Personal Brand or Not Wanting to Looking Like a Total Cock

Personal Brand or Not Wanting to Looking Like a Total Cock

When reading and talking about Social Media I see a lot of conversations about Personal Brand. Discussion about strategies, building and maintaining your ‘PB’, of who you should try to be, who defines your PB (is it you, your audience, your company?), when, in real life, whisper it quietly, the aspiration for most people I talk to is, “Not wanting to looking like a total c**k”.

Using that phrase does rather alienate half the population and maybe doesn’t even translate that well into US English but, forgive me, you know what I mean – it’s the most basic, fundamental fear of most normal people in most social situations, and social media is the most extreme of social situations.

I thought for a bit that this was a peculiarly English trait, that we are slow to embrace the ‘paradigm shifts’ of ‘Personal Brand’, we have a terribly over acute sense of… well.. being British about the whole thing and “after you, no.. after you”, a debilitating cynicism and apologizing for being in the way, but it transpires that my modest US colleagues feel it too.

Take Twitter for example, here you are in 140 characters or less trying to be interesting, whilst negotiating the subtle niceties of ‘twittiquette’. One chap who confidently writes excellent, witty, entertaining blog posts was agonising over whether he should tweet them twice, for the UK and US time zones of his followers – or if double tweeting made him look like “a douche bag”. I’ve met the fella, he doesn’t seem to be a douche bag.

I’ve agonised over it in a couple of blogs posts, I’ve tried to figure out who ‘I’ am and who the ‘you’ should be when representing your companies – heck, I may not even publish this post as the mortal fear of ‘cockness’ overcomes me.

But, the fact is, I think you need to be yourself, as Oscar Wilde said:

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

Alright so sometimes that needs to be corporate you, but you none the less, the ‘you-ness’ is important. (For more on this, Chris Brogan makes a great point in his post about being aways ‘on‘).

I can’t believe that anyone can maintain a Personal Brand for long; people are not products. Nestle can reinvent their chocolate and make it tasty with two glasses of milk and make that their thing, their brand. Toyota can make owning a car cool for Californians again with the Prius, by adding a slightly more efficient engine. But surely we are eventually going to come unstuck, by making promises our talent, knowledge, coolness – whatever – can’t keep?

(Sorry to keep throwing links at you, but there’s a great discussion on that here, on David Spinks’ blog)

Surely your personal brand is your aspiration to be good at what you do, but recognising that you aren’t quite there yet? By trying too hard to be cool, by subtracting the real ‘you’ out of your social media persona – you’ll really end up looking more of a cock? Or way worse, bland and uninteresting – part of the echo chamber, rather than saying something new.

Lets look at the superstars of this stuff – take for example Seth Godin – in this inteview with Josh Berhoff he talks about his secret – which is to love what you do and write about it. It’s effortless for him, as he’s found that magic formula. Seth can write freely and without shame, galvanised by the love and enjoyment of the thing.

Someone once said to me after I came off stage at a conference, “You looked like you enjoyed that, you didn’t care if anyone else was watching”. I took that as a compliment, I do deeply care about the audience, but any nervousness or anxiety was carried away by enthusiasm for the subject and the opportunity to spend half an hour talking about it.

So maybe it’s time we all just relaxed, admitted that being a bit of cock sometimes is actually part of our personal brand. Yes, maybe I’ll commit some sort of embarrassing Twitter faux pas, but surely if I admit my mistakes and come over all human – my little community will forgive me?

About Ian Truscott

Hi, I'm Ian Truscott, I'm passionate about how we engage on-line, through content, call it Content Marketing, Customer or Digital Experience Management (CXM/CEM or DXM) or maybe Web Engagement (WEM) is your thing - I'm interested.

Find out more: about me | on video | other writing | get in touch | or maybe you're wondering why I call this blog "Hovering over the back button"?

Discussion

  1. philippe.parker@contentedmanagement.net' says

    Interesting post, Ian.

    I don’t think this problem is limited to online, but it’s made worse by being online, where so many people who don’t know you can pass very quick judgement on what you post. Despite the advent of web 2.0, commenting and tweeting don’t match a real conversation.

    While it’s true that loving what you do gives you the confidence to talk about it, I don’t think it prevents you from looking like an idiot. Just go to any football match and you’ll find thousands of people who love the game all talking absolute rubbish.

    What does safeguard against idiocy is being informed and not just re-hashing what’s been said elsewhere, usually in the style: “4 bullet points of the breathtakingly obvious”.

    But if you actually want to look good rather than just not looking like a cock, you need to have style. There are plenty of people out there who post well-informed content on subjects that they’re passionate about, but who write it badly.

    I think the ingredients of personal brand are passion, expertise and style. Hopefully expressing that thought doesn’t make me sound like a complete cock.

  2. Ian says

    Oh absolutely – great point about style – without it, nobody can ever see beyond and get to the passion and expertise.

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