How (NOT) to Be a Leader – Managing Your Personal Brand

How NOT to be a leader chapter 14This week we continue the serialization of, How (NOT) to Be a Leader Volume 1, in preparation for the release of the next two books, How (NOT) to Build a Great Team and How (NOT) to Create a Winning Strategy. We hope you will enjoy Chapter 14 Managing Your Personal Brand.

Social Media got your head in a spin about managing your personal brand? We’re here to help! Social media and personal brand management for leaders can be a daunting but im­portant task. As a leader, all eyes are on you, and how you present yourself on the Internet is job #1! Included in this chapter is a handy checklist of all of the social media sites where you should have a profile and account, as well as notes about how and what to post and how often to post. Blasting the interwebs with your messy digital footprint by garnering attention and followers will help drive your business forward, position you properly against your competition, and keep the buzz going about what events you’re attending, the thought leadership you’re contributing to your industry, and even what you’re wearing!

Remember: all PR is good PR, so don’t hold back. You’ve got a lot to say and a lot of people to say it to. In this chapter, we’ll cover the basics of some top social media plat­forms such as:

  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Snapchat
  • Tumblr
  • Pinterest
  • YouTube

LinkedIn: LinkedIn is social media for smart people, so it’s important that you keep your profile updated and include all the relevant information about your career and ac­complishments. But be yourself and don’t fall into the trap of posting a stuffy corporate headshot. Post a photo that says something about who you are and what you like to do in your spare time. Perhaps a photo of you on your boat with a frosty gin and tonic, or a powerful image of your latest trip to the gun range. It’s always refreshing to see authentic­ity! You should keep your eye on the feed and like, like, like posts from people you want to do business with or who have something you can gain from. Ignore the rest. Don’t ever post any content of your own though. Your thought leadership is valuable and shouldn’t be given away for free. And remember, LinkedIn is a social platform for smart people, so if you do feel compelled to post something original, make sure you copy it from something smart that’s hard to find on Google.

Twitter: Twitter is the most popular social media platform frequented by celebrities, politicians, and important businesspeople like you. Use it liberally and don’t hold back. Your fans want to see you as your true self. Using emojis, smart punctuation, and quippy 280‑character statements can get you noticed and using the right hashtag (#) can get you noticed in new circles. It’s not the quality of your followers that’s important, it’s the quan­tity! So, collect as many new followers as you can as quickly as you can by posting memo­rable images daily. Bathroom mirror selfies are a popular and quick method of letting the world know what you’re up to and what you’re thinking about yourself throughout the day. Twitter is also a wonderful place for you to go incognito by creating a fake account. This way you can troll your competitors, stalk your employees, and even pretend to be an ador­ing fan of your own brand! Who needs to create fake news when we can actually be fake people on Twitter!

Facebook: Facebook is a family‑oriented social media site (and is frequented mostly by old people for whom Twitter is too complicated), so you will want to post pictures of yourself at home spending lots of time doing family things like cooking, throwing parties, binge drinking, and looking like you enjoy your kids. You should be friends with everyone on your staff as this is part of being authentic and your true self. Facebook is also a won­derful site to get to know your staff, what they like to do in their free time, where they live, and what kind of people they associate with. Often, your employees will post thoughts and ideas about their workplace—important stuff for you to read and stay up on! Posting at ran­dom times throughout the workday will send a clear message that it’s OK for you to post on Facebook during the workday but not for them. Make notes about who is posting during the day and have your HR professional keep a daily log. These activities can be discussed at performance reviews.

Instagram: Instagram is a social media site for posting pictures of things you like such as artwork, places you’ve traveled, and food. It’s a particularly convenient place to post entire albums of your last vacation or the vacation you are currently on and is the ideal platform for creating a visual diary of your enviable life. Your staff will enjoy seeing that you are indeed spending your think time engaging in activities that will help drive your vision forward. The more cultural the better—if you’re not able to post images from art gal­leries and museums, or if you’re not able to cook visually appealing meals, you can always copy and paste something directly from the Internet and voilà! it looks like somewhere you visited or something you cooked yourself.

Snapchat: Remember Anthony’s Weiner? Well, Snapchat is the Internet’s answer to leaders accidentally posting or sending the wrong message publicly. Snapchat is an instant messaging platform that allows you to communicate in private (with photos!), and it auto­matically deletes your message once it’s been read. It’s perfect for sexting—an activity that you deserve to have fun with, but one that you definitely don’t want falling into the hands of your employees or the public. It can also be used for sending instant messages to employ­ees with whom you might be on the fringe of HR violations. If you’re having an inter‑office fling, stick with Snapchat for those late‑night trysts.

Too busy for all this? Go ahead and pay someone else to post as you. Just make sure they are being authentic when they pretend to be you.

Let’s Get Real

Personal brand is a tricky term. What it should mean is simply who you are, what you think, what your values are, and what you do. But in today’s world, it can be used as a plat­form for developing a persona that is not you at all, but rather someone you want the world to think you are. Simply put, someone who doesn’t exist. Personal brand management re­ally should mean the ongoing effort to:

  1. Ensure that everything published about you (by you or anyone else) is true, authen­tic, and genuine
  2. Publish valuable thought leadership that is useful and informative to others
  3. Use common sense and good judgment

The landscape of social media can be useful, but it can also be littered with landmines. Don’t feel compelled to overuse it—to use platforms simply because your competitors or colleagues do—and, most importantly, don’t buy into the idea that quantity trumps quality when it comes to who you engage with on these platforms. Your privacy is yours to protect, and your image is yours to preserve. Your reputation is yours and only yours to manage.

Download this chapter for free – How (NOT) to Be a Leader – Chapter 14