10 Ways Veterans Can Create Focused Social Media Positioning

(U.S. Air Force/Ayomikun Onafeko)

Imagine you were starting a new fitness routine. You weren’t really set on losing weight, getting in shape or any other specific goal. 

You couldn’t commit to being in the gym a certain number of hours a week and really didn’t know which weights or pieces of equipment were going to serve you best. After all, you don’t have a goal, remember? 

You work at this new routine off and on for about six months and wonder why you’re not seeing results. Social media can work much the same way.

If you don’t have a goal, system, strategy and the right tactics in place, you can spend too much time on the wrong platforms, sharing the wrong content and pursuing the wrong connections to see any meaningful results or impact to your career or life. Even riskier, you could make mistakes that could be problematic down the road.

A focused, clear and measurable social media positioning strategy, on the other hand, gives you the framework, insight and design to know where to show up, how to engage and which results are in line with your goals. 

When building your positioning strategy, consider:

1. What’s Your Goal? 

Are you looking for work and trying to get the attention of recruiters? Is your goal to connect with people you served with and with whom you’ve lost touch? Are you trying to grow your connections and networking to enhance your skills and knowledge? Your goal is the first area to address when starting an online positioning strategy.

2. Who’s Your Audience? 

Are you looking to build credibility in the mind of your boss or co-workers? Do you want to attract new clients? Maybe your goal is to show the people you work with that your background includes a diverse set of experiences.

3. Where Do They Hang Out Online? 

When you know who you’re trying to reach, consider where they hang out. Global business professionals, executives, entrepreneurs, academics and anyone connected to commerce tends to use LinkedIn. This is known to be a very professional social networking platform. 

By contrast, Facebook and Instagram are more casual, relaxed and social in nature. If your primary audience is customers for your store or product, they may be more apt to find you here, rather than LinkedIn. 

All of the other platforms also have unique angles and strategies for how engagement and followership grow, so consider where your target audience spends time and what your goals are before you assume that everyone is on TikTok, just because you enjoy it.

4. How Do You Want to Come Across? 

What perception (personal brand) are you curating? If your goal is to be seen as a thought leader in a cutting-edge form of technology, that dictates a certain positioning. 

By contrast, if you want to be seen as relaxed, fun and relatable, you might choose a different online positioning. The goal here isn’t to be someone you’re not online; consistency is king.

5. What Are Your Abilities Regarding Digital Tools? 

Are you a good writer? Do you like recording video more than scripting content? Depending on your goal, audience and the platform, leverage your skills to show up in the most favorable way. 

6. How Much Time Can You Dedicate to This?

If you have one hour a week to dedicate to social media, be hyper-strategic. Make the time count by posting timely, relevant and compelling content to your followers. More time means more opportunity to connect, collaborate, share, celebrate and engage with others online.

7. What Other Positioning Tools Are You Using?

If you’re busy with networking, a job search and skill building, then ensure your online topics and in-person presence are consistent. You don’t need to be perfect, but you do need to be consistent; that’s how you’ll build trust and engagement. 

8. Create Boundaries. 

Are there topics that you’d prefer not to share? That’s fine. Create a set of rules for what you’ll share and comment on, who you’ll connect with and endorse, and which conversations you’ll appear in. Then stay consistent with those rules. 

Social media doesn’t require you to share or have an opinion on everything. But what you share should be real, truthful and meaningful.

9. Enlist Allies and Mentors. 

If being active on social media is the last thing you thought about doing after the military, enlist the help of your friends and mentors who might be well-versed in what works and doesn’t work online. Learn from their mistakes and follow their lead.

10. Post Content That Shows Your Authenticity. 

Just like you must be consistent online, you should showcase your authenticity. This means sharing your opinions, views and perspectives on topics you’re comfortable discussing in such a public way. 

While it’s critical to remember that everything you post online is permanent and public, you can still find ways of letting others know who you are, what you care about and what you can offer. This enables you to see direct results.

The story of Alice in Wonderland makes the point about the need for strategy with online positioning: When Alice came to a fork in the road, she asked the Cheshire Cat, “Which way do I go?” to which the cat replied, “Where are you going?” Alice responded, “I don’t know.” The cat said, “Then it doesn’t matter which way you pick.” 

The author of "Success After Service: How to Take Control of Your Job Search and Career After Military Duty” (2020) and "Your Next Mission: A personal branding guide for the military-to-civilian transition" (2014), Lida Citroën is a keynote speaker and presenter, executive coach, popular TEDx speaker and instructor of multiple courses on LinkedIn Learning. She regularly presents workshops on personal branding, executive presence, leadership communication and reputation risk management.

A contributing writer for Military.com, Lida is a passionate supporter of the military, volunteering her time to help veterans transition to civilian careers and assist employers who seek to hire military talent. She regularly speaks at conferences, corporate meetings and events focused on military transition.

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