If you have not missed the ongoing conversation that is evolving on social media about personal branding, you are missing out. It is the topic a lot of social media marketing professionals are discussing, which started off with a Twitter conversation between Carlos Gil and Jason Falls. Jason has a summary of the conversation here on his blog.
I am Facebook friends with both Jason Falls and Carlos Gil. Both are definitely strong voices and assets to the industry and field. I have never had the chance to meet Carlos in person, but Jason is one of my all-time favorite people in the field. We both live in Louisville and four years ago, he was able to help me out get back to Louisville so I could get on my flight to a conference in Barcelona (I still owe you bourbon for life, Jason). Carlos has established himself in the field as well with corporate jobs at LinkedIn and now BMCSoftware while doing speaking engagements around the world.
Gary Vaynerchuck does offer some points to consider when it comes to personal branding not only from his own experience, but tips on how to help others as well. This article is one I think drives at the important question: Is having a personal brand essential?
Carlos is saying personal branding is necessary, and Jason is saying if you only have personal branding, that’s not enough.
Me? Okay, hold my coffee.
Here’s my take: I personally would not be here without personal branding. However, personal branding only gets you through the door to the interview, but you still have to show evidence on what you have to offer that makes you the best candidate for the job because of the skills and knowledge you have been able to build on in your education and experiences.
Is personal branding only about the number of followers you have, or how many accounts you have verified? Does it matter how many hours you spend creating content for your YouTube channel or write blog posts? All depends on whether there is a return on that investment for that particular person. Who am I to judge on that account.
I’ll use myself as an example. As an educator and professor, my personal brand is only a part of who I am as a person. I do spend a lot of time creating posts (like this one) to help share my thoughts and insights with my community. But most importantly, to be a resource for others so they do not have to reinvest the wheel when it comes to working or teaching in social media.
If I am going to label myself as a social media professor, I have to show evidence that I know what I am doing and it is working. This means sharing stories and results of students getting amazing internships, jobs, and successes from my class. I list all of the places my students have gotten jobs and internships. I bring back students as alums to have them tell their stories and what they were able to take away from the class. These testimonials have been extremely helpful for me, and the same can be applied for these speakers who are preaching the benefits of having a personal brand. It’s almost like the famous scene from Jerry Maquire “Show me the money,” but instead – “Show me the results from having your personal brand!”
Same goes with research as well – in order to get a reputation in the academic field, you have to be published and get interviewed for your work by the press. I have found my personal brand has been a great asset for me as a professor, but I also recognize I can’t sit back and relax. I can’t rely only on this – I have to not only continue to put in the work, but work sometimes harder than ever to cut through the noise in the industry to get recognition and notice among other professionals breaking into the industry. In a time where there is so much noise and artificial marketers, the people who have a lot to offer to others in the field sometimes get left in the dust.
To use a foodie reference, personal branding is somewhat like frosting on the cake. It’s pretty and can be an extra element that separates one cake from another. But the cake (foundation – knowledge, ingredients – experiences, presentation – personality) are what makes people remember the cake. These components in the cake have to be measured to – again, tapping into metrics here again. You can have cake alone, but frosting alone can be a little bit of a let down.
You can have a personal brand and one that’s tied to a business, but they are connected together by you and what you have to offer. A personal brand is only good if the actions made by the person in question are authentic and consistent. If these two are not aligned, then there is no personal brand. In addition, as Gary said in his post, a personal brand is not the only thing you can bank on. You have to do the work and show others WHY you deserve to be noticed and respected in the industry.
Gary has been able to do this for his company, VaynerMedia. If you want to look at what he has been able to do for companies, check out what they did for Budweiser. They are able to see not only Gary’s vision through his company and work, but you can also see the results of what he was able to do with his company for the campaign. More social media marketers who are proclaiming their personal brand as their selling point need to do more in showcasing what they have been able to do for companies, agencies, professionals, and businesses with it through systematic metrics and concrete evidence.
What’s interesting is the fact the issue of the personal branding conversation is missing a key component, and that’s the discussion related to key performance indicators. As social media professionals, we hear KPIs all the time when we are pitching to businesses for a social media campaign strategy or on the stage talking about social media. Yet, in this discussion, we forget this and have to remember we can apply these same principles (and need to) if we are going to have a personal brand.
As Jason points out, sharing what you (the professional) has done to help other companies, businesses, and people out and made a difference reflects and justifies your personal brand. These evaluation metrics are critical and influencers need to be aware if they are just talking the talk without showing what they have personally done, they may be missing out on an entire community of people because they want to see what you can offer and what has been done.
Personal branding is a key component of what we have to be aware of today. But it shouldn’t be the only thing we have to hang our hat on. It’s just one part of what we stand for. Does having a personal brand help? Absolutely? Is it the only thing that’s important for social media? No. It’s just one ingredient needed to make a cake that stands out from the crowd.
Let me know what you think about this. Hope you all are having a great day.