Archive for category Social Media

Personal Branding For Business – Brilliant, Not Backwards

Personal branding, the science of establishing a brand identity for individuals, usually related to career/professional development.  The personal brand idea is taken from what companies have been doing since the dawn of capitalism, and an individual uses these principles to find a way to stand out from the crowd, figure out what value he or she adds, presenting a consistent personality online to develop a reputation in this space of too-much-information.

I’ve been reading quite a bit about personal branding lately; as a marketer, it fascinates me.  And I realized that some of the tenets of this practice are employing major principles of marketing that have atrophied in business, principles which need to be reexamined if brands are going to survive.

Me, Inc.The following is a list of 10 reasons individuals, especially job seekers, should be concerned with personal branding.  It comes from personalbrandingblog.com, the brain child of Dan Schawbel, one of the current proponents of the field, and author of Me 2.0.  I took these principles and turned them right back around to business branding, because businesses often seem confused in their Web content and social media strategy, as well as branding as a company-life-long effort. Which technologies to use?  What kind of content?  What does our audience want from us?   The information below is taken directly from Schawbel’s blog. I’ve added my comments in italics.

 1. Generations are colliding online

Facebook started out as a hang out place for college students, but now we’re seeing older generations adopt social networking. Social networking use among internet users ages 50 and older nearly doubled—from 22% in April 2009 to 42% in May 2010. This means that communication between age groups is occurring more and more each day, and your audience is changing rapidly. Entire families are interacting online and 70% of parents friend their kids. You have to be aware of your audience and the content you’re publishing because if they don’t match, it can have a negative effect on your personal brand.

Understand your audience. What are the demographics of the largest portions of your customers?  Don’t exclude older users from technology tools, including social media.  And consider your content and how it relates to them. 

2. Your online reputation can make or break you

Your brand is on the line, wherever your name and face is seen. Clients, managers and other professional stakeholders in your life have access to what you post publicly on the net. You can even lose your job over blog comments or attacks from people that already have a negative view on your reputation. For instance, Madhu Yarlagadda was hired by Skype as the new Chief Development Officer, and after a TechCrunch blog post, people came out of the woodwork to expose Madhu. Skype replaced him after a month of employment….

The brand of your employees matters as much as your company’s brand.  You must consider what your people are publishing, and encourage them to develop their own brands as experts in your industry, especially the execs.  And watch out for negativity.  Have policies in place about commenting or responding on blogs!  Transparency is great for business, so you don’t want to have too many watchdogs, but there ought to be some guidelines for avoiding bad publicity traps.

3. Employers are reviewing your online personal brand …

Almost every website on the planet has a search engine component to it and employers are using them to find more information about you.… Make sure your personal brand is consistent and up-to-date.

Make no mistake, people are Googling your company.  With the dollar tighter than ever, people want to know they’re making the right choice when they spend their money.   Check your Google results, and your online reputation.  Make sure it’s consistent with how you want to be perceived. The challenge is always aligning audience perceptions with your own, and how you wish to be seen.  It’s a give and take, but you can help it along with the right Web content, professional profiles, and SEO.

4. Perception (how we present ourselves) is king

It’s the little things that count, whether you’re in an interview, or interacting with people online. A CareerBuilder survey states that 67% of hiring managers say that failure to make eye contact would make them less likely to hire a job candidate and 38% said lack of smile. People will judge you on small things that make a big difference. By being professional, using good eye contact, shaking someone’s hand, having good posture, and using appropriate images online, you will be more successful when communicating with others.

Your customers will judge you on the small stuff, too.  Make sure you’re portraying your brand in a light that engages with your particular audience.  Know who that is.  If it’s a family friendly atmosphere you want, smile in all your photos, talk about your kids in your blog posts, and provide Web content related to child safety or education.  People need to perceive that you are who you say you are, and the tone in your blog and even the way you answer the phone matters.  Tell your employees to always answer the same way, with a smile – others can hear it. 

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Metaphorical Content: Connect Radically Different Concepts to Generate New Ideas

Everything’s already been done, right?  Not exactly.  Brands – and individuals, really – need to get in the habit of seeing the patterns that play out in daily life and information trends while making creative leaps to connect ideas that haven’t been connected before. 

In other words, take two completely unrelated concepts and link them together to create a new idea.  In the world of writing, that’s basically the definition of a metaphor.  You’re illustrating concepts and creating visual images in people’s minds by steering away from cliché and creating your own offbeat comparisons.

This Renegade Hipster post uses old war posters as ½ of the equation, with

If Social Media Was Around for the World Wars

their censorship/Big Brother concepts glaringly highlighted.  The contrast?  Social Media.  Google and Twitter in the Age of World War.  What would that look like?  Someone’s imagined it for you, and created an interesting concept worthy of further thought. 

And isn’t that what you’re trying to do with your content?  Engage readers? Get them to think about your brand and remember it when they need you?

The idea makes social commentary (possibly) while using contrast to highlight connections and patterns in the history of communication – and war.  Designers use contrast all the time to make a point, to create new connections, to revamp the old, to generate ideas.  We should all take the time to create some new connections in our brand identity and content.

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Ad Performance Art – Sony’s cinematic bouncy balls

I like marketing that inspires.  Anyone can say, “Buy this product” or “check out our service,” but when companies take the time to make something inspirational and connect with audiences/customers on an emotional level, however abstract, it turns advertising into art and often inspires brand loyalty.  It has to be right for your customers and your product, but anyone can find a way to make marketing more inspirational with a little creativity.

Even better, if you mix inspiration with guerilla marketing tactics, public and viral acts that get people’s attention and are passed around for you, you have marketing that is also performance art and not just fine art.  This is the best possible scenario.

Check out Sony Europe’s Bravia ad – 250.000 bouncy balls unleashed in San Francisco to illustrate the power of color and the unique perspective of Sony.  It works.  They cleaned up the balls by the way, and they bought them from stores surrounding the area, so they gave back to the community and did not order the manufacture of hundreds of thousands  of rubber balls – in case anyone was worried about environment or community impact.  I did wonder if any residents got car dings, but their how-to video seems pretty positive about the whole experiment.  And the experience of watching their handiwork is calming, beautiful, and inspiring – perfect marketing performance art.

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Heretics and Storytelling: Seth Godin on Starting a Movement

I know, I know…everyone posts about Seth Godin.  I feel almost like one of his “sheepwalkers” even doing it.  But face it, the guy has wonderful soundbites and a vault full of insights.  I’m actually sharing one from 2009, which could seem outdated but isn’t.  It’s a galvanizing speech on leading “tribes” – the communities that spring up on the Web and in the world built around challenging the status quo and connecting people.  It’s 17 minutes, but please watch – it goes quickly. 

Some of the insights:

  • People want to be led to connect to like-minded individuals around something that matters.
  • You’re not changing anything if you’re not upsetting someone – be a heretic.
  • It only takes about 1000 people to start a widespread movement – people will spread your message for you if it tells a good story.

 

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Blogs: Conversation or Publishing? The Debate Continues…

A thought-provoking blog entry by John Lane of Centerline Digital goes a little deeper on the social media as conversation topic and reminds us that we’re oversimplifying if we think we can just start happy little conversations about ourselves and build pure relationships that lead to sales through blogging.  It may be naive to believe that we can control anything about how our brand is perceived or that if we start a conversation we can bring people to the shopping cart with any greater ease.  I agree that having something to offer with engaging content, publications, and promotions is a given, and that a chat with customers won’t do us much good in a vaccuum, though I also believe that being authentic and talking transparently to the people we want to reach has a strong effect on customer loyalty and trust.  So read this entry, draw your own conclusions.  Either way, it’s food for marketing mastication.  Read here: http://centerline.net/blog/?p=717.

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Creativity – Not Just For Marketing Budgets

Creativity is the crux of business marketing and operations right now.  People have been forced to get creative in all sorts of ways with the economic crunch, from free advertising to DIY projects.  But this effort shouldn’t end with ways to save money.  With so much competition for business, the ones who win the pot, so to speak, will be the businesses and entrepreneurs that stand out in creative ways. 

This means brainstorming new methods for capturing attention, from starting a blog with personality to inventive contests and promotions.  This means putting your brand “out there” a little more through public speaking engagements with the Chamber of Commerce or hosting events on subjects of importance to you.  It means starting a social media campaign if you don’t already have one, because if you’re not listening to the buzz and getting your name out, someone else who is may soon be taking your customers. 

To stand out in a crowd like this one, you have to be willing to risk putting your authentic self or business brand – what you and your company really stand for – at the forefront of the whirlwind of activity in the marketplace.  Because there is just too much noise right now to go about it any other way, and it will probably only get more crowded.  But being part of your community and getting in front of people both physically and virtually will gain you loyalty and trust, the biggest prize of all.  So sit down with your team (or yourself) and start brainstorming some creative ideas for getting your name in metaphorical lights – or actual ones if that’s what it takes!

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