7 ways that social media can damage your personal brand

A report out today has highlighted just how careful employees and job-seekers need to be in their use of social media.

With more than half of recruiters saying that they check social networking sites as part of their research.

Interestingly, 43% stated that they had information that had caused them NOT to hire the candidate. Top reasons include:

  • no_jobLying about qualifications - 38%
  • Demonstration of poor communication skills - 31%
  • Making discriminatory comments - 13%
  • Posting content about them drinking or using drugs - 10%
  • Candidate posted provocative or inappropriate photographs or information - 9%
  • Bad-mouthed their previous employer, co-workers or clients - 9%
  • Sharing confidential information from previous employer - 8%

Glancing through this list, it’s easy to see why employers would react in this way. The transparency of social media means that you need to be very clear as what you stand for and what you want to be known for. If you choose to undertake questionable and unethical behaviour (lying, bad-mouthing, leaking confidential information) and live your life in the open, then you need to accept the consequences.

bothways

Social media can be incredibly powerful in helping you to build a strong personal brand, but it works both ways.

So, if you’re an employee or a job-seeker, here are some top tips for avoiding personal brand meltdown online:

  • Be honest about your achievements and your experience. The truth is easier to remember.
  • Decide who your audiences are for your personal brand and ensure that what you project to those audiences is consistent.
  • Don’t be negative, deliberately provocative or discriminatory in public. This is just bad form wherever you are, online or offline.
  • Seek out testimonials for work that you’ve done and show them off. LinkedIn is great for this.
  • Check your public photos! Make sure that all the embarrassing ones are removed, hidden or private.

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King - A Branding Genius?

shaving bond home pageYou would have been hard pressed to get through the weekend papers without escaping any reference to the King. And, I’m not talking about Michael Jackson. Instead, I’m referring to Will King, founder and CEO of King of Shaves. The reason for this is that last week, he launched the Shaving Bond. This is a corporate bond that aims to attract funds for their marketing war chest in their fight against Gillette.

This brand building idea is ingenious on so many levels. So many levels that I’m not quite sure where to start, so in no real order…

A brand you can trust

In the current climate of dishonest and untrustworthy politicians and banks, choosing where to put your money is tricky business. And yet, here is an opportunity to put your money behind one of the fastest growing brands around. Not only that, but Will King is proven when it comes to building assets. After all, he knows how to manage money as he’s built a hugely successful business over the last 16 years. Politicians and banks can’t claim that one very easily. So, in terms of trust, he’s got that one nailed. That’s no mean feat; give the guy some credit.

It’s a win-win!

Will King is predicting that his business will double in the next year. For those of you that struggle with percentages, that’s +100%. So, to offer a +6% return on an investment means that he is going to be quids in. But so are the investors. The majority of investors out there would be hard pressed to find a better return than 6%. Especially one that comes with free King of Shaves products. The free product bit is so neat. For KoS, giving away free product is nothing, but the perceived value to the consumer is massive. Consumers love a bit of FREE.

willI saw King speak recently at the British Library and he was asked how he measured his marketing spend on advertising. The response quite simply was “Sales! We sell loads of product”. King knows that lack of awareness is their biggest barrier. He calls it their “biggest competitor”. So, King knows that if he could just spend more on advertising, then sales will follow. The problem is, he needs to the cash. So, what are his options?

Get your customers to pay for it!

Well why not? Most brands pay for their marketing through their premium prices. Taking this route allows King of Shaves to keep their prices competitive during these “tough times” while offering consumers a return in more ways than one. I also think that the transparency is going to be respected. They’re quite blatant in telling us that they’ll spend the money on marketing and advertising. And so, consumers get to choose as to whether they take part in this. You don’t get that choice with many other brands. You pay or go elsewhere.

Now, back to the lack of awareness issue. What better way round this than to get your name out there? Mmmm… now let’s think, how could he do this. Well, you could try and pull a big PR stunt that gets you into all the papers.

A PR stunt?

the-sun-230609The press coverage for the Shaving Bond has been pretty impressive. Oh sure, it helps that they’ve been spending a little cash on advertising, but nonetheless. To secure coverage in wide ranging publications like The Sun, The Times, Brand Republic, Management Today and Marketing Week makes for a great PR stunt. The value of the PR alone will make this exercise worth it, even if no-one signs up. But, the reach achieved with this coverage would probably surpass anything they could hope to pull off with any ad campaign. And that coverage was despite the other “King” that hit the news this week.

Consistency of message

I can’t help admire the PR aspect of this initiative. Having worked on PR stunt campaigns, I know how hard it can be to ensure that when your story gets out there, the journalists are saying the right thing, consistently. After all, you have no editorial control. But, for this campaign, the message that keeps coming through is “It’s not just a better way to shave, it’s a better way to save”. And that comes straight from King himself. Great brands are built on consistency, and these guys clearly know what they’re doing.

And finally…

What a great name!

This name is a marketer’s dream. It’s just so perfect! I won’t go on as Shaving Bond speaks for itself.

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The 5 perils of personal branding

We can safely say that when the topic of personal branding comes up that most people would agree that it’s a good thing, and if they had the time or inclination, they would probably get round to sorting out their personal brand.

But, is it? Are there any perils with starting such a journey? There are a lot of things in life that start out as a good idea that turn out to be a monumental disaster. Like putting up your party pics on facebook, only to discover that a director at work has seen them and now you’re not getting that promotion. Doh! Now I’m not saying that developing your personal brand is in that league, far from it. But what I am saying is that there are considerations, and you should be aware of them before you jump in.

High visibility high_vis_jacket

Remember the whole point behind personal branding. It’s to stand out and be noticed. You want work to come to you, and not vice versa. But, raising your visibility stakes means, you guessed it - you’re going to get noticed! So, are you happy with that? You may be some quiet shrew who’s damn good at what you do, but you prefer to hide behind your desk. Imagine spending the day wearing a high-vis jacket, does that sit well with you? And, more importantly, can you keep it up?

Transparency

glass-of-water

Developing your personal brand is a beautiful process of self-discovery. For a truly authentic personal brand, you’ll need to work out who you are and what you stand for. Then, you’ll need to be that and stand for it consistently. If you don’t, you’ll be betraying your brand (otherwise known as brand suicide). Some personal branders talk about persona being a crucial part of the personal branding equation. I think this wrongly creates the impression that you have a “persona” and a “real you”. By the way, if you look up persona you’ll get words like role, character, mask, actor etc. These are not words that talk about transparency and authenticity.

Accountability

Devising and launching your personal brand is a big step. It’s a sign you mean business. As a part of the process you would have identified personal goals and ambitions. After all, your brand will be there to support you in achieving these. So, now you’ve put your stake in the sand, you’ve got to be seen to be delivering. You’re accountable. Are you ready to be accountable?

Keeping it up

man_lift_weightsThe need for consistency cannot be underestimated. As with business brands, a personal brand needs to be reinforced and maintained. Consistently, both in terms of the message that you’re putting out there and the regularity by which you deliver that message. It’s hard work. It’s called brand management not brand laissez faire for a reason.

Conflict with employer

Now, for some this is not relevant. But for bundles of you it is. How does your brand fit your employer’s brand. If you’re all about the outdoors, high energy, risk taking, and you work in an accountant’s firm, there might be a slight mismatch. Some companies will only be interested in you being an employee if you reflect the corporate brand. While other businesses may be up for allowing you to be YOU. So, beware of being authentic too soon as it might put you out of a job!

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