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Choose Your Social Media Platforms

Promoting and integrating your brand using social media is no longer optional. Platform preferences may differ from person to person, but most business people use sites like LinkedIn and Twitter to learn about their colleagues, associates, and potential new hires, whether their scrutiny is covert or obvious. I find that most young people today are agile and comfortable with all kinds of social media in their personal lives, but surprisingly few know how to use it to promote their professional brand. Some can even do damage because they confuse their professional contacts with friends and family by taking an approach that’s too casual. Social media is today’s venue for promoting your brand, exercising your skills, displaying your work, and revealing your personal interests. Just as you use it to build and maintain personal relationships, you can establish strong, lasting connections with other design professionals, colleagues, peers, and vendors. Pay attention to the trends, because what’s hot, and what’s not, is always changing.

Social media marketing touches every element of your brand from your conventional website and blog to the mobile web. Others can promote your brand for you by sharing, recommending, and re-tweeting something you’ve done or said. An art director who includes you as a connection on a social media site can catapult you instantly into the limelight. Robert Busch School of Design star Max Friedman is a good example. When he won the 2015 ADC All-Star award, numerous design leaders posted his information on dozens of social media channels. By the end of the day after the ceremony, Max had received a handful of email invitations (through the link on his website) to interview at top advertising firms in New York City. Social media is a powerful tool—in an instant, everyone can know your business.

As you think about your brand strategy, you should be considering which social media options will help you promote yourself the most effectively. Hina Paracha, a social media manager assisting start-ups with their social media marketing in the UK, talks about “The 5Cs of a Killer Social Media Strategy” (wersm.com/the-5-cs-of-a-killer-social-media-strategy/). In her blog post, Hina highlights five key ingredients that constitute a successful social media marketing strategy.

“The 5Cs of a Killer Social Media STRATEGY

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  • Content is king. Whatever you post on your social media pages reflects your brand. Keg-stand photos of you and your friends and pictures of cute animals may resonate with your buddies, but if you want to resonate with a professional audience, you should post content that will interest them and keep them coming back for more.
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  • Consistency. Just as a cohesive brand builds trust with your audience, so will a uniform approach across all of your designated social media channels. Stay on top of changing trends, and keep experimenting: a post that’s exciting today may not be relevant tomorrow.
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  • Conversation. Engage your fans and followers in meaningful conversations. Talking about what matters to your audience is the heart and soul of your social media strategy. When potential employers see that you care about what they care about, you establish an emotional bond that will predispose them to look favorably upon your brand.
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  • Customer service. You may think you don’t have to worry about customer service before you’re employed as a designer, but your assumption would be incorrect. Long before you are working for someone, you are demonstrating the quality of service you can provide, and your actions speak volumes about you. Answer your emails, respond to tweets, and reply to LinkedIn requests promptly to send the message that you will be responsive to your employer and their clients when you’re hired.
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  • Crisis management. How should you respond to someone who doesn’t like one of your projects or posts negative comments on your blog? Before it actually happens, you should have a plan to mitigate potential damage. I’ve seen hotel managers promptly respond to customer complaints on TripAdvisor; when I see the manager’s polite comeback, I can’t help but wonder if there was truly a problem with the establishment or if that guest just wanted to play troll.
  • Social media has changed my life; without Instagram, Dribbble, Twitter, and the Interner as a whole, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Being able to take a photo of my work and share it with thousands of people is just nuts, It’s even crazier that creative directors and art directors can see my work and potentially hire me. My experience with social media has been amazing and I owe my entire career to the wonderful people that follow and share my work.
  • –Scott Biersack

My colleague, Distinguished Professor Robin Landa, has authored 21 books about design, branding, advertising, creativity, drawing, and art. I asked her to share some pointers, and she generously provided these practical and educated insights about promoting your brand through social media:

Be authentic. Your voice (tone, word choices, and sentence/phrase structures) should be in sync with your personal brand, the copy on your website, and your bio and resume.

Be positive, not negative. When you’re building a personal brand, social media channels are not complaint forums but places for you to shine.

Be informed. Find the right audience. Use Twitter to follow recruiters, agencies, design studios, and corporate CCOs (chief communications officers) and CMOs (chief marketing officers). Connect with them on LinkedIn, too. Check out your competition—see what they’re doing and whom they’re following.

Promote a little/inform a lot. Share information that your audience will want to spend time with. Contribute to society, entertain, inform, and educate. If you talk only about yourself, people will tune out. If you inform, educate, and write interesting posts or post shareworthy imagery, people will pay attention. Remember, you are competing for attention with everything that’s online. Ask people to share your posts.

Showcase your passions outside of design or advertising. Whether you are passionate about music or in the midst of a personal project, share information and images (without violating any copyrights). Make sure to give proper credits when sharing others’ works, words, and posts.

Follow influencers—re-Tweet and re-post! If it’s interesting or enlightening to you, others will probably appreciate the share.

  • Your designs fly to new heights when they are influenced by your life passions. The best forms of inspiration often come from outside the field of design.
  • – John Weigrle
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