When trolls attack: Social media, crisis communication, and your personal brand

When trolls attack: Social media, crisis communication, and your personal brand

The past twenty-four months have illuminated the growing trend of everyone—from John Q. Public to the President of the United States—using social media as their unchecked megaphone. News that was once filtered and fact-checked through the major networks is now being directly communicated through social media platforms Twitter, Facebook, and even LinkedIn.

There have been many benefits in the rise of this brain-to-platform type of communication. Sections of the population who were once virtually silent now have their story articulated to the masses. It is debatable, but this type of communication has activated many who were once uninterested to become more politically and socially aware.

With all the forward progress we’ve seen, this change in our communication does come with some challenges that could directly affect your personal brand. Online attacks are not just reserved for large companies or organizations. Whether you are an athlete, celebrity, CEO, or Professional Services provider, your personal brand could come under attack with just a few key strokes.

Social media allows us to be our own publicist, and as such the content that we create and distribute must consistently articulate the narrative that we want conveyed. It’s more than just posting images from meetings and events, it’s about strategically creating the script of who we want the world to know. Architecting and effectively managing your personal brand will become key, especially in times of crisis.

That said, even when we quarterback the narrative, we must be ever vigilant about what others are saying. Always be watching and listening— there are many online tools to assist you. Learn to spot and do not take the bait from social media trolls. There will always be those who have something negative to say. Do not argue. Learn to identify legitimate issues and respond quickly and candidly. Pause any scheduled posts that may be waiting in the cue until the issue has passed. When possible, take the conversation offline.

Handling an attack on your personal brand can be stressful, but remember that how you respond and overcome the crisis is what matters. Use the power of your own created content as a tool to communicate who you are and get some good out of what could be a bad situation.

Romance in the age of Instagram. The do’s and the don’ts.

We live in a world where love is only a website visit or app download away. Hundreds of platforms exist to connect us with others who share our same passions and world outlook. Into Seinfeld and Wu-Tang Clan? There’s an app for that. With all the options available there are still some who elect to use professional platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram to connect with potential romantic partners. A word of caution: Approaching someone via a professional platform with romance on your mind can be risky for your personal brand.

Below are a few tips about looking for love in a business space. Following them can keep you from committing a professional faux pas—and perhaps, help you even avoid rejection (and/or embarrassment).

Be very selective. If you must engage someone romantically on a professional site, be sure to do so very selectively. Engaging people in this manner opens you up to the potential risk of being spoken about negatively and/or your messages being shared. It’s also very easy to quickly become negatively viewed as someone who trolls social media looking for relationships.

Proceed with caution. Just because you can view a person’s posts and images does not mean you actually “know” them. Social media allows us to self-select what the world sees, but until you actually speak with someone you have no way of knowing who that person is in real life. Not everyone is comfortable with having his or her entire life on display, so if a relationship status or images of an assumed significant other are not posted that doesn’t necessarily mean that person doesn’t exist.

Be a friend. When engaging a stranger via a social media platform it is not in your best interest to lead with your romantic intentions.  Approach the person first as a friend and allow for the conversation to naturally evolve from there. If you’re at a loss as to where to start, kick off the conversation talking about something you may have in common, i.e. profession, philanthropic interests, alma mater, etc. This benign tactic allows you to gauge the other person’s interest without giving away your position. If they happen to be not available or interested your brand is left untarnished.

Take a hint. A non-response is a response. If you have reached out to someone via social media there is a very strong chance they saw the message. If they have not responded to your first message (or your sixth), more likely than not it means they are not interested. Take note and move on. Aggressively pursing someone who does not know you comes across as creepy, not romantic.

Take it offline. When possible, try to take your budding relationship offline. Doing so allows you to assess if you and your potential partner have actual romantic chemistry. Also, should the relationship go sour, taking your engagement offline allows for you to have less of an electronic paper trail.

Have a plan for damage control. Even the most perceptive person runs the risk of misreading a situation. When this happens, your first tactic should always be to salvage the professional relationship. If there is no reason to disconnect from the other person, refrain from doing so. Do not delete or block them from your social media platforms.

That said, here are a few things to keep in mind when the relationship is anything but salvageable. Not everyone behaves like a rational adult, so manage yourself and the situation with as much class and tact as possible. Refrain from sending any inflammatory emails, texts, or direct messages or posting any grievances on social media. If messages are sent to you, ignore them. If anything is posted about you, delete it. The key is to not make the situation appear larger than it is.

Finding ever-lasting love is tough (believe me, I know), but there’s no need to take down your professional reputation in the process.

5 Questions Every Athlete Should Consider When Hiring Someone to Manage Their Brand

It’s not uncommon for athletes to turn to full-service agencies to manage their business, legal, and marketing needs. After all, these professional services are key business components and are not to be managed by amateurs.

Developing and/or growing your personal brand is so much more than a few “Likes” to your Twitter account. With tens of millions of dollars a year in endorsements on the line, your personal brand should be managed by someone with integrated marketing “know how.” Someone who doesn’t just know how paid, earned, owned, and shared media works, but knows how these visibility channels impact your bottom-line.

Unlike your accountant or attorney, knowing if your brand manager is effective may be difficult to discern. How can you be assured that the strategy provided and the content created and/or suggested to you is truly going to raise your visibility? Or more importantly, attract lucrative endorsements and partnerships opportunities?

Here are a few things to consider before you place your personal brand into the hands of someone else:

Do they understand you holistically?

It’s one thing to understand the sport or identify with you culturally, but is the team who’s managing your brand asking the right questions to strategically position you for long-term visibility? If they don’t go beyond the obvious questions, chances are they are going to try to take a very generic approach to building your brand.

Do they think strategically?

Managing your brand isn’t simply about placing content on a few social media platforms. Paid (ads you purchase), Earned (print, TV, radio), Owned (any content created by you), and Shared (anything shared on social platforms) media need to be considered when building a plan for your personal brand. Keeping you at the “top of the feed” goes beyond just your celebrity. This task requires a great deal of message creation and content development.

Are they proactive?

Social media is an ever-evolving medium. Does your agency have the bandwidth to stay on top of emerging trends? Additionally, opportunities within earned media and endorsements are also fluid. Does your team have the ability to seek out opportunities on your behalf or only forward you what is presented to them?

Are they being honest with you?

Regular reevaluation is necessary in order for a brand to continually see growth. This evaluation may involve those around you being honest about what is happening (and what isn’t) on their end and what they are seeing (or not) on yours.

Do you feel valued?

Jerry McGuire wasn’t too far off base when he suggested to his agency that they needed to provide their clients with “more personal attention.” Clients want to feel as if the people they have entrusted to manage their brand treats it as it were their own. Do you have that feeling when you meet with your team? Does that feeling carry over into the day-to-day?

Your personal brand needs to be treated with the same amount of attention and care as the rest of your business assets. Failing to do so is risky and costly. Meet with a professional brand manager today to examine where your brand is and where is has the potential to go.

How to Build a Personal Brand: A guide for young athletes and their parents and coaches

If you are a parent or coach, you’re no doubt painfully aware that your young athlete is actively engaged in social media. He or she is Tweeting, Snapchatting and Instagramming for what seems like every minute of every day—and speaking in a language you probably don’t understand.

While often annoying and disruptive, there is benefit to all this online activity. Building a strong personal brand via social media allows any athlete, at any level (professional, collegiate, or prep) to create visibility that serves them well on and off the court.

Young athletes intrinsically understand the low-hanging benefits of social media and many thrive off being visible 24/7, but few truly understand the brand equity they are building (or damaging) and why it should be nurtured and protected as much as their smartphones.

Educating young athletes about the long-term importance of building a healthy personal brand from the ground up is the responsibility of every parent, coach, and mentor, but few are trained social media strategists or publicists. Here are a few tips to help in that regard.

Building the persona

How does your young athlete want to be known? As a super star, no doubt. But who is he/she on and off the field? Developing these real-life personas allows your young athlete to expand their personal brand to positively attract interest from multiple stakeholders. Encouraging your athlete to post content about their volunteerism, academic pursuits, faith, friendships, and family relationships as well as their athletic achievements only serves to bolster their overall visibility.

Know the rules

More and more high school and collegiate athletic programs have developed player social media policies and procedures. In addition, organizations like the NCAA have policies regarding how players can interact with schools and coaches during the recruiting process. Set your athlete up for success by inquiring and reading any social media policies outlined by their current teams as well as any teams they hope to play for in the immediate future.

Where to be

Neither you nor your athlete should feel compelled to build a presence on every single social media platform. Pick one to two, i.e. Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat, to build and grow a following on those sites before extending out to others. There are many resources available to help you select which platforms are most appropriate for your athlete’s audience and message.

 The “who” and “what”

Young athletes have many stakeholders looking to their social media accounts for content. Coaches, administrators, reporters, scouts, opponents, and fans, just to name a few. Thinking about all of their potential audiences will help guide what kind of information should be posted. Currently more than 72% of all information posted to social media is in the form of an image or video, so help your athlete understand how to create and post appropriate content to meet stakeholder demands. Consistency is the key with content posting, so that their stakeholder and come to know that they will receive useful, engaging, or entertaining content from this athlete’s profile on a regular basis.

Stakeholder Engagement

As we all now know, social media allows people from all over the world to connect and engage with each other as never before. In an instant, any person can be connected to their favorite athlete, performer, or even the President of United States! But this new form of direct accessibility does present some challenges. Unfortunately, every social media platform is filled with people who are there for no reason other than to spew hate and negativity with the hopes of getting a reaction. Conversely, one way to grow your social media following is through authentic responses to followers. Talking with your athlete about appropriate stakeholder engagement is key to ensure that he or she has a safe and positive online experience.

Keep a foot in reality

While creating and growing your athlete’s personal brand via social media is key to their long-term personal and professional success, it should not feel like or become a full-time job. When beginning on this journey with your athlete is it important to help them (and you) maintain a balance between the real world and that provided by social media.

Reevaluate as needed

There may come a time when your athlete’s social media profiles need to be reevaluated. Perhaps sports are no longer in the picture and it’s time to prepare them for a life as a young professional. Or maybe their athletic career is about to catapult, and it’s time to engage the services of a professional social media strategist. Either way, just like with your investments, periodically reevaluating an athlete’s social media platforms, stakeholders, and content is key to helping them maintain a healthy personal brand.