There’s been a large amount of chatter recently surrounding the concept of ‘personal brands’. Specifically with regards to social media, it has been said that building a personal brand is an important aspect of achieving success in the industry. This is something I’ve been contemplating recently, as I’d like to further my success in this space, but at the same time I don’t wish to alienate any real life friends with tailored tweets intended to build my personal brand professionally.

The problem, it seems to me, is that a drive towards building my own personal brand would likely conflict with the authenticity of my personal voice in the social media spaces. Building a brand would mean more work centric posts, causing a reduced following (or at least less of a reach) with my present audience of real-life friends with whom I connect via social media outlets to stay in touch on a personal if not slightly passive level. So, which is greater? Authenticity or branding?

Or, perhaps, I am thinking about this all wrongly…. since I am more focused (professionally speaking) on using social media in a -support- context, maybe the centralized account I currently maintain is more appropriate than an individual account with personal branding. After all, few of my personal followers really care about support material coming out of my work space. While some of my followers -are- interested in support content, that isn’t the reason they are following -ME-. Perhaps the answer I am looking for here is to build my brand based on my own authenticity, and drive visibility to the other channels while maintaining my own voice in my own space. One account working to help the other, or more specifically, working in tandem.

I think when it comes to support contexts, personal branding is irrelevant unless you are an SME (subject matter expert) within a very particular space. In the larger scope of providing another direct channel to locate timely information, centralized accounts are going to be the best best as clearing houses of content. As my role is within Knowledge Management, my subject matter expertise runs at a higher level than what a single client may be looking for in terms of product support, therefore negating any need for a client to follow me specifically, and more of a need for that same client to follow our centralized support account to stay informed.

Hmmm. I think I just talked my way through continuing to do what I/we have been doing already 🙂

6 thoughts on “A brief musing on personal branding versus personal life…

  1. I’ve been seeing this issue playing out with some hollywood types of late. The strategy that seems to be working in that venue seems to be the age old practice of “nom de plumes” for your proffesional brand and a more personal branding for your private life communications. Eg: J Michael Stracsynki as a proffesional encounters and John Stracsynski to his friends. Basically you need two brands in these modern times. I know I have at least 2 faces I show to the net.

  2. Not sure I -completely- agree. Part of being successful in social media is maintaining that level of authenticity, which two external “faces” (accounts) often can undermine.

    I think a lot of the issue here is what you are using social media FOR. Intent is key. My present usage is specifically duplicitous and disparate which is part of what is causing the questions… in my particular case, I think the nature of my specific business requires two focused accounts; whereas a marketing focus would be better served by a single personally branded account.

    So, while I will continue with my personal account and work to build some small level of personal branding here (staying light on the professional side), I will likely remain as a contributor to the professional account I help manage (which is company branded, not individually branded) rather than make any attempt at larger professional branding across the board.

  3. I’m with Randy on this one–I segregate my social media pretty strenuously. I think the only work-accessible or public SM outlet I have is my fencing blog (which is PG rated at worst) and my LinkedIn profile. Everything else is filtered–Facebook, LiveJournal, and Twitter all have various levels of protection or are completely invite-only. At this point, we ALL have to have two faces online.

    To a certain extent, I think it’s a good thing–so far most of the employment or education experiences I’ve had appreciate the fact that I’m not the exact same person at work/school as I am in my daily fun life. It’s actually somewhat liberating, because it leads to more honest discussions with my boss about what I want and need from a job versus what the company wants and needs… not that it’s gotten me anywhere so far, but honesty is always nice. It certainly hasn’t set me back. 🙂

  4. See, I take a decidedly differing perspective, as I think segregation in this space does a disservice to the individual. It subverts the authenticity of voice and therefore, trust.
    By contrast to how you present your online persona(s), mine are all wide open to any and all, as you can see from my block icon list in the above right navigation on this site; you can find me anywhere as ‘AcdntlPoet’ and find that my content isn’t blocked. Granted, I am very cognizant of what and how I write, but you will not find my voice here differing in the least as my voice on Facebook, twitter, or any other site. What you see is what you get, which I believe builds that trust in my readership/audience that I wouldn’t have as much if only certain people were granted specific access to only certain bits of content. I see that only through the transparency of a single voice can I obtain that honesty.
    As in any case, your mileage may vary 😉

  5. Well..imagine you not being in the Knowledge Management and I reckon your personal account would have been majorly towards authenticity. That is what most would like from your personal account or at-least I. With your current work n the expertise (KMT), using personal account for brand building along with the centralized support account once in a while is fine. However, I would certainly like to see the authentic, Off work Jason contents from your personal account :)… In the end, either ways is fine as long as there is a distinction between the two!

  6. Thanks Sumant! I guess that is a bit of where i was going with this… most people won’t want to see the work centric posts, mainly because the intent of those are decidedly different in nature than my other types of tweeting/facebooking, or even blogging: the support content is specific to clients looking for answers to very focused questions about products.
    So, it isn’t really a question of a single account for all content, but rather how to deftly seperate the work content into what helps build a personal brand in my personal spaces, and what goes towards clients solving their own issues through self help and consumption of technical knowledge.

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