When I think about branding, I think of the scorched brand on a cow’s rump which says, “This here cow is mine, ya’ll!” Then I think about commercials selling products on TV. “This product makes laundry cleaner,” or “Buy this new car and you’ll be as cool as Matthew McConaughey.” Personal brands aren’t much different. It’s the marketing tool that shapes how we are perceived.
If you have a social media account like Facebook, then you have a personal brand.
It’s the overall impression you give others. Think of it as your image. Before social media, it was developed over time by friends, acquaintances, and everyone you met. Internet interaction has multiplied our connections one-hundred-fold. Instead of conversing with a friend, our words are blasted out to everyone, (or quite a few, depending on the algorithm of the month.)
If you think people don’t have brands, think again.
Everything you post, including photos and video, tells the public who you are. Many people who would never talk about certain subjects with their friends, have no problem posting their opinions publicly online. This shapes people’s opinion of you.
You’re shaking your head.
You market or “advertise” yourself through social media. It’s just like blogging. Each user has a home page, a banner, and a profile picture. Every post gives followers a glimpse of what resonates, inspires, or enflames you, which may or may not resonate with others. Vacation photos, life’s milestones, highs, and lows, and political views are personally curated as part of your brand.
Why is branding important to everyone?
Never before has there been a tool to project who we are socially like we have now. Unless you were a celebrity featured in newspapers or magazines or interviewed on radio or TV, we only had social circles in which to share our news. Now complete strangers can read about us. They will develop an overall impression and will form an opinion of who we are based on what we post.
Actions still speak louder than words, right?
Not anymore. The written word has become action. We live in a fast-paced world where we don’t connect in real life like we did a decade ago. Facebook can bridge those gaps in a very positive way. But it can also hurt your relationships.
I don’t have to tell you how the last presidential election affected relationships. That’s pretty obvious. It was a divisive campaign. Our country continues to divide. Taking a stand is up to you. Social media can be a great forum for discussion. But keep in mind you probably won’t change anyone’s mind. In fact, a Facebook study found independents put on the defensive would take the opposite view. Most republicans and democrats weren’t swayed at all. Voicing an opinion is an emotional release which can be good. But be prepared for reprocussions.
Look at me! Look at me! I’ve got something to say! ME! ME! ME!
Okay, so you know where this is going. It’s not always what you say that can hurt your personal brand, it can be HOW OFTEN you say ANYTHING. Disclaimer: I’m not a huge fan of Facebook for a lot of reasons and this is one of my pet peevish things that annoys me to no end. I tend to see the same people in my feed every day. If they post more than once, every one of them ends up in my feed. Some of my friends who don’t post as often become buried. It reminds me of that kid in school who constantly raised their hand.
Think before you post.
Ask yourself the “Who will give a shit?” question. It works for me! I ask myself that question before posting anywhere. True friends will always be happy for your achievements. Acquaintances will yawn and scroll through your feed. Too many brag or political posts and some may block you.
Why? Because you inadvertently branded yourself in a way that may annoy people.
Social media is like recess. THIS IS MY FREE TIME!
Most of us use social media as a tool to communicate ideas or to connect. The beauty of it? We get to choose who is in our feeds. Life is too short to jump on FB, Instagram, Twitter, or whatever, scroll through our feeds, and leave with our blood pressure pumping through our ears. I don’t have time for negativity.
Mistakes in branding.
Are you a Wendy Whiner? Do you use social media to vent about others to keep from smashing plates in your kitchen? Would you rant at a cocktail party with other party goers? Hey, that may be who you are. Then own it.
When thinking about what to post, you might ask yourself if it’s worth pissing people off and coming off as a negative person. Maybe it is! Maybe your view isn’t negative at all, but very divisive. Do you write constant, “Look at me!” posts? You don’t care? Go for it! It’s your brand.
Remember that reading the written word leaves a more lasting impression than a half-heard conversation. Unless you delete your posts, followers reread them. Some may copy them for an inopportune time later. It happens.
How do you change your brand?
Ask yourself a list of questions. Are you selling something? Are you using the platform to gain followers somewhere else? To connect with friends? All of the above?
If you think you’ve made some mistakes, don’t worry. We all have. Believe me. I’m always fine-tuning my brand on my road to self-improvement. Be consistent in your message or the impression you would like others to have of you. Move forward.
Some personal examples:
I started blogging to build a writers platform to sell my books someday. I don’t want to alienate anyone. As an inspiration, travel, misadventure, and lifestyle blogger, I want to help people too. If it’s all about entertainment like my last hailstorm post that’s okay too.
With the advent of “Stories” on Instagram and Facebook, I can see the benefit of giving (those who care) a glimpse into my personal life. I like that it doesn’t infect anyone’s feed. You have to click to check out my posts. Nice!
My personal “manifesto” or motto is to stay positive no matter what life throws at my pointed head. I’m an optimist and hope to convey that in my writing. I want readers to come away with a smile on their faces.
When my brother died, I wrote a couple of blog posts about death. I didn’t blog them until I found a positive angle. Some of them were pretty humorous. I could have written a lot more, but death isn’t a part of my brand.
We’ve all made mistakes branding ourselves publicly. It’s how we learn and grow. Knowing I’m presenting an image in real life or online, makes me pause before posting. Now I ask myself, “Am I being my best self? Do I want this comment (either verbally or written) to be a part of my brand? There’s definitely a time and place for sharing our deepest and most controversial thoughts. The coolest part? It’s all up to you.
Branding helps us to stand out from the crowd. Be unique. Don’t be afraid!
I wear my hat at writers conferences since people recognize me from my profile picture. One guy at a conference asked me if I was going to wear it every day. He seemed annoyed but I wore it anyway. Ha! I try to blog in a positive way. I write lots of stories about struggling with a twist of inspiration like the day I snowboarded and what it taught me about challenges. I was stiff and sore but smiling the next day.
You can always tweak your brand.
I’ve traveled a lot lately and have a few more trips coming up. Now my blog includes them as a regular feature. Traveling changes my perspective, like when I flew to California and was inspired by creativite people. I’m all about adventure.
The internet is a fast-moving, competitive, and volitile place. I don’t gravitate toward those who shout for attention since I value my hearing, nor the ones arguing their points although sometimes I’ll gawk from the sidelines. I’ll roll my eyes at the complainers who are always angry over some slight and will gross-out over injury photos while cringing. Others won’t be bothered by these things. I focus on those who are genuine when they share the exciting highs in their lives and will pray for them when they’re low.
Although I have an opinion like everyone, I’m not here to judge. Instead, be aware that every time you post, you’re honing your brand. So tighten up your saddle and giddyup!
I love that none of the cowboys are talking in this photo.
What do you want your brand to convey? Do you believe everyone has a brand? What annoys you online?