Building a personal brand with social media is one click away. Or, maybe three clicks?

You know you're a career geek when you get really excited about the new InShare button for LinkedIn. When Greg, CAREEREALISM.com's director of brand management asked me if we should add it to the top of every blog post on our site, I said, Heck ya - that thing's awesome for personal branding!

But, then it got me thinking: Do others see the unique difference in each of the most popular buttons for sharing content? Do they use them the way I do?

Not every piece of content needs to be shared - it depends on social network.

One of the first things about personal branding we teach over at CareerHMO.com is the 3 major social networks (a.k.a. Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter), all have distinct purposes in creating and managing your personal brand. In fact, we even prioritize usage so members can learn how to not get overwhelmed and sucked into the social media black hole. C'mon, we've all heard the Crackbook jokes, right? Here's how we break them down:

LinkedIn - Your number one priority.

Get your profile 100% complete, formatted and keyword optimized to maximize the chances you get contacted by recruiters looking for someone with your talents. Then, learn how to interact in the world's largest online business cocktail party so that you can make new connections and build a powerful network that can help you get hired, promoted and respected.

Facebook - Cleaned up and on best behavior.

We have people lock down their profiles and put up a professional headshot while they are actively looking for work. We also encourage them to think twice about everything, I mean EVERYTHING, they write to friends and family. You might think this is the place to be yourself, but when you are job searching, even your closest contacts can feel they won't want to refer you to a job they hear about if they read something from you in Facebook that hits them the wrong way.

Twitter - When you're ready to be a subject-matter expert.

Twitter is like having your very own newspaper column. It's your chance to show the world (i.e. hiring managers) what goes on inside that head on your shoulders. A feed full of tweets that share knowledge and resources related to your expertise proves you know what you are talking about. Nothing screams you are the go-to person for your area of expertise stronger than sharing resources that will educate and help others in your profession become as smart as you! Twitter is the fastest way to build your subject-matter authority.

So, how do you determine what button to use?

Based on my outline above, here's my guideline for sharing content:

  • Like on Facebook: Funny, fascinating and/or uplifting, but not directly helpful to fellow professionals.
  • InShare on LinkedIn: Valuable to all professionals.
  • Tweet on Twitter: Valuable to only people in your field/industry/area of expertise.

FYI - When I use those criteria, I find myself posting a lot of the same things to LinkedIn and Twitter. I rarely have stuff for Facebook, and even then, it's career-related. It may make me boring, but at least I'm consistent! And for me, that's the secret to great personal branding: On-going, targeted messaging that regularly reminds the audience what you're all about.

Do you agree? How do you determine what to Like, InShare or Tweet? I'd love to hear your thoughts around using these buttons to manage your personal brand.

J.T. O'Donnell is the founder of CAREEREALISM.com and CEO of CareerHMO.com, a web-based career development company.