How to be a Minor League Player with a Major League Brand

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 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.


You Know Me, Right?

As an athlete you have spent the better part of your life on the court or field. You’ve delighted fans and filled stadiums, providing gladiator-like feats of athletic splendor. All of your hard work and dedication led you to a career at the professional level. So how is it after all these years in the spotlight that you are a virtual unknown in the city where you play?

It could be that you have missed visibility opportunities that are right in front of you! Strategically leveraging social and earned media will help you raise your overall visibility and unlock a new fan base. Below are a few tips to get your game back on track.

Consistency. In the crowded social media space of platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram even the most famous of faces need to frequently and consistently post. Click here for some additional tips on how to create effective posts.

Provide real content. Not every post can be your musings about daily life.  Just like any corporate brand, you too should be following the 80/20 rule by posting content from other sources that is interesting and useful to your audience.

Authentic Follow-up. Not every fan Tweet or post deserves a response, but many do. Take time each day to actually respond to fan correspondence rather than just clicking the “Like” or “Retweet” button. Authentic engagement goes a long, long way.

Proactively engaging media. Not everything you do or are involved in is on the media’s radar. Make sure that traditional journalists and/or bloggers are kept abreast of your activities outside sports. Following appearances or interviews, repurpose and comment on their content to expand your reach.

Often it really does take a village to obtain or maintain a person’s visibility. Just like with your performance on the field or court, practice makes perfect. But don’t hesitate to bring in reinforcements if managing your online presence takes more time than you can spare.


3 Reasons your auto DM is hurting your brand

If you are active on Twitter, then you have almost certainly received an automated direct message (auto DM) from someone you’ve connected with. The message likely thanked you for connecting, and then directed you to buy their product or service and/or connect with them via another social media platform.

The logic for the person sending the auto DM is obvious: automated DMs help a person build their brand by saving time, helping maintain their message consistency, and ensuring they are reaching their audience at key times. But like most things that are too good to be true, auto direct messages actually hurt an emerging brand by cutting off the one thing that actually makes people want to connect—authenticity.

Below are three additional reasons why your auto direct message is hurting rather than helping your brand and what you can do to better establish yourself.

They just become noise. Most people receive a large amount of unsolicited emails every day. Most are not relevant and turn into just noise that makes up our daily lives. That’s likely not how you want your brand to be perceived.

They are not useful. Content marketing 101 is that whatever we create and distribute ought to be at least unique, new, and/or immediately useful. Most auto direct messages are general blanket correspondence about the person’s products or services without any indication of how it is needed by or relative to the end user.

There is no follow-up. Social media was established for us to be social, right? People rarely (if ever) take the time to follow up on an auto DM with a personalized message. If you absolutely must send an auto direct message, take the time to periodically touch base with your followers in a real, authentic way.

The key to developing any new relationship is to be clear that you are genuinely interested in your audience. Rather than a blanket general message about your products or services, send a message with a real, honest question. Or, offer them something useful—like a discount code to an event—that isn’t a self-serving sales pitch. While more time-consuming, a personal touch will lead to larger brand equity dividends down the road.


Speaking Your Mind But Managing Your Brand: Professional Athletes and Social Media

Social media and professional sports are the two major passions in my life, and few things bring me more delight than when the two converge. For more than a decade, professional athletes have been using social media to connect with fans and share their personal lives in ways they never could before. As an avid supporter, it enhances my love of the game to not only cheer the team on the field, but to be able to view and connect with my favorite players off of the field.

The athletes who are using social media to craft their brand are now trending younger and younger. Some, even as young as junior high, are establishing social media accounts, and a few wind up gaining more followers before they receive their high school diploma than most small businesses gain all year. For example, Tre’ McKitty, a tight end who matriculated at a high school with close to 700 students and has committed to play football for Oregon next season, has more than 3,400 followers on Twitter.

However, the use of social media during recent current events, such as the killing of Philando Castile in Minnesota and the shooting of five police officers in Dallas, have landed several professional athletes in hot water for poorly timed or controversial status updates. Cleveland Browns running back Isaiah Crowell’s Instagram post depicting a masked man slitting the throat of a Caucasian police officer is one such example.

Professional athletes are just like everyone else – they watch the news and ingest what is happening daily in their communities. And just like everyone else, they have defined opinions about topics such as politics, violence, and race relations. But unlike the majority of us, they also have thousands of onlookers ready to judge their every Tweet.

An athlete taking a firm stance on a controversial topic is not new. Legendary boxer Muhammad Ali is likely one of the most notable athlete-activists, but he spoke out during a very different time in the spectrum of our media consumption. Words that Ali spoke were not instantly shared around the world and/or manipulated by others simply by re-Tweeting.

Most professional athletes do not have a publicist or a public relations firm managing their social media. Having a third party manage their accounts would create a layer of inauthenticity that could diminish the impact of their online presence. But as a result, they often recklessly air their personal opinion to thousands of onlookers who stand ready to attack the thoughts and opinions of celebrities.

There’s no reason an athlete should be afraid of or unwilling to use social media to help grow their personal brand. But fair or not, they are held to different standards. With that in mind, I wanted to provide current and future professional athletes a few tips for speaking their mind while also managing their brand:

Know the rules. All sports have rules. The organization that provides you a paycheck also has rules specifically outlining social media use. Know them, follow them, and you will likely avoid a large fine or very painful public faux pas.

Check your ego. While extremely tempting, your social media platforms should not be used as vessel for you to solicit anything beyond praise for your play on the field and/or your community service work off of the field. Topics such as how you look today or how nice of a car you drive are just a slippery slope to negative attention. If you need positive praise, call your mom (or agent).

Do your homework. If posting about a controversial topic, make sure you have done your homework and understand all sides of the issue. Make sure any facts you share are accurate and be willing to defend whatever stance you take.

Use good grammar. It might sound silly, but it is effective. Proper grammar in your writing is one of the most important elements – it makes a statement about you as a professional and as a person. If you want to be taken seriously, a good place to start is by spelling out “you” rather than just typing “u.”

Always be diplomatic. You are not required to respond to or engage with every person that has posted to your account(s). If you do decide to engage with a negative commenter, use words and phrases that mitigate the circumstance rather than incite more conflict. You wouldn’t give a live on-camera interview without carefully crafting your response, so take that same approach when responding to online comments or questions.

Phones and bars don’t mix. You can’t always control what fans and onlookers post, but you can control what you post. When headed out for a night with friends, it might be a good idea to leave the phone in the car. Not having it removes any and all temptation to post something that you can’t take back.

Think of your mom. A good rule of thumb before posting any image and/or controversial statement is: Would you feel comfortable with this post being read in a court of law? In front of your head coach? How about to your mother? If no, then consider revising or not posting altogether.