Jan 21, 2010

Is a personal brand really "personal" on Social Media?

The genesis of this blog post was also a tweet reply asking "how do regular social media 'veterans' working in a digital firm reconcile their personal and employee entities?"

I responded that whichever social media outpost I frequent be it Facebook, Twitter or my Ning community - I essentially keep it related to work and the things that interest me - people within the context of organizations, and emergent ways of working, managing and leading.

Then I thought about it - most people I know who are "personal brands" on social media are really "professional brands" with elements of their personal life that are woven into it. It's just that the degree of sharing differs - someone like Scoble does it to one extent and Penelope Trunk to a different extent.

However the picture muddies when a person has built up a brand - and it clashes with his/her employee responsibilities. Some employers benefit from the presence such people bring. Specially PR firms which have hired social media rockstars like Steve Rubel, David Armano. And yet for other kinds of employers having an employee speak out is not easy - so that's why we've seen HR bloggers like Lance Haun go through anonymity to openness. Whereas there are still others like Evil HR Lady who choose to be anonymous.

My hypothesis is that there is no real "personal" brand in the sense of talking only about "personal details" - except a few - but what is called a "personal brand" is actually an "Individual's brand" and which is about a passion/interest area he/she has.

This is critical.

The "building of the individual's brand" should not be the objective alone. If that is the objective, social media is not the solution.

Think of it in this way:
Unless you like gardening you won't have the patience to grow a tree over 3-4 years and then get its fruit.