How to Build Your Personal Brand on Facebook

It’s hard to ignore Facebook’s power as a personal branding tool — and not just because Facebook is the largest of the popular social networking platforms. What’s more important is that Facebook is well designed to share the kinds of information — words, photos, videos, website links, and more — that help tell your story in ways that simultaneously inform and entertain.

This ability allows you to navigate the gentle balance of being social while also sharing enough of your personal brand to offer a satisfying taste of what others experience when they meet you in person.

Now more than ever, people do business with people they know, like, and trust. That means your target audience may very likely include the people who know you best, the same people you’ll likely connect with on Facebook. If you want them to be your advocates, you need to clue them in, if only subtly.

Your reputation forms on Facebook in ways similar to how it forms in any community, online or otherwise. It’s based on what others know about you — firsthand and inferred. Your reputation includes

  • Ways you behave generally

  • People you associate with

  • Information you share

  • Information others share

Looking at this list, you can see that you can’t completely control your reputation on Facebook. Be careful who you hang out with.

Whether you plan to use Facebook for business or not, it’s a good idea to take some defensive measures to protect your personal brand. One of the best steps is to take advantage of what Facebook calls notifications: notices sent to your personal e-mail inbox or via text message based on actions by others on Facebook.

Consider your big-picture strategy

Your Facebook profile has lots of content areas to share optional personal information, a nod to Facebook’s legacy as a college social networking site. Before deciding what to share, ask yourself basic networking questions:

  • What do I need to share to showcase my personal brand?

  • What other information am I willing to share?

  • What should I keep private — or not share at all?

Your answers determine what really belongs in your profile and suggest a general framework for your Facebook behavior, including ongoing content sharing and privacy-setting strategies.

Optimize what everyone can see

Everyone, including the online public, can see four things about your Facebook account:

  • The name at the top of your Facebook profile

  • Your Facebook custom username/account URL

  • Your current profile picture

  • Your Facebook Timeline cover photo

Making this information public is Facebook’s way of making it easier for people to find you on Facebook. Consider customizing all four to your advantage:

  • Recognizable name: Facebook makes you use your real name to set up your account but gives you flexibility when it comes to the name that shows at the top of your profile. Use a nickname if it helps you be more recognizable and better matches your brand.

  • Unique username: With so many people on Facebook, getting your first choice may be difficult. Be creative in thinking of alternatives, but remember that you may want to add this URL to your business card and e-mail signature. The username has to make sense for your personal brand.

  • Public profile photo: This photo falls outside of any privacy settings, meaning anyone can view it. Therefore, choose one that is both friendly and professional.

  • Facebook Timeline cover photo: Facebook users are encouraged to upload a cover photo that serves as an 851-x-315-dpi header of their Timeline. Consider uploading an image that helps showcase your personal brand. Just remember, it’s public.

Decide on your privacy settings

How widely you share other information you add to Facebook — profile elements, updates, comments, photos, and more — is up to you. Your first level of control is in deciding whether you post that information on Facebook in the first place!

You can also use privacy settings to manage which content posted by others can link (tag) directly back to your Facebook profile. Just know this: Preventing tagging doesn’t stop someone from posting that content. The content is still on Facebook where it was originally posted. It’s just harder for your network to connect that it relates to you.

Populate your Facebook profile

With your brand-awareness strategy in mind, purposefully complete your Facebook profile to include information such as the following:

  • Your work experience

  • Your educational experience

  • Links to your LinkedIn profile, website, blog, Twitter account, YouTube channel, and other sites

You may consider leaving blank (or limiting views to) personal information, such as relationship status, religion, and political affiliation. Of course, there are exceptions to this guideline. For example, a political candidate would likely want to include information about his political views on the profile.

If you have your own Facebook page for your business, link it to your work experience entry so that your personal network can easily join you there as well.

The About Me section is your opportunity to tell your personal brand story in a more direct manner. Let your readers know what you do, as well as why you do what you do — your passion for the business. As with all things online, use keywords that resonate with your readers.

Share your personal brand story one post at a time

After you’ve set up your Facebook profile to showcase your personal brand and added Facebook connections, you can work toward building better relationships with those connections. You do so by posting content consistent with your personal brand and participating in related conversations started by others, either on other personal Facebook profiles, in Facebook Groups, or on Facebook Pages.

People notice not only what you post but how you post it. Be sure to proofread everything you write before posting. Don’t write important posts when you’re tired, upset, or overly emotional (whether happy or otherwise).

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