9 tips for personal branding via social media

LinkedIn India’s Top Voices 2020 list was announced yesterday (here’s the post by Abhigyan Chand) and I’m glad to find a spot in the list.

But, instead of simply sharing it as a badge of honor, allow me to make it contextually useful to you too, taking my own advice (see point no.2 in the list below).

So, here are 9 things that have come in very handy to me in my journey as someone who shares a lot of things online. I have been doing this for 2+ decades (since 1999!) on various topics and subjects, and have eventually figured out useful ways to do it better.

1. Define the objective for your sharing content online.

You spend the most valuable resource available to you when you spend time online, reading or sharing – your time. If you do not have a purpose behind all that time spent online, you are essentially throwing your time away. By defining why you read and share online, you would be able to gain tangibly from that effort.

More on this aspect of personal branding, in terms of defining your brand, in my book, Be Social – Building Brand YOU Online.

2. Be useful.

Whatever you share, at least one person should find it useful. What ‘useful’ is differs from person to person. But, broadly, your content should evoke some reaction in the reader(s) where they do not think, “What was the point of that?!”. Find that point yourself first and work towards getting that in the content you share.

While on it, I’m fully aware that someone may still say, ‘What was the point of this?’ to something I write. The trouble is only when a majority of your readers feel that way, though 🙂

3. More perspectives, less opinions.

An opinion is what you feel. A perspective is why you feel what you feel. While it is perfectly alright to share your opinions, that doesn’t help your readers understand how you think – they get to know only what you think.

Here’s more on this: Using perspectives to nurture your personal brand

4. Build a habit for people to read you by building a habit to share.

The reason why most people read the morning newspaper is because it arrives predictably day after day in the morning. The newspaper is less of a content format and more of a habit. 9’o clock prime time news on TV used to be a habit at one point. Catching up with the latest episode of a TV series on an OTT platform (the ones that don’t drop in one go, that is) is a habit. Similarly, if you show up with useful content predictably online, people would form a habit to read what you write. For you to create that habit in your readers, you need to inculcate the habit of showing up consistently first.

More on habits!

5. Read 10X more than you share.

“The more you know, the more you can know”. That’s a quote by Scott ‘Dilbert’ Adams, from his immensely useful book, ‘How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life’. Unless you read/consume a lot, you won’t be able to form perspectives yourself (before you can share them with others). The more you read, the more you acquire the power to form connections between what you read. That connection is what Steve Jobs called ‘creativity’!

More on this, in terms of forming content pipelines to purposefully consume relevant content, in my book, Be Social – Building Brand YOU Online.

6. Make notes as you read.

When you read a lot, to form your base of knowledge on any topic, our minds won’t be able to remember all the small details, though we do recall the gist. The smaller details are like the underlines and highlights you make while reading a book – it helps that you make searchable notes on them as you read. I find it tremendously useful to go back to and form fuller perspectives on them later/eventually.

More on this: Where do you write?

7. Question yourself before any share, however insignificant.

Among the things I share online, very little of it is impulsive. That too, those very, very limited impulsive content is relegated to Twitter, Facebook and/or Instagram. I’m almost never impulsive on LinkedIn. So, before I share anything—even a simple tweet—I try and question that piece of content in multiple ways. What would my worst enemy say about that? What would a super cynical person say about that? Is there something in it that I won’t say to someone in person? And so on. While this cross-questioning does not change the crux of what I share, it helps me in refining my articulation, the words I choose, how I choose to frame it and so on.

8. Observe platform-centric nuances and adapt.

Every social media platform has its own nuances that can be exploited to make the best use of them. For instance, Twitter is a very busy timeline, so you can post on it several times a day, and also repeat your posts from time to time on the same day to be visible to different sets of people who login at those points of the day. In comparison, LinkedIn is a very slow timeline – content repetition would be magnified and may seem completely vain. So every single post on LinkedIn needs to be thought-through and complete.

I took to Instagram very late in my journey. I’m not a visual-first or video-first person by nature – I loved words and writing, and that’s my strength. So I joined Instagram rather late, but even there I made it useful in my own way. Even as I post pictures there, they invariably lead to a longer, more structured thought with a short URL that is easier to recall or type because I customize the bitly URL for that purpose.

9. Exploit the opportunity in comments and replies.

This is something I learned from my days of managing my music blog, Milliblog. When I write music reviews of popular composers like A.R.Rahman or Amit Trivedi, the hardcore fans invariably land up in the comments and try to find fault, particularly if my review is not charitable. Over the years, I figured that the only response I have for them is to show that opinions on music are highly personal and there’s little point to allege pre-existing bias or intentionally pulling down some album as if I have some personal grudge against a composer. To make that point, I start with the premise that every person who comments can listen to calm, reasoned logic and is sane enough to understand if I explain to them by respecting them. Most of the time, this works.

I use the same logic on LinkedIn comments too. I’m fully open to the possibility that my perspective could be wrong, or not thought-through and many comments on LinkedIn help me look at the same thing in newer ways. But largely, I start by assuming that the person who commented means well and we both could gain from each other.

10. A bonus!

This is not something you can do, but something you’d need to feel. So this enters life gyaan territory and I rarely offer gyaan. Over time, I have cultivated the habit of feeling joyful/enjoying the process of reading, gathering information and articulating it well more than the act of sharing or looking for engagement on social platforms. That enjoyment keeps me going every single day! I go over new campaigns (PR, advertising, social media etc.) about 2-3 times a week from my select sources, just like I listen to new music of the week from my sources 1-2 times a week for my weekly new music, multilingual playlist on my other blog, Milliblog. That process of reading, listening and understanding is a terrific source of enjoyment and inspiration. But merely consuming those and enjoying is one part – the other significant part is trying to understand what and how I feel about some of those campaigns and music and articulate my thoughts, first to myself and then to an audience (however small it is). The second part brings clarity to my own thinking – that’s the best part!


Almost all of these points are explored in much greater detail in my book, Be Social – Building Brand YOU Online.

Cover image courtesy: The Seattle Times.

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