Schooled in Social Media 2015: Millennials Share for Personal Branding

Even students born into a daily use of their personal Facebook discovered that social media marketing for personal branding and job search requires time management, consistency, a good PLN, and a career focused strategy.

It is that time again. Schooled in Social Media 2015

Skiing at Arapahoe Basin has turned slushy.

The Colorado Rockies have returned to Coors Field.

And, my Social Media Marketing course is at semester’s end.

The Social Media Project.

In my Spring 2015 Social Media Marketing course at the University of Northern Colorado, 34 students completed their semester project to define, develop, and amplify their personal brand on the social web.

They used LinkedIn, Twitter, WordPress, Google+, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, and the supporting tools of HootSuite (with certification), Feedly, AllTop, Canva, and Klout for a real-time, real-world self-marketing experience.

The Social Media Lessons.

As a final question in their end-of-semester project report, my students were asked:

“What are the top five most important lessons learned about social media marketing for personal branding with completion of your project this semester?”

Here are some of their responses:

1. Time management is the best tool.

There are so many different platforms that you are trying to run and maintain at once, so it is important to use your time properly and efficiently. The tools that were the most helpful for me were planners, calendars, and HootSuite. These things allowed me to schedule my week in advance and give myself time to Tweet, engage, and to write/post to my blog. ~ Lindsey Jacobs, @LindseyMJacobs

2. A good PLN is priceless.

A personal learning network (PLN) is a collection of blog feeds and sources organized in such a way that I will have a clear and constant stream of content to share that is up-to-date, high quality, and professional. I have learned priceless techniques for my career interests that I will utilize for years to come. Now I can’t wait to log on to Feedly or my Twitter Lists and continue to learn about my favorite career topics and then share with my connections. ~ Jimmy Churchill, @JLChurchill01

3. Consistency is important for steady social growth.

It is really easy to fall victim to laziness and inactivity on social media. Maintaining a consistent level of activity is very important to the health of your personal brand identity. Sarah Lilly, @Sarah_a_Lilly30

4. Share what you love for authenticity.

It is essential to know about and be passionate about the things you are sharing online. People can tell when you are authentically interested in a topic, and I found they are much more likely to respond to someone who cares. Social media takes a lot of work, and if you are sharing content on a topic you don’t really care about, it will seem like a lot more work than it really should. ~ Jamie Derrieux, @JamieDerrieux

5. You are what you share.

Even after getting past the hurdle of creating profiles, the work does not end there. You must post content regularly that is finely tuned to your career field/focus. This lets your connections know that you are truly passionate about what you say you are. This strengthens your personal brand identity and creates potential engagement. What you present in your taglines and profiles should be the flavor of content that you post, with other special interests sprinkled in. ~ Spencer Althoff, @SpencerAlthoff

6. Don’t be a robot, add some personality.

It is beyond important to engage others by sharing content they will be interested in. Adding personality to my content was helpful and made my sharing less robotic and less generic. ~ Warren Wood, @TheWarrenWood

7. Engage to create a community.

Engagement is also an important component of building your social media audience. It is important to show that you are part of a larger community and have interest in interacting with others outside of what you have to share. ~ Shanna Farley, @ShannaCFarley

8. Personalized engagement makes it more social.

I went through half of the semester thinking that it was enough to post relevant content and retweet people every now and then. When I began to write personalized thanks and start conversations, it would kick start a chain of reactions that lead to a better social media experience. ~ Alex Kolanowski, @AlexKolanowski

9. Have fun with it.

Social media is called social media because it is supposed to be a fun and enjoyable way to socialize with those who share similar interests to you. The best engagements I have had on social media are when I am not strictly focused on getting results; rather I am genuinely excited and ready to talk to someone about a topic. ~ Jonte Major, @JonteMajor

10. Learn by doing.

Ninety percent of what I learned regarding account set up and social media functionality came from trial and error. You really can learn some things better by doing them. The hands-on experience is something that books can’t always help you with. ~ Michael Hopson, @HopsonMichael

11. Blogging is learning.

I learned that blogging is a fantastic way to develop yourself while also proving to others that you are passionate and knowledgeable on a subject. ~ Thomas Geier, @Thomas_Geier

12. Social media benefits the job search.

If you focus on your career, read about it, learn it, and share it, you are bound to connect with people in your career field and industry. Once you connect with these people, they will notice you more if you are sharing quality content. This could lead you to your next job opportunity. ~Michelle Prael, @MichellePrael1

The Take-Away.

Social media is in constant flux.

Everything changes.

However, one thing remains the same: strategy.

If students or newbies to social media can begin with a basic understanding of the “why” or the strategy to use social media, then the “how” or the tactics to use social media are much easier to adapt and practice.

What is your most important early lesson learned for using social media for personal branding?


Image credit: by Denny McCorkle

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Denny McCorkle @DennyMcCorkle

Professor of Marketing, Monfort College of Business at University of Northern Colorado
As a nationally recognized and award winning Marketing Professor in the Monfort College of Business at the University of Northern Colorado, I help students, professors, and professionals to gain a Digital Self Marketing Advantage through the use of social media marketing for personal branding, job search, skills development, career advancement, and life-long learning.