Later this year our first born turns 20. Her generation has been the first to grow up in the “social” World we all now inhabit. Migrating from MSN messenger a brief flirtation with MySpace before Facebook appeared on the scene. Now she can count twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Vine and Tumblr to the portfolio of sites that enable her to connect and share with friends.
In the early days it wasn’t quite as all-consuming as it is now. Accessibility was limited to time on Dad’s laptop or PC but as we all know now smartphone and tablet proliferation provides instant easy access.
As a parent we will naturally be protective over the sites visited and posts read and made by our children but it’s not always easy to build and maintain trust whilst coming across as an Orwellian control freak.
Parenting is one thing but what of ourselves? Are we immune from the attractions of social media and the desire to connect and build our own virtual networks? For some the thought of sharing aspects of their lives on any potentially public platform is just too scary or ridiculous to consider. For others it opens a whole new world of opportunity.
Successful social media entrepreneurs have created impressive personal brands that can equal that of a large business. Commentators and influencers are now being actively sought out by the traditional brands to aid them in their quest to understand and grow their own sphere of influence online.
What about you? Do you see yourself as falling into the “personal brand” category? From my perspective anyone who is prepared to put themselves out there with a unique and homespun message that
shares even a small part of their lives has created a brand. The difficulty with such a notion is that people see a brand as belonging to something far greater than an individual, its Nike, Coke, Apple, Dyson, Virgin…. But just consider the celebrity brand. Stephen Fry, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, One Direction, Jeremy Clarkson; there are hundreds of examples. One of the most stunning examples of an individual harnessing the power of social media is that of Barack Obama and yes he had a team behind him but the principle of Obama the brand, his message and reach through social media is a lesson we can all draw upon.
If using social media for personal or business purposes or in my case a schizophrenic combination of both you really should take time to think about how your persona is presented. I often see accounts on twitter where individuals are obliged by their employers to state that the tweets produced are their own and not associated with the business they’re fronting. I understand why these statements are made but I do fear they undermine any efforts to positively promote that business, it gives an impression that they are free to talk behind the businesses back rather than be trusted to offer opinion and general comment on the world around them. If you’re worried about what someone might say in the name of your business or by any loose association, don’t give them the keys to the account!
Back to the personal brand idea – what should you be doing to make the most of your social media presence?
10 Tips for Personal Branding with Social Media
- Think about why you’re investing time in social media sites
- Be careful not to imitate others, be original and find your own voice.
- Draw up a short list of simple objectives, what do you want from all this time you’re investing?
- Consider setting yourself some basic “house rules” for social media use such as:
- No swearing
- Respect others
- Block negative contributions from your network
- Protect and enhance your reputation
- Add value to your network
- Ask for feedback from others who you trust to give an honest appraisal of your online persona, does it match your own thoughts?
- Don’t get hung up on social ranking scores
- Focus on the level of genuine interactions
- Regularly review where you are against your objectives and don’t be afraid of changing them
- Update the profile pic to keep things fresh
- Try not to take yourself too seriously
The last on the list could easily be top. One of the biggest “turn offs” is the overly earnest, terribly persistent and infuriatingly opinionated narcissist. It’s really not a good look; but given the personality type they’re often so self-obsessed they don’t see what we can.
Being aware of your personal brand is not taking yourself too seriously it’s actually taking responsibility for your current and future reputation. Most employers and clients now “Google” the names of individuals who they might be working with. It’s clear that those who have strong, well established and consistent content will put themselves in the frame for future work.
As far as branding goes…it really is getting personal.
David Laud – i2i Business Solutions LLP