Personal Branding Thoughts: First Impressions And Perception

Image Credit: Idealist Careers

What do you see in the image above? Someone breaking the norm? I see an individual displaying who they are. Being oneself. This is how you should treat your online presence, your personal brand.

First Impressions

How are you viewed online? Many people don’t take a step back and look at this. You’re so in your head, using your voice, images and words, all cast from your point of view that all you see is you. You know how you view you, because you are you. So how do others see you? To complicate things more, not everyone will judge you the same from their quick overview. Personal life experiences play a role into what story about you someone makes up when they view you. Not to mention that first impressions and perceptions of you are hard to change.

I’ll focus on online first impressions. When someone goes to your social profiles do they see you or a robot? An analogy I like to use is:

Do your social media accounts look like a staged house for sale or one that is actually lived in?

You gain a lot about someone online pretty quickly. It only takes a few minutes on someone’s Twitter profile to see their profession, passions, interests, posting habits and tone or lack of all of the above. You can quickly tell the difference between a bot account and a real account. You can also probably tell the difference between an account with a ghost writer and curated content vs the real individual taking the time to connect and build via social. If an account manager is good though, it might not be noticeable someone else is managing their profile on first pass. You can also see if the account is a real person but treated as a bot because it’s run with just automation; there’s no human element.

If someone doesn’t think your social account is genuine or interesting (and bots are rarely interesting) on first look they probably will write you off and move on. Making a good first impression takes effort.

The down side to social and having first impressions potentially every second is that you need to always be on. You don’t need to post every second of every day or even every day, but the posts you do make need to count. Your last post might be someone else's first impression of you.

Making A Good Social First Impression

A few tips to give people a good first impression of your social accounts include:

  • Be Authentic
  • Don’t just Broadcast, Regularly Engage
  • When Sharing Others Content Add Your Own Commentary To It (Quote RT Instead Of New Style RT)
  • Be A Good Social Citizen (Coined By Noah Plumb)

If you’re being authentic then the rest of the list will just happen. Be yourself and the right people will follow you. This is because you’re putting out content you care about and engaging with people that also care about the same things. Not many people want to follow people that just shout. Replying to others, sharing their content with your voice, participating in events, all these things help fill out your profile with even more useful and insightful content. The reason I say add your own commentary to 3rd party content shares is simple. It contributes to your voice by showing others what you think of it. They know you feel its valuable because you shared it, but the comments with the share show why you think others should also check it out. Your personal brand, just like a consumer brand, should add value. Noah Plumb has taught and showed me this over the years.

“Being a good social citizen is adding value to others’ experiences online” — Noah Plumb


Image From Career Metis

Let’s be clear, you have a personal brand no matter what. Personal brand isn’t just the content you put out and the details left on display of your LinkedIn profile.

“Personal brand is what people say about you when you leave the room.”— Jeff Bezos, Founder,

The perception of you and your brand builds over time. Sure the first impression plays a role into the perception of you but the longer people follow and know you the more ingrained their perception of you is. Also the harder it is to change their perception of your brand.

So as the picture above says, “Who Are You??”. Are you a good social citizen? An engager? A broadcaster, just shouting into the crowd? To make people perceive you as awesome, for the most part you must actually be awesome. Building your personal brand will take some focus, time and effort.

Beyond the type of social citizen you are, think about the topics you want to be known for. I recommend choosing a couple topics you want to be known for and then cater all your content to those topics. Engage with other users talking about those topics. Be part of those topics communities. This will help keep you focused and weed out unnecessary posts. You can have some off topic posts, for the most part though it needs to be on point.

Bryan Kramer is a TED Talks keynote speaker and author of best selling books Shareology and Human to Human #H2H. If you haven’t read Shareology yet you’re missing out. On his site he has a quick questionnaire test to help identify what type of personal brand you are. He has them broken down into 6 types:

  • Altruist
  • Early Adopter
  • Connector
  • Careerist
  • Boomerang
  • Selective

Go here and take the test for yourself. I found that I am an Altruist, which I’m totally ok with :). “Altruists are individuals who are highly recognized for their commitment to helping others. These are people who not only dedicate themselves in terms of actions, but also with regard to being mindful with their personal relationships.” I’d love to hear what your brand is.

Look out for the next part in this series, I’ll cover how to focus your various social profiles to become a thought leader/subject matter expert.

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