Social Media Personal Branding with Jessica Kelly from Cisco

Jessica Kelly from Cisco and I discuss social media personal branding in this interview. We dig into how we use our social media accounts and discuss a little bit about the key fundamentals of a personal branding strategy or a lack of one.

social media personal branding

Jessica Kelly is now- Content / Communications / User Experience at Cisco. We discussed all things to do with content, social media relevant communications, and all the topics relevant to anyone in business and management in particular. Content and communications are so important, internal communications within businesses and of course communicating with the market and most importantly your customers.

Many are still unaware of how personal branding affects their lives

Many social media users are unaware of personal branding and how their personal brand affects their lives. Having a strong personal brand is now table stakes and whatever social media channels you are on having a personal branding strategy is key to success.

What is personal branding on social media?

Social media personal branding is the process of managing and developing your own reputation online through social media.

It’s about understanding who you are, what you want to be known for, and then using social media channels to project that image to the world.

A strong social media personal brand can help you

– Get hired

So in this interview, we discuss:

– What social media personal branding is?

– How social media can help or hinder your personal brand?

– The key principles of personal branding.

– The benefits of personal branding.

Personal branding is now table stakes

We also discuss how personal branding has become table stakes, meaning that if you want to be successful in business today, you need to have a strong personal brand. And social media is a key part of that.

Why is social media important for personal branding?

So whether you’re just starting out in your career or you’ve been in the workforce for a while taking some time to look at your social media networks will pay dividends.

Whatever social media platform you are on affects your career, the social media platforms you choose to be on and don’t maintain can negatively affect your job success!

Social media channels can be dangerous for your personal life too. And this interview we discuss personal branding and the need to take control of your “self branding” and be authentic with your personal message. No matter what social media channel you are on, if you are in Facebook groups or a LinkedIn group someone is watching, someone is taking not of what you say, how you come across and whether you have a personal branding social media strategy or not how you show up in the world directly affects your income levels and your relationships with people at work and those who you love.

Personal branding strategy is now table stakes

Where do you begin?

Auditing whatever social media sites you are on and auditing your personal website if you have one and thinking deeply about the message you have, your power statement headline? Does your power statement headline speak deeply to your target audience in words that they will resonate with?

Do business leaders in similar jobs to you have a different message that aims at your target audience in a better way?

I really hope that the social media tips from the conversation in the podcast help you somewhat, I hope that your brand voice hits the specific niche you are in to show off your professional skills in the way that reflects your ability and your content strategy reflects the real authentic you!

I hope that you have considered whether to use the same profile photo or not on multiple platforms, I hope you have at least understood from this post that perhaps there is a little more to using great cover photos and that the digital world helps you to show off your skills and find new job opportunities to enable you to get the right sort of connection requests from your LinkedIn profile as opposed to spammy people trying to sell you things you don’t need.

Once you get your brand’s voice right and manage to use your own content to act as a marketing tool for you and the business you work for you will find that it makes your life easier and you manage to get more new connections who are eager to support your professional goals and in fact, you can begin to take a more proactive approach to digital marketing your brand.

Digital marketing isn’t just for marketers it is also for you, whether you have a Facebook page and other social media profiles making a little time for content creation and posting in Linkedin groups can really help you to show up and show off whatever valuable information you are able to share.

Whether that is video content, useful tips or other articles brand building is so important to get more new followers. Every day Twitter activities can either assist your brand building or can hamper it.

Which social media is best for personal branding?

Sure there are many social media, my advice is to go where there are like-minded people and to make sure you have good profile photos, make sure you have the same username on all platforms if you can and don’t be your own fan! Talking only about yourself will not help you to build strong relationships with your audience, it will probably encourage them to ignore you and your brand, your audience and your business probably have some great tools to use and I would also recommend learning how some of them work so you can begin to build your brand.

Your brand isn’t just for Facebook, your brand is for anywhere there are a huge number of like-minded people so you can answer questions, and in addition, I would recommend you think about your keyword headline and especially for different social networks.

You can check out The Ultimate Guide To Personal Branding To Win and of course grab the book here:

The full transcript is below

Nathaniel Schooler

Welcome to the show. Jessica. Your name is Jessica Kelly, and you work for Cisco. And we’ve kind of connected on Twitter probably for about; it’s got to be about three or four years, and you’ve kind of progressed in your jobs. And I don’t know quite what you actually do now. So I’ll let you introduce yourself.

Jessica Kelly

Well, first of all, apologies for my puppy who chose that moment to bark. I hope that you got a good solid recording of that. He’s very cute, by the way, I probably more interesting than I am. I do work for Cisco just recently started working for Cisco as an employee. I’ve been a consultant for a long, long, long time, primarily because I enjoy working from my own office. And Cisco allows me to do that. So it’s, it’s great. I’ve been heavily involved in social media for publicity and promotion for years. And that is indeed where we met on Twitter. And it was an accidental meeting, if I remember correctly, just we were talking about a piece of content that got shared somewhere, but it’s been great. It’s been great sharing tweets with you.

Nathaniel Schooler

For sure. So I’ve got a few questions. I know you’re tight for time. So I’ll begin with the first one.

How can people use content marketing for building their personal brand?

Jessica Kelly

That’s a great question. First, a disclaimer, I sort of feel that marketing is just marketing and content marketing is the newest term, right. But if you know marketing is marketing, and to be under marketing, you’ve got PR and publicity and promotions and sales and, and all these wonderful things. And social media is part of that social media is to me is the evolution of publicity, its interactive, you know, you may be broadcasting information that you want people to know. But you also better be listening and interacting with them to that’s why it’s called “social media!” right.

So in terms of content, there are so many ways to do it. Obviously, if you are an author or a designer, and you create an amazing piece of content that is all about you, or a service you provide or knowledge you have, then that’s a no brainer, you’re going to share that in every logical place; every logical place that you think you’re audience might be not, you know, just not just scattershot, and that’s your content marketing.

But then there are people who may be severely pressed for time, I would consider myself one of those people. But I also want to keep my skills sharp. And I want to know what’s going on in the tech world and the world of digital media.

And so for them, for people like me, I find content curation is just the perfect thing. It allows me to keep up on the latest news, and then curated somewhere I am and I happen to use the scoopit tool. It was one of the first that was available for free, I’ll be honest, and I really like the way that it worked. Some people use Pinterest, there’s, you know, there’s all different places you can post. But it enables me to not only share information that I think might be useful to people all in one place. But I don’t have the best memory, right. So if I’m curating content, and I’m curating news and resources that I think other marketing people or writers or editors or communications, I kind of cross a broad spectrum all leading out from writing and communications, right? If I’ve curated something two years ago, I don’t remember what it was on topic x, but I know I read something and I can go back through my own curated content and find something that’s helpful to be on my job. So curation to me is just a win-win on all fronts when you don’t have time to create.

Nathaniel Schooler

Yeah, yeah, that makes a lot of sense, I think. Yeah, so you’re talking about really having like, an online it’s almost like a website, right? Like, from Scoopit on you.

Jessica Kelly 


Nathaniel Schooler

You put your name in there, and then and then all the stuff that you share will be shared from your Scoopit page. Right,

Jessica Kelly

So in terms of a personal brand, you know, on Facebook, I’m just somebody’s Mom or somebody’s friend, but I keep it that way. But on Twitter, I can establish some sort of presence as someone who has some information, knowledge, resources, etc, around social media, communications, content, marketing, management, development, whatever you want to call it.

And so, you know, I don’t know that my “brand”, you know, I don’t know where someone would judge my brand, I work full time. So I don’t have as much time to put into it as I would, as I might if, say, I were trying to teach people about branding or looking for new clients. But at least my presence is there.

And it’s very obvious the type of a person if someone were to follow my Twitter stream, I’m pretty open. I’m pretty honest. And I tend not to spam and I’m only sharing something that I read that day, on very rare occasions, you know, I’ll share something from five years ago, that just is still so relevant. I’d forgotten about it. And I feel like it’s worth sharing.

So it’s an authentic presence. And, you know, to me, Authenticity, I guess, is a big part of my personal brand.

Nathaniel Schooler

I’m nodding completely here, if you could see me, you know, a personal brand is all about authenticity. Without that it’s not a personal brand is it’s generally fake,

Jessica Kelly


Nathaniel Schooler

I think there are a lot of people out there that do fake who they are. And, and when you meet them face to face, they actually are not the same people. I know that you’re the same person as you are online, as you are offline, you know because you’re genuine.

And, and that for me, it is absolutely key for all of this. I mean, you actually just answered my second question. No, nearly so, so. So that’s a few of your tips. So what are your top tips, for building your personal brand through content and social for career success, or entrepreneurial ventures?

Jessica Kelly

So absolutely be yourself. So know, every part of yourself, every part of myself is not ready for prime time, and not appropriate for work. So that’s a given, right? But find the parts of yourself that you’re really, really good at.

Because you’re going to, you’re going to be sustaining this you hope over a long period of time, right?

So I think what personal branding means to me is simply being my professional self, and sharing knowledge, information skills, whatever I’ve got because I’m not one to work in silos. I’m not I’m not a territorial professional, that tries to keep all my expertise bottled up to myself, so that no one else, you know, can possibly some someone might steal my skill and steal my job. I’m just not about that. I’m very collaborative. And so that works. That works for me, you know, be authentic.

Absolutely. If you think building your personal brand means getting a Twitter account, buying 10,000 followers, and banning everyone with direct messages. That’s just so very wrong. So very wrong. Unless you want to do the type of marketing if you’re old enough to remember late-night TV and infomercials that are still on some channels. 24/7, unless that’s who you are. I don’t see a lot of gain in that, especially not in the mid or long term.

Nathaniel Schooler

I mean, I think in this era of personalisation, they’re even bringing personalised TV now. So that you see raising beyond and it will actually have a personalised message directly to your name. Yeah. Which is incredible. In some, in some, some instances.

You know, it’s, we’re in a very, very strange place. I mean, you know, when I grew up, I had like, three TV channels. Yeah, you know, in England, we had three TV channels, we had a telephone, right, you start your finger in it, and you were on this wheel round, you know,

Jessica Kelly


Nathaniel Schooler

there’s just so many channels and, and so much technology overload, you know, and that’s a big topic right now full for me. Certainly. So do you.

Do you have any sort of tips for reducing the technology overload for people?

Jessica Kelly

Oh, that’s a good question, too I try to avoid, believe it or not, because I work in tech, and I am very techie. I try to avoid technology whenever possible. When I’m not working. You know,

it’s beyond personal health, right? There are your eyes, there’s your brain, everything. I do not need to be connected. 24/7, I need to be connected to my family. Yes.

But in terms of work-related technology exchanges over the over what am I trying to say in terms of work-related communications that are technology-enabled, right?

I don’t need to be on a leash, I don’t need to work for people that think I need to be on a leash. You know, Cisco is very, very gracious and very aware of work-life balance, and that’s wonderful. But I say, if everybody that you care about is is within eyesight, put your phone down, you know, you’re not going to get an emergency, call, turn, go old fashioned, have dinner at the table.

And when it comes to working, the same thing, if you really want to meet someone pick up the phone, if they don’t live near you. You know, if they do live near you schedule a lunch or coffee. It’s so much more fulfilling and informative to meet someone in person, or at least on the phone if you can. Technology only takes us so far. And if you can remember that and use it as a tool instead of letting it use you. You will be far happier.

Nathaniel Schooler

Yeah, yeah, I’m nodding I agree.

Jessica Kelly

Well, and, you know, you’re very metrics focused. my current role is in marketing everything is very metrics focused. And we have 10,000 tools to tell us 100,000 different things.

And what it really comes down to is did the piece of content I created, send someone where I wanted them to go into that they stay there, right. That’s really all I need to know, there are a gazillion different metrics that are not helpful.

And when it comes to your personal brand, it’s the same thing. You can’t spend your whole life chasing the Facebook algorithm because it’s going to change you know, today, it’s video tomorrow. It’s back to gifts, your gifts, you know, so be authentic, be yourself. Use the technology when it serves you, but don’t be a slave to it.

Sorry, that was a bit pedantic but you know, I feel pretty strongly about your interview question, I feel pretty strongly about it!

Nathaniel Schooler

It’s damaging relationships. Most certainly. So what are your top tips for building a personal brand alongside a big corporate like Cisco, or IBM or whatever?

Jessica Kelly

Oh, that’s Yeah. Okay. So that’s tough because here you are, you’ve been a consultant for many, many years, you have your so-called personal brand, and now you’ve gotten a job, hey, you know, I think I do want benefits. And I’ve met these great people, I’m going to dive in and take a, you know, quote, unquote, real job

That swallows your whole life, especially for the first three to six months. And so trying to maintain your personal brand, say on Twitter, that’s where I must be active is tough. I don’t, I was never spending more, you know, as a parent and a full-time worker and a volunteer at various organisations. I was never spending more than, say, an hour to an hour and a half a day, you know, at different times of the day checking in, but suddenly, you find your time reduced to 10 or 15 minutes on some days.

Some days, you can’t get to Twitter at all, such as yesterday, I went over to message you, I believe in that was it.

So that can be tough, that, again, is where I think that content curation is really helpful, because at least you have a lasting presence, everything’s compiled in one place. And when you do get back to wherever you are promoting, or publicising or interacting, you have something to fall back on. It’s like your stockpile of of information.

Nathaniel Schooler

Yeah, so do you think your personal brands help you to get hired?

Jessica Kelly

I think it can help you get hired in this particular role. You know, my Twitter account demonstrates that I have knowledge around communications and social media and content, but at a company like Cisco, which is not very social media focused.

I don’t think anyone went to my Twitter account and said. “Oh, this is the person we need.”

I think that if you’re in a different field, or especially if you’re at a startup, I think that definitely your personal brand. And your presence, your digital presence can help greatly.

I’ve had offers. I’ve had head hunters, I’ve had, you know, interactions happen because of the digital presence that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. Absolutely. But again, it’s, it’s me, I never thought of it as a personal brand. I never worked to create one, it is just me. So there’s no worry if somebody reaches out to me and wants to talk to me about social media?

Well, it wasn’t a bot that was curating the news I’m posting, I really did read it. And I know what I’m talking about on that particular subject. So you know, it’s all good.

Nathaniel Schooler

So what impact do you think artificial intelligence will have on content? Well actually on marketing itself?

Jessica Kelly

That is such a big question. I am not even sure where to start. Because it’s really hard to predict where it’s going to go.

I actually follow people back when they follow me on Twitter. And I do this by hand. That is one thing I do every day or every other day. And I have, you know, this is a little off-topic.

But related, what I have seen happen is, it used to be very obvious that a “bot” was following you, right! I mean, it was so unbelievably obvious that this was about, it would have a picture, a generic stock photo of a picture, or cartoon. And the the handle would be, you know, eight scrambled letters, just random consonants.

Now, then, after that phase, I saw people’s pictures, but it would be a man, and then the name under the person’s picture would be, obviously, obviously, you know someone of different sex and different nationality. And it was very clear that they were pulling stock photos of people now, but they were getting real names that didn’t, in any way look like they could be those people.

Lately. Over the past month or so. I see followers that could be people, I mean, they really look like people, their bio just doesn’t say, I love to laugh, and the photo looks genuine. And the name matches. But when you click through, you see that they are following 9000 people. And they have two followers. And they’ve been online for three days on Twitter. And so if it’s, it’s sneaking in all this type of bot mentality is slowly taking the place of actual human interactions. And so in marketing, you have all everything that comes. I mean, that was just a tiny example that isn’t even really on point. But I think you get my point in marketing, we’re going to see more and more and more data-driven bought interactions.

But the problem that I see with that is that sometimes it’s not the right data. It’s not the right data at all. And even at an amazing company like Cisco, who has all these tools at their disposal, watching people on the data, who are the data gathering teams trying to gather and compile and then analyse things. It often looks to me like apples to oranges comparison that isn’t going to actually give you good quantitative or qualitative feedback. And unless a human comes in and looks at that and says, you know, whoa, where are we go? The shortest example of all is in some social media tools. They gauge sentiment, right?

Nathaniel Schooler


Jessica Kelly

Well, if you post something about healing cancer, that’s negative sentiment for your brand, because you use the word cancer, if you say no, in a post, right, or never, I’ve never had a better day. That’s negative sentiment for your brand.

Nathaniel Schooler

Yeah, I agree completely. They’ve got a lot of work to do around sentiment analysis. And, and doing exactly, exactly that, just making sure that the data is actually going to work. You know, I think in five years’ time, things are going to be a lot more interesting, but I think there are a lot of problems around it. It is a massive question. It’s a huge question. I dropped it right at the end as well. So, you know, we can revisit maybe in a few months’ time when I get through, get through the rest of the schedule, you know, but it’s, it’s a massive subject that I’d love to talk more about with you for sure.

So, I’ll leave you to it. Because I’m one minute over my time!

Jessica Kelly

It’s absolutely fine. I just, I honestly, I don’t have a meeting for another 14 minutes. I just need to prep. So it’s great. It’s been so nice to talk with you. You know, it’s after so many years of being connected on Twitter. It’s so nice to put a voice I already had the face because you’ve got your profile photo. But now I have a voice to go with it, too. It is very nice.

Nathaniel Schooler

Same here. It’s very nice. I really appreciate you sharing, sharing your time with me. Thank you.

Jessica Kelly

Thank you. Best of luck with your endeavour. It sounds fascinating. You have to keep me posted. And feel free to use my email in case I miss a direct message on Twitter because it’s so full of spam. Now, sometimes the DMs Get lost. But I always I do always look for your messages. There are three or four people that I know are not robots and when I see their name in the message feed, I know this is actually a person so

Nathaniel Schooler

Wow, well, thanks ever so much again, Jessica. I really appreciate you taking the time out of your schedule to do this podcast with me.

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