The Most Important Brand (You) and Social Media

What would you say to the entire world? How do you want to be perceived? What would you like your epitaph to be? Do you actually think of this as you tweet, update your status, and post?

While the news is saturated with stories of young teens sexting, texting, and posting scary stuff, it is not just a juvenile issue. Whether you accept it or not, you are a brand now. And social media communicates your brand more so than a resume/CV will ever display. You are building a portfolio of information that sets your brand reputation. The hell with “Big Brother” watching, it is all out there … unless YOU control it.

So I’ll share with you my brand, Social Steve …

When I first set out using Twitter, WordPress, and LinkedIn, I was working on a start-up venture that delivered a unique way to monetize social networks – an alternative to existing advertisement models. I wanted to attract potential investors and partners without being blatant about it. I would post about challenges with digital advertisement and hint that there were excellent alternatives. After some period of time, a couple of companies contacted me and were interested in having me help them out with their social media initiatives.

My social network monetization start-up did not move forward, but my social media consulting sprung. At this point, I wanted to continue to grab the attention of potential businesses looking for some guidance and after building a relationship (very important to do first) would ultimately yield some paid engagements. This caused a slight change in the brand, Social Steve. I provided information, tips, and guidance on the intersection of marketing and social media. My goal, establish a reputation as someone with strong subject matter knowledge and experience.

At the same time, it is important to make sure that your target audience sees a person behind the brand. You must humanize the brand – make the real you come out. I decided that I needed to add some of the personal side of me to the Social Steve brand. The areas of my life that I decided would be best to humanize the Social Steve brand were my two loves – my family and music. From time to time, I tweet or post about activities I’m doing with my family and music I am listening to.

I am no longer a consultant and now work at Hachette Filipacchi Media (ELLE, Woman’s Day, ELLE Decor, Car and Driver, Road & Track, Cycle World, Premiere.com) heading up social media. While I am employed full time and I am not currently looking for a consulting contract or new position, the likelihood is that HFM is not the last place I will work at in my life. For me, it is important to keep the Social Steve brand alive. No agenda other than to spread useful information about marketing and social media. But you never know. I may be interested in something else at some time. I continue to build my portfolio and reputation. It will likely matter in the future.

You’ll notice that I did not mention Facebook as one of the social channels I use. I do actively use Facebook, but not for professional reasons or my brand Social Steve. Here is my litmus test for determining who I connect with – if I want you to see pictures of me, my wife, and my kids in our bathing suits on the beach, I’ll connect via Facebook. Hey, this even eliminates “friends” at work. Early in my social media days, I did accept some professional connections and I do regret it now. I no longer do. This is my conscious decision.

I provided a brief layout of my choices. By no means are there any specific rules that are correct. These are personal decisions, but the point is that you should set your own predetermined “brand position” and select the appropriate social distribution channels that are right for you.

Often, when I worked with companies in my consulting business, I would have them write out a positioning statement. The positioning statement template looks like this:

• For …………………… [target customer]
• Who …………………. [key qualifier – form]
• Our product is a ……. [product category]
• That provides ………. [key benefit]
• Unlike ……………….. [main competitor]
• Our product ………… [key point of differentiation]

Now I am not saying that you should fill in this template or that it is exactly applicable for personal brands, but look at it and give it some thought as it pertains to you the brand.
How do you want to be perceived and what differentiates you. Set this in you mind if not written down.

Something else to think about. I’ve interviewed a number of candidates for open positions and hired a few in the past year or so. Do you know how much I find out about people by just searching online? I remember the days when you went on an interview and you would research the company and find out about them. While this is still true, the reverse is more telling. The hiring manager can filter you in or out because YOU have left a trail. Does this trace shed you in good light and communicate your desired brand reputation?

Back to your use of social channels … remember, what you communicate should either reinforce your “personal position” or humanize you the brand. Both are extremely important and there should be a good balance of both. But also remember that when you convey the human side of you, your communiqué should never jeopardize your position and how you want to be perceived.

Have you thought about this and are you executing appropriately?

Make It Happen!
Social Steve

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21 Comments

Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, brand reputation, brands, marketing, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Uncategorized

21 responses to “The Most Important Brand (You) and Social Media

  1. KH

    Yes I do think about it and I try to improve… try to improve… Merci.

  2. Steve
    Good to hear what you’re doing and how you got to this point while thinking of the future.

    Always good to be honest and informative then you don’t have to back track, and always caring and sharing. So that someone tracing your activity can see a real person with faults too, we should never hide and always akcnowledge we are all learning all the time.

    Thanks for being there always enjoy your writing.

  3. Mark –

    Thanks for your comments and continued support. You bring up a great point I missed – transparency – a must for the social world.

    Thanks for your input!

    Best,
    Social Steve

  4. Bjarne

    hi Steve

    Thanks for a very interesting article and some food for thoughts. I have since the beginning of Internet done what you tried to do, make a living as an entrepreneur. I guess the two of us come from two different islands (background) , and that is sometimes crusial for our professional journey. I find it hard to produce the evidence (why), but when I meet my friends I certainly know why I did what I did, and why my friends did not do the same as I did. It is also much easier for me to do the same thing over and over again!…and I guess that is why I ended up as a serial entrepreneur. By the way, I am right now planning my next venture.
    I have given this phenomenon that you raise some thoughts, and I decided to keep my professional online-life separate from my personal online-life. I can not explain why, but it was perhaps natural for me since my friends are more interested in my family issues while my business partners (almost 100% of my customers) are not part of my facebook life.
    Anyway, I am looking forward to follow your career!…both professionally and personally.

    All the best

    Bjarne

  5. Yes its important to humanise brand, but you pick and choose how much of your humanity to publicise, when its within the business forum !!

    Quite right that those you connect with on a personal Facebook page you are happy for warts and all to go to them, because not only will they see what you are up to, but will see what type of company you keep !!

    Facebook business pages bridge the gap and let you filter those who are both friends and business connections into your business thoughts.

    Its basically how we operate in real life. We have friends we would not bore with “shop talk” and we have business “friends” who we would not get the drunken Xmas party photos out for :)

    • Thanks for the comments. The point you make (which I agree with) is that you need to segment personal and professional socialization. This is not a hard-line as some communication should fall in both. But certainly filter as appropriate. Also, we need to build relationships on the business side or front. So the social channels used for business must include some communication that humanize things.

      Best,
      Social Steve

  6. Nice one Steve–it’s our observation too that Facebook is less strong a place to build a human professional brand than LinkedIn or Twitter–although in many ways it affords more insight into someone.

    There is two additional elements to this:
    a. discoverability – as you establish your personal presence, one immediate reward is discoverability. LinkedIn is playing up to this with the ‘people who searched for you’ capability. But it’s something that is worth bearing in mind — a social web presence will mean you are more discoverable, which means being more deliberate
    b. relative perception – it’s one thing to create a brand, it’s another thing to understand how you are being perceived. On a network like twitter growth in followers or RTs of your messages are an OK first order proxy indication of this. But increasingly, you’ll need better understanding of how you are perceived and what impact your digital brand presence is having on your key communities.

  7. We’re living in an ultra-competitive, stimuli-saturated world where four seconds is all we’ve got to get customers hooked. One of the best gateways to giving your personal branding presence immediacy and differentiation is a catchy slogan on your front page + branding material.

    • Simon – yes, I agree.

      If you want more than I covered in this article, you can continue on some of my “A-Path” postings.

      After you get their attention and attract them, you need to have them gain affinity for you, become your audience, and ultimately become your advocate. (Many more steps than I covered in this article). See previous posts on the A-Path in my blog. Just search A-Path on this blog search.

      Best,
      Social Steve

  8. Steve:

    Great article and very important information for everyone active in the social media and networking world.,

    Russ Kovar

  9. As always, insightful comments Steve. Definitely something that deserves thoughtful consideration.
    Interested about where to draw the line between work & personal, I also try to separate my personal and work life brands on Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn, but that doesn’t always work out!
    For some entrepreneurs it makes sense to have a personal brand and company brand be one and the same on certain channels – see @zappos CEO Tony Hseih.
    Thanks!

    • Hi Matt,

      Thanks for your response. There is NO correct answer on the line between personal and professional. This is a conscious decision each individual needs to make within their comfort level and must support the position YOU want. The point is think about it and know what you want and stay in the boundaries.

      Best,
      Social Steve

  10. Steve
    Appreciate your insight as it re-enforces the message I share when working with clients on their career management. One’s reputation is based on their interactions, in person and online based on the messages they consistently deliver. Their style and tone of message is important as well. Thank you for sharing this and explaining how it works for you on a professional and personal level.
    Best,
    Lisa

  11. Thank you for another great article. Where else could anyone get that kind of information in such a perfect way of writing? I have a presentation next week, and I am on the look for such information.

  12. Pingback: Marketing Leadership (with a hint of Social Media) « SocialSteve's Blog

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