Why using the same status update is a bad idea

With use of social networking becoming even more popular, apps are springing up everywhere enabling you to update all your social networks in one go. This feature is even being incorporated into certain social networks. For example Twitter enables you to update Facebook and LinkedIn simply by adding #in or #fb to your tweet. Great news, right? Wrong!

But before I go on to explain myself, let me first ask you this. I want you to think about the following question: 

whatpersonareu1“What sort of person are you?”

Now, you might find it tricky to answer this question. Well, for a start, who’s asking? Do they know you already? How well do they know you? What sort of person are they? How long have they got? Your answer will very much depend on the conclusions you reach in answering these questions. Not only that, what is the reason that you’re answering this question. Is it conversational, or are you trying to sell yourself or are you trying to get rid of someone? Again, depending on your objective, you will have different answers.

Put simply, your answer will depend on your audience and your objective. So, now, think about who your audiences are on each of your social networks and what your objectives are for each network.

Facebook is likely to be your friends. If they’re not friends, then they’re at least people that you’ve met. LinkedIn on the other hand is going to be people in your professional network. You may have worked with them, met them at networking events or linked up with them through a group. Twitter, well, who knows who follows you on Twitter. They could be anyone, but essentially they’re interested in what you’ve got to say.

It might be easier to think about how what we say differs based on where we are. So, if we were to try and draw an analogy with real places, you know in the real touchy-feely non-digital world, what would that look like?

nottinghamyeoldesalutation

Well, Facebook is like being at the pub with your mates. LinkedIn is like being at a networking event, and Twitter is like being at a social event where you don’t really know many people, you might even be on a long train journey!

So, you’re in the pub. Your mate next to you is wittering on about stuff he always witters on about. He’s pretty dull when he gets going. But, you’ve known him for ages, and, he’s a really nice guy, so you put up with it. If you were at a networking event and you didn’t know him, you’d be making a beeline for the drinks table. The same goes for the social event. So, back in the online world; on Facebook, this means your status feeds are full of boring dross (sounds familiar?) But you can’t un-friend them, because they’re your friends. On LinkedIn, maybe you don’t care, because you only visit it once or twice a week and you probably miss most of it. On Twitter, you un-follow. Period.

Now the same applies to you. Speaking in a networking stylie at the pub will make everyone roll their eyes. They probably don’t even know what you do let alone care that you pitched to such-and-such and presented to whoever. On Facebook, you’ll share certain stories because people know you already. You feel safe saying certain things, offloading your crap day, because they’re your mates. And you’re not trying to impress in the way that you might be on LinkedIn. But, you whinge too much on Twitter and you come across as a whinge-bag. Your followers haven’t met you and don’t know that you’re usually the life and the soul of the party.

Now let’s go back to the real world. Imagine you’re at a wedding. Maybe you have some friends there. But if not, you think it might be a great time to meet some new people, you might even pick up some new work contacts. To avoid being sat on your own all night, you might be keeping your ears peeled for some interesting conversations that audienceyou could join in, or you might just strike up some random conversations. Either way, your goal here is to come across as interesting, so that you get to meet people. After all you never know who you might meet. The things you decide to say in this environment will be very different to those that you talk about at the pub, or indeed at the networking event.

Thinking about your environment, your audience and your objective is crucial in forming your response to a question.  So, the next time you answer the questions “What’s on your mind?” or “What’s happening?” are you going to give the same answer?

You might want to read these other posts on personal branding…

Personal Branding and your digital identity

Why Personal Branding isn’t all about the digital space

Why Personal Branding is relevant to business

3 reasons why you should NEVER use video on your site

Don’t hire a Personal Branding Pro until you’ve answered these 5 questions

The 5 perils of personal branding

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Don’t hire a Personal Branding Pro until you’ve answered these 5 questions

If you’ve considered hiring a professional to help you manage your personal brand, there are some things to bear in mind.

Personal brand management involves considering all aspects of your personal brand: your strengths, your results, your appearance, your knowledge and experience, your objectives and all collateral about you in the media - in the press and online. Large companies hire Brand Managers to manage their brands so why shouldn’t you?

Here are 5 questions you should ask yourself before you decide whether you need the help of a Personal Brand Manager, Consultant, Advisor or Coach.

1. Do you have what it takes?

Managing your personal brand requires a strategic approach, a plan and knowledge & experience of the various aspects of brand management. If you happen to be an ex-Brand Manager then you are very well suited to managing your personal brand. But if you’re not then you might find yourself having to learn many new skills and ways of working. These new skills and habits may be in conflict with your natural style.

2. Can you afford to be distracted?

Too much workManaging your personal brand is no small task. Depending on your line of work and your levels of activity, your personal brand management could be quite time consuming. Surely your main focus should be on what you do and doing it well, and not managing your personal brand. It’s all very well coming up with great plans, the real magic is in their timely execution. Your personal brand will suffer if there isn’t a consistent approach.

3. Do you know what you want to achieve and what’s possible?

Clarity around your goals is an important aspect of managing your personal brand. But equally important is knowing what’s possible. You may be familiar with what leaders in your field are doing, but by copying them you are not going to stand out. You need to be aware with what leading people outside your field are doing.

guardian angel4. Who’s keeping an eye on you?

It can be all too easy to come up with big plans for developing your personal brand. And, it can be even easier not to follow through. After all, if you’re doing it yourself, who’s going to find out? Right? Wrong! Who’s there to push you and keep you to task? Having a great team around you is more likely to lead to success.


pot-o-gold5. What are you missing out on?

Have you taken the time to consider how much you personal brand might be worth in the future? Do you know how your brand is worth now? Let’s say that that you’re brand is currently worth £60K (what you are able to earn in a year). Your future brand might be worth £500K. If mismanaged, you may take a lot longer to get there, if at all! Is it really worth not getting outside help to get you there?

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Finding your personal brand

There are lot of articles about on personal branding, with the majority talking about how important it is to have a personal brand. The rest of them talk about all the ways that you can increase the visibility of your personal brand in the online environment. But, before any work can be done to raise your profile, you need to be clear as to what your brand is. And working it out is not always straightforward. Well sure, it sounds straightforward when you talk about it

“… a personal brand is a blend of your strengths, personality, passion, values and goals….”

Working all that out takes quite a bit of time and effort. Let me just look at each one of these in turn.

Strengths
How many of us know our strengths? If you’ve been through corporate training, it’s likely that you’ve been subjected to a Myers Briggs profiling or similar. So, for you guys, it’s a bit easier. But for the rest of you, identifying your strengths can be difficult. Why?

  • We don’t always realise that we’re good at something, because for us, it’s natural. We don’t know what we know. Often, it takes someone else to spot our talent.
  • We’re usually much better at identifying our weaknesses.

It’s always worth starting a list on your own, but ask your friends, family and colleagues for their comments. You’ll probably have a few surprises: things that weren’t on your list, and those that were that are questioned. Be prepared for this

Personality
This is an interesting one. I bet that if we were to do a straw poll, we’d find that our ideas about our personality are not that close to the reality. Do whining negative people consider themselves to be so? You might think you’re confident, but others think of you as arrogant. You get the picture. This is one aspect of personal branding that is crucial to get some outside help with. After all, your personal brand is how others perceive you, and your personality is the crux of this. So, again, ask friends, family and colleagues for some hints.

Passion
What are you passionate about? Do you know? Understanding your passion is mega mega important! It could even be the key to your personal brand. If you spend more time than is healthy taking photographs of roundabouts, then you might have hit upon a niche. A niche whereby you could become an expert. Think of Gavin Pretor-Pinney who just loved looking at and taking pictures of clouds. He went on to form The Cloud Appreciation Society and is now a recognised expert in the cloud world. His book, The Cloud Spotter’s Guide, was a best seller.

Values
Your values are those things that are really important to you in life. Things like recognition, honesty, health, love and achievement. You probably have a clear idea of your values. If not, just ask yourself “what has been really important to me in my life?”. Some people find they have around 5 values, while others have five times that. If you have that many, you need to be clear about what the top ones are though, as these are the invisible drivers in your life. The things that control your behaviour, whether you like it or not. So you may as well be aware of them.

Goals
If you were to ask around, you’ll probably find that most people have dreams not goals. The difference? Goals have actions and timelines against them. The other thing about goals is that they are reviewed regularly so you can track your progress. The level at which you decide to clarify your goals is up to you. Some people give themselves a couple of goals to achieve over a few years, while others have 1, 5 and 10-year plans with goals for each sector of their life (financial, relationship, career etc). So, wherever you want to be on this scale, just make sure you’re on it. Because if you’re not, your personal brand is a going to have a great big hole in it.

Having said all this, the key thing to understand is that your personal brand isn’t what you want to project; it’s what others perceive. So a high level of self -awareness is important because no matter what, you will need to be consistent in the application of your personal brand. As with great consumer brands, consistency is key. Your brand represents the promise that you’re making to help others to understand what to expect from you. You keep changing and people won’t know what to expect, and they’ll go elsewhere.

So, have you figured out your personal brand?

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Personal Branding: Should the brand be my business or me?

Last weekend I ran a session on Personal Branding at MediaCamp Nottingham. This question came up and prompted a bit of debate. Even into the pub at lunch! Should our brand be our business or ourselves? Or both? And how do they fit together?

One point that I am very fussy about in this debate is the need to understand what your goals and objectives are before embarking on finding the solution. If you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve you can’t possibly make a judgement as to what the most appropriate route may be. Think of Alice in Wonderland asking the Cheshire Cat for directions. If you don’t know where you’re heading, you can take any route you want.

What do you want?
So, how does your business fit in with your overall goals and objectives? Is your business a vehicle for you to achieve your own goals? (i.e. sell up and sit on a beach) Or is it just a way for you to carry on doing what you love? Depending on the answer, these two businesses could be very different. The first could be a unique service that you’ve identified that fulfils a gap and you think could be incredibly viable. The second could be an extension of you and your expertise. So, how we approach branding the two will be very different depending on your own goals and ambitions.

How do businesses do it?snf1203ma_370813a
In any business where a parent brand exists over a number of other brands, the parent brand, like human parents, have things in common with their offspring. They don’t have everything in common, but there are key themes. For example, parent brands such as Mars, Audi have key values that set them apart. And, these values are present in their offspring, but new ones may be brought in depending on the product or category. For Audi, it’s sportiness and performance. We could think of these as settings on your sound system. So, within the Audi family, the TT’s branding has turned the sportiness setting up to max even though performance is still important. For the A4 it’s the performance that’s been turned up.

I don’t want to get too trapped into business thinking though because we’re humans and we’re very different from businesses. But there’s a lot for us to borrow and learn from business.

As people, we have many interests and experiences. As time goes on, our experiences increase and our interests may change. But the constant is our essence. The bit about us that is us. And this bit, our essence, undoubtedly encapsulates our values and beliefs. So when trying to work out your personal brand, you will need to make a decision about which bits about you you’re going to use to enhance your personal brand. The stuff that adds the fizz. Developing your personal brand is an exciting process. One where you need to think about all your past experiences, skills, competencies, talents and interests and work out what it is about you that can be packaged together to add value to the world.

Any business you start is an extension of you and so you need to be clear about your own values and beliefs and how they fit with your business because ultimately, if there is a gap, the brand YOU will be threatened. Think of some well-known personal brands in business and how they managed the dynamic.

anitaroddickpa_228x182 richard-branson-virgin

What was the relationship between their personal branding and their business branding?

So, how does this help us with our question? You are the parent brand, and any offspring you have in terms of brands or projects will reflect or emphasise certain relevant aspects you, the parent brand. You may choose create a public link between the two brands, in the way the Richard Branson and Anita Roddick did. In these cases, there was synergy and a win-win situation was created. Or there was until Body Shop was sold to L’Oreal.

But back to the question about how you decide…

Let’s say for a minute that you are a business owner, but your business is essentially you. You sell your time and your expertise to other businesses, and you love what you do. You don’t want to grow it because that might mean that you have to manage people, which would get in the way of the DOING. In this situation, it is worth noting that your business is currently fulfilling a role for you that fits with your current circumstances. But should your circumstances change (or the world around you), then your business might need to change. And, it follows that what you want from your business might change. So how do you brand?

The brand as servant
In this situation, it is worth thinking about how branding can serve you. If you choose to develop separate brands for you and the business, then brand YOU can act as the pull to your business. Brand YOU is engaged with the people that you deal with directly among your clients. But, for these people to work with you, they may need to get the project signed off at a senior level. So, unless brand YOU is significant and you are well known, your business branding is going to be key. For some reason a lot of senior business execs prefer to do business with businesses rather than individuals. So, if you’re clever, you can play tag team with your branding. So that your personal brand acts as a pull, and your business branding gets you over the line. Or vice versa.

So, what is it that you want from your business? After all, that is where the answer is probably hidden.

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To blog or not to blog: what is your personal brand?

Jumping onto the blogging bandwagon can be tempting. But before you do, stop and think. Developing your personal brand is key.

Click to continue reading “To blog or not to blog: what is your personal brand?”

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