Whether you use facebook for fun, LinkedIn for business or Pinterest to keep track of that coveted wardrobe, your online persona is important to your career, business and your image in general.

The idea of social media hinges on the first word – social. It is and should be a conversation. Think of social media as an extension of your face to face activities rather than a stand alone channel. The idea is to create, build and nurture relationships. Social media just gives you the ability to do that on a greater scale. Where possible try to interact with your peeps through events, phone calls, Skype and other face to face opportunities. The depth of connection and quality of conversation you will experience as a result will catapult your social media presence beyond anything you could have expected. Others on the fringe will be thinking that they want to be a part of the fantastic conversation and will seek you out. The key? Be real, be you and enjoy! Above all, be respectful, generous and relevant.

What is the personality of your personal/business brand? Does it match your personality online and in face to face connections? A good test for this is to Google yourself and see what comes up. Is it consistent? Would others think of you in the way you want be thought of? Do your social media profiles match up? Remember that each social media channel is an opportunity for a different kind of conversation so each profile may be slightly different and use different language, however they are all variations on one central theme which is your personal brand.

One important thing to remember is that everyone is busy. The quickest way to lose a contact is to flood them with meaningless content that just wastes their time (and yours!). Regardless how important your latest meal is to you, your trusty followers really don’t need a spoon by spoon account! Post what is relevant, topical, funny and useful rather than posting for the sake of posting. Now, I am all for regular appearances through social media to maintain your brand and boost your network, just ensure that the content is something others want to read at a time they want to read it. Your followers do not need to be flooded with content when it suits you and then hear nothing for days. Try using a tool such as buffer.com or hootsuite.com which allow you to find your posts when it is convenient for you but schedule them to be delivered at times that are convenient for your readers.

Remember that social media is just one channel of your marketing mix. Back it up with consistent branding, solid relationships and other face to face opportunities and your reach and brand message will be first class.