Leonard Kim on Empowering Employees on Social Media

Leonard Kim interview about employees social media activities /
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Approx. 9 min. read
Last updated: September 6, 2018

Creating and sharing relevant content on social media (blog posts, videos, infographics) is a great way for employees to showcase their expertise.

Their personal brand allows them to impact the way they are perceived by their peers and gives them a chance to contribute to the company’s image. Hence, many businesses invest in their people and create a culture that helps employees develop their thought leadership and online presence. Leonard Kim, Brand Strategist and co-founder of Influence Tree, shares his tips for helping employees grow their personal brand on social media:

Hi Leonard, you’re a personal branding expert and you have co-founded InfluenceTree with Ryan Foland. According to you, why should building a strategic content framework be one of the first steps when it comes to personal branding?

The first thing I believe people should do is to get their positioning down. That starts with the bio. In the bio, you need to be as relatable as possible. Talk about how many dogs you have, where you grew up, where you live, what you enjoy doing for fun and then add in the professional experience as well. Those personal mentions is what allows someone else to really connect with you, while the professional experience showcases that you know what you’re talking about.

Once you have that set up, you need a framework so you can stay on track to creating the right type of content.

One mishap I constantly see is that people don’t know what to write about. They try to come up with topics on the fly and they just don’t do as well as they would have if they were planned in advance.

Put together a calendar and work out exactly what you want to produce and when you want to deliver it. That way, you can stay on track to hitting your content goals.

Content calendar

What content do you usually advise people to share on social media in order to drive engagement?

So many people think, “What do the people in my network want to hear about?” But is that really the right question you should be asking yourself when you’re making content? Let’s flip that question around to, “What do I enjoy talking about?”

When I look at my personal Facebook feed, I see people talking about all the things that they love.

  • Cars
  • Horses
  • Puppies
  • Kitties
  • Sports
  • Social issues
  • And the list goes on…

And guess what? People engage with them because they like the same things too.

Yet, something happened over the course of the last few years that made people feel like they couldn’t be personable online. I don’t know who first sold this idea to the masses. Nor do I know why nearly every single person who wants to start monetizing on the Internet thinks, “I need to go out there and turn my social media profiles strictly into a business channel,” but they do. It’s like they were sold on the concept of putting on this weird business mask when they get online.

When I go to Twitter, for example, I see people put on that weird business mask. All that fun loving stuff that they talked about on Facebook gets stripped out and they just talk about work.

And you know what I think when I read this kind of content? “Wow, this person is so boring. What else is out there? Next.” Or, I think, “How can I unfriend Daniel Kim without him knowing and getting mad at me?”

Want people to engage with you? Then talk about what you want to talk about, not what you think you should be talking about. Make it a mix. Can’t figure out how to mix it up? Then keep it simple: 80% personal, 20% business. Watch your engagement and likability increase while you grow your following as well.

"Want people to engage with you? Then talk about what you want to talk about, not what you think you should be talking about."

Based on your own experience, what are the most interesting social media channels for building an online authority?

It doesn’t matter what social media channel you target to build your online authority. It just matters that you’re delivering content that people want to hear or read. There’s not much difference between someone viewing your content on Quora as opposed to Facebook. It’s really all the same.

"It doesn’t matter what social media channel you target to build your online authority. It just matters that you’re delivering content that people want to hear or read."

What you need to do is you need to work on a content syndication plan, so your content is seen across platforms as opposed to just on a singular outlet.

Related: Ryan Foland: Developing an Awesome Personal Brand on Twitter (1/2) & (2/2)

What are the common mistakes we should avoid when it comes to content creation?

Let’s say I’m invited to a conference and I need to listen to the speakers. Then the person in front of the stage is introducing the next speaker. They go on for a few minutes, talking about all the accolades and achievements this speaker did in their life. As they are talking about everything this speaker has done, I’m sitting in my chair yawning and thinking, “I can’t wait for this to be over”, because I know this is going to be the most boring talk of the entire conference. And guess what. Most of the time I’m right.

So many people lead with accolades instead of leading with themselves. When I used to do sales, we were told to build rapport as quickly as possible, and we didn’t look like the sharpest tool in the shed. So many people think they need to look amazing for people to buy into them. But it does the exact opposite and turns people away.

So the mistake that you should absolutely avoid is tooting your own horn too much and trying to look perfect.

Because guess what. You’re not. And neither am I. Neither of us will ever be perfect. So be vulnerable and showcase who you really are, because that’s someone I can actually buy into.

Nobody is perfect

Do you have any tip to make an article, a blog post (or any piece of content an expert would write) viral on social media?

If you make a new blog post, there are a few things you can do.

You can:

  • Send it to your email list
  • Post it on your social media
  • Text it to your mom and your significant other

Or you can do some other things that are more valuable, like:

  • Syndicate that post on other platforms like Quora, Medium or LinkedIn (or all three)
  • Run ads to the target audience of people who would be interested in the post
  • Send the post to others who could use it as a source link for some related content they already developed

Regardless of what you do, you need to do something. The worst thing you can do is just make a blog post and leave it there, because if you do that, then no one will ever see it.

Companies can help employees building their personal brand online. What are the best ways to support employees’ personal branding?

Companies should do everything in their power to help their employees build their digital footprint so they can advocate as influencers on the company’s behalf, especially invest in their people with cold hard cash.

One of the biggest problems that companies face is that when they go to tell a story, it doesn’t look authentic because it’s coming from a brand and not a person. Or there is a perception that they are strictly out for profits. Or that they don’t care about the community.

"Companies should do everything in their power to help their employees build their digital footprint so they can advocate as influencers on the company’s behalf."

For years, companies have done everything in their power to become more relatable to people, but they have missed the key component when it comes to becoming relatable with people. The most important component is having the people inside the company communicating with people outside the company.

Because guess what. It’s going to be so much easier for me, as a person, to relate to Angie Park who works at New York Presbyterian than it would be for me to relate to New York Presbyterian. And I’m so much more likely to listen to a story that Angie tells me about the company than I am going to listen to that commercial that New York Presbyterian produced.

So if I was her employer, I would want to do everything I can to help her become that internal influencer who is speaking to the outside audience, along with my other employees.

Sounds like a no-brainer, right? It would be if companies actually did it…

But they don’t. And I think the reason is because they don’t know how to operationationalize a plan to move forward. But that’s why people like me and Ryan Foland exist. Because we have courses that teach people how to do these on an individual level, boot camps to show executives at companies how to do this internally and services that allow us to go into a company and build the influence of their employees for them.

What employees often need is one of two things:

  1. The education and training on how to co-develop their online footprints.
  2. Someone to hold their hand and walk them through the process.

Both these options cost resources and money. But they are well spent because they help elevate your company with qualitative results that you can show, ranging from:

  • Developing a halo effect
  • Driving more thought leadership
  • Building communities outside of your company’s reach
  • Establishing trust in the community
  • Generating more media features
  • Establishing your internal stakeholders as experts
  • And most importantly, driving more revenue and profits to your business through new customers

About Leonard: Leonard Kim is a Brand Strategist, Keynote Speaker and the co-founder of Influence Tree. His 2017 TEDx Talk “Why You Should Let Your Fears Guide You” has been recognized as one of the best TEDx Talks by Forbes and Inc. Magazine. In addition, Leonard has been named as a Top Marketing Influencer by Forbes and recognized Top Youth Marketer and Top Digital Marketer to follow in 2017 by Inc. Magazine. Leonard is also a contributor to magazines such as Mashable, Entrepreneur, Fortune, Inc Magazine and Forbes.

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