Some Thoughts on Personal Branding

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.

Transparency

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?

Honesty

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.

Protection

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?

 

 

 

 

 

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6 thoughts on “Some Thoughts on Personal Branding

  1. Hi Alison – thank you for this very sobering post. I was at a social media workshop at which the subject of ‘haters’ was raised. The presenter’s answer was to respond once with a ‘draw in your horns’ request and a statement of values, then block the sender if the hating continued. Your situation moves beyond this easy answer. I wonder whether policing agencies have been helpful, or might be. I think of examples where people posting hateful stuff are publicly shamed (e.g., the beauty queen’s posting of a photo and accompanying derogatory comment). Turning the scrutiny back onto the bully – done by a third party – might also be something to consider. Keeping your brand a private one, only available to people you know and trust, sounds the safest course.

    • Your above suggestions are a good way to respond to outward bullies. I like the “draw in your horns” request. The bully I am eluding to is the one in the shadows, who wouldn’t necessarily post but would observe. There are certain people that we just don’t want to have access to us and this is hard to avoid if we wish to be active on social media.

  2. So sorry to read this; it sounds like such a harrowing struggle! I like Anne’s comment about “third party” and wonder if it might be possible for you to promote your business (if that’s what we’re talking about here) — but not yourself — through a hired social media manager/commentator? That person could be the public face and voice, acting on the information and messaging you provide, and possibly be required to swear to confidentiality as a term of employment. Even better if that person was a trusted, close personal connection.

    I have no expertise in this area and would advise seeking professional advice before proceeding in any way beyond your private social media activity, but this might be a possible solution if your goal is to put social media to work as a tool to grow your business.

  3. Your post got me to thinking about unintentional bullies. You know, the people who seem to have strong views on every issue and current events. They post prodigiously about politics and current events, which I don’t have a problem with. However, they also post quickly and heavily in response to other people’s posts, usually in a judgemental way. They criticize the reactions and views of others and seem to think that by pasting LOL at the end their harsh tone is acceptable.

    I have blocked 2 or 3 people like that.

    This seems to be a risk of social media, it allows bullies another forum to bully in. Of course, we can all just click block or unfriend, but I always hesitate to do so for fear that I will be judged for doing that too.

    In our real lives, we can avoid people we don’t really enjoy the company of, but social media gives such people direct digital access to us unless we hit block or unfriendly, actions that lack the subtlety and nuance of how we manage these situations in real life.

    Doug

  4. I think that you have the right to block or unfriend without worry of judgement. It’s like in life, if someone is constantly negative or judgemental then you will avoid them. Having said this though, I have only ever blocked one person and it was necessary to do so.
    I also think as we become older and more aware of energy we are projecting and receiving, we become more selective as to whom we wish to let in. This is way more difficult to manage in social media. I like debate and the sharing of different ideas, in fact, I think social media is an excellent way to start a conversation but as you say, some people post too quickly in an over judgemental way and this is not necessary.

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