I’m no spring chicken. There, I’ve said it.
And if you’re anything like me – someone slightly older who’s attempting to bridge the digital divide between your ‘public library’ childhood and the rapidly morphing information age, you understand the challenges of adapting.
Those ideas were certainly underscored last week when I read an article about how young people (18 through 29 in this particular study) use their smartphones differently than people in previous generations. The findings were varied, and sometimes shocking – for instance nearly 40% think it’s perfectly acceptable to check Facebook while dining with a friend.
I found myself wondering, if there are generational differences in how we use smartphones, what about social media? With the help of friend Dustin O’Neal of Strohl & Co Public Relations – who graciously connected me to a group of 5 people under 25 who are active on SM platforms – I got some thought-provoking insight.
In the interest of sharing the unedited answers each member of the group offered, I decided to make this a 2 part post. Here is today’s singular query;
Considering Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn, how would you rate the effectiveness of each social media platform as a tool for advancing your personal brand?
Here are the survey participant’s answers, including links to each of their individual social media platforms.
Dustin O’Neal, Publicist at Strohl & Co. PR.
A personal brand is a funny concept, because if it isn’t 100% authentic it will never read the way you want it to. For me, my brand is my day-to-day life. It’s what I wear, what I read and listen to, but it’s also who I spend my time with. Facebook is a slow-burn, in the sense that your ‘personal brand’ evolves as time passes, and rarely does it happen abruptly. This is especially true for users like me, who’ve had a profile since high school. Among Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, Facebook has only recently become my favorite social platform, and I’m certain that labels me as outdated, but it’s holistic and allows me to express all of these areas of my brand in a way that is difficult to fake.
I was an early adopter of Twitter, but it’s wearing on me as of late. A poorly-curated Twitter feed can feel like the spam folder in your Gmail – a non-stop series of ‘Try this!’ and ‘Amazing offer!’ blurbs mixed among self-congratulation and half-hearted thank-you’s – and culling your following list is an arduous process. Many users get it right, however, when they understand that Twitter should be about telling a story. You have to respect your audience and, ultimately, entertain them. Facebook is what I call ‘The Face’ – Twitter, the mouth with which you talk about the elements of your daily story.
Pinterest is an amazing application, but it’s very personal, especially for a creative. I am not sure I consider Pinterest social media, because it’s ‘solo media’ that others may choose to engage with. There’s no prompt or push, only genuine interest. For my clients, I recommend they follow a few rules, and the most important is that they illustrate the elements of their profiles in ways that tell clear stories so users can know right away if the content is worth exploring. Following my human body metaphor, Pinterest is what I call “The Eyes” of a personal brand.
LinkedIn is intuitively designed, which I appreciate, but it’s strictly professional for me. I have expanded its usage among my clients, but for me, at this time in my life, I just want a LinkedIn profile that is simple, clean and easy to find.
Alyssa Bothe, Social Media Consultant.
The social media platforms that advance my personal brand are Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, in that order. I often blog on Tumblr and those are the most effective platforms for me to share my blog entries on. I’m a freelance Social Media Manager, so when I want to display what I have done for the companies I work for, I can direct people to their social media platforms.
While I think LinkedIn is good, I find that I don’t personally use it often and it hasn’t had any positive effect on advancing my personal brand. If I someday start my own social media consulting company, then I think I’d be more likely to use LinkedIn to promote it, and network with people who could benefit from my services.
Kyle Marshall, Editor and Director of HYLAND Magazine.
Our generation embraces the fraternal hug over the stern handshake and formal cheek kiss. Some, on reflection, consider it the ‘authentic’ gesture, perhaps demonstrating more ‘realness’ as it were. I think our generation expects the same sort of realness in social media. Of course, realness doesn’t mean honesty, it just means you fully realize your vision for your personal brand.
I use several social media platforms to varying degrees of public transparency. Facebook is the establishment platform, to which people belong almost by default (I’ve been a member since 2004, which is pretty senior in the tech world). This makes it the easiest platform for reaching the broadest number of contacts. It’s combination of images and text make conveying a narrative easy, although the basic question is the degree to which one separates life from work. Are you a Warhol or not? I’m somewhere in between, an entrepreneur thinking about current and future projects, so I try to provide some transparency for those that come across my name – greater transparency for a few close friends.
Pinterest with it’s privacy settings is a great collaborative mood board platform, it’s the missing element of Google Documents collaborative features. Regarding its public use, I think it’s amazing that we may binge on beauty, whether old summers in Maine or dirt bikes or food glamour shots, but I find that I don’t (leaving aside legalese) attribute authorship (and therefore personal brandship) to the board’s owner, unless its obvious that the owner of the public board actually created the images linked to, in which case I may pay more attention to the board’s owner.
LinkedIn is the professional’s Facebook, ideal for those who aren’t Warholian and fully expect a separation between their work and private lives. Some of the best LinkedIn users seem to have extensive, publicly accessible LinkedIn profiles, and very private Facebook profiles. I use LinkedIn but not extensively, more of a professional teaser profile. However, LinkedIn’s recent Visual Profile offering makes me think that I, as an entrepreneur working in predominantly visual narratives, should revisit my profile.
Finally there’s Twitter, which I am not active on.
Lillian O’Connor, Art Director at The Concept Farm
As an art director, Pinterest is the most useful tool by far. It’s great for harnessing and organizing inspiration. It is also a professional platform that allows me to quickly control and curate the aesthetic experience for a client.
I don’t use Twitter, but I’ll rank it’s validity and networking ability above the remaining. If you are active on Twitter it does a seamless job of connecting you with people of similar interests in really authentic ways.
Basically LinkedIn is one of my research tools for job interviews. It has a specific purpose at a very particular time. I really question its validity in anything else it’s trying to accomplish.
When I joined Facebook I was thinking less about “my brand”, or me as a professional, and more about using this new social media platform as an 18 year-old college student. It is an archive of my life at this point and way too personal for me to share with coworkers, clients, and connections. The only self-promotions are my Mother’s posts on my wall.
Social Media is less obvious advertising. It’s designed to promote yourself and/or a company – thus gaining exposure and popularity in a much less “salesy” way. Businesses that utilize all social media in the right way reap huge rewards. It’s all about being passionate about what you do, and conveying that to your followers. This leads to your followers/customers feeling a personal connection to you and your brand. With that connection comes comfort, and with comfort comes a genuine interest in a product or service that you’re providing. For me, Facebook is all encompassing. There are more limitations with the other platforms that tailor to specific needs. As Pinterest is for images, Twitter for quick thoughts or ideas, and LinkedIn for networking.
Lot’s of interesting information. I suggest spending a few minutes following the links to each of the profiles to see how this group approaches social media. I came away with some valuable insight.
Tomorrow morning I’ll share the answers to 2 more provocative questions: Which Social Media platforms are ‘in’, and which ones are ‘out’? And are there new up-and-coming platforms that you consider to be important?
Written by CJ Dellatore