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?



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