The Best Social Media Platforms for Building Your Personal Brand

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(Jacob Mosolf/U.S. Air Force)

While social media may not have been important in growing your military career, you'll find that being active on certain platforms can help build your civilian career.

There are many reasons being active online will help your career and personal brand, including:

  • You can be found online for the skills, qualities and goals you are promoting. As you exit the military and join the civilian workforce, it will become increasingly important that hiring managers and recruiters can find you and contact you with opportunities. Similarly, networking contacts can also find you online and inquire about possibilities and positions they come across which might suit you.  
  • You can position yourself with intention and strategy, marketing yourself and your skills. When you approach social media armed with a plan, you'll be intentional about where you show up online, how you interact, the content you share and with whom you connect. This gives you the ability to influence and impact your career with focus.  
  • As you emphasize keywords and key phrases in support of your value proposition, others will recognize and see evidence (proof) of your alignment with your values and can begin to refer and endorse you for the credibility you're gaining.

Your Personal Brand

Think about how you'll promote yourself to others for job opportunities, networking, investment and partnerships. Your personal brand sets the expectation of the experience they will feel about you. If you are mindful of your brand, you'll be watchful of how you speak of yourself, how you communicate your value, passions and goals and the ways you interact and behave around the people you seek to influence, inspire and impact. Personal branding gives you control over the variables in your career that might feel random and abstract, bringing them into alignment with the vision you set for how you want to be known, your reputation.

Social Media Platforms

Not all social media platforms are created equal, so begin with an understanding of who you are and how you want to be perceived to determine which ones to become active on. For example, if your goal is to be seen professionally for the skills and value you'd bring to a new job, then a site like LinkedIn makes sense. Looking to show colleagues the more personal side of who you are? Facebook or Instagram might work well.

Here's a quick look at the top social media sites for building your personal brand:

1. LinkedIn. When LinkedIn started, it was primarily a job search tool. Today, LinkedIn serves many personal branding functions, including searching for new opportunities, connecting with employers, building networking relationships, positioning yourself to a business audience, promoting your skills, experience and valuable assets and more. With the addition of LinkedIn Learning, the site now gives users the ability to upskill in areas they are lacking, learn more about the narrative and topics important to businesses today and discover how to grow their abilities as they advance their career. If these are important to your positioning and brand, LinkedIn makes sense.

2. Facebook. For the more social side of our lives, Facebook offers users the ability to post videos, photos and text that reflects what they're feeling, doing and looking for. If your goal is to show the human side of your personal brand, and you'll be willing to post, share and comment on other people's posts, then Facebook could meet your needs.

3. Instagram. Owned by Facebook, Instagram offers users the ability to post images with captions. Here, you can post graphics, photos, videos or images that represent who you are and what you're passionate about. If your personal brand strategy is more aligned with a visual message, Instagram could be great for you.

4. YouTube . More and more, the power of video is evident. Users online enjoy quick videos that highlight someone's skills, passions, expertise or knowledge in an area of interest. If building your personal brand includes showcasing your speaking abilities and message, consider setting up a channel on YouTube and cross promoting the videos on other platforms, including those mentioned here.

Building your personal brand takes strategy and focus. Using the right platform to meet your goals helps your message be found and interacted with by the right audience.

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