Building a Personal Brand: Lessons I Learned in Social Media

and style

By: Keith Cook

Throughout the past semester, I have been taking a course that covers most things related to Social Media Marketing. It was designed to be a continuation course following the e-Marketing course that I took in the fall. Thinking it would be more along the lines of that course, I chose to take this class as well.

I will tell you from first hand experience, social media isn’t an easy field to work in. You may think it is if you spend a lot of time browsing Facebook, Twitter, etc but there is a lot of work that goes into it.

It can be fun! Don’t get me wrong. But if you try to get into it, be prepared to work and work hard.

This post is obviously going to take a break from the sports world. Instead, I’m going to share what I feel are the most important lessons I have learned in social media and personal branding.


  1. Always Have a Plan

This would seem easy enough, but sometimes this can be the most difficult task. The very first assignment for us to complete for my Social Media course was to come up with a career focus that we would spend the remainder of the semester sharing content on and networking with those in that field.

One would think that at this age, most people have figured out what they want to do as far as a career goes, but the reality is that a lot of people don’t have a clue.

There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with that, so long as you have some general idea as to what you would like to do.

I mentioned this briefly in a previous blog post, but taking these courses helped me out in a major way by helping me find a field that I would really enjoy learning more about.

My bit of advice would be to sit down and think about things you enjoy doing, and then crafting your personal brand and a social media plan to complement it. A quick “run down” of a personal brand can be found here courtesy of Neil Patel and Aaron Agius on QuickSprout (you can follow them on Twitter as well: @neilpatel and @IAmAaronAgius)


  1. There’s Tools at Your Disposal, So Use Them!

Technology is incredible isn’t it? You can link profiles on pretty much any electronic device that you own. It allows that instant connection with anything from social media profiles, to books/magazines, movies, and much more.

For something that seems as though it would be common sense in today’s world, this is a lesson I ended up learning the hard way.

There is an app for just about everything, and since social media is not only constantly changing, but constantly moving as well these apps can help those in the social media world keep up with the pace.

In terms of the academic side of things, using this tools would have made it easier to find and share more content. It’s a little unfortunate that I started downloading this apps so late into the class, but I will continue to find more to use in the future to further assist with the creation of my personal brand.

Apps and other organizational tools lead me into the next lesson that I learned over these last few months.


  1. Organization Will Save Time

It is so much easier to find things when they are right where they are supposed to be (Typing that caused me to have a flashback to when I was a kid being told by my mom to clean my room)

That principle goes hand in hand with social media and personal branding.

A big part of this course was focused around the idea of building a personal learning network or PLN (Credit to Dr. Mark Wagner)  to collect the content that we would be sharing across the various social media platforms required by the class.

PLNs can consist of anything from organized folders on Feedly, boards on Pinterest, playlists on YouTube, and any site where you can gather content all in one area to use for later.

Creating a PLN is a fantastic way to stay up to date on trends in your career field, social media, and your hobbies.

The valuable lesson I learned with a PLN is that you should put all of your work into building one upfront. The more work you do towards the beginning, the easier it becomes to build off of that base and expand your knowledge into more concentrated areas.

When it comes time to start sharing content, having a strong base will save time and effort as opposed to looking for things to share from a Google search.


  1. Remember Your Manners

Reading that title may seem a little funny at first, but in terms of social media and personal branding its actually very important.

Most people associate trolling with YouTube comments and things of that nature. In addition to that, it seems that there is always some social media horror story about someone choosing to say something at the exact wrong time.

There’s a simple way to avoid these issues, and that is to simply go back to those childhood lessons of always minding your manners.

Being able to connect with people in such an instant fashion is an incredible thing.

But what do tons of followers mean if you don’t share any sort of real connection with them?

This was another important facet of my social media class. Whenever possible, you should always find some way to connect with those who follow you and those that you follow.

Something as simple as thanking someone for sharing your content can end up going a really long way. It doesn’t have to stop at sharing though.

Social Annotation can allow for a strong sense of connection between users. It is a great way to start a conversation, collaborate,  and learn a lot about those in your field.

But remember, always be respectful!


  1. You Never Stop Learning

This lesson applies to not only social media/personal branding, but life in general.

As I reach the end of my undergraduate career, I am realizing just how true this lesson is. There is never really a point in life where you’re not learning something new.

With social media, there is constantly new updates and tactics. Even as I sit here and type this (and as you read it) the world of social media is looking for ways to keep up with trends.

The same goes for building your personal brand.

It’s not just something you do one time and just forget about. You will learn new things, gain new experiences, and you will have to improve upon your brand as time goes on.

I am a firm believer that there is always a way you can improve yourself and the best way to reflect these improvements is to show the work that you have put into your personal brand.


The Takeaway

Social media is an exciting place, but if you can’t keep up with the learning curve there’s a good chance that you will be left behind.

There were times throughout my social media class where I did fall behind, and it showed.

However, there’s almost always a chance to do better the next time.

I am coming close to graduation and will soon be entering the working world. It’s scary out there. Even scarier considering all of the competition.

But I welcome the challenge. I will do my best to improve upon my personal brand and keep up with new trends in the social media world.


What important lessons have you learned through social media?



My Favorite Sports Blogs

My Favorite Sports Blogs

My Favorite Sports Blogs

By: Keith Cook

As we get older, it is extremely important that we are constantly learning about the world around us.

This is especially true for people around my age. You know, the 18-20 somethings. The ones who think that they have it all figured out. I believe most of us have gotten to that point whether we would like to admit it or not.

My peers and I are now at the point of entering the professional world. And with the technology at our disposal on a consistent basis, there really is no excuse not to be reading up on different topics and learning things we can carry with us into the working world.

This is something that I have come to realize myself as I read more and more into sports marketing materials. There is always something new that you can learn.

I’m going to share some of my favorite sports blogs in this post.

  1. Sports Networker Blog

Sports Networker is pretty much a “one-stop” shop for all of your sports marketing needs. They get regular posts from a diverse set of writers on topics that range from finding your careers in various sports business fields such as sports medicine to the social media aspect of sports marketing.

I think that is what I enjoy most about this blog. They have a blog post that can relate to anything that you have ever wanted to know about sports marketing. For anyone who is considering entering the field of sports marketing, I highly recommend visiting the Sports Networker Blog to get a feel for all that goes on within the field.

  1. The Business of Sports

The Business of Sports has more of a direct focus than the previous blog I listed. Where Sports Networker is more of a wide view of sports marketing, The Business of Sports is focused more on news developments that happen within the field. I enjoy being able to get more of a focused look at the direction that the field is moving while also getting opinions of those who are in the field.

Another part of this site that I really enjoy is looking through the job section to get an idea for positions I may want to research more as well as getting updates about conventions and other events for sports marketing field.

The blog can be found here to take a look at your own leisure.

  1. SLAM Online Blog

This next blog is a little bit of a break in the trend from the business side of sports. I think it is important to mix a little bit of your hobbies with your career focus.

I remember in middle school, it was about time for the magazine subscription fundraiser (some of you or your children may have had to do this back in the day)

Around this time, I had just gotten into watching basketball and really following all of the developments in the league. That was when SLAM magazine caught my eye. I begged my mom to buy a subscription for me, and after a few years (and a huge stack of magazines) later, I have been hooked to one of the most popular basketball magazines.

Over time, the stack got unbearable so I switched my subscription over to mobile devices (my Kindle fire) and browsed their articles on the internet. It was then that I made the discovery of the blog that was attached to the magazine.

It has provided many up and coming journalists the opportunity to gain some experience in their field while adding on to the vast body of content that SLAM produces on a regular basis.

You can follow the SLAM Blog here and take a look at the main SLAM magazine or their “Kicks edition that focuses primarily on shoes.


Learning isn’t something that stops once you leave the classroom.

With the internet and mobile devices constantly changing around us, there are plenty of ways to gain new information that can help us down the road.

With that, comes the ability to search for and organize information that is helpful with our careers and can expand our knowledge of topics we enjoy/hobbies.

I have shared a few of my favorite blogs with you. What are some of your favorite blogs?

Why I Chose to Pursue a Career in Sports Marketing

During the fall semester of my fifth year (current year) in school, I took an e-Marketing course. A requirement for this course was that we pick a career focus, and spend a large portion of the semester using Twitter to assist with a potential job search.

Being that I was 22 years old at the time and coming close to the end of my college career, one would assume that I had spent a lot of time thinking about what I would be doing after graduation. However, like most of my peers, dealing with classes and assignments, I had not gotten to the point of giving my future career a lot of that.

It’s a fairly stressful time in a student’s career, to suddenly realize that you will be out in the “real world” having to make your own way without relying on trying to schedule classes around your friend’s schedules, nights out, and all the other things you can indulge in while in college.

The Moment of Truth

As I sat in class trying to figure out what my career focus was going to be, I landed on one of the focuses that my professor suggested during lecture. From childhood, I have always been a fan of sports. The field of sports marketing was one that I was not extremely familiar with, but for the sake of getting the assignment done for the semester, I decided to look more into it.

The weeks began to pass by, and I was searching through Twitter to find influencers in the field and doing my best to connect with them. I did not fully realize it at the time, but this class was helping me to get a head start over my peers looking to get their degrees in other fields.

-A boy does what he wants to do. A man

Time went on, and the assignment went from feeling like “busy work” to an actual job search (its intended purpose). I became more excited to log on, share articles that I had found, and work on connecting with other like-minded individuals in the field as well as potentially hearing from those who I saw to be Sports Marketing influencers.

I was able to focus on a field that involved one of my personal interests while combining it with the field I was studying to get my degree in. What had started out as something I was doing to get a satisfactory grade in my e-Marketing course grew to be a field that I am strongly considering entering upon my graduation from college.

The Take Away

My experience in my e-Marketing course helped me to feel as though I was prepared for my future job search.

Not everyone in college has everything perfectly mapped out for life after graduation, but with the correct use of campus resources and lessons learned in class, it is not difficult to get started on the right track.

What is your experience with finding a career focus? What tips or helpful suggestions do you have to offer?