At its core, social media provides a platform to connect with family, friends and colleagues, along with the ability to meet new people with shared interests across the world. However, over time there has been a fundamental shift from creating an open dialogue to an emphasis on using social media for “personal branding”.
There is nothing inherently wrong with the concept of building a personal brand when it is done naturally and thoughtfully. We all have different experiences, interests, attitudes and specialties that define us, and your ability to express these differences visually and/or physically is what separates you from the masses. The problem arises when individuals become infatuated with their own brands and start looking for shortcuts. This is intensified by all of the so-called experts who are quick to share their “best practices,” which result in over-optimization and poor execution. Case in point: there are so many LinkedIn profiles today that read like one big “Mad Libs” filled with the latest buzzwords that it sometimes becomes hard to tell people apart.
The slippery slope occurs when individuals try to use social media to cut corners by creating “little white lies” and turning their social media accounts into a self-serving echo chamber. Maybe it starts with buying Twitter followers to appear more “influential” or adding an Ivy League education to your LinkedIn profile when you really only attended a paid weekend seminar on the campus. Regardless, in the long-run, these individuals will be exposed by their inability to deliver on their brand promise.
The challenge for everyone else in the short-term is that, with the volume of content being created on a daily basis and the speed at which it is shared, it is becoming increasingly difficult to separate fact from fiction. From an employer standpoint, individuals consumed with their personal brand create an environment of inefficiencies. These individuals make decisions based on the potential exposure they may receive versus the impact on the overall business. In addition, it hurts morale as co-workers don’t want to work with these individuals because of their “me-me” attitude and inability to collaborate with others.
Fortunately there is a solution that will help you stand out from the crowd and rise above the “noise”. Ultimately a successful brand is built by consistently providing superior execution and support to your customers. In regards to your personal brand, this means that you need to stop trying to sell everyone on the reasons why everything YOU do is awesome and start focusing on how you can help OTHERS succeed. This ability is a true sign of leadership, and as a result of this shift in thinking, you will find that your personal and work life are more fulfilling.
You need to start thinking about your personal brand’s customers, who consist of your family, friends, colleagues and the community around you. By supporting their needs and achieving success together, you will reap the benefits. These “customers” will sing your praise and their unsolicited endorsement will be more impactful than anything you could do own your own.
Now is the time for you to truly take ownership of your brand by staying true to yourself and letting your actions do all the talking.