, establish your reputation, get promoted and build relationships. “There are a lot of social media platforms. Instagram and SnapChat can be fun, but they’re not for business,” explained Miller. LinkedIn is a good home base to start with and put yourself out there. First, get a professional photo, and make your profile who you are and what you’ve done, advised Cahill.
Emerson Exchange 365 is like 365 days of the Emerson Exchange. “It’s a good place to interact with each other on a platform where other people like you are,” suggested Miller. “The topics are relevant, and you can share it to Twitter and LinkedIn, as well.”
Before you jump right in to social media and branding, ask yourself a few questions to figure out where you want to head.
“If you’re doing this to advance your career, how does your employer feel about that?” asked Miller. “Advancing a personal brand helps to advance the brand of the company. Everything you do helps to advance your company and reflects on your company. Be careful.”
Emerson uses social media to highlight innovation and industry expertise, while further humanizing the brand and building reputation. Emerson likes for employees to join social media and share things.
Miller offered five principles to follow when building a brand in social media.
- Be transparent. This is really important. “Your reputation hinges on being transparent,” she said. “Team members must disclose their relationship to the company in references about the company. Use your entire real name, not just your first name.”
- Be responsive. “Check your social media platforms regularly to deal with direct correspondence,” advised Miller. “If you see something negative about your company or something that needs an immediate response, bring it forward to the right people so they can deal with it immediately. For urgent matters, consider taking it off-line and getting the person’s email info.”
- Be engaging, and be an expert. Think about the things you know and share those things. “Look for information you agree with, and tell people you agree with it,” she offered. “Remember that you are representing your employer as well as yourself. Ensure your posts are adding value and represent your brand. If you disagree with someone, do so with respect. Support the open exchange of ideas. Remember that it’s not all about you.”
- Follow the rules. Think before you post. Follow the law. “Be sure to follow your company’s code of conduct,” said Miller. “Don’t post anything you wouldn’t show your boss or your family. Respect others’ privacy and confidentiality. When in doubt, ask. Before you hit submit, pause for a second. If someone annoys you, think about it before you post something. If you’re on the fence about something, don’t send it or post it.”
- Be respectful. “Always think about other people,” she said. “Don’t throw them under the bus. When posting in public forums, it’s important to be respectful and aware of your tone.”