I have started to organize my thoughts on personal branding. This is a bit of a process given I have never actually thought about this before. It will continue to be an evolving situation as I figure out exactly how to brand myself and how to do it in a way that feels comfortable and safe.
There is a very big difference between the way a company needs to present itself and the way a person can present self-branding. Companies need to be transparent and genuine. Their brand needs to be recognizable from a design standpoint but also from a “personality” standpoint. This is not something that can be faked with social media. A company needs to decide on the image they wish to project and then consistently project and uphold this image. In a way this is very good protection for the consumer; you know what you are getting and you understand to a certain degree how the company will react if there is a problem with your purchase or experience or if you have any questions or concerns.
Personal brands, however, can be faked and maintained. In general, unless you are someone of high profile, people aren’t going to notice or care if what you are posting is actually in line with who you are. If you have ever had any experience with someone who has a personality disorder, this thought is frightening. It gives them complete freedom to create, manipulate and continue to live out fake personas. For the most part, this doesn’t matter. However, what happens if it becomes personal to you?
As it has been touched on in some other blog posts, it is easy for individuals to lie on social media. It gives them a platform and the ability to don any mask they choose. Sometimes this is created accidentally as we are all busy posting our best lives. This is fairly innocent. However, there are people who will create entire false images and lives. Sometimes this is for their own entertainment. Sometimes it is to prey on others. Sometimes it may be to continue a form of emotional abuse.
While companies will need to deal with complaints or negative reviews, both true and those invented, how do you protect your personal brand if it comes under attack? It is a lot more personal when someone comes after you than it is when a person makes a claim against a company. Companies should expect that they will need to deal with unhappy customers from time to time and they should have protocols in place to handle these situations.
To a certain extent constructive criticism on our personal brands may be helpful and provide us with the ability to strengthen our brands. It can be difficult to see what we actually project as opposed to what we think we are projecting.
However, what happens when there is someone in your life that you don’t want to have access to you? I am , unfortunately, in this situation. I feel quite safe in the confines of Facebook with this person blocked and my privacy settings on high and on Instagram with a private account. At some point, I will want to extend my reach but I definitely worry about the access I am opening up.
It’s one thing to know that at some point you will likely need to deal with trolls if you are active on social media sites but how do you protect yourself from the bully you already know that may be lurking in the background?