Personal Branding – The Content of Your Social Presence


Back into 2007, I started to get active on social media.  This was more of a professional conscious move than a personal one.  At that time, I was ending a position as a VP of Product Marketing at a technology company and planning my next professional pivot.

Coincidently, social networks such as MySpace (remember them), Facebook, and Twitter were emerging from early adopter stages.  I had a revelation that marketing was going to dramatically change.  Brands could no longer own their brand image.  Yes, they could still find ways to control it, but not outright own it.  The democratize public would now have more control over the validity of what a brand marketed and on the brand’s reputation. Any brand could throw positive superlatives as their slogans, but if people called foul, the voices of the audience they marketed to could make or break their success.

Thinking about social media in a professional context rather than a personal one first has had its benefits. I was not a teenager when social media became the communication platform it is today.  You won’t find posts of sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll (metaphorically or literally) from me on Facebook or elsewhere that I regret.  But we all know the potential harms of that.  So let’s discuss the use of social media for a more mature audience.

Social media is your personal marketing tool. It is your opportunity to introduce and reinforce what you are all about – your experiences, subject-matter expertise, leadership style, and persona.

Let’s start out with one overarching rule – determine which social networks you use for personal and professional purposes.  For example, I use Facebook for only personal stuff and LinkedIn and Twitter for professional posts.  I am a voyeur on Instagram and really do not post there.  With regards to Facebook and who I connect with, I have a litmus test – do I want you to see me in a bathing suit on the beach or not.  That test eliminates people I work with.  Yes, you can make a second Facebook account for professional use.  (They don’t like that, but I have.)

Now think about where and how you should post on social networks such that it helps your professional career.  The first question I would ask you is what is your value proposition as a professional. Yes, this is very much like a brand value proposition, but rather a statement about the value you bring to an organization.  What are you a subject-matter expert of?  Understand what that is and how it changes over time.  I am not suggesting you ever post your value proposition, but EVERYTHING you post in a professional social media environment should reinforce your value proposition.  If you are a welder, you should post articles about that profession, suggest tips on processes, show pictures of yourself in that setting.  It does not matter what your profession is. And your postings should be both original and curated content.

I do believe that social postings for a professional are a lifetime commitment.  Not just something you do when you are looking for something in return like sales or a job.  You need your portfolio of content out there all the time.  Then few things can happen: 1) people come to you for help or advice, 2) people follow you because you offer value to them, and 3) a great opportunity arises that you never even expected to happen.  All of these payoffs happen serendipitously. But there is at least one other positive outcome, and that is when you are looking for a new job, you have already opened your network and following, and reinforced the value you bring to an organization.

Do not underestimate the power of your professional brand and some of the “marketing” processes you should apply to your own brand.


Make It Happen,






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10 Hallmarks of Successful Brands in 2019

10 Hallmarks of Successful Brands in 2019

  1. Empathy.


  1. Morals and Dignity.


  1. Customer/client appreciation


  1. Strategic advocacy development.


  1. Coupling of intuition and data-driven.


  1. Trifecta media – owned, earned and paid.


  1. “How can I help you” mentality and commitment.


  1. Content relevance driven by target audience needs and behavior.


  1. Social and cultural relevance.


  1. Shift from corporate communication to customer/client communication.

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Who is Driving Your Social Strategy and Results?

Imagination Working Man Woman Traveling Adventure

After 11 years of driving social media strategies and execution, I finally see that just about every brand, organization, and/or company understand that they must invest in social/content implementations.  The number of open “social media manager” positions is astounding.  I find this most compelling to see having been an early thought leader and adopter in digital marketing.  But there is still (at least) one downside – do the people filling these positions understand how to implement a compelling strategy and plan that drives executive key performance indicators (KPIs)?

Over and over again, I see companies aiming to hire a millennial that lives social media with the expectation that these individuals will drive business results.  Many companies want results, but do not want to budget significant expenses in the area that they know they need to play in.  And to top that, they often are not sure what results to aim for and expect.

But there is an alternative solution to hiring someone without significant marketing experience and busting your budget for an experienced digital marketing executive with deep roots in marketing to deliver measurable results against KPIs.

You need to hire an experienced digital marketing executive that will formulate your social, content, influencer, and paid media marketing strategy and plan and initiate the execution. You need to hire someone that will drive real results and not “just do it.”  Yes, this person will require more budget then just hiring a “social media whiz,” but this position need not be permanent.

Consider hiring a seasoned marketer for a project.  Let him/her examine your brand position, the target audience you serve, competitors, set performance metrics, and build a strategy and plan that will drive results.  Have them mentor and train a more junior social media manager and then let that more cost-effective social media manager execute brand initiatives on a continuous base.  You need someone with real marketing experience and a successful track record, to drive results, but need not keep them on board forever.

Think about this. Would you be willing to invest in a one-time project with a finite budget to drive digital success?  No hidden agenda – I am available to be that person to set you up for success on a project bases.

Whether I help you or someone else does it, consider having an experienced professional define the strategy and plan found at the bottom of this article before you can expect significant, meaningful results from a social media manager.

If you would like to have an informational/exploratory conversation regarding how this approach might help you and your brand, please reach out to me at and we will set up some time to chat.

Make It Happen,

Steve Goldner


This is an outline of a strategy/plan I have delivered to major brands:

1   Executive Summary

2   Social Marketing Objective

3   Mandatory Elements

3.1   Monitoring and Listening

3.2   Social engagement

3.3   Brand Community

3.4   User Generated Content (UGC)

3.5   Influencer outreach, connection, partnering, and advocacy

3.6   Key Response

4   Assumptions

5   Social Marketing Strategy Definitions

5.1   Target Audience Definition

5.1.1   Brand Target Audience

5.1.2   Social Target Audience

5.2   Journey of a Buyer

5.3   Messaging Strategy

5.4   Social Content Strategy

5.4.1   Content Types   Reviews   Shopper Tools   Buyer’s Guides   News   UGC   Engaging Discussions on Brand Community   Feature Articles   Videos   Podcast   Memes   Images   Polls and Questions   Brand Relevance to Current Events and Culture   Social Movement   Curation   Content Types on Various Social Channels

6   Social Media Channel Plan

6.1   Facebook

6.1.1   Competition on Facebook

6.1.2   Recommendations for Brand on Facebook

6.2   Twitter

6.2.1   Competition on Twitter

6.2.2   Recommendations for Brand on Twitter

6.3   Pinterest

6.3.1   Competition on Pinterest

6.3.2   Recommendations for Brand on Pinterest

6.4   Instagram

6.4.1   Competition on Instagram

6.4.2   Recommendations for Brand on Instagram

6.5   YouTube

6.5.1   Competition on YouTube

6.5.2   Recommendations for Brand on YouTube

7   Monitoring and Listening

8   Identifying Influencers

9   Engagement Strategy

9.1   Engagement Strategy – Influencers

9.2   Engagement Strategy – Social Engagement

9.3   Engagement Strategy – Social Channels

9.4   Comments and posts by users on Brand’s social channels

9.5   Engagement Strategy – In-Market Buyers

9.6   Engagement Strategy – Community Members

10   Brand Community

11   User-Generated Content Strategy

12   Brand Content Planning

13   Social Measurement Strategy

14   Conclusion

15   Appendix



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How to Maximize Professional Results – Restarting Work After The Holiday



After taking some time off from work, how do you re-ignite your professional life?  I never really gave this much thought until this past week.

Working at a start-up business, I never have enough resources to get everything done that needs to be completed.  For me, I always tried to catch everything that needed to get covered while not showing signs of discomfort or stress to those around me.  The reality is that no matter how you feel, it does NO good to add tension in the workplace.  There will always be someone in the organization that is will do that, unfortunately, so it is important to overcompensate for those individuals and provide a sense of calm.

But that was not the big ah-ha for me this holiday time.  My kids have been away at college and having them back in our household really was extremely special.  Not that we did anything special, but being together was and always will be special. It is good to have a special diversion from work.  It truly took my head out of work – everyone needs that.

And clearing your head is probably the most important preface to heading back to work after the holiday.  Now take advantage of your break and let it create a new clear vision for you.  Ask yourself the questions you asked yourself when you started your job, your leadership position. (Leaders can be found at every level in the organization chart – see this.)  What is the organizational mission?  What is the company strategy? What is the value you deliver to your target audience? How do you create the most positive customer/client-experience?  And most importantly, what are you, your team, your company doing to address positive results related to the answers to these questions and your organizations KPIs (key performance indicators).

When I look back at these exact questions posed and assess them in my professional life, I see a need for change.  For too long there have been daily activities that do not make sense to continue.

The pressure of driving strong business results often makes organizations deviate from worthwhile day-by-day endeavors.  Yes, we often do something to fix a short-term result that makes sense at that given moment, but does not necessarily support long-term winning endeavors.  I believe that successful executives must have a clear understanding of the difference between the two.  I have worked for a “shoot-from-the-hip” executive.  This person pushed the company to solve daily problems without having a vision and strategy to support long-term success. As a result, l can document the missed opportunities because a cohesive plan was not in place.  A task to support a cohesive strategy and plan was not in place. We missed the boat on many market opportunities. As said previously, leaders come from all parts of an organization independent company structure and individuals’ positions and that means my accountability, your accountability.

So as you face getting back to work after the holiday, take the morning (or even the night before) to re-assess the right questions about your business and maybe even more importantly, the people your serve as customers/clients and take corrective action. Think about your daily activities that you need to tweak to support long-term success.  I am certain you have gotten away from at least a few of them. Adjust and …


Make It Happen,


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10 Attributes of Leaders and Leadership


  1. Leaders drive the success of others around them as opposed to focusing on their own success. ~ Steve Goldner


  1. The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership. ~ Harvey S. Firestone


  1. A boss has the title, leaders have the people. ~ Simon Sinek


  1. Leadership is the art of giving people a platform for spreading ideas that work. ~ Seth Godin


  1. A leader is someone that people want to follow. ~ Steve Goldner


  1. Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results. ~ George Patton


  1. Leadership is not just about giving energy… it’s unleashing other people’s energy. ~ Paul Polman


  1. Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations. ~ Peter F. Drucker


  1. Leadership is unlocking people’s potential to become better. ~ Bill Bradley


  1. Leaders provide the calm in the midst of a storm. ~ Steve Goldner




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Brand Ambassadors and Influence Marketing

ba and influ

As social technologies have become a way of life, an interesting outcome has happened. Individuals are speaking up and their word has greater influence on purchase decisions compared to what the actual brand has to say.

Think about it. To what extent do you believe what a brand has to say in their advertisements and corporate communication? If you were looking for great product or service providers, would you be more apt to believe someone you know that has had experience with the product or service?

Pretty straightforward and yet some are still mystified by influence marketing. There may be many definitions out there for influence marketing, but let me give you mine. “Inspiring and motivating objective people to distribute positive word of mouth marketing for a given brand.” It is that simple.

So who might be your influencers? Everyone thinks that you should work to get the person with 1 million followers to speak on behalf of your brand. So if Kim Kardashian actually tweets something about a product, do we actually believe her? Or is it more compelling if your friend mentions accolades for a product?

Do people with a mass following actually influence? A recent marketing study, “found that users with fewer than 1,000 followers received an average of 8.03 ‘likes’ and 0.56 comments per post. Those who had between 1,000 and 10,000 followers garnered an average of 4.04 “likes” and 0.27 comments.” (Source: eMarketer)

I am responsible for audience development for a brand. I will tell you that I look at each person who mentions my brand or mentions a topic relevant to my brand as a potential brand ambassador. Anyone that is talking about something relevant to my brand on social media has the potential power to influence others as it relates to my brand – generate awareness, consideration, and conversion. I look to start a conversation and engage with each and every one of them. Yes, that is a great investment of time and energy. But if I can motivate others to share my product/service with their network, that is the most powerful and compelling marketing that I can achieve. Thus, I view each person behind a relevant mention as a potential brand ambassador that I want to establish a relationship with.

I define influencers slightly different than a brand ambassador. An influencer is someone that is a subject matter expert relevant to a brand’s purpose or mission. They are not necessarily someone with a mass following, but rather an individual that has a strong and compelling voice on a topic relevant to a brand. I work very hard to develop relationships with these individuals. I want to share their voice on my brands’ social and communication channels. I want to find out what these potential influencers look to accomplish with regards to extending their brand. I work to find a win-win – truly. Most often these individuals are bloggers or some other form of content provider. I want to share their content and look for reciprocation. I carry their content on my brand’s digital and social channels so they are apt to share my brand with their audience.

There is no secret here. The way to work and get people to share your brand, become brand ambassadors and advocates is to build a meaningful relationship where both sides get value out of the “partnership.” If you are building a brand ambassador and influence marketing program, you must understand the WIFM (“what’s in it for me”) perspective of the potential partner and make sure you deliver.

This is not theory. It is successful implementation. Know how to develop a successful influence-marketing program.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Digital Marketing Must be a Hell of a Lot More “Real” than “Virtual”

Get Real

“Digital marketing is an umbrella term for the marketing of products or services using digital technologies, mainly on the Internet, but also including mobile phones, display advertising, and any other digital medium.

The way in which digital marketing has developed since the 1990’s and 2000’s has changed the way brands and businesses utilize technology and digital marketing for their marketing.” (Source)

Many brands and companies view digital marketing as a vehicle to spread awareness and generate sales to the masses. The technology allows them to do so. While these last two sentences have validity, they restrain brands from capturing the pinnacle success of digital marketing.

I suggest brands look at digital marketing from a behavioral perspective rather than a technological perspective. Look at your target audience’s behavior using digital channels. Digital is a way of life for all. Thus, it is natural for marketers to reach their audience within the channels they use regularly. But marketers must go deeper into audience behavior to drive success. How does the target market use the various digital platforms? What are they looking for, asking for? Monitor conversations as they relate to your exact brand name as well as keywords that relate to your brand offering. Listen. Observe. Learn.

So what exactly do I mean by “real” versus “virtual”? If you do a Google search on “virtual,” you see it is defined as “almost or nearly as described, but not completely or according to strict definition,” and “not physically existing as such but made by software to appear to do so.” “Appear to do so” – that is death for capturing users, awareness, customers, loyalists, and advocates. People are looking for real engagement with brands. Automated messaging and responses, and bots turn them off.

Let me give you some examples of real digital marketing:

1) I actively searched, followed, and engaged with subject matter expertise as it pertains to the brand I represent. I have connected with these people – online, email, on the phone, and in person. I figure out how they can promote my brand AND equally important, I learn what they are looking for in a partnership. What do they want to accomplish for their brand? We work together to drive positive results for both sides and remain relevant and valuable to the audience we serve. This is the essence of “influence marketing.” I have asked my “partners” to promote various content from my brand. I have asked them to engage in my brand’s community. And when I do so, I also ask them, “How can I help you?” We establish a real relationship. Not a virtual one.

2) You need to actively monitor people who are asking for help as it relates to the solution your brand provides. Determine keywords and use a social monitoring tool. Engage with these individuals. Try to offer help. Then you can subtly promote your brand. Once again – real engagement.

3) Monitor activity on all digital platforms. Make sure to thank people for their participation. Thank them for their mention of your brand. Like their posts. Make sure you respond to their comments. Have real conversations pretty much the same as you do in your own personal life.

So you might think this all makes good sense in theory. But what type of results does it drive. I track numerous KPIs (key performance indicators) for my brand. Look at the various charts below.


Every KPI is trending upward. If you look at “weekly mentions” and “site engagements” you will notice up and down results week to week. This should not worry you. What is important is looking at a normalized trend. Even though there is zigzag fluctuation, the normalized results trend upward.

Yes, there are some digital marketing functions that are less “real” and more technologically driven. Examples are SEO and targeted paid media. These are definitely important as well. But I will guarantee you that you will not get compelling results if you implement these “virtual” digital marketing technologies without “real” digital marketing efforts. There is strong synergy integrating both.

The bottom line is you need to implement “real” engagement, connections, and conversations with your potential influencers and target audience. Then invest time in listening to them as well. Provide solutions and advice they are looking for.

Get real!

Make It Happen,
Social Steve


Filed under behavior, brand marketing, digital marketing, digital media, social marketing, Social Steve, SocialSteve