Spring Clean Your Personal Brand

Spring Clean Your Personal Brand

Your garage, yard, and closet are not the only things that could use a little spring cleaning. Your personal brand should be another item on your to do list.

During the hustle and bustle of the winter months your personal brand likely suffered a little neglect. Below are a few tips to ensure that your personal brand is looking and performing at its best heading into the summer and fall months.

Do a quick Google search. You’ve likely Googled yourself for fun, but there is an actual practicality to this self-research. One quick and easy way to get an idea of your online reputation is to enter your name into Google or another search engine. If your name isn’t as unusual as mine, try adding your employer, home town, organizations where you’re active, or other extra information into the search. Click here for what to do should you find something unflattering.

Make sure your message and image are consistent. The average American adult is active on at least two social media platforms. If you’re trying to elevate your brand, make sure your messaging and image are consistent across all platforms. Consistency and repetition will allow for great brand adoption by your followers.

Get rid of non-followers. Fake fans or followers interfere with the accuracy of your social media analytics. Social media metrics such as engagement and conversion, for example, are dependent on follower/fan interaction. If yours are fakes or following you without any engagement, you’ll have a hard time analyzing the effectiveness of your content. There are several free and low-cost tools out there to assist you with the task of removing those who need to go.

Revisit your content calendar. It never hurts to revisit your content calendar to ensure that what you’re about to create and post is still relevant. The best content is either unique, immediately useful, entertaining, or evokes action. Before posting, take a quick scan online to ensure that your content is as original as you can possibly make it.

When it comes to the upkeep of your personal brand, being organized and consistent is always best. If needed, place reminders on your calendar at the end of each quarter to remind you it’s time to spruce things up.

Why Brand Strategy Matters

Imagine walking into a stadium full of millions of screaming fans. You’re about to play the game of your life, but you haven’t prepared mentally or physically, you have no information about your opponent, and you have no game plan. How are you expected to be victorious? The reality is, you just won’t be.

There’s a reason for the two-a-days, endless filming watching sessions, playbooks, and stat analysis – because just winging it does not win championships.

Developing and launching your personal brand is no different than preparing for the big game. To be effective, and to serve you well long after your time in the spotlight is over, you need to have a strategic plan.

I understand that developing a strategic plan sounds scary, daunting, and quite frankly something you’d rather not do. That said, taking the time to develop a plan, or having someone like me to develop it for you, is truly an investment in your long-term success.

You already have a personal brand. It’s defined as how you come off to other people in person and online. The question is whether you’re doing anything to control those perceptions. Your personal branding strategy is simply the series of actions that you take to control those perceptions.

Need more convincing? Here are four benefits to developing your brand strategy:

  1. Having a brand strategy allows you to define and control the narrative of your life. You will dictate to the world who you are and how they should perceive you.
  2. You already know how to use social media platforms, but having a strategy will allow you to use them more effectively and consistently. This will improve your visibility and reduce the chance of embarrassing online faux pas.
  3. Life comes at us quickly. Having a brand strategy will prepare you for unexpected life changes, i.e. injury, illness, or career change.
  4. In the event of a crisis, having a brand strategy will allow for quicker and more effective reputation management and/or repair.

The earlier in your career that you define your brand strategy the better. That said, for those who are more senior all is not lost. You can literally pick up this ball and run with it at any time. The win is in deciding that you are going to control the game (or in this case, the message) and not let the game control you.

 

Kindly Remove Yourself From my Table: 5 people who are potentially hurting your personal brand

You’ve likely heard the term “guilt by association.” A healthy personal brand isn’t just about the image you project to the world, but also the people with whom you associate.

As you become more successful and well-known, you should be constantly examining and re-examining those around you to determine who is allowed a seat at your table. It is, after all, your choice, so choose wisely. Failing to do so could have potentially harmful effects to your personal brand, but more importantly, to your mental health and overall personal growth.

As you begin to identify these people in your life you’d just as soon forget, I encourage you to refrain from a fiery public dissolution of the relationship. Simply back away from the relationship quietly both online and in person. Click here for a great article as to what to do if confronted by the removed party.

Below are the personality types that should be asked to leave your table:

The Emperor of Shade

The Emperor is someone who has an overall negative persona and/or bad professional (and likely personal) reputation. This person can often be dishonest, misleading, and has little regard for the collateral damage their words and/or actions may cause. They steamroll their way through all situations to ensure they get what they want. Having someone like that in your inner circle will make others assume you conduct business that way as well.

 The Dream Killer

All successful people have dreams and goals. For you to flourish you also need to be surrounded by a tribe who are just as invested in your success as you are. The Dream Killer is someone who goes beyond playing the role of Devil’s Advocate and goes straight to having an issue with everything you do. That kind of negativity is exhausting, and likely due to their jealousy or insecurities, so it’s best to focus your time and energy to those who are in your corner.

The Gimme Pig

The Gimme Pig is someone who never hesitates to reach out to you when they need something, i.e, wanting you to attend a professional event, needing you to donate to a charity, or helping them with a job search. They need you to act on their behalf and will likely hound you until you do so. That said, the second they get what they need, you do not hear from them again until the next need. Next time they have an ask, simply ignore it.

 The Actor

The Actor is engaging and supportive to your face, but speaks of you and/or your efforts—in a negative or unflattering way behind your back. Should you be fortunate enough to find out about this person’s actions, you should immediately cut them off from your information pipeline. They can’t gossip about what they don’t know.

The Brick

We all stumble sometimes, but The Brick is someone who frequently has troubling events happening in their life, i.e. relationship drama, money troubles, and brushes with the law. The Brick is likely on their way down, (Newsflash: you can’t save them) so you need to remove them from your life before they take you down with them.

Letting go of relationships is never easy. But you can’t fly with boulders attached to your feet, in pursuit of your dreams don’t hesitate to put your personal brand and emotional needs first.

 

 

TMI: Oversharing on social media and its impact on your brand

Since its inception, social media has fostered a “share-society” that would make any pre-school teacher giddy. Having a great meal? Share it. Disappointed with the election? Voice your anger ad nauseam.

We (and I say “we” because we’re all guilty) overshare on social media for a variety of reasons—validation, self-promotion, and grief-processing are just a few of the common motivators. Social media allows us to act as our own publicist in a way that no medium has before, and as such we can post whatever we desire without any apparent immediate consequence.

A key component to leveraging your personal brand via social media is authenticity. Sharing information about who we are, who we know, and how we think outside of the virtual world is part of social media’s appeal. Because let’s face it, we’re all voyeurs. However, there is a tipping point when all of our “authenticity” becomes damaging to our personal brand.

There is no magical equation or data point that I can speak to, but here are a few challenges that oversharing evokes.

You appear unstable and/or untrustworthy. How are potential clients and/or employers able to have confidence in you if you are willing to openly reveal every intimate detail of your life on social media? No one wants to enter into a relationship, professional or otherwise, with someone who does not understand appropriate boundaries.

You threaten your own personal safety. Oversharing your personal information or that of your family and friends puts you (and potentially them) at risk. Stranger danger is very real in the social media universe, so you want to make sure that you are not providing unscrupulous people with data about you that could result in you being harmed physically, emotionally, or financially.

You become just noise.  When we overshare, whether it’s talking about a recent breakup or our disproval with the government, we run the risk of our followers tuning us out—or worse, unfollowing us all together. The key is finding balance between what we want to say and what our followers need us to say.

The good news is that while you can’t take back what you’ve posted previously you can move forward with a revised strategic plan for your personal brand. Get back to basics: remain positive, post information that is engaging, informative, or entertaining, and you will slowly but surely bring yourself back from the brink of the social media exile.

Can you monetize your personal brand?

Does your personal brand have monetary value? Not wanting to keep you in suspense, the answer is “yes,” and there are ways to increase its value.

For more than two decades, organizations have used key indicators to determine their brand’s worth to a given business strategy. Knowing the actual monetary value of a brand can play a major role in helping to guide the decision-making of a company as its leaders think about their plans for the future of the business.

The same evaluation can be given to a personal brand. Understanding the value of their personal brand can help individuals such as athletes, celebrities, and business executives develop an advantage when it comes to endorsement and contract negotiations and annual evaluations.

According to global brand agency Interbrand, a Personal Earnings Estimate can be used to forecast the potential earnings of a personal brand. The Personal Earnings Estimate has a variety of uses, including enticing top talent in the sports or business worlds. It can also be used by talent management to understand the brand impact of their clients’ career decisions, allowing optimization of potential future earnings.

The following step-by-step process is used by consulting firms like Interbrand to help monetize one’s personal brand. Each step is assigned a score on a scale of 0-100.

Step One: Determine the Sources of Income.

Understand the potential sources of income, both now and in the future (i.e. salary, endorsements, product sales, etc.)

Step Two: Understand the Drivers.

Determine the effect of different variables on those income streams (e.g. choosing certain film roles, playing for a particular franchise, selecting an employer.)

Step Three: Determine Brand Strength.

By understanding the current strengths and weaknesses of the brand in question, you can determine the probability of your earnings estimates. For example, a celebrity prone to scandal will be less likely to land starring roles, earn awards, and secure endorsements. All of which will lower potential earnings.

Step Four: Simulate.

Stimulate all possible outcomes to determine the maximum, minimum, and average earnings potential given all possible scenarios (i.e. number of championships or Academy Awards to win over a career).

Revisiting your content strategy

This is the next step if the Personal Earnings Estimate is not as high as desired. In the race to remain at the “top of the fold,” the quality of one’s content is one variable that can be controlled. Data provided by social media platforms and/or social listen tools can provide clear indicators as to which previously posted content is and is not resonating with your target audience(s) and where there are areas of potential growth.

Here are four vital areas that impact your brand’s overall visibility and how you can adjust it.

Frequency and consistency – A major element to successful personal brand growth is posting frequently and consistently. By doing so you are training your audience to know when they will hear from you and, more often than not, they will receive content that is engaging, entertaining, and/or useful.

Targeting all potential audiences – Often we create content aimed at our audience segment that is most like us. The challenge with that tactic is that you may be missing the many other various audience segments who could potentially be interested in your content. As you develop your content calendar, make sure you are creating content for as many other audience segments as possible.

Proactively engaging the media – Regardless of how visible a person might be, it should never be assumed that the media is aware of all their comings and goings. It never hurts to proactively engage the media, especially if it’s to make them aware of a charity event and/or launching of an initiative.

Consider paid advertising – If you have a piece of content that is particularly unique, immediately useful, educational and/or entertaining, you may want to consider developing a paid digital ad campaign to help drive visibility. Campaigns through platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram are very easy to create and have the potential to help you develop a new batch of followers.

In today’s world, your personal brand is your most valuable asset—one that requires constant care and nurturing. There are proven tactics and tools you can use to help you take the reins and manage your destiny and ultimately increase your bottom line.

 

 

 

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 to Consider When Hiring Someone to Manage Your Brand

It’s not uncommon for professional athletes, coaches at all levels, and student-athletes turning pro 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 best not to be managed by amateurs.

Developing and growing your brand is so much more than a few “Likes” to your Instagram account. With so much riding on your in-person and online reputation, your brand should be managed by someone with integrated marketing and public relations know-how. Someone who doesn’t just know how paid, earned, owned, and shared media works, but knows how these visibility channels influence one another and ultimately 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 suggested to you is truly going to raise your visibility? Or, more importantly, attract lucrative endorsements, partnership opportunities, or future employment?

Here are a few things to consider before you place your 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 of you and your potential partners to position you for long-term visibility? If they don’t know how to go beyond the obvious questions, chances are they are going to take a very cookie-cutter approach to build your brand.

Do they think strategically?

Managing your brand isn’t merely 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 needs consideration when building a plan for your brand. Keeping you at the “top of the feed” goes beyond just your celebrity. This task requires a great deal of strategic message creation and content development.

Are they proactive?

Social media is an ever-evolving medium. Does your brand manager have the capacity 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 daily or only forward you what is presented to them?

Are they honest with you?

Regular reevaluation is necessary for a brand to see growth continually. This evaluation may involve those around you being honest about what is happening (and what isn’t) on their end and what they see (or don’t) 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 should feel that the people they have entrusted to manage their image treat 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 brand deserves 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 it can 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.