You Are Your Own Brand

I’ve said for a long time that Twitter is an egotistical social platform. Facebook has turned into ‘success theatre’, with friends choreographing themselves, sharing their best ‘selfies’ to the screen. Or their worst. Depending on how they want to be portrayed. We’re all selling ourselves. Like it or not, Social Media is human, and behind every human is a brand. It’s all about me and myself.

What you post online is a reflection of yourself, and the company you represent. How often have you Google’d the name of a potential new employee? Do you check their LinkedIn profile? Their blog? Their Facebook? Their Instagram? That quick peek to check if there are any drunken photos? Of course you do. That’s the world we live in, and it creates both risk, and great opportunity.

Perception

You control how the world sees you. You can portray yourself as an expert in retail, an expert in travel, or an expert photographer. I am none of those. Which is why I promote myself as a flat cap wearing photobomber who took 5 months off to go travelling.

On that note, I was sat in a coffee shop in Christchurch during my travels, when I came across an article in the local paper. It was about managing your own brand. This is the comment that sticks in my head, and prompted this post:

“Careers are really made now online….think of the online world as a global talent pool. That’s where you’re going to be finding people. If you don’t exist in that pool…then you can’t compete in that pool”

Careers can also be ruined too, if not managed carefully. Only last week, a Friends Reunited employee was suspended for tweeting a comment following the murder in Woolwich, London.

15 Minutes of Fame

It wasn’t long ago that celebrities, actors and sports stars hired their own PR agents. Building a human brand took a long time before the Social Media boom. The TV series Entourage was based around just that – the agent selling the actor as successfully as he could to get the best film roles. In the socially connected world we live in today, it’s the same principle, but with the celebrities, actors and sports stars having more control over how they are portrayed online.

Lance Armstrong - The biggest high profile personal branding fail in recent times

Lance Armstrong is probably the biggest high profile personal branding fail in recent years. For the rest of us, we’re all micro-celebrities. I once joked I was famous in the EH1 postcode. To some extent, that was true. We’re all famous to someone. A friend once told me we’re all angling for our 15 minutes of fame. They weren’t wrong. If we get a retweet from a big name celebrity or brand, everyone and their dog has to know.

Trust

Year on year, statistics show that people trust recommendations from family and/or friends more than anything else when making a purchase online. That creates a huge opportunity for brands to make themselves more human. Would you trust Brand X? Or would you trust the person behind Brand X?

Many people I know have separate Twitter and Facebook profiles – one for work, one for play. But who do you trust? Who do you follow? And then comes the problem of fake people and fake accounts.

You never know who is looking at your profile, or how it might affect your career down the road. As a result, we have become more cautious about the version of ourselves that we present to the world. I mainly use Facebook for friends, family and close colleagues, and Twitter for travel and work. But I am who I am. I don’t have multiple accounts or profiles. Managing my own brand is difficult enough, let alone managing two or three of me (though having two versions of me would be awesome).

Embrace It

For the SEO’s amongst us, Matt Cutts is a great example of a personal brand. We’ve hung on every word Matt has said for many years, and continue to trust his advice. Do we trust Google more because of his brand? Of course we do.

You are your own brand, whether you work for a big company, small company, or even if you’re sat on a beach in Thailand writing your first travel blog post.

Managing your personal brand should now be part of your daily routine. Be honest, be authentic, be you. Embrace your 15 minutes of fame. Just don’t steal my flat cap wearing, photobombing thunder.

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