What’s the point in having a brand if you’re just going to cover it up with someone else’s?
Social media is not about “creating a narrative” and “delivering interesting stories to your audience.” And branding is not telling people what you stand for.
I take it back. Of course, both those are the case. But they’re far, far from the whole story. As marketers, we’ve always been able to create narratives, deliver interesting stories, and tell people what we stand for.
What social media does is let people tell us if we’re right. The best thing you can do with social media is not push, and not engage. It’s listen.
That doesn’t mean you don’t talk, that you don’t share content. Content is vital. Good content. But use that content as a starting point. How do people respond to it? How do they respond to you? And when do they initiate contact?
Your audience will tell you what your brand is. They’re the ones who see what you put out there, not what you think you put out there. They’ll tell you what that means. Listen to them.
Be their audience.
Photo by Bindaas Madhavi, via Flickr.
Jim De Piante of the Voices on Project Management blog has a post on managing your personal brand.
Here’s the thing about branding: at its heart, your brand is how people perceive you. It’s not what you say you are, but what they say you are. So how you see yourself (or how you want to see yourself) is not necessarily the same as how others see you.
What do I see as key elements of my personal brand? Here’s a start:
1) I’ll get the job done. You have a problem, and I’ll help you solve it. You won’t have to worry about progress, because I’ll be on top of it, and I’ll let you know how things stand.
2) I’m great at asking for help when I need it. I don’t need (or want) handholding, but I know when I need support–and I’ll ask for it when I do. Your project is not going to take a nosedive because of my pride.
3) I pay attention to goals. A former boss told me that she could always count on me to know when something was good enough. She didn’t mean that I settled for adequacy; she meant that I knew what it took to complete the project and meet or exceed standards, and when a particular flourish might be cool–but would be too expensive, or too time-consuming, or inconsistent with the larger effort.
But that’s how I see myself, and that’s only part of the story. At least as important is this: How do you see me?