Everyone is on social media these days, right? But how do we go about this in terms of combining having a personal profile with one suitable for the fashion industry? From my point of view, it is a topic one should think of, no matter what kind of career you are building, but especially if you are in the fashion industry, as it’s very visual. So let`s talk about this thing called personal branding and social media!
I remember the moment when my boss in fashion started following me on Instagram. I freaked out. It took me some time to fully comprehend the fact that from now on, he would be able to know, what my personal life was like, where I went, and what I did. I used to post pictures of myself going out and having fun, as well as selfies (of course), me in the changing rooms and food. Actually, I still post a lot of that, but I am definitely much more attentive with what exactly, I show to the world online.
The same thing happened with Facebook. I know, there are many professions, where you do not use Facebook for professional reasons, but you still have people from work there, so you cannot ignore them either. When you work in fashion, and as I do in journalism, Facebook is huge for connecting, sharing and being in contact with people. You talk to most people there, as it is quicker and easier to send a message instead of an email. So what did this result in for me? I stopped using it as much, as I used to. I remember, I used to post things there regularly, but now I almost do not share anything personal and mostly repost my work, so that people can see, what I work on, and read it if they are interested. To sum up, I have shifted from having a strictly personal account to having one of branding/self-promotion, or with other words; a professional one. However, I do notice that most of my Facebook friends keep on having quite personal accounts there, and sometimes I am confused. Perhaps it depends on the industry?
On one hand, I believe that we should all act in the way, which is the most natural one for us, but on the other, I do think that we need some guidelines. Whenever I see the mixture of drunk half-naked people and work-related stuff, I am quite lost. I am not staying we should be ashamed of ourselves, and I am definitely not suggesting hypocrisy here, but there are definitely professional dos and don’ts as well as ethics. In this sense, fashion is an industry, where more things are ‘allowed’ or socially accepted, but still there are certain personal behaviours that don’t sit well with being a professional.
And yes, I am aware that LinkedIn exists, so, probably, I should let this whole Facebook/Instagram thing go, but the world IS different today, and neither Facebook, nor Instagram are just your personal spaces anymore. They are a part of your “brand”. Because, guess what, you are a brand now. You really are! From my personal point of view, the moment you start any kind of a career, especially one in fashion, your presence on social media is almost as important, as the way you talk to your boss. Whatever you do online may affect your career (both in good and bad way), so you must be thoughtful! Plus, it is a huge platform with a long list of extra opportunities and ways to boost your way up in the system (but this is not news).
So, where am I going with this? I would like to give a couple of short and simple pieces of advice:
- Choose your profile pictures In the fashion world everyone is artsy, so there are a lot of blurry profile pictures among my friends, and it is sometimes hard to distinguish the person, you are looking at. However, I do believe that it is better to have a picture of a good quality, where one could clearly see your face. Not in a boring way, you can be unique, and it must represent, who you are.
- Take care of the archives. Maybe I am a weirdo/control freak (maybe both), but when I started working, I deleted most of my pictures on Facebook (including tagged ones). Not that there were so many, but everything must be relevant, and aligned with who you are, and what you try to show. I am not 13 anymore, so why keep a picture of myself in a pink tank top hugging a teddybear? They could just be on my hard drive at home. Same thing goes for all your hair colour experiments etc. Believe me! As you grow up, become older and naturally change your profile, revising the archives is important.
- Do not be an “oversharer” I am glad that you have a child or even two, but this does not mean, I want my Facebook timeline transform into a baby blog. The same thing goes for other platforms; share when something is strong and extraordinary, be present and consistent in allocating time, but don’t over-do it. People check platforms for inspiration and/or entertainment from different people – not just you.
- Choose your platform You want to post pictures from the party you were at last night? Well, then it is perhaps best to do on Instagram, and make it a private profile. Or, let`s say, you have a strong opinion on the current political situation? Go to Twitter and, once again, consider making it private. Facebook do offer private settings for sharing especially photos, and certain material can tap into your profile on Facebook, but don’t forget that no matter how you use Facebook, in essence it’s a personal profile of you as an individual with hopefully a more varied taste than just parties or politics.
- If you do not have a distinctive idea of what you want to say out to this world, why bother others? Take your time! This goes for every social media out there. If you are not sure, whether you want to post this or that, better just don`t! This is a crucial point, and you must demand very high standards from yourself. As important as showing your unique profile, you must also show that you’re very professional about everything you do.
- Post regularly. Once you start having people following you, you want to keep having their interest. This means an effort in daily or weekly feeding them with what you’re up to.
- In what you upload, there seems to be two modes of how to go about it; mix&match or one-thing-only. If you keep on posting only work-related stuff, it gets quite boring, so it is better to have a smart mix of professional and personal, and making it more varied. Alternatively, you can go in the complete opposite direction, and only post one thing – cakes for instance. This way, it can also become a very strong profile with its very strict and narrow focus.
- Have a clear and distinct identity – this is crucial if you want people to take notice of you. Every little piece you add to the big puzzle must make sense and fit into the image, you try to give. Remember you are a brand now and should have a clear brand identity. Analyze how other people/brands go about it, and use this to decide your own strategy or, at least, getting a concrete idea of what you are, and how you want to be presented to the world.
- The last, but not the least: stay genuine and real! I know, I have been talking for quite a while now that you should think things through etc., but do not loose your own self, and do not forget being honest and true. Nothing is more precious and valued than sincerity and feeling that someone is real. It’s also something you can’t fake. People are inspired by strong individuals, who have the guts and power to be themselves.
To sum this up, I want to point out that the Internet is an essential part of our lives today, and it means that we have to be as thoughtful about our participation in the online world, as we are in our real lives. Don`t you agree? Let`s neither loose control, nor our minds while engaging with personal branding and social media!