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!