A Digital Center of Excellence for Your Personal Brand

By Jillian Niedermeyer

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend PRSSA’s Portland Paddle event. It’s basically like speed-dating, but instead, you get to network with professionals. During the event, I had the opportunity to talk with Bill Calder, who developed a communications philosophy to help teams at large companies develop consistent online messaging.

Earlier this week, Bill and I talked about the “Digital Center of Excellence” model and discussed how it could be applied to students’ personal brands and messaging as we enter the professional world. In short, the model focuses on the multiple aspects of cultivating an online presence and collating these aspects to ensure consistency.

Digital Center of Excellence Model

Personal accounts are different from brand accounts. We don’t have teams creating our content, but must cultivate our own digital presences. Let’s dive into how students can use this model to hone our social media personas.

Maturity: First, we must look at our existing online presences by analyzing what we have already posted and how we have changed. This may involve purging old content, un-liking embarrassing pages or deleting friends we no longer know. Developing a sense of digital maturity in this case isn’t performing a SWOT analysis, but recognizing how we’ve changed and deleting content we believe no longer represent us.

Digital governance: Yes, inappropriate memes can be funny, but by “liking” a post are we validating something potentially harmful? Is it worth having something negative on future employers’ timelines? We must be aware of what we engage with and ensure it matches our personal ethics.

Change management: We should focus on how platforms are changing and especially focus on privacy. We don’t want to over-share, but still want to engage enough to be relevant. For example, we may keep our Facebook accounts more private because of the lack of data security, while we may want our LinkedIn accounts to be public to allow us to share our professional experiences to a wider network.

Strategy and execution: Obviously, we don’t have teams telling us how or what to post. Instead of reaching out to influencers to promote products, we can reflect on our capabilities and how we can express them online by contributing to existing markets. For example, students may comment on relevant posts and share existing content with personal analysis added. Additionally, students can combine professional and personal personas into single accounts.

Digital academy: This idea is one Bill and I found tricky to adapt. We decided it means teaching ourselves about new tools as quickly as we can and developing best practices. For example, as a public relations student, I am excited to try new tools on social media. I want to be an early adopter in my network and be the first of my friends to try features and learn to use them to my advantage.

Methodology: We must understand engagement isn’t everything. Our posting shouldn’t be incentivized solely by “likes,” but should focus on accenting our best qualities. Our accounts can be used as tools to highlight our skills and experiences, and don’t need to solely show off our beach pictures (unless you’re interested in travel or fitness).

Digital Labs: We can use our accounts as laboratories to grow and learn about the industries that interest us. We should follow users that inspire us and always be learning.

By applying this model to our personal accounts, we can build authentic voices. I don’t necessarily think you have to “be a brand,” but I do believe you can highlight the skills that make you unique and attractive to potential employers by maintaining a digital center of excellence.

Twitter: @JillNiedermeyer
LinkedIn: jillian-niedermeyer
Instagram: @JillNiedermeyer

This Article Has 9 Comments
  1. Sophia Ferrer says:

    Jill,
    Thanks for sharing and breaking down the Digital Center of Excellence model for us. Your focus on personal branding had me reflecting on my own social media accounts as you went through each subset. Digital governance really resonated with me because it made me think of retweeting and liking on Twitter. Although you may not be the person actually posting the content, engaging with it to show some form of agreeance is the same as if one were to post it themselves–especially since it now appears on their profile. I too believe it’s important to be mindful of what individuals interact with on their social media channels because it’s a reflection of one’s values and beliefs. Great post!

  2. Meghan Schroeder says:

    Jill,
    Thanks for sharing your experience at PRSSA’s Portland Paddle. I have always heard such great things about the experience. The way you broke down what you learned was very helpful and easy to read. I have struggled creating a personal brand and have begun working on making my social media more professional. I am not as active on Twitter as I would like to be. I also want to enhance my website and make it an accurate representation of who I am. Your post was very insightful!

  3. Jessica Murray says:

    Jill,

    I love this post! For one of my courses we have to audit our own social media accounts and this model will definitely be how I break down my analysis for my own content. I really like that you touched on the idea of adjusting past social media activity to who you are now. I think a lot of times people consider that sort of editing to be “fake” or lacking authenticity, but I’d say that updating your social media persona makes for a more authentic representation of who you are at this moment. Also, thanks for breaking down all the pieces of the model. That approach made for a very digestible and comprehensive read.

  4. Taylor Kissinger says:

    Hi Jill,

    This post is super helpful! I can tell that you’ve thought deeply and critically about personal social media personas. Do you think that the importance/weight of these rules vary on different platforms? For example, I feel like Twitter has a reputation of being more angsty and raw while Facebook is considered a bit more family friendly. Or do you think that your social media persona should be the same across all platforms?

  5. Nikki Heaston says:

    This was such a helpful post! Thank you! This will give me a lot to think about especially in terms of my own accounts and things that I’ve liked that could potentially be off-putting to future employers. I also liked the first point about maturity. I should update my profiles to reflect who I am today. I joined FB about 10 years ago and I know I’ve matured since then and so have my interests. I agree with Jessica’s comment that it shows a more authentic representation of who I am today if I update my account. I also like the idea of building our own personal brands and being more strategic in our social media use to be brand-authentic. I’m interested in a career as a brand manager and was recently given good advice about getting experience by building my own brand. That can be done through FB, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and blogging. If I can successfully build my own brand it will be evidenced through the job I end up in.

  6. Molly Mair says:

    Jill, I found your post helpful as a guide post toward personal branding and the Digital center of excellence. It makes sense in the framework you outlined. I appreciated you adaptation of digital academy, I feel relevance takes awareness and research to accomplish. This idea of staying current is hard work 🙂

  7. Hannah Blair says:

    Jill, I love this post, and I will definitely be looking at all my social media accounts to potentially clean them up after reading this. I joined Facebook about 12 years ago and at that time, it was popular to have as many friends as you could and like as many things as possible (at least I thought so)! I realize now that I do not even know those people and the pages I may have liked then don’t reflect the person I am now. I found this post to be really helpful, especially since I will be trying to get a job this summer, and I want future employers to see the person I am through my social media.

  8. Daymon Standridge says:

    Jill,

    Thank you for sharing your insight and explaining how the Digital Center of Excellence model works. It is fascinating to see what people are developing to create personal brands and allow better understandings of social media and the presence we leave online. It is so important to be genuine on social media and finding a balance between being genuine and also posting content people will enjoy can be a challenge. As I move into the real world soon and begin searching for employment, I will use this model to help me shape my social media to show employers my genuine self.

  9. Holly Walden says:

    Jill,

    This post was incredibly helpful because I am a senior and will be hunting for a job very soon. Sometimes I forget that my social media can be a tool used to my advantage. If I clean my medias up then I will look more professional and may get chosen for a job over someone else. It is difficult growing up with social media because we have so much of our old content from a time where we were not fully developed and it is not a good representation of who we are today.

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