With over 200 million active users, Facebook has become a personal, product and corporate branding hub. Every brand that exists on Facebook has the same core features and benefits, such as the ability to create a page, share resources, add multimedia and much more. You have a unique opportunity to leverage this platform for career success or as a playground for you and your closest friends.
The social graph is filled with CEOs, celebrities, entrepreneurs and people just like you who can be reached through Facebook’s messaging system without any boundaries or restrictions. Facebook is also a talent search engine and part of the college admission and corporate recruiting criteria. You will be searched on Facebook by potential dates, managers, and teachers, so use common sense in determining how you want to represent yourself. You are what you publish and first impressions are everything.
What follows is a guide to building your personal brand on Facebook. Continue the conversation by adding your own tips and stories below in the comments.
1. Know your audience
Too many people are sharing information to the wrong audiences. Your manager doesn’t want to know if you just went to the bathroom and, although your parents would love to eavesdrop on your relationship with your girlfriend or boyfriend, you might not want to share those details. Since our lives are starting to converge more and more every day, you need to decide what audiences you want to connect with on Facebook.
Do you want to use Facebook as a communication stream to your family and friends? Are you looking to network with professionals that could help you get a job? These are questions you need to start asking yourself before you add “friends” to your Facebook profile. If you decide to open it up to the masses, then you need to be mindful of what you share and how that could impact people’s perception of you. Remember, you can limit what select users can see on your profile, just by changing your settings, which we’ll discuss more below.
2. Decide on your branding strategy
Everyone should have a Facebook branding strategy and it should be based not only on the audience you’re targeting, but your overall life goals. Depending on who you are, where you are in your career, what you’re passionate about and an expert in, you’ll want to brand yourself differently.
If you haven’t signed up for Facebook, then you have a great opportunity to start fresh and to build your Facebook profile to best represent you. If you’re a current Facebook user, then start analyzing how your brand is being portrayed and take steps to customize it to reflect your branding strategy.
If you don’t want to build a branding empire, a strategy should still be extremely important to you; you’re already branded and that brand can help shape perceptions online to portray you in a positive light and help you secure a good reputation. This means choosing what links and media you share in your news stream to add value to your brand and those you’re friends with.
3. Set your privacy settings
Depending on your Facebook goals, you may set your entire account to private or grant certain individuals permission to view sections of your profile. You can also make your entire profile public for the world to see, which could be beneficial to you if you’re looking to become more visible in your industry and will result in your profile ranking high for your name in search.
I recommend turning tagging settings off for both photos and pictures so that you can take control of your Facebook wall. You wouldn’t want your friends tagging you in a picture of you doing something stupid, would you?
4. Fill out your profile completely
Facebook is a great platform where you can paint a picture of who you are. When filling out the information fields, be sure to focus on the education and work section, where you can reconnect with fellow alumni from college, or past colleagues that might be able to help you get a job.
Also, in the contact information field, be sure to list your blog, any websites you might own and links to your profiles on other social networks. Since hiring managers use Facebook’s search engine to find candidates, it pays to load up your profile with keywords that they can search against. Depending on your Facebook brand strategy, you’ll want to promote more information in certain fields like your contact information and less in other fields.
5. Import contacts and grow your network
Each month, you should go through the process of importing your contacts from your email accounts and your instant messenger screen name accounts. This will help you continue to grow your Facebook network as you’re meeting new people through your other channels.
If you have a blog, it’s also a smart idea to use Facebook Connect. By having Facebook Connect on your blog, you can bring your friends with you and promote your content through social interactions that start on your blog and end up on Facebook.
6. Update your status
Updating your status on Facebook allows your to project a single message to a large audience. Your status is a reflection of who you are and what you do. You can update your status with press mentions, your latest blog entry, a new project you’re working on or your interest in a particular job. Based on your branding strategy, you’ll want to update your status to either keep people informed about what you’re up to, push them to your content or both.
7. Start a group or a page
Facebook groups have fewer features than Facebook pages, but they are still important. Use a Facebook group to bring people together in your industry, become a valuable contributor to that community and market your blog, your product, or yourself! Facebook groups let you share links, videos, photos, and start discussions.
Facebook pages are for brands, ranging from Coca Cola to Barack Obama and even you. These pages resemble your Facebook profiles, so only use one if you have a large number of Facebook friends. By having a Facebook page, your brand can go viral, holding a spot on other people’s profiles. The other main advantage is that your page will rank high for your name in Google =D and you can use it for your professional career, while keeping your personal profile private.
8. Join or start an event in your area
One of the best aspects of Facebook is that you can get involved in your community by joining or starting an event in your industry. By opening up your event to everyone, you can meet new people and discover other people who have shared interest and can support your career. Events can also be cataloged on your Facebook page.
If you’re looking to start a weekly or monthly event and want to keep a calendar, logging it on a page is a good strategy. By starting an event, you’re positioning yourself as a leader and an expert, which is great for your personal brand.
9. Link out to your Facebook profile
You might already have a blog and accounts on other social networks, including Twitter , LinkedIn, FriendFeed , Technorati, etc. If you do and your Facebook strategy is to promote yourself and remain public, then placing a link (and possibly a Facebook icon) on these other sites to your Facebook profile is a great idea.
As the chief marketing officer for your personal brand, you want to build your friend list, so that you have more people to market to now and in the future. Think of your Facebook profile as a digital asset and grow the equity in that asset over the rest of your life.
10. Feed your social networks
By using Ping.fm, you can update your status on Facebook, as well as many other social networks in an instant, without duplicating your efforts. Also, you can import your blog titles in Facebook using notes or by using an application called Simple RSS.
Not only does this make you more productive, but it appears as though you’re contributing to your community, without you having to think about it. Since Facebook is all about sharing, those that share more will be remembered more, which is great for personal branding.
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