When team members share company content, everybody wins. Sharing content shows pride, helps build your brand, and ultimately shows a thriving company culture.

But as a marketing manager, you want your team members to share content because they want to, not because they have to. You want to create content that your team members will share without being asked, the type of stuff that supports their personal brands.

When creating content and developing team sharing programs, it’s essential to understand how people use social sharing to craft their personal brands. What are your team members currently sharing? Why do they share what they do? How can you create assets that they’re excited about sharing?

Ultimately, social media allows you and your team to build personal brands, crafting the people you want to be. It’s your job to understand the links between personal branding and sharing on social. In this article, we’ll explain the link between social sharing and perception, and provide some tips on how you can understand your own brand, and communicate your findings to your team.

The Link Between Social Sharing and Perception

Your team members may not be responsible for the company Twitter handle, but they’re in full control of their own social sharing, whether they prefer to do it on LinkedIn, Pinterest, or Snapchat. What they share says a lot about who they are.

The New York Times Customer Insight Group conducted a study and discovered that there are five key reasons people decide to share something with others on social media:

  • Entertainment – People share content to entertain their audiences, whether that audience is made up of friends, family, or colleagues.
  • Define Ourselves – People share to show the world who they are and define the type of person they want to be.
  • Relationships – People share content to build relationships with other people, for example sharing a post written by a friend.
  • Self-Fulfillment – People share to make themselves feel good about who they are, and where they’re going.
  • Support a Cause – People share to show their support for a particular cause.

Understanding why you and your team members share what you do can help you tap into what will resonate on social, and help you build a personal brand that accurately reflects who you are. It can also help you understand how others perceive what you share. When they see your content, they may have predefined notions about why you’ve shared something.

Decide Who You Want to Be

Before you can dig deep into your social sharing behavior, you have to decide who you want to be. Do you want to be professional in your social media presence? Would you prefer to be entertaining?

According to the study, 68% of people share to let others know who they are and what they care about. Even if you haven’t thought about how others perceive you before, it will be good to think about it now.

Make sure that the person you wants to be lines up with your professional goals. Does this presence serve your company well? Does it serve your colleagues well, too?

Do a Sharing Audit

Start by looking at your Twitter or Facebook page. What have you recently shared? Make a list of your ten most recent shares, and write down your reason for sharing these items. The reasons can be as simple as “thought my audience would like it” or “just thought this was cool.”

Once you’ve looked at your most recent shares, consider how these would look to someone else. Would they think you’re obsessed with sports because you’ve only shared content on sports?

Try to categorize each share into one of the five categories above, and see how you’re sharing. If you’re constantly trying to entertain, maybe it’s time to take a step back and share some content that connects with your audience.

Share the Right Stuff

Once you’ve determined who you’d like to be on social media, as well as completed a mini-sharing audit, you can start sharing the right stuff.

Each time you share something new, ask yourself why you’re sharing it, and how it will look to others. Is the content meant to entertain, or will it help you connect and build relationships? You should have a healthy smattering of different types of content.

This doesn’t mean you have to have a draconian social sharing policy. Instead, the key is to be deliberate with what you share.

Inform Your Team

It’s easy to look at your own personal brand in terms of what you’ve shared, and maybe you’ve already done so. It’s your job, however, to make sure your team members understand how their social sharing affects how others perceive them.

Encourage each member of your team to do a social sharing audit, but don’t make it into a punishment. Instead, encourage them to explore why they share what they do, and explain why most people share online.

When people look at what they share and start seeing it from someone else’s perspective, they begin to see how their social media pages contribute to their personal brand, and they begin to feel more ownership over the channel.