VICTORIA, Texas — Social media is a marvelous, game-changing tool to enhance career brand management by individuals. It can also be a powerful weapon to shoot yourself in the foot, even for experienced  career brand managers like me.

Social mediaTo be successful navigating your brand using the two major social media platforms — LinkedIn and Facebook —here are four concepts to consider:

  1. First you need a plan.  Managing your brand is not that much different from running a business.  Those with a good, well-thought out plan and who execute effectively typically succeed.  In this context, your plan is aptly named Personal Career Vision Statement (PCVS).  Professionally speaking, your PCVS should capture what you want to accomplish in your life, what work you want to do and where you want to end up both in the organizational hierarchy and geographically.  This PCVS should serve as the foundation for your social media career branding strategy and should drive how you shape your image.
  2. Connect with people in your profession,  specifically in your field of expertise.  These include established thought leaders who you respect, colleagues at other health systems, and people who work for organizations you admire.  Ignore those who are trying to sell you something that is unrelated or irrelevant to enhancing your brand — life insurance sales representatives or financial planners for example, since those connections are typically not related to your actual career and are usually made based on a personal, face-to-face relationship.
  3. Adding content to LinkedIn or a business oriented Facebook business page is important because it is the primary way you build value in your relationships with professional contacts in your profession.  Your posts should always be consistent in terms of  frequency and content, and disciplined with regard to the quality and focus of your content.  Content is key to building value in your network of contacts and in establishing yourself in a way that connects with your PCVS.

Examples of personal and business Facebook pages:

Here is my personal Facebook page versus the business page for JohnGSelf + Partners

4.  LinkedIn is not like a personal Facebook page so avoid these surprisingly frequent and common mistakes:

  • Posting personal photos of family, friends or pets
  • Using a great snapshot of your dog for your profile photo, a selfie behind the wheel of your car, or a beautiful sunset.  The beautiful sunset photo in Maui may be acceptable if you are a professional photographer or if you are an executive contemplating an immediate retirement
  • Posting anything political or overly religious.  People obviously will not always agree on these issues, especially in a hot political season when these two touchy subjects are intertwined.  In fact, you might want to be circumspect about posting extreme political information on your personal Facebook page since that is easily made viral with your name attached.  Just this week I posted something I thought was completely innocent, a video story from the CBS Evening News, only to find myself in “an interesting but nasty exchange with someone who very much disagreed with the story content.  The level of vitriol from a person I did not know, and who I did not really want to know, escalated so fast.  I felt myself being dragged into a political debate which is a no-no.  So, I quickly deleted the post and related comments.  Lesson learned:  even a story that you think is interesting and uplifting about our diversity can create all manner of unwanted silliness.