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The Unfollow Faux Pas

The Unfollow Faux Pas

You: You unfollowed me? Why? What did I do?

Contact: What? No!

Contact: Oh, I guess I did. I’m working with a guy to help clean up my accounts and he must have unfollowed you.

You: …

Contact: I’ll tell him to reconnect! Sorry!

If you’ve been on either side of this conversation you know how awkward it can be. Most of the time the conversation is benign, but these kinds of faux pas can have an impact on your personal and professional relationships. The “unfollow” has come to signify the absolute end of a relationship. Your unintended disengagement could leave some second-guessing the real status of your relationship.

Working with a professional to create and/or maintain your social media accounts is an excellent way to ensure your brand is growing strategically, your generating consistent and effective content, and you’re managing a steady flow of engagement.

Your vendor is likely using a third-party platform like Commun.it to provide them with info regarding whom you should and shouldn’t follow. If some of your key stakeholders don’t meet a certain threshold, your vendor is likely to unfollow.

Before you unleash your vendor to help turn you into a social media influencer, there are a few pieces of key info that should be shared with your vendor to help you avoid this awkward conversation.

Below is a suggested list of key stakeholders whom you should never unfollow regardless of their activity or followers or lack thereof:

-Your boss

-Business partners

-Key staff

-Current clients


-Key members of the media in your industry

-Any person you’ve chatted with on LinkedIn in the past 60 days

-Any person you’ve texted with in the past 60 days

-Any person or organization who you’ve supported their cause and/or have attended their event

There are always going to be circumstances when you’ll need to unfollow someone who’s part of the aforementioned list. When doing so, move swiftly and quietly.

Making the Most of Your Speaking Engagement

Serving as a paid or pro bono speaker is an excellent way to expand your personal brand and build followers. Whether you’re new to the speaking circuit or a seasoned professional, the best way to get the next speaking opportunity is by making the most of your latest appearance.

Below are a few tips and tactics that I’ve learned over my years as a speaker to ensure that you’re making the most of your stage time.

Organization marketing – You were selected as the speaker for a reason, so don’t hesitate to ensure that at least your image, name, company, and social media handles are part of any event marketing. This will allow people to review your information and/or connect with you in advance. Keep in mind that each time the event is marketed gives you more touchpoint to a larger audience.

Personal marketing – Make sure you announce your participation via your owned or shared media as well. A simple text post connecting you to the organization is sufficient. Creating a branded social media tile that displays the organization or event logo is a great way to take your announcement to the next level.  Finally, a video to your social media platforms tagging the event or organization is a great way to help build interest.

Invitation to connect – At the beginning of your remarks, invite your audience to connect with you via social media. Encourage them to post images and/or ask questions. Whether they liked your remarks or not, any new follower or engagement is great for your brand.

Content collection – Don’t hesitate to ask the event organizer if there will be a photographer and/or videographer present. If there won’t be any, don’t be shy about asking someone to capture images and/or video on your phone. If possible, bring an assistant with you to the event so they may post to your accounts in real-time.

Post-event posting – As soon as possible following your remarks, use whatever content you have, i.e. images or video to post to your social media platforms. Be sure to connect to the organization so they see the posts and can engage with you.

Blog about it – Depending on the topic and length of your remarks, developing a blog post is an easy and user-friendly way to encapsulate your thoughts. Your PowerPoint deck should never be a word-for-word regurgitation of your remarks. Developing a blog post brings your audience to your platforms to revisit your remarks and to learn more.

Ask for a recommendation – Following the successful completion of a speech, ask the event organizer to provide you with a recommendation on LinkedIn, text or video for your website, or both. If they ask what you’d like written, suggest that they comment on the experience of working with you, the quality of your presentation, and the audience reaction.

Make every card count – Should audience members approach you following your speech, get their business cards and connect with them on social media to help keep building on the goodwill you’ve established from your remarks. Note: Refrain from using cards obtained at your presentation to send promotional emails. Building authentic, organic relationships will benefit you more in the long run.

Update your resume – Develop a version of your resume that includes all of your speaker credits to be used for future appearances. Training yourself to update your list immediately following your remarks saves you headaches down the road.

If the moment has passed and you forgot to do any or all of the items I suggested, don’t worry. Here are a few tips on how to play catch-up.

#FlashbackFriday – Creating a flashback Friday post tagging the event or organization is a good way to recapture the experience.

Repurpose content – Get creative and repurpose content, i.e. image, video, etc. from a previous appearance to create future content. Slice up your content and repurpose it by topic to help extend the life of the media. You can also use content from a previous appearance to help promote an upcoming speech.

The end game is all about traction. Use any and all of the tools and content at your disposal to keep building your brand for the long-term.










Is Your Brand Draft Ready?

Draft time is quickly approaching for both the NFL and NBA—the moment countless young men have spent the better part of their athletic careers preparing for. Draft day is about so much more than how well an athlete plays his respective sport. Much attention is also paid to how an athlete looks, sounds, and behaves online.

In recent years, we’ve witnessed many instances where a single misstep has had costly consequences. For example, 15 minutes before Laremy Tunsil was to be picked in the top-five for the NFL draft a video appeared on his Twitter account showing him smoking a substance from a bong. That single post dropped him down to the 13th pick costing him as much as $10 million in signing bonuses.

If you’re a rising athlete who’s fortunate enough to be taking part in this year’s draft, here’s a check list to ensure your brand is first-round ready.

Note: These activities should be done in advance of the respective sport’s combine—especially if the athlete is managing his own brand, as the time between that event and draft day is far too hectic.

Conduct a brand audit. You’ve likely Googled yourself for fun, but there’s an actual practicality to this self-research. Review the first three to five pages under your name search. Click here for what to do should you find something unflattering. In addition, go through all your social media accounts to remove any unflattering or questionable posts or images. Finally, untag yourself from any unflattering posts made by others.

Change passwords and check security settings. To prevent any instances of hacking, update all website and/or social media passwords. Click here for help creating the strongest password possible. Update your social media platform’s security settings to ensure you’re comfortable with who has access to your accounts and who can post, comment, or direct message you.

Develop key messages. If you’re only given a few moments to introduce yourself to the world, know what you’re going to say. Developing and rehearsing a few brand messages in advance will ensure that you’ll have well-crafted, authentic remarks when it matters.

Update all bios and images. Each social media bio should reflect the brand messages you crafted. Make sure your brand narrative is universal across all your owned media. In addition, to make it easier on fans and media, make sure use the same profile image across all accounts.

Obtain media training. If you’re lucky, the media interviews you give during the draft will be replayed for years to come. To ensure that you’re as poised and articulate as possible, invest in some media and/or speaker training. You truly can never be too prepared for media interviews.

Have a content plan. Think in advance about what kind of content you plan to post, and when you’d like to post. If you’re creating the content yourself, have a plan for when and how you’re going to do that. Also, set-aside time to engage with followers. This is a good habit to get yourself in for your professional career.

Plan for a crisis. Communications crises can and do happen. Don’t leave yourself a sitting duck without options should one occur. Have a crisis communications professional on speed dial just in case.

Have a family meeting. It’s important that everyone who surrounds you at the combine and on draft day understands that their online and in-person behavior is a reflection of you. They too will be under the microscope and need to be prepared for such.

Remember self-care. During this period, you’ll likely be under more pressure than you’ve ever endured before. You can’t perform on empty, so be sure not to neglect yourself. Eat well and get plenty of rest. Spend quality time with family and friends. Most importantly, take a moment when you need to for peace, reflection, and prayer.

Should draft day not turn out as planned for you, read my additional blog about how to maintain your brand as a free agent: http://www.yourfirestarter.com/personalbrandingtipsundrafted/

Author Frances Reimers is the founder and CEO of Firestarter, a personal brand consultancy located in Alexandria, VA. Firestarter assists athletes, celebrities, and executives, helping them develop, manage, enhance, and protect a key professional asset: their personal brand. Click here to learn more or to schedule an appointment. 



Dating Profile Hacks for Guys

Guys, dating is the digital age is hard. But it doesn’t have to be!

Let me show you how to apply the personal branding tactics I use every day to help my clients achieve professional success to your dating profile.

This 60-minute session is designed to provide men with tips and tricks—delivered from a single woman’s perspective—to help them get swiped. Attendees will enjoy a fun and candid session that addresses image creation and selection, personal profile development, conversation strategies, and date follow-up.

Register today for the session nearest you. Each session will begin at 7 pm:

Friday, February 2 in DChttps://www.eventbrite.com/e/never-sleep-alone-again-dating-profile-hacks-for-guys-tickets-42026278731

Thursday, February 8 in Fairfaxhttps://www.eventbrite.com/e/never-sleep-alone-again-dating-profile-hacks-for-guys-tickets-42100915973

Friday, February 9 in Woodbridgehttps://www.eventbrite.com/e/never-sleep-alone-again-dating-profile-hacks-for-guys-tickets-41998443475


Laptops and smart phones welcome!

For questions, contact Frances Reimers at frances@yourfirestarter.com

3 Reasons Why Personal Brand Consulting Can Help Your Career

The concept of personal branding is not a fad. I should know, I live it every day. That said, most people are still unclear as to why they should invest time, money, or both into developing their personal brand.

Your personal brand is the one professional asset you own. Its success or failure depends completely on you. Today with everything going digital—and everyone’s personal profile steadily growing online—it’s more vital than ever that you have a working knowledge of the concept of personal branding and how you can control your destiny.

Whether you’re an attorney, teacher, or TV weather reporter, here are three reasons why you should connect with a personal brand consultant today.

  1. You don’t know what you don’t know. Unless integrated marketing, social media strategy, and/or PR is your bread and butter you likely have little knowledge on how to craft messages, identify audiences, and truly maximize social media platforms. All are key elements to the long-term success of a brand. A consultant will listen to your successes, goals, and capabilities to direct you in developing your best, and most manageable, plan of action.
  2. You’re too close to it. Most social media bios and profiles are jammed-packed with information that isn’t actually helping you. We assume that if we list everything and share every thought we have that opportunities will magically come at us, when, in fact, less is more. A consultant will help you pare down your messaging, provide vital keywords, and direct you to the right platforms to help you meet your objectives.
  3. Two heads are better than one. Brainstorming and creating content are the biggest challenges most people face when attempting to grow their personal brand. A consultant will work with you to develop topics, select a medium, i.e. blog, video, infographic, etc., and the appropriate platform for your content.

Personal brand consultations can be hosted in-person or via FaceTime, Skype, or Google Hangout with sessions typically lasting anywhere from one to three hours. Session cost varies depending on vendor. Clients should consult with their Human Resources Department prior to scheduling a session as it may qualify for professional development reimbursement. Clients may also want to consult with their accountant to determine if such sessions are tax deductible.

Personal brand sessions provide clients with a tremendous amount of insight into what they’re projecting to the world and how better to align those messages to achieve their short- and long-term goals. Greatness is rarely, if ever, achieved alone. Call a personal brand consultant today to learn how to make your brand work for you.

Remaining World Class: How athletes can proactively transition their personal brand into retirement

Whether your professional athletic career ends due to injury or through planned retirement, stepping away from the proverbial spotlight for many can be traumatic. One way to lessen the sting of this life change is to have a plan in place to transition your career, and ultimately, your personal brand. Doing so will allow for you to continue to capitalize on your recent celebrity. 

Extending your celebrity is about more than just ego. In fact, 80 percent of professional athletes’ earnings will likely come from 20 percent of their career. Establishing a strong personal branding during your playing days will allow you to maintain your celebrity status after you’ve entered the private sector—and help provide greater visibility and likely more income. 

Take heart. All is not lost if you’ve long since retired and are now deciding to tend to your personal brand. Every day is a new day to take corrective action and bring yourself back into the spotlight. 

You may be reading this thinking to yourself, “I am years from retirement, I don’t need to be thinking about this.” On the contrary. Now’s the perfect time for to begin thinking about this. A longer runway always allows for a smoother takeoff, so five to 10 years before you plan to retire is an optimal period to transition your brand from superstar athlete to superstar (fill in the blank). 

Below are some tips and tools you may use to transition your brand into your non-playing years. 

Find your (new) passion

You’ve spent so much time focusing on sports that you likely haven’t had much time to sit and ponder what’s next. Start by thinking about what you’re passionate about or are interested in. Take meetings with successful people in those industries and find out what makes sense for you. Don’t get overwhelmed with the idea that this next career move must take you all the way to your grave. There’s always more time to pivot, but you should at least select a destination post-sports to focus your brand. 

If at all possible, start working on or in your new industry prior to ending your athletic career. Take an internship or do some job shadowing during the off season so that you can truly get your feet wet in the new field. While on the job, capture and document your experience as that content will become helpful later on. 

Update your narrative

Once you feel like you have a post-sports destination in mind, that’s the time to start updating your message. For so long your narrative has been “(Insert name) the athlete…” Now you need to redraft your narrative to include your new endeavors—and develop simple but powerful language that lends credibility as to why your audiences should believe that you are—or will be—a thought leader in this new industry. 

Streamline your platforms

Often successful athletes will amass a large digital footprint during their playing years, i.e. building websites and social media platforms to support their brand as well as their corporate and philanthropic endeavors. As a result, their brand is fragmented and it becomes difficult for audiences to know where to engage with them in their non-playing years. Prior to launching new content, you should conduct a brand audit and remove or edit any and all online information. 

Introduce new content to your current brand 

Once you’ve identified your new venture, have a little knowledge under your belt, and have updated your message, it’s time to start integrating the “new you” content in with your existing brand. If you’re still playing, you’ll want to introduce content slowly so as not to confuse your audience.

The content created for your new role should not try to oversell your abilities or influence in this new space. Be authentic and allow yourself to talk the talk and walk the walk. Create content pieces like blogs, video, articles, and social media posts that differentiate you from your peers and demonstrate why you’re passionate about your new endeavor. Most importantly, show that you’ve done your homework and are educated about and engaged in your new career.

Don’t leave money on the table

Often athletes will agree to appearances or be willing to lend their image to a campaign without asking what’s in it for them. This makes sense while you’re actively playing, but you no longer have that luxury once you retire. Maintaining and growing your celebrity starts with being selective about where you donate your time and image. It’s not uncommon for celebrities to hire or appoint someone to manage this task If they are not comfortable or do not feel they know enough to properly vet appearance or campaign requests. Failing to do so can result in diminished short and long-term financial gain and strategic visibility.  

Transitioning from professional player to coach, business person, philanthropist, etc. will be one of the biggest transitions—emotionally and financially—that you’ll ever make. If it all seems too overwhelming to think about on your own, then seek the guidance of a professional to walk you through it. Every day I help athletes transition their brand. There’s too much earning potential on the line to simply hope it all works out. 

Building a Coaches’ Brand for More Effective Recruiting 

Nowadays, coaches have to worry not only about outsmarting opponents on the field. They also must outwork rivals on social media, using videos, graphics, and hashtags to attract the best players. With most top-tier programs in the know, how can your program stand out?

The answer lies with strengthening the brands of your team’s individual coaches to support and validate the benefits of your overall program.

In this one-hour session, Firestarter will provide an evaluation of last year’s recruitment outreach – all paid, earned, owned, and shared media, and will provide the team and individual coaches with tips and tools to strengthen future engagement.

To inquire about session pricing and availability, contract Firestarter founder and CEO Frances Reimers at freimers@yourfirestarter.com or call/text 202.731.2649.

Quick and Easy Personal Brand Fixes

I’m frequently asked for quick and easy tips to build, grow, or repair a person’s brand. While I’m not a believer in quick and easy when it comes to personal brand success, there are a few minor tweaks you can make right now that can have a significant impact.

Face First. Fair or not, we’re judged first and foremost by the images we project to the world. If your LinkedIn image is of your kids, dog, or is more than five years old, you’re saying to others that you don’t care about your image. As a result, others will not care about you. Take the time to get proper headshots or use a picture that projects you as a polished professional.

Are you talking about you? Authenticity is vital when it comes to long-term brand success. Lots of successful professionals turn to people like me to help them draft and manage their accounts. With that in mind, all text should be drafted in the first person. Your bio shouldn’t describe you like you’re some other entity. Regardless of who’s writing, be real and use the first person.

You remember high school English, right? There’s simply no excuse for having typos and/or grammatical errors on websites and/or social media platforms that you own. Zero. Zip. There’s no shame in soliciting the services of a proofreader if you’re unable to identify these errors yourself. Failing to do so makes you appear sloppy and unprofessional.

One size doesn’t fit all. Linking your social media accounts or using distribution platforms like Hootsuite is a great way to help busy professionals stay on top of posting info. That said, strategic tactics are not universal across all platforms. How something would be created for Twitter is not always the same on Facebook. As a result, your posts may not be as effective as they could be. When using distribution tools, create your posts to best fit each platform.

Hit delete. I’m a big believer in self-editing. You’re the master of your own narrative, so it’s completely your prerogative to go back and get rid of posts that you’re no longer happy or comfortable with. This is especially important if you’re looking for a new job, developing a new relationship, or just want to erase a bad day, week, month, or year of your life.

It’s your brand, so exercise your editing rights accordingly. Happy cleaning!

How Frenemies Benefit Your Brand

An inevitable side-effect of success is having to deal with those who wish you had a little less of it. As we grow and change within our professional journey, it’s natural to develop relationships with those who keep their friends close and their enemies even closer.

The ‘frenemy’ relationship has become an unavoidable staple to long-term business growth. That said, engaging with frenemies can be draining, and often, it may feel pointless. But alas, I offer you a silver lining! Dealing with the bozos you secretly (or not-so-secretly) loathe can actually benefit your personal brand.

From a brand and business perspective, it’s better to have frenemies than no enemies at all. Here’s how to leverage those fickle relationships for overall brand growth.

Mirror, mirror. If for nothing else, frenemies are great at helping you identify your brand’s strengths and weaknesses. How you feel when you interact with or view your frenemies’ content can provide valuable insights into how you can grow as an individual.

Goals are great. The frenemy relationship usually develops because one person views the other as personal and/or professional competition. Pick something about each of your frenemies’ brand that you actually admire and develop a plan to do it better, faster, or more efficiently. Avoid superficial things like being more attractive or attending swankier social events. Keep your goals to something that’s mentally healthy and attainable.

Free market research. The reality is, you’re watching your frenemies just as much as they’re watching you; and their engagement via your social media platforms is one of your most important analytics. Keeping mental tabs on which social media posts they like, avoid, and copy is some of the best market research you can do. Conversely, their posts and the associated engagement with each provides you with insight into what’s resonating with a larger audience that you likely share.

Mandated positivity. Remaining positive and supportive (even if it’s forced) is always a good look. Your frenemies may not like everything you do, but like your mother used to say, “two wrongs don’t make a right!” Engage with your frenemies as if they were real friends or colleagues, i.e. like their posts, applaud their successes, even offer to collaborate with them. It’s really hard for them to dislike someone who consistently demonstrates goodwill.

Know you’ll always have an audience. Aside from your parents and perhaps a creepy ex, your frenemies are likely the key consumers of your brand. They honestly can’t help themselves! So just when you think no one out there is paying attention, don’t worry, your frenemies are.





Budgeting for Your Personal Brand

It’s that time of the year when individuals and organizations are thinking of ways to use their remaining 2017 marketing and PR budget, plan for 2018, or both. When thinking of these funds, your personal brand or those of your employees or clients should be at the top of your priority list.

Many individuals and organizations are beginning to understand that investing in personal brand is a vital cost of doing business. Like office supplies and coffee, budgeting for the tools and resources needed to create and grow brands should be a set line item.

For those still struggling with why this is vital and/or how to make it work for their budget, I offer some food for thought.

Why have one when you can have many?

Why have only one marketing stream when you can have many? The more people on your team who are building their brands and, by extension, your company’s brand, the more opportunities you have to distribute content and connect with your audience.

It’s happening so stop ignoring it.

Your employees and/or clients are online daily posting content about you and their work. Why not get out in front of it and provide them with tools and resources to be more effective?

 Quality writing and graphic design matters.

If you or your staff are sharing information about the company or their work, you should care about the quality of the writing and graphic design used. Just like with any other marketing, how social media posts read and appear is a reflection of your company. Time and attention should be paid to ensuring these posts look their best.

You don’t need the kitchen sink.

You and/or your staff may not need a full strategic plan or fancy new design software to create and grow your brands. All you may need is a training or brainstorming session with a brand expert to help get everyone on the right track. A day-long or half-day brand training session is a great way to connect as a team and share content ideas.

Don’t have a strategy today? Better have one tomorrow.

If a comprehensive personal brand strategic plan is not in the works for 2017, it is vital that it be included in your plans for 2018. For your personal brand to truly be effective, a strategy should be developed to assess and provide a blueprint for how you will capture all paid, earned, owned, and shared media opportunities at your disposal.

In an ever-increasing media market, knowing how to effectively articulate your narrative and differentiators will truly make a difference to your bottom line. Investing in yourself and your staff or clients is no longer just a “feel good” initiative. Personal branding is proving to be one of the most effective marketing tactics an individual or business can deploy to reach their target audience.