So, I’ve joined all the social networks with one personality or another and kept my ear to the ground to listen for buzz about hot topics. The buzz meter is ringing on Google for the keyword string “personal branding“. At first, I looked into it and sort of wrote it off as something overly contrived. Let’s face it, blogs are supposed to be authentic and real. The more we manage our “personalities”, won’t the magic of the medium go away?
So, I mulled it over for a day or two and it started to make sense. I am the first to say that I use different personalities with my participation in the various social media tools. Simply put, this is what personal branding is about. Personal branding refers to building all the aspects of your online personality. Just as TV personalities portray a consistent image in their professional capacities, when not “on the air”, they probably don’t have the exact same personality. Their on-air personality might be professionally dressed with ne’er a less than tasteful word coming from their lips. But, certainly at home on Saturdays, they are wearing a t-shirt and possibly using less than tasteful words while watching a sports game.
Online, we all have a personality but perhaps we don’t think about it as being so formal that we have a “personality”. Think about it, even with your good friends, you are a little more careful in an email than you are in person. This is your email personality. In my various social media tool participation, I participate with the personalities of mom, business woman, social media professional, etc. This particular blog is internally focused for our Archadeck, Outdoor Lighting Perspectives and Mosquito Squad franchise owners so my tone is much more natural.
Personal branding takes your online personality to the next level. Whereas we might be a little more careful about what we say in an email, we might be even more careful what we say in a WordPress blog post, in one of my twitter tweets, or on our Facebook Fan Page. We have a professional personality or a personal brand to uphold. Executing a personal branding strategy lives on 2 levels. The first level is formalizing and articularing your personal brand. The next level is marketing your personal brand.
On Twitter, my personal brand is a social media enthusiast. I follow the leading social media gurus like Robert Scobleizer almost exclusively. (Hopefully Robert will change his green gravatar soon) Therefore, one of my personal brand rules is NO PERSONAL POSTS. Your goal using social media and creating your personal brand is to be followed. It’s somewhat of a popularity contest. You want people to be interested enough in hearing what you say that they bookmark your blog, follow you on twitter, friend you on Facebook, etc. If I continued to articulate my personal brand on Twitter, I would say that I only contribute when my contribution is relevant, meaningful and interesting enough that the people I follow might be interested in reading. To do this, I work hard to follow the pulse of social media in other mediums, check twitter at least once/day and then my goal is to tweet according to strategy at least 3 times each week. At this point, you are probably thinking that this sounds so contrived that it’s not worth it. It is a little contrived. And, that does diminish the authenticity and thus the authenticity value of the content. But, through this process, I have learned a tremendous amount and made important professional connections that enjoy the benefits associated with business networking.
The second level of personal branding is to advertise your brand. In this step, you continue to socialize professionally through your chosen social media sites. But, in addition, you get out there and put references to yourself and your personal brand in other places. For example, you find another blog with interesting content and you comment on one of their blog posts with a link to your own blog. That gets your name in front of someone you would want to network professionally with. You join professional groups on LinkedIn and contribute content (with links to your social media) so other people in the group find out about your blog and your twitter, etc. You see if you can post on someone else’s blog as an author. You see if you can contribute an article to a professional publication where that article will be published on their website. You make sure they link that article back to your blog, etc.
There seems to be an expert, certainly self proclaimed, on personal branding. His name is Dan Schwabel. His blog is here. This may not be in line with my personal brand but definitely meets the rule of authenticity: I think his picture is detrimental to his personal brand. He looks too young to be an expert and his suit looks somewhat mobsterish. I think it would benefit his personal brand to look a little more genuine, a little more happy, and perhaps just a little older. I am guessing after my review of his personally branded photo, it is very unlikely that he is going to follow me on Twitter.