Find your online voice

When I first looked into developing my online personal brand I didn’t really have a clue what I was doing or where to begin. After reading a few articles with their own tips and words of advice the fog is starting to clear a bit I realised I was approaching things all wrong. Some of the articles I read said I should keep my online persona and my actual persona separate, maybe this works for some people but not for me. I have a varied set of interests and that I should focus on one topic and work on building an audience around that subject felt like I wasn’t giving a clear picture of the type of I am by neglecting my other interests such as baking and reading. The problem with this approach is I can’t give every topic the full attention it deserves, at the moment my Twitter feed is full of posts relating to mental health, social media, technology with the odd post about baking and exercise adding the personal touch showing that I do have a life and interests that may attract a new group of people who also bake and have an interest in robots being developed to mimic human traits.

I need to find a happy middle ground that worked for me, a mixture of posts that Once I had worked out that in order for me to be comfortable posting online and building up a network I needed to be more ‘human’, more myself. Remain professional but understand the people I engage with online and whose posts I share haven’t met me in person, they don’t know my personality all of which I need to convey through an online post.

This new approach seems to be working with Twitter and I’m trying to utilise some of the resources on there to help my bother find a job by sharing his digital artwork. His Asperger’s does hinder him in some ways, new people can unnerve him but don’t feel sorry for him as his has a lot of positive traits that any employer would be lucky to have him once both parties get past the initial obstacles. LinkedIn I’ll keep it more professional for now until I find a voice for this network that I am comfortable with, this is still a work in progress.

I know I have been lax in posting on this blog, but on here I have always tried to be myself. Blogging is the one place where I have written about my interests, things that have caught my attention in the news to work related pieces. I probably should have put more thought into the type of image I wanted my blog to have or what personality I wanted it to have, but over thinking all this would just stress me out instead of having fun with it. Which I think I do, I’ve written about random people fly tipping to the lack of forks in the work kitchen, I have also been serious when writing work related articles.

If you want to know about creating an online personal brand than there are lots of articles out there to help you, some will get straight to the point others will be very long winded that you will lose interest within the first paragraph. They will have one thing in common, be you; be genuine, be real. This is your selling point, talk about the things that interest you, make you laugh, make you cry, share your knowledge and experiences but don’t be fake. You can’t please all the people all the time but the first person you might as well please is yourself the rest will eventually fall into place. For some an online persona is about building an audience for their brand for others it is a therapeutic experience. You can think about how you want network, market yourself and your blog once you have found your online voice. Once you achieve that there will be no stopping you.

Social branding: building my online personality

Not so long ago I wrote a blog called ‘ Social branding; who am I? Since then I have been working on creating and developing my online personality by sharing information, images that interest me and may possibly interest others. Along the way I’m making a few discoveries about myself, realising I know a bit more about digital marketing than I thought which is a boost for my self confidence. I’ve been working on my Twitter and LinkedIn profiles with a mixed bag of success, I’ll go into more detail below.

Twitter

I’m not embarrassed to say that in the past I wasn’t a Twitter person, since using it for work and attending some communication conferences I have got an insight to how I could effectively use this social network without sharing every aspect of life, nothing wrong in being selective.

  • Less is definitely more
  • Don’t go nuts with the hashtags
  • Be genuine and not so self centered.
  • Put some thought into the content I’m sharing, is it something my followers would be interested in.
  •  Don’t forget to have fun with it.
All sounds simple enough when you think about it
  • Put some effort into building your online persona,
  • Look for articles on your topic of interest
  • Like and share other people’s posts
  • Write and share your own words of wisdom, this part I sometimes struggle with, but something I am slowly but surely getting to grips with.
Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t

I’ll admit that I don’t always know what I’m doing, there is a lot of information online some of it can be conflicting and down right confusing. Eventually I will have a much more structured approach  but at the moment the mixture of structure and ‘winging it’ is paying off.

My number followers are increasing which is good though the numbers do tend to fluctuate.

Followers April-May

I noticed in one day my number of followers had fallen by 10, but by the end of the day I had regained the number of followers originally lost. As you can see I have been posting a lot of message related to technology. It’s linked to my new found interest of artificial intelligence, it’s something that both worries and fascinates me at the same time.

LinkedIn

I use this social network differently to Twitter. With Twitter I feel I have more freedom to post a mixture of posts that show my different interests from a digital communications point of view to baking and about the exercise classes I attend. LinkedIn has a more professional air and not really a place to post how I profusely glowed during a weekly Zumba class.

LinkedIn is a work in progress

I have updated my profile, even went as far as filling in the summary section about myself. If I keep going in the direction that I am it is only a matter of time that I too will be confidently sharing my own words of wisdom. No I just need to be a bit more active and get involved, comment on posts and join some of the groups.

The one things I have learnt and I would say is one of the most important pieces of advice given on this journey is that no matter what your topic of interest is, it is important to find your own voice, be yourself. Just because you can’t be seen doesn’t mean your followers won’t be able to see through the fakeness.

What I’ve learnt about creating online content so far

I’m not a social butterfly, I don’t thrive in a room full of strangers with ease. I am an introvert until I feel comfortable enough to allow my extrovert side to make an appearance. People who know me well enough may find this all hard to believe as they tend to worry when I am quiet! So you can imagine my own surprise that of all the jobs and potential career paths I could have fallen into and have a genuine eagerness to learn more about and some degree of success in is digital communications.

My current employment is in external communications; maintaining the company’s website and social media pages. I have been fortunate enough to have been allowed to explore the world of video, at the moment I have only dabbled in stop motion animation but will be using YouTube editing facilities in the near future. I have been to conferences to increase my understanding and learn from experts who were once in the same position as me; wondering where to start with a social media campaign, what content to share with the world, how to engage with people to create a strong following. Then there is the topic of branding, both for business and personal, that’s right people branding is not reserved just for businesses. Just by how I present myself online through the content I share, posts I comment on even this blog are all part of my brand.

Personal Brand

For the first time I took part (a little bit) on a Twitter chat hosted by Hootsuite called #HootChat. I was a bit apprehensive at first as many of the people also taking part sounded experienced and knew what they were talking about and knew each other, but we all have to start somewhere so in I jumped with my digital arm bands.

The questions put forward for discussion revolved around branding;

  • Do you have a brand?
  • How would you describe your brand?
  • How do you maintain your brand?

This got me thinking about myself and how would I answer these questions, in short the answer is I don’t know, I’m still figuring this out. What I have learnt so far is that I need to think about what is my online persona, is there something in particular I want to be known for?

Original tweet posted my Sarah Picard

Persona Tweet

I am sharing a lot of things around social media, mental health, blogging and artificial intelligence; this is a topic that has caught my eye lately. I want to try and remain a personable by sharing my interests and generally things that happen in my world.

MyTweet

Content is king

Whilst at the Engaging Digital Conference piece of advice given was when generating content think of it as storytelling. Engage, depending on the topic and your personality even entertain your followers through the power of your words. You want your content to encourage people to comment, share and like your posts.

Be selective, just because you have a lot to say doesn’t mean it needs to be said all at once, one of the pieces of advice given at the #DigCommsConf by speaker Oli Lewington was to avoid ‘blasting people with your hose of content’, you want people to come back!

Hashtags are handy but you don’t want them to distract from your message. At the conference during her talk speaker Joanna Goodwin noted that from her experience less hashtags used is more.

Twitter_Hashtag

Try not to be a complete narcissist and think just because you wrote an excellent article that people will just gravitate towards you. Get involved, share other people’s posts, comment, like etc. I manage to share and like other people’s posts but haven’t been very vocal when it comes to commenting. This is something I will work on but the fact I’m thinking about my personal brand and being more active on Twitter and LinkedIn is a step in the right direction.

Video

‘Video will account for 80% of all internet traffic by 2019, up from 64% in 2014, says technology giant Cisco. ‘

I still want to try my hand at creating and using more video in my posts. Video is a great way to tell a story and visually engages followers. I’m still a newbie and have been somewhat lazy in developing those skills myself, until then I will happily share other peoples videos.

How far would you go for the perfect, memorable selfie?

How far are you willing to go to get that perf6ect, memorable selfie? Are you willing to risk your life for a kilfie? A kilfie is self explanatory, a selfie that results in the person in the photo being killed, this could be falling down stairs, falling of a cliff, getting hit by a train etc.

We live in a self-obsessed time where the number of likes a photograph get can determine if it remains online or gets relegated to the reject pile. Another snap of you drinking a latte in different coffee shop just doesn’t make the cut, you need a more daring, more creative, take that next selfie like your life literally depended on it. Yes I am being sarcastic because I can’t

Though other social media networks play a role Instagram was recently named as the most narcissistic social media platform by 64% of millennials. Is this social media platform spearheading a generation of self-obsessed image crazed individuals that feel the worth of an image and themselves is determined by the number of likes and post shares it receives?

Social media plays an active role in many people’s lives it’s the first thing they check when they wake up. This crazed approach to living your life through an online status is resulting in people competing to get the most likes, shares and followers. Recently a Russian model leant backwards on the rooftop ledge of Cayan Tower in Dubai Marina 1000ft above the ground with only another human being holding her arm for safety with a camera held in his mouth to get that perfect shot. That’s dedication right there for you, the tough decisions some people have to make; your life or a memorable photograph?

In India last year two teenager died taking selfies on an active train track. India has many beautiful places to take a selfie why pick train tracks?

What is driving people to behave so recklessly? Is it more than just an obsession to have your life mapped out through photographs, the more dangerous the better or does it go deeper psychologically, that face to face communication is being replaced by a series of images? We thought written post updating the world about babies, food, television programmes was bad enough but to see the last photo taken just before the person/s in the photo dies is disturbing.

If you like your statistics, men are more likely to take dangerous selfies than women, most of the people who took a kilfie were under the age of 24, and in a study conducted out of 124 selfie deaths reported worldwide India was at the top with 76. (http://wapo.st/2oQlWiM)

Suffering from FOMO?

Who doesn’t like another acronym finding its way into the language as clearly there just aren’t enough? FOMO isn’t new it has been doing the rounds for a while, I just didn’t know what it meant. Though it may sound like it could be a swear word, it isn’t, FOMO is Fear Of Missing Out. So much so that people develop an even more so unhealthy relationship with social media that can lead to anxiety, overstretching yourself to try and go to every event going whether you want to or not just in case you miss out on something interesting. The constant updating of status’s; how babies are able to use the toilet from birth, holiday pictures, going to a high profile, exclusive events is creating a feeling of inadequacy in others the feeling that their lives aren’t exciting or as fulfilling, even though we know that logic dictates that just because those pictures may look great they don’t really tell the whole story.

With easier access to our online profiles through a range of media outlets, you don’t have to wait until you can get onto a computer to post a message, you can tell all your followers what you are doing in real time through an app on your phone. Trying to maintain that kind of image and keep up with others sounds exhausting, it’s no wonder that the constant checking and updating of is creating obsessed, burnt out individuals aka FOMO. Sounds dramatic but think about it, before technology if you felt the green eyed monster rearing its ugly head when a friend shared details of their excellent holiday to the Carribbean you could walk away and forget about it, avoid seeing their holiday snaps. Now it’s smack bang in your face all over your Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat etc. There is no escape.

It doesn’t stop with your social circle FOMO is infiltrating the workplace, with the fear of missing out on an important meeting or not being involved in a project even if it isn’t relevant to you. Let’s not forget LinkedIn, got to keep that profile up to date, have people endorse your skills, updating your status etc. Instead of encouraging, supporting, empowering each other indirectly we’re tapping into people insecurities and making them feel low.

I’m bashing FOMO a bit here but I wonder how much of this behaviour is age related with people establishing themselves and figuring out who they are. I’m nearly 40 and am still developing as a person with opinions, interests changing constantly but my relationship with Facebook and LinkedIn is no longer as consistent. Twitter is another story. Even with the social networks shares are going down its popularity slowly waning I am working on boosting my profile and have found myself updating daily and checking to see if my number of followers has increased / fallen. FOMO is like a disease it gets hold of you little by little until you are hooked, its ok I only have this problem with Twitter there is still hope I can wean myself back to a healthy relationship with the network without compromising my own sanity.

Amongst the sea of negativity surrounding FOMO there was a positive response to a question that was posted on Quora and shared on Huffington Post about dealing with FOMO. Don’t let it control you, you control it but taking the positives from other people’s interests and experiences that you wouldn’t have considered before. Take part in things that would have otherwise bypassed you and not just because others are doing it. Use FOMO to develop and create a happier, confident you.
With that outlook who wouldn’t want a bit of FOMO in their life?

Social side of the NHS

Like it or love it social media is all around us. It has changed the way we engage and communicate with our peers, market our businesses and market ourselves. , every industry utilises social media to their advantage whether it is networking, marketing, selling; it has advanced the way a company publicises itself even the NHS.

When you think of social media you wouldn’t necessarily think how the NHS would be able to effectively use social media to their advantage, how will they engage, what content will they share, where will this content come from? To answer some of these questions and help NHS Trusts create a successful social media presence NHS Employers launched a helpful social media toolkit to help trust’s create their own social media policy and to have clear social media objectives in place.

 ‘Social media allows local NHS and care providers to connect and engage directly with thousands of people and organisations, be seen to understand and take on board their viewpoints and involve them in local solutions.’ – The Guardian; How NHS organisations should use social media

Social media doesn’t have to this big scary monster, there are people who will take the opportunity to public vilify the NHS but for every negative comment there are many positive ones. Others may use these networks to get the attention of the health trust because they don’t feel they are getting the correct treatment, in these situations it is important to remain professional especially if the messages are public, how you respond and handle the situation will be seen by a lot of people who could have been a potential networking opportunity.

I think it’s a positive that the NHS and the in particular the Health Trust I work for are embracing social media, for one it keeps me in a job. It’s important for the NHS to be seen to engage with other collaborators and communicate with their followers, considering the negative media attention it receives this was the NHS has the chance to build trust with its followers and create a positive image that is also in line with the trusts own objectives. Though ploughing forward with its own health campaigns social media isn’t for everyone or every NHS trust.

Promoting the NHS as a whole is one thing but what if you work for the NHS, should you have more than one account; a professional and a personal one that you could make private? This question was raised at a social media conference hosted by NHS Employers last year as some people were concerned about their patients trying to follow them or join their network. Take Twitter for example, many of the speakers chose to have one account that they used for both professional and personal purposes.  No matter what you use social media for there is always an element of common sense that should be used, don’t post anything you wouldn’t say to someone’s face or would be harmful to yourself or others. There is no need to be rude, just because you can’t be seen visually doesn’t mean you have to behave like a troll, the only person whose image will be damaged is your own.
I only have one Twitter account which is used for both professional and personal purposes sharing industry related articles and those that are of interest to me such as baking.

In some circumstances it is important to keep your personal accounts hidden but on the whole having one account allows you to show your non business side as well, there are many things that make you the person you are and it doesn’t hurt to show this side of you once in a while.

Social personal branding; who am I?

It has been a while since I have written a post about personal branding, so why now? There could be some potential employment changes in the horizon for me which got me thinking about my own digital branding. A lot has changed in my world in the past few years so naturally has my attitude and outlook has as well changes which should be reflected in how I brand myself going forward. First I need to figure how I am going to do this and what type of person I want to show to the digital world?

How I used social media in the past compared to now has changed, I haven’t been as focused on the changes and developments happening in the social media world or how it still plays a significant role in people’s lives, in some cases consuming them. Love it or hate it social media isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, it has evolved into a world all of its own. I decide what to share and how much online, common sense should still be used even when promoting oneself.

In the past most of my Twitter post were related to the type of job I was in at the time i.e. jobs boards, job searching. Even with my blog I would alternate posts between those that were work related with ones that were linked to what was going on in my personal world.

I have drifted away from Facebook now mostly liking posts that appear in my newsfeed, If I do post something it is usually linked to my job or something I have been tagged in.

My LinkedIn profile hasn’t been touched for several months, only to update my profile with my current employment description and even then that addition doesn’t really provide enough information about the job I actually do. Shame on me, entirely my own fault. Some LinkedIn users would argue that over time LinkedIn has lost its way from what it was originally meant to be; a business networking online platform instead of now being viewed as Facebook for professionals with users commenting not always on the skill of a fellow user but on how they look when they update their profile picture or even the type of picture used. Despite this LinkedIn is still credible and a good way to network, share business experiences, look for a new job or to headhunt a potential future employee. I’ve hyped up LinkedIn a bit here however like other social networks one size does not fit all. In a blog post written by Things Career Related, the writer though an advocate of LinkedIn discusses the possibility that LinkedIn is not for everyone. It is possible that I am becoming one of those people, I haven’t made a firm decision yet about what I want to do with my LinkedIn profile time will tell.

As you can see, I have been working on reviving my blog trying to post something at least once a week. I think I stopped blogging partly due to time constraints but also because I thought I had nothing to write about. Looking back on old posts I realised I do have a lot to say, its the way that I choose to share it. I wrote about a variety of things from baking, to the job sector I was currently employed in, some of it was on serious topics others had a more dry sense of humour tone. It was just a matter of rediscovering the things I enjoyed, discovering new things, topics of discussion that I thought were relevant.

The plan going forward is to continue writing my blog, if nothing else I enjoy writing and blogging is a great way to get some of my thoughts down on digital paper. Surprisingly since spending a bit of time each day on Twitter and sharing articles that interest me I’ve seen an increase in followers, heading in the right direction even with my Twitter bio only being seven words long! Facebook I’ll leave it in the shadows for now visiting it for now. LinkedIn has potential but one step at a time.

So who am I? There are many different sides to me that keep evolving but for now I am another digital world wanderer intrigued by how technology and the virtual world has encompassed our lives, but lets not forget the baker in me without technology and social media I wouldn’t be able to link with other excellent bakers and find some amazing recipes.

Image from www.pixabay.com

Being social without being sociable

Last week, myself and two work colleagues attending a social media conference organised by NHS Employers. Not sure how many of you know but I now work in the Communications team for an NHS health trust which involves working increasing the trusts profile through social media marketing.

Train journey

Some of you will know I’m not comfortable travelling, little thing called travel sickness does tend to rear its ugly head every so often. However this time I was a lot better than expected, especially when packed in a metal box with countless other commuters at rushpersonal-space hour on the underground. I am an amateur when it comes to travelling in London so it does surprises me the lack of common sense of some people, the line ‘how many people can you fit inside a train carriage?’ springs to mind. When you think no more people can fit into the carriage, there is always that one person who wants to squeeze in, and squeeze in they do, even if it means other passengers faces are glued up against the windows. I’m particular about who invades my personal, on a packed carriage there is no such thing and with my lack of height, it’s no picnic. That all aside the conference was worth the sardine packed, oxygen sucking train journey.

Conference

From start to finish the speakers were engaging, entertaining and very informative. Some conference can have a tendency to be stuffy, monotonous to the point you’re thinking how long is an acceptable time to remain at the conference before escaping. If anyone from NHS Employers is reading this then don’t worry none of this happened at this conference, to top it off the food for lunch was really nice. The veggie option was white cabbage with gnocchi in a cream sauce accompanied with roasted sweet potato with vegetables followed up with a lemon tart, you wouldn’t have thought it would taste good but it all did. I would have taken photos but my phone was charging and I was hungry.

During one of the breaks it had dawned on me that I had become one of those social media unsociable who was walking and tweeting at the same time, how did that happen without me noticing. There I am getting excited about using video, editing and taking somewhat professional pictures to post online. I blame my work colleague Amanda for signing me up for this conference, now I’m ruined. I think of ways outside of work to improve our trusts profile using social media and encourage staff to engage more. Ruined I tell you!

Networking

socially-unsociableThinking of the world we now live in where communication is more than just verbally speaking with someone, an emoji can convey various messages without a single word being uttered / written. I was in a room full of fellow NHS employers from different health trusts with a shared interest of social media, and was networking and connecting with these people mostly through Twitter. Some of you may say this isn’t networking but really it is, just in a different form. I think it was a great was to communicate & support each other who shared and liked what I tweeted and vice versa.

I’m not s social butterfly, being social can take effort & does depend on the situation and how confident I’m feeling at the time. This conference showed me ways to effectively communicate and promote the trust at the same time in a way I feel comfortable even if it means being social without being sociable.

 

Can you you really be anonymous online?

You see something online and find you want to comment on it but don’t want you reveal your identity at the same time?

That is one of the reasons why the social networking world is great and awful at the same time. Users can express their feelings and opinions, good or bad anonymously. One of the reasons why Twitter is so popular is because users can post those 140 characters messages without fear of repercussions, in theory. Due to the trolling behaviour of some users and the type of messages posted there have been causes for the law to become involved and the questions of whether social networks should be forced to reveal the real identity of those users was raised.

Not every social network user who uses a pseudonym is doing so for nefarious purposes, some of these people could be reaching out to a community where they need answers, a virtual community full of strangers who don’t know anything about them. So you can imagine the furor caused when Facebook revealed they were going to force users to use their real names. The aim is meant to protect users from stalkers, abusers alike, however something perhaps Facebook has failed to realise is that users could be using pseudonyms to protect themselves because they have been victims of stalking and abuse. The LGBT community are another group of people who are not keen on using their real identities, for many people they have not revealed their sexuality to the world and see it as a private matter. Drag queen acts who have Facebook profiles using their stage names are being forced to use their birth names claim this is causing them loss of business and followers as many of their fans only of them by their stage names.

Because of these restrictions coming into play we are seeing apps and social networking sites who focus on the importance of being anonymous online being created. The app Secret allows you to share ‘ …messages anonymously within their circle of friends, friends of friends, and publicly.‘ With Secrets follos the app called Whisper which ‘…allow users to send messages anonymously, and to receive replies.‘, though an article published in The Guardian suggests otherwise. It would seem the Whisper app is tracking the location of its users including those who opted out of being followed. Naturally the creaters of Whisper denied this but have now re-written their terms of conditions to include ‘they now explicitly permit the company to establish the broad location of people who have disabled the app’s geolocation feature.‘ Imagine that, being stalked by an app!

No matter how much we want to believe we can remain anonymous it simply is not true as has been proven by the Whisperer app. Users may be able to post message but someone somewhere will still know who the person is behind the message.

With all this talk about being anonymity in the social media world we can’t forget about the ‘anti Facebook’ social network called Ello.“The way to think about Ello is there are absolutely no advertisements, no data mining” The only way to join this network is by invitation only either by an existing member of by sending a request. This company offers a free service but aims to make a profit through additional features which users can pay for.

The likes of Twitter and Facebook, like them or hate them are established networks so it’s understandable any competition is going to have to offer something the popular networks aren’t, in this case privacy.

Got some dirty laundry? Head to Twitter

DirtyLaundryWhat was meant to be a private text message exchange between a 17 year old boy and his cheating ex has gone viral thanks to him posting the conversation onto Twitter. This is one way to get back at a cheating ex, not a route I would choose to go down but then again I’m not a teenager.

 

This type of behaviour is not reserved just for the younger generation, we’ve seen before how scorned lovers have taken to social media to vent and share their anger, hurt and frustrations out to the world.

 

On YouTube you can find videos of spouses, girl/boyfriends caught in compromising positions with people other than their partner. To an outsider looking in this can seem entertaining but we fail to see that these are people’s lives and those associated with them that are going to be affected long after the internet world has forgotten about them and moved onto someone else’s embarrassment.

 

Many would agree that the behaviour of this teen and others like him did was appropriate for the situation, but is it really?

 

It’s not unknown that social media can be a toxic environment sometimes resulting in tragic consequences. Aren’t we encouraging the public vilification of people by liking, re-tweeting, sharing such posts? It’s like a modern day version of a public flogging or being held in the stocks whilst a crowd gathers to heckle and throw rotten vegetables at the accused.

 

I’d like to say there is time to change the way we view social media but I think it’s possibly too late. We’re all in our own shows with social media as our stage, smile for your paparazzi.