The Socialization of Your Personal Brand – Part III


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Part three of a three-part series…

Your Brand vs. the Brands You Represent

Whether we believe it or not, everyone within an organization is at some level, responsible for Public Relations. Everything we do, online and offline, builds the public perception of not only our personal brand, but also of the organization we represent.

As an active participant in Social Media and also a professional working in any capacity within a company, eventually an important and cognizant decision will determine your outward presence and whether or not your personal brand and your corporate responsibilities intersect, compete or clash.

When a small bank ran an online search for the results associated with its brand, the first link turned up a profile on Myspace of a young woman with fun, but inappropriate pictures that definitely didn’t lend support to the bank’s charter of earning and maintaining financial customers.

This particular individual wasn’t participating online as a representative of the bank, only using the social network to communicate and share events and updates as Millennials do. She simply listed in her profile that she worked at this particular bank, and that was enough.

However, as many businesses are realizing, not only the opportunity, but in many cases, the requirement to participate and engage with customers, peers, influencers, and prospects in their respective communities, new roles and responsibilities for outbound communications and service emerge.

Since we’re focusing on your digital identity and your real reputation, one of the first questions is, when representing a brand other than my own, do I participate as “me” or do I create a new entity in order to participate on behalf of my company?

The answer is, it depends.

Yes, perhaps not the brilliance you were seeking. The truth is, that it really does depend on a series of factors that are to be evaluated on an individual basis.

1. Does your personal reputation lend value to, or subtract from, the brand you’re representing and vice versa?

2. Is this a career path and industry you intend to commit to for the long-term?

3. What is the ROI or potential losses associated with not only your participation, but your departure, should you at some point, decide to change jobs?

4. What’s most advantageous to you and the company you represent, now and in the future?

Whichever path you take, it’s important to realize that there isn’t a right answer, at least not yet. It’s more important to participate honestly, sincerely, transparently, whether as “you” or as “you, company representative.”

Several, very visible, companies dedicated to cultivating personal relationships in social networks, have opted for the creation of a corporate brand for the individuals who participate on their behalf.

Comcast has employed Frank Eliason and team under the @comcastcares moniker. Dell is empowering its social team led by Richard@dell (Richard Binhamer) and Lionel@dell (Lionel Menchaca). In these cases, the companies opted to invest in a unique digital identity that promotes the company and personal brands.

Depending on the company and the state of its social media prowess, policies may or may not exist. Those who are experienced in communicating using social tools can assist marketing and service leaders to establish best practices and policies that govern how, why, when, and where to participate and how to build the persona that elevates the brand for the company and also the person representing it.

Managing Your Online Reputation

Everything starts with listening and observing where, how, and why these conversations are taking place and the tone and nature of the dialog.

As part of the marketing process, companies employ (or should incorporate) an Online Reputation Management (ORM) program. This process serves as a radar for all discussions, blog posts, and search results to identify potentially damaging, less than favorable, as well as neutral content, to fuel participation and communications strategies to steer them in a positive discussion.

There are a series of tools materializing that simplify the process of listening and tracking related conversations. Depending on the size of the organization, they may or may not be affordable, however they’re worth looking into. Companies include Radian6, BrandsEye, BuzzLogic, and StartPR. Typically, ORM focuses on company and product name/s, executives, and/or brands, and each of these services automate the process of searching and presents the results in a manageable, easy to navigate dashboard. The differences between each lie under the hood, where the individual algorithms distinguish each service in how they discover, track, and present data. And, none of these services are all inclusive. There is still a manual element involved here, requiring you to search specific communities directly.

ORM isn’t only limited to businesses. In the era of digital reputations, individuals can also benefit from the process of monitoring the conversations related to their personal brand.

Google Alerts, which scours News.Google.com, Blogsearch.google.com, and other Google properties, is one of the most effective, free services available for tracking keywords and automatically presenting them to you as they appear online. It gives you, as the primary stakeholder, the opportunity to participate and respond immediately, as you should, in order to protect the integrity of your brands as well as the ability to continually cultivate your community.

Search.Twitter.com (formerly Summize) allows you to search directly in Twitter. You’ll be surprised at the frequency and volume of conversations in the Twittersphere. You can search your company, your executives, your competitors and also your personal brand to see what people are sharing at any time, with access to historical content as well.

A new service, which I’ll write about shortly, is BackType. It is a new service that allows you to search keywords as they’re used in the comments sections of blog posts. BackType is a very promising community that not only allows us to search relevant comments across the blogosphere to uncover important conversations that may require our participation, it also connects us to like-minded thought leaders and the posts that compel them to comment on, in addition to publishing content on their own blogs. Please read Louis Gray’s
post for a more detailed summary.

Technorati, BlogPulse, and services such as StartPR also provide the ability to search related keywords in blogs, tags, and online conversations.

Also, don’t forget the social networks that are related to your industry or your social graph. For example, in the social media and marketing world, searching Facebook, MarcomProfessional, SocialMediaToday, Gooruze, Yahoo Buzz, among many others, can yield incredible conversations that not only reveal how your identity, brand and reputation are discussed, but also provide the opportunity to participate in ways that increase your community awareness, visibility, and social capital.

There’s always something to learn as we’re forever students of New Media.

Whether you’re investing in your brand, or you’re the brand ambassador for a company or organization, active listening and observing is as important as participating and contributing. It’s proactive versus reactive and it is always the difference between positive, productive discussions and crises communications or defensive exchanges.

This is your identity, your reputation, your brand, your experience, own it.

Socialized media is extending everyone’s proverbial “15 minutes of fame,” and providing us with the real opportunity to build and grow our personal brands and establish a position of authority based on our expertise. It only matures and expands the more we devote to listening, participating, and contributing to related conversations over time.

You are your best investment and you’ll earn the rewards and relationships you deserve.

The Socialization of Your Personal Brand – Part I
The Socialization of Your Personal Brand – Part II

Additional Resources on Personal Branding and ORM:
Personal Branding Blog
Lee Odden
Reputation Advisor
Andy Beale

Connect with me:
Twitter, Jaiku, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Pownce, Plaxo, FriendFeed, Plurk, BackType, or Facebook.

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  • markfrisk

    Excellent post, Brian. I agree that none of the tools you mention is the be all and end all monitoring solution. A human eye is very much required.

    I’ve had success with Techrigy’s SM2 product. For those with smaller budgets and/or looking to dip their toes, they offer a freemium version that’s fully functional.

    http://techrigy.com

  • personalbrandingblog

    Brian this is excellent. I never knew about the comment monitoring site and am happy you called it out here. I think it will be useful as more and more people join communities and are talked about even when they aren’t looking!

  • David Spark

    Hey Brian, after an interview with Dana Gardner of Interarbor Solutions, he warned against companies letting an individual control the company’s social media brand.

    Because if one person is gathering cred for the business, they’re also gathering cred for themselves and that means they’re one resume away from walking out with all that value they’ve built up working at your organization.

    Not for personal brands, but for company brands you need to have a network of voices inside and outside the company so not one voice is in control.

    Here’s Dana’s interview, he talks about it in great detail.
    http://bethevoiceblog.com/?p=13

    Also Charlene Li talked about the same thing, how she built her voice within Forrester and left having built up all that value.
    http://bethevoiceblog.com/?p=12

    David

  • Jason Cormier

    Brian, this is juicy stuff. My company (Room 214) is heavily involved with the reputation management and brand monitoring side of things. You are so right regarding no single tool being a full solution.

    The good news is many of the things we have had to do manually are starting to be thought of as part of product development.

    Being in Boulder gives us the benefit of contributing feedback and recommendations with local companies like Filtrbox and Collective Intellect (which could also be included in your list).

    One thing we have learned for certain. Nothing replaces human review and response.

  • pavlita

    Brian,
    Let’s say I want to be on a social team to be able to create, promote and direct a company’s social branding,…where would I start?
    Pauline

  • laurent

    Great post on a very interesting issue. Yes, when it comes to their online presence, a person has to think carefully about “participating as “me” or creating a new entity in order to participate on behalf of my company?” as you said.
    Personal vs Company brand choice. In the later case, assuming a big part of the brand influence will be now carried by people who have become popular figures in their discipline, companies will face the issue of seeing their influence impacted when one of those people leave the company. Not very different from what happens in the offline worlds today but the issue will become critical as we move into this massively digital connected network of relationships.

  • TravisV

    Interesting post. It does seem more often than not that the decision whether to buy something has as much to do with our perception of the salesperson as it does our perception of the product. When I find something objectionable about the personality or integrity of the messenger, I’ve basically already closed my mind to the message.

  • Justin Levy

    This is an excellent series Brian! I enjoyed this post as I had only briefly heard about BackType but didn’t really know anything about it. It sounds like it will be a great tool to use for ORM as well as basic monitoring of specific topics and keywords.

    -Justin Levy

  • Tony Uphoff

    Brian,

    Very timely issue and well articulated. We estimate that 95%+ of our employees at TechWeb are actively using Facebook and some 40% have personal blogs that they share with customers and colleagues.

    Social networks have become strong platforms for us to connect with, share content with and exhange ideas with customers and the industry at large. As a media company however we are also aware that this use raises some complexity.

    We have focused on transparency as its part of our culture, as well as driving the use without restrictions. Look forward to the continued discussion here however and what we can learn from other companies.

    Tony

  • faizal kamal

    this point i like :
    listen,

    Managing Your Online Reputation

    thats the key.

    thanks god i found this article.

    thanks for Good info

    Best Regard

  • developdaly

    Brian, you might want to take a look at my chart for online profiles in light of reputation management: http://developdaly.com/profiles-online-reputation-management/218/

  • ethnicomm

    Brian – I only associate with brands that are consistent with my philosophy. However, I do keep track of any buzz about ethnicomm online just in case.

    I have several posts on the benefits of Google Alerts from a branding and reputation management standpoint – you are welcome to link to it here :)

  • DM

    Brian – Good stuff. Also take a look at Monitter to search Twitter posts.

ABOUT ME

Brian Solis is principal at Altimeter Group, a research firm focused on disruptive technology. A digital analyst, anthropologist, and futurist, Solis has studied and influenced the effects of emerging technology on business, marketing, and culture. Solis is also globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders and published authors in new media. His new book, What's the Future of Business (WTF), explores the landscape of connected consumerism and how business and customer relationships unfold and flourish in four distinct moments of truth. His previous book, The End of Business as Usual, explores the emergence of Generation-C, a new generation of customers and employees and how businesses must adapt to reach them. Prior to End of Business, Solis released Engage, which is regarded as the industry reference guide for businesses to market, sell and service in the social web.

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