Where did I go? What am I doing?
– Dan Mangan
Canadian artist Dan Mangan poses these questions in the closing track, “Jeopardy”, to his 2011 album Oh Fortune. While Mangan is expressing his loss of identity due to a broken heart, I’ve been asking myself these same questions about myself for months. Where did I go? What am I doing?
You can find tips on everything across the internet, and personal branding is no exception. From Forbes to WikiHow, there’s no shortage of brands that want to help you brand your brand. But what is a personal brand? To me, it’s the way people experience you, especially online. For a class project, I am going to become a women’s health blogger. Do I know anything about women’s beauty products? No. Does my audience know that? No. With help from a supporting team creating content, my personal tagline could become “Kevin McLeod – beauty blogger”. My audience will come to know me as a makeup expert, but if they look at my personal social media profiles, I’m far from that.
I’m not the same person online as I am in person. It’s so much easier to talk online, because you have time to properly phrase your thoughts, develop your ideas, and not get interrupted halfway through a story. But does that make my online self more me than my human self? Both of my selves are funny, grumpy, scatterbrained, and love football. Even if I run a Twitter account focused on making makeup easier, I still work at a movie theatre 20 hours a week. What if I didn’t? What happens when you become just an online voice, known to so many and yet so few? Will you lose your sense of your real self?
I’ve always thought of my personal Twitter account as my defining brand. It’s where my best jokes, ideas, and observations go. I have a rule of “if it won’t get at least 1 interaction, don’t post it”. A major part of personal branding, after you’ve figured yourself out, is to post worthwhile content. I follow this same rule when interaction with other people’s content on social media: “if this post isn’t worthwhile, don’t interact with it”. Was their post funny, informative, or in any ways noteworthy? No?Then why did they post it? It’s a much bigger diss to tell somebody that you saw their post and didn’t care for it than to say you didn’t see it, or passively approve of it.
Posts that are notable, though, should be integrated into your personal brand. Sharing is caring, after all, and sharing somebody else’s content is a great way to get them to notice you and enhance your brand using outside sources. Nobody can do it all on their own, where online or in person. It takes a village to raise a child, and similarly, it takes a community to foster a brand.
So what have we learned? Realize your true self, post content worth sharing, and integrate yourself into a community. When trying to brand yourself, posting content without direction will get you lost. It will be impossible for your audience to understand you, and worse, you won’t understand you. Where did you go? What are you doing?
A few sources: