The Brand of You

It seems that every day I’m having a conversation with someone – friend, client, prospective client, you name it, about the importance of social media and the need to integrate it into your life and into your business. In fact, I get a little sick of having the same conversation over and over and over again – especially since social media isn’t all that I do. I own a marketing firm. We do anything and everything relating to marketing and advertising and public relations. And yet, here we go, focusing once again on social media. But here’s the kicker – marketing and advertising and pr – and everything about the entire world of business and the world of life in general, as we’ve known it for the past few decades, has changed. And, it’s going to change more, and more often, than ever before.

The most common complaint that I hear is that people just don’t have time to add social mediums to the mix of the things they do, whether work-related or personally, on a daily basis. And they aren’t really interested in sharing information about themselves, or think that Facebook is stupid and that Twitter is for idiots, and that all social media is nothing more than a huge time suck and so on and so forth, yadda yadda yadda.

Here’s what I say – new media is really all about the Brand of You. Whether you own a business or want to own a business, have a job or are looking for a job (or might some day be interested in looking for a new job), branding yourself, especially in today’s online world, is nothing less than imperative. Do you have an up-to-date profile on LinkedIn? Do you blog or have a personal website? Do you have a working knowledge and understanding of Facebook, even if you don’t choose to participate? Do you have any idea of the demographics of the user group that comprises a community like Twitter? Do you know what happens if you Google yourself? Do you have a Google profile? If you answer no to one or two of those questions, that’s probably not the end of the world. If you answer no to three or more, frankly, I feel sorry for you.

We used to operate in a world where people had resumes and business cards and static websites that never needed updating, and they networked face-to-face. We now live in a world where people have avatars and profiles and blogs and micro-blogs and are connected to, influenced by and collaborating with not only people who live in the same town, but people who live all over the world. The world isn’t changing – it HAS changed, and it is those of us who choose to acknowledge those changes and adapt ourselves accordingly who will reap the most benefit.

So, what about you? What’s the status of the Brand of You? How are you positioning yourself to let people know who YOU are, what you have to offer and why they should collaborate with or, from a personal standpoint, even get to know you? Are you sitting in your office waiting for them to call you on the phone or send you an email and ask to get together or see your resume? Are you feeling complacent and secure because today you happen to have a job and, as such, don’t need to concern yourself with what’s happening in the world around you? If so, I hate to be the one to break it to you, but you could be sitting there, alone or, even worse, job hunting with little chance of success, for a long time to come.

As we close out a year and a decade and move into a fresh year, I suggest we all spend a few moments reflecting on the Brand of You. What is it today? What would you like it to be in the future? What makes you a valuable asset? What makes you worthy of attention? What do you do really, really well? What do you have to contribute that might make the world a better place? What do you have to contribute at all? And, most importantly, what are you going to do to make sure that people know about it? You. Who are you and why do you matter?

What have I forgotten? I would love to hear your thoughts on the Brand of You.

  • http://www.muellerandrew.com andrewmueller

    Hi S,

    Thanks once again for excellent thought provoking post and for the many important points you bring up. I should add my two cents, since I am one of those people that you had one of “those” conversations with.

    II think you are correct, the social web is disrupting nearly every industry everything is changing and the question is not, “should I put time and effort into social media?” but, “what social efforts should I add to my marketing mix and how can social platforms help me with my, pr, and customer service”. It really comes down to re-writing your business strategy and creating systems that make your social efforts manageable and fit into your work style. Social Media is a lever that can be pulled, a tactic that can be used to meet your broader marketing objectives.

    For Solo Entrepreneurs the Brand of You will be identical to that of your company, for others it will be associated to a greater or lessor extent with your company, but regardless of the depth of association, the Brand of You is something you will build and take with you wherever you go. It is certainly worth the effort to nurture. A colleague of mine in Sales used to say he worked for his customers not the company that paid him. His philosophy was that he took his customers with him when he changed jobs. The same goes for the Brand of You!

    Andrew Mueller
    Mueller & Co
    @andrewmueller

  • ShellyKramer

    Excellent thoughts, Andrew. But then, I expect nothing less!

    And I totally agree with you. Especially about the building of your own brand and taking it with you wherever you go – which is a part of the puzzle that I think many people are leaving out. Gone are the days when people spend 10, 15 or more years at one job, working for the same company, so building your online identity and maintaining it is even more critical.

    Thanks for making time to read and comment – you're my favorite passionista. Always!

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  • http://businessmindhacks.com AlexSchleber

    As @DrFernKazlow once said on Twitter: “Life is a branding problem.” :)

    I have to agree, the storyline had best be continuous, especially for small business/solopreneurs.

  • http://twitter.com/Erroin Erroin Martin

    Shelly,

    I am going to add for all those business owners and solo entrepreneurs that want to brand themselves in social medial, they should keep their message consistent, open, and honest. You have only so much control over your brand online. Too many conflicting messages and you will be instantly tuned out.

    I am going to go out on a limb and say that Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social sites add to the face-to-face networking we still do everyday in business. They allow us to reach out across the globe in an instant and connect with like minded individuals. Same as if we met in the office cafeteria, near the water cooler, or even at networking event.

    So in the vain of self branding, a word of advice to everyone out there who wants to dabble in social media… just like you want to put your best foot forward in person, the same is true in the social media realm. The rules are the same. Be polite. Be interesting. Be honest. Be attentive and listen. If you are jerk, unlike when you are one in person where everyone keeps their thoughts to themselves, you will be exposed as one in the flash on an instant across the entire globe. (Maybe even space if the transmission is beamed in that direction.)

    Erroin
    Von Gehr Consulting Group
    @Erroin

  • ShellyKramer

    So true, Alex. Life is all about branding :)

  • ShellyKramer

    Great points and I agree completely, Erroin. Being real is always my best advice to anyone engaging in the social media realm. And hopefully, “being real” also means polite, respectful, etc. Our reputations and credibility have always been our most valuable assets. And nowadays when things happen literally at what seems to be the speed of light, they should be regarded even more carefully.

    Thanks for the read and for making time to comment.

  • http://level343.com/article_archive/ SEOcopy

    Believe it or not I have been explaining the “I” factor way back in 1998. What makes you stand out is the “I” brand. It's what makes us all unique. I love the way you write Mrs. Kramer, and breaking it down is what makes it simple to understand!

  • ShellyKramer

    Thanks Gabriella,

    You're right, the “I” factor is huge – and hopefully more people will begin to realize that they aren't defined by the company they work for or the job they do, they are defined by how they ARE and how they think, and what they do and what's important to them – and, ultimately, how they tell that story to the world.

    And I love the way you write, too, my friend!! Thanks as always, for the read.

  • s.bloxsom

    Superb article. Although I have to say that sometimes the breadth and speed of new media gives me a bad case of detail-i-tis and the jitters. Keeping it real is great, but being real is even better. It makes me long for things of a kinetic nature & I lose interest in the “Brand of Me” no matter how accomplished or good for me or others I should be. A serious glitch in my system, no doubt

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  • http://twitter.com/mckra1g mckra1g

    What I find most exciting about social media is it's ability to shape, change and reinforce different emerging parts of one's personal brand in real time. There are certain parts of my “brand” that are static and the foundational structure of who I am as a person. That core informs the direction of the way I search and grow through the network of my social media structure.

    It's fascinating that each influences the other. Periodically, I switch up my SMS streams from my twitter account, in order to get a new influx of thoughts flowing through my head. I act on some, filter others but always cross-reference them against that foundational core.

    A brand is a paradox of familiarity within a framework of change. Successful brands adapt and flow with their audiences, as do people.

    Great post! Thanks for sharing. Best, M.

  • http://twitter.com/marksherrick Mark Sherrick

    Any time you're not in control of the information out there about you, that's bad. Even if you don't use a particular service, you need to know HOW to so you can monitor it for information, etc.

  • http://www.frankloveswine.com/ Frank Gutierrez

    Great Post. I completely agree. I to find myself talking with others about how social media as the perfect tool to maintain themselves as a brand. I do, however, still find that a lot of people don't see it that way. I think it's hard for a lot of people to accept the fact that the world of marketing has changed so much in the past 5 years.

  • ShellyKramer

    Thanks Frank. As a marketer, trust me, I know how hard it is to get people to accept that fact. But it's fun stuff like this that helps hammer the message home. Glad you enjoyed. Thanks for the read and for the comment :)

  • ShellyKramer

    What an insightful comment. Love it! And “a brand is a paradox of familiarity within a framework of change” BRILLIANT. Henceforth, I am plagiarizing that one! Seriously, love the way your mind thinks and love the way you put those thoughts into writing even more. Wanna write a guest post sometime?

  • http://twitter.com/mckra1g mckra1g

    Thanks so much for your kind words! I'd love to write a guest post – just let me know when/where/what. Best, M.

  • http://ctkingston.com/ Ct Kingston

    I've been learning a great deal from you and a few others over these past months and I can't tell you how much I appreciate you all sharing your knowledge and expertise. I can try to tell you, but it'll wind up coming out like, “Excellent!” and in a way that's close enough to the more verbose version, but succinct. Brevity is best. Thanks Shelly. Keep posting. Keep informing the masses. It's appreciated.

  • ShellyKramer

    Brevity always works, sweets. Mwah to you.

  • wendywiseman

    Thanks for this VERY informative post. So much to learn, and so much time. Life is a journey, and every day I can take the time to learn and grow! I was once Canada's top 100 Women Entrepreneurs, and I am going to slowly climb a new path to success. I have no desire for titles any more, but I do love feather pillows! So, Social Network Branding here I come! KIDZUP – KIBOOMU- it's all about educating children, and let's face it…there is a kid in all of us!

  • http://twitter.com/momnonstop Cristin Davis

    Love your post, it shines a light on the most common reject I get from my company regarding social media: “that Facebook is stupid and that Twitter is for idiots.” Glad you put it into words for me!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Cristin. Glad you enjoyed it :))

  • http://twitter.com/I_dream_alot Stonewall Speer

    Here from “The First 99 People to Follow on Twiter” .. and I see why you were in the top 5 recommendations. As a social media enthusiast, i find myself having some of the same interactions describing and explaining the mediums to non-users. Look forward to your thoughts, and hopefully sometimes, interaction. -StoneyTheDreamer  

  • Anonymous

    Stonewall (can that really be your name or is it your movie star/porn star name?),

    Well thank you. For both the kind words and for coming by. Lovely to have you stalking me – on Twitter and on the blog!

    We shall, most def, speak again!

  • http://www.it-sales-leads.com/ Barbara Mckinney

    Social media is the
    easiest tool that we could use if we want to learn something new,become aware
    about the things happening around the world,and for business purposes;keeping
    in touch with your customers.But then a lot of people still don’t see it that
    way and we cannot blame them.

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