I’ve read a few posts recently on student blogs expressing paranoia about online transparency and personal branding (see Rebecca Caddy’s, Adam Lewis’ and Michelle Allison’s posts) and I’d like to add my views to the debate.
People’s worries about keeping their professional and recreational profiles seperate as social media becomes a part of both are understandable. Facebook seems to be the the main cause of concern because for a lot of young people at university their profile consists of in-jokes, childish banter and tagged photo’s of boozy nights out (mine included!). However, this doesn’t mean that I would behave like that in a professional environment.
People play different, often contradictory, roles in different circles: thats just how it is. So I don’t think should feel uncomfortable keeping things seperate. My facebook is generally for people who I know personally, but I would consider accepting a friend request from someone who I’ve talked to through my blog, which is why I’ve put the badge there.
This brings me on to the issue of personal branding. Now some people see personal branding as simply creating a consistant voice for themselves, or building up a good online reputation. I see the importance of both these things, but can’t help but take issue with consciously cultivating a brand for yourself.
The idea strikes me as being conceited, narcissistic and contrary to what social media is all about. Surely people don’t want to talk to brands online, they want to talk to other people. Once you start thinking about ‘brand you’ and letting that dictate your actions online you start saying the ‘right things’ rather than what you really think. Goeff Livingston at the Buzz Bin makes a number of arguments against personal branding as a marketing tool and has sparked an interesting discussion about it.
Brands communicate coherent sets of values to products or organisations and they’re often worth more than tangible assets, but for people? Come on…
Anyway, this is just my gut reaction: personal brands clearly do have a place for certain people and I’m possibly missing the boat completely. I’d really like to know what other people think: students, professionals, personal branders – all comments welcome.