By Alexia Leachman, Personal Branding Coach At Blossoming Brands
I’ve mentioned Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter because they are the main social networks. However, there are other ways of connecting and sharing online, but the masses are generally slower to join in until it’s obvious that some of these are here to stay. With so many new social sites launching all the time, and with our time being limited, sometimes it’s worth letting the early adopters play around with a new network first before deciding to jump in. But I would encourage an open mind with some of these as they can prove to be invaluable when it comes to building your digital footprint and increasing the chances of people coming across you online.
Now that Instagram has created an Android app, its dominance in photo sharing is pretty secure. The app’s simplicity also is a huge part of its success. The great thing about Instagram is that it can give you a real insight into how someone else views the world. What people notice in the world around them, and then how they capture it, can tell you a lot about a person. And in a world where we strive to stand out, it’s our mind, personality and outlook that can be our differentiator and Instagram is a great way of representing that visually to others.
A common complaint I hear about Foursquare is “I don’t want to tell stalkers and burglars where I am!” Well neither do I! And that’s why I don’t connect with any, in real life or otherwise. Seriously people, use your head! I would urge you to connect to people that you know on some level. As with anything we do in life, a bit of common sense always helps. But honestly, there is no need to check in everywhere. Especially your corner shop, your local pub or where you do your weekly shop. Anywhere that indicates a routine or pattern in your life is where people can lurk and wait for you (!). We need to be sensible after all. Anyhow, when you check-in to you local Tesco Express, what does that tell me exactly? Why are you taking the time to tell me that? It’s not interesting in anyway whatsoever. On the other hand, when you check-in to an Olympic site or a really cool restaurant/bar/museum etc, then we have the beginnings of a conversation next time we meet. I might even be compelled to leave a comment on your check-in. This is engagement. Tesco Express five times a week isn’t.
The other consideration with Foursquare is that can increase the likelihood of random, interesting, real-life meet-ups. I’m not based in London, so when I check-in on my London train, I often get a flurry of messages asking me if I’ve got time for a coffee, or people telling me about an interesting event happening that I might like to attend. This is one of the reasons I love it, I’ve had so many serendipitous meetings with people that wouldn’t have happened had I not used Foursquare, that I really enjoy using it. However, you won’t find me checking in to my little one’s nursery or my local.
Think about what you’re saying about yourself when you check in. Are you saying “I’m addicted to this app and use it without thinking” in which case I might think you do other stuff without thinking. Or, are you strategically creating an impression about yourself that enhances your personal brand, i.e. what you want people to know about you?
Pinterest has very quickly grown to become an important social network and this is despite being restricted in access. They’ve only just opened it to all so I’m sure its importance and relevance is only going to grow.
For some people, this is a very powerful way to build their personal brand and their business. This is especially the case for those who work in a visual sense, or where sharing their sense of style or design is relevant. I have one client, Samantha, who is a stylist (http://zukuriunltd.com/) and her Pinterest boards regularly bring her business from all over the world in a way that her website may not. This wasn’t planned, but a happy side effect!
There are countless other social networks that while they may not be as large, can be very useful in growing your digital footprint. The thing to bear in mind here is relevance, and look for social networks that allow you to communicate your strengths. If you’re not a visual person, Pinterest is unlikely to work for you. But, if intellectual is more your thing, then something like Quora could work much better for you.
Alexia Leachman is a Personal Brand Coach and Head Trash Liberator at Blossoming Brands. She helps entrepreneurs find their mojo by helping them to clear their head trash, tell their story, raise their profile, build their digital presence and manage their reputation. She is also the contributor of a chapter on Online Reputation for an up and coming book on Internet Marketing due out in November 2012. You can find out more at www.blossomingbrands.com, www.headtrash.co.uk And you can follow her on Twitter at @AlexiaL and @BBrands