Can Your Online Persona Strengthen Your Brand?

UPDATE:this post first appeared back in November. Due to a wordpress/human (??) error a first draft of it was re-posted on December 26th. I apologize for the double posting – still great info but the November final draft was much better.

Not long ago I was involved in a  discussion  about how many of us bloggers have a unique online persona, one we share with the “world” as it may and one that may be different than our random everyday personality. Good or bad, it does happen and if you do it right, this may just help you to succeed in the craziness of the online social media world.

From the feedback I received I realized that this idea is hardly new. Since the dawn of Hollywood and before, people have been using their public image to enhance their brand. I may not be a movie star, but many of the same techniques still apply. As a PR person, I learned many of these tricks and tips in school and thought I would now share them with you. So here is just a quick refresher on how to use your online identity (public persona) to help solidify your brand.

1. How important is a name? If you make a point to use your full name in all of your online interactions, that’s great…but remember that not everyone will agree and using your real name can inadvertently create enemies. As long as you remain thick skinned, this should be alright though. Another important thing to remember – if you use your name, all of your revelations whether they are professional or a rant against an insane boss are all linked to you. This can come back to bite you so if you choose to use your real name….be aware of the consequences that come with it. It is a good idea to go ahead and purchase your own domain while you’re at it. (oh and if you are curious…Google yourself and see what comes up – apparently I am an exotic dancer/stripper in Texas….who knew?)

2. Always use the same Avatar for all your online networks. We are a visual species. We associate images with ideas and with people, that’s why ads have crazy, easily remembered images that pop out at you every time you turn on your TV. Also if you have the same avatar then no matter where you comment anywhere on the web, people will automatically associate the image with your blog/website. Applications like Facebook Connect and Disqus really make this easy.

3. There are many great resources for additional information about personal branding. The magazine put out by Dan Schwabel is wonderful as is his book, “Me 2.0” – if you are serious about building your personal brand. Take a look around the internet and invest in a few resources.

Have other ideas? Feel free to share!

Brand Habits-Why I Buy Chapstick

A the weather cools I am reminded every day that I am one of those people that tend to have dry skin and dry lips.I have such sensitivity that even an hour without application can mean painful cracking. It also means that at any one time I usually have several chapsticks floating around, in purses, coat pockets, the glove-box etc. What does this have to do with brand habits, just this: I only buy Chapstick, not Blistex, Carmax or any other of the numerous brands on the market. I am a one brand lip balm girl and have been ever since I can remember.
Why do I buy chapstick? The short answer is probably because it was what my mom bought and what she bought for me as a child. As I grew to an adult I simply became set in my ways, automatically reaching for the chapstick over other brands, regardless of price or even availability…a longer explanation goes into how Chapstick markets them self-for the girl on the go, (anyone remember the Olympic medalist snow-skiing Picaboo Street ad: “I’m the chapstick type not a lipstick type”-well being the tomboy I am, that type of marketing has always appealed to me.
To me this is an excellent example of how a brand can identify an audience and then build upon that knowledge to develop a brand loyalty that will continue for over 20 years.
Although I have been forced and even (mildly ashamed to admit) to purchase other brands from time to time, I can honestly say that I will always come back to Chapstick, for its simplicity and laid-back style. My kids use it and as long as it sells we will be a Chapstick family. So if you want a quick study in brand habits and a few tips on building brand loyalty-check out Chapstick.

Disclaimer: this post was in no way endorsed or reimbursed by the Chapstick brand-it was simply my opinion.

Cheers and happy holidays!

Use Social Media to Work Smarter Not Harder…

During tough times such as now doing more with less has become the norm’ rather than the exception. Therefore, why should your social media strategy be any different. Many organizations are hesitant to allow workers to have access to social media applications at their work-stations even now amidst all the positive and compelling  evidence of the amazing things being accomplished. This is due primarily to the fear that employees will become distracted by the inherent social factor, the farm town gifts, mafia wars, pokes, super pokes and redundant quizzes. However by cracking down it’s possible that they are missing prime opportunities to optimize their brand, content and social currency.

Employee Evolution claims that the best strategy is to make every employee a social media representative, a tool for furthering the needs of the organization rather than a weight around the neck used to slow momentum.

I tend to agree with this view point. By allowing employees to take part while on the clock, you are giving them ownership of the brand, creating a sense of pride and loyalty that will ultimately serve to benefit the organization. Want to convince your supervisor? Here are a few key points to remember when presenting the case for social media at work:

  1. Empower by encouragement-Give a person ownership and you will create a sense of pride, empowering them and also helping to ensure that they will be good public representatives of the organization. If you have ownership then you feel loyalty towards the organization that creates that feeling. Simple right?
  2. Make everyone an equal-This is a big one. Rather than getting caught up in silo-type thinking, allowing only either the top reps or the grunts to speak out, let everyone be on equal footing. This supports the first point about empowerment. Doing this helps to humanize an organization making them appear to be much friendlier and appealing to the public.
  3. Build creativity while cutting costs-Allowing everyone to participate means that an entire collection of creative minds with different skill sets will be utilized rather than a select few. Creativity tends to stagnate if not poked occasionally with the big fork of distinction. You also save money by taking advantage of existing resources, and who doesn’t want to save money?

Do you work for a progressive organization? Share your story about how you engage with the public via social media at work. Is it working for your company? Or do the employees take advantage? If you are banned from using social media while on the clock, why do you think that is?

 

 

Social Media gone Mobile


So recently I have been on the road a lot. Whether I am in the field or at my desk I am totally loving all of the options I have for taking my social media network with me wherever I go.
I know many people, including my hubby think I am a total social media addict, which I am, but that doesn’t change the fact that being in the business I am in (Public Affairs) I am required  to be “connected” pretty much 24/7. So here are a few of the most recent apps and programs I have discovered along my journey to being 100 percent mobile.

1. Facebook Mobile
2. Twitter – Twitterberry (for more twitter tools read this post)
3. Personal Assistant for Blackberry – blackberry app world for this one.
4. Viigo for Blackberry
5. Gmail for blackberry
6. Flickr for blackberry

I am sure there are others, probably a dozen (read gazillion) for iPhone but as I am a die-hard crackberry fan I won’t go into those here.

What I love about all of this is that I can respond instantly wherever I am. I gave a great social media presentation yesterday but on the way back to the office got a call that I had a potentially huge media situation that I needed to respond to ASAP. Because I had all my lovely blackberry mobile apps I was able to deal with the AJC, Fox 5 and others not only with my comments but with photos, additional contacts on the scene and a release. All from the road. Awesome.

Got some great suggestions for taking your network with you on the road? I’d love to hear them!

Just how much SHOULD be online?

This particular topic is the cause for frequent arguments in my household. With the seemingly omnipresence of the Internet – everyone is online, often living out a completely separate life via social networking sites such as MySpace, LinkedIN, Twitter and Facebook.

At the same time identity theft is on the rise, as well as other online threats. Which leads me to my question….just how much should be online?

I did a post a while back about living a transparent life. While I still agree that networking and having an online identity is good and even necessary in some cases, I am beginning to see the merits of the argument for the opposite side.

Just to stop and to clarify, I am on the borderline between Gen X and Gen Y and have a very active online life. And although I came into the game a little later than many of my Brazen pals. I readily admit that I am addicted to email, blog on a regular basis and really enjoy catching up with pals on Facebook.

However, I have also been the victim of a selfish, unprofessional and slightly vindictive reporter, so I am also aware of the dangers of having too much information available for the world to see.
So how much is too much?

I do not publish under a false name or identity as some bloggers do. I am proud of what I write and what I am contributing to society. Lately though, I have begun to wonder about the world that exists outside my online community, which of course includes my family, my job and life.

There are some things the world maybe does not need to know about. For starters, having too much personal information regarding your family, particularly your children, is never a good idea. As paranoid as it may sound, we live in a different world than our parents did and kids are no longer immune from from media hounds looking for a story, or predators for that matter. And I don’t just mean children of celebrities. It seems that just about anyone can become a person of interest in this day and age and if you have kids, they are considered fair game for that person trying to dig up information on you. So it would seem, that keeping them offline entirely is probably a good idea.

Something else to consider, personal, financial and employment information. This seems like a no-brainer to me, but I heard recently about a fellow blogger who was duped (incredibly so, because she is a very intelligent person) by someone claiming to want to help her with her blog. She had posted information about what she did for a living and even what the salary ranges are for her particular occupation. I will respect her privacy and not go into more detail, but I realize that the only reason she was tricked was because of the extent of the information that the online predator had about her. (collected from Facebook, her blog and LinkedIn) Curious I did a google search on myself and was somewhat surprised about the amount of information out there. I can honestly say that maybe I have been a little too lax in allowing my personal identity to be broadcast to the world.

I often wonder at times just who is reading my blog and am beginning to think that maybe having an online life is not always the greatest thing. I mean, should I worry about mentioning my professor, or my boss? Are they reading and will they seek retribution? Am I worried for nothing?

I enjoy blogging but have been told that I sometimes cross the line with my posts.

I want to continue doing what it is I do, which hopefully is reaching out to other bloggers, PR students, writers, and anyone really who is on the same wave-length as me. I do not want to put my children or career at risk however so I have much to contemplate.

Does anyone else experience this dilemma or have I finally let Big Brother get to me? Feel free to share your own experiences, positive or negative. We are all online these days and a part of a larger world than our parents ever could have imagined. Is this good, bad, or nothing new? Maybe I am a little crazy, but without comments I may never know!

Just how much SHOULD be online?

This particular topic is the cause for frequent arguments in my household. With the seemingly omnipresence of the Internet – everyone is online, often living out a completely separate life via social networking sites such as MySpace, LinkedIN, Twitter and Facebook.

At the same time identity theft is on the rise, as well as other online threats. Which leads me to my question….just how much should be online?

I did a post a while back about living a transparent life. While I still agree that networking and having an online identity is good and even necessary in some cases, I am beginning to see the merits of the argument for the opposite side.

Just to stop and to clarify, I am on the borderline between Gen X and Gen Y and have a very active online life. And although I came into the game a little later than many of my Brazen pals. I readily admit that I am addicted to email, blog on a regular basis and really enjoy catching up with pals on Facebook.

However, I have also been the victim of a selfish, unprofessional and slightly vindictive reporter, so I am also aware of the dangers of having too much information available for the world to see.
So how much is too much?

I do not publish under a false name or identity as some bloggers do. I am proud of what I write and what I am contributing to society. Lately though, I have begun to wonder about the world that exists outside my online community, which of course includes my family, my job and life.

There are some things the world maybe does not need to know about. For starters, having too much personal information regarding your family, particularly your children, is never a good idea. As paranoid as it may sound, we live in a different world than our parents did and kids are no longer immune from from media hounds looking for a story, or predators for that matter. And I don’t just mean children of celebrities. It seems that just about anyone can become a person of interest in this day and age and if you have kids, they are considered fair game for that person trying to dig up information on you. So it would seem, that keeping them offline entirely is probably a good idea.

Something else to consider, personal, financial and employment information. This seems like a no-brainer to me, but I heard recently about a fellow blogger who was duped (incredibly so, because she is a very intelligent person) by someone claiming to want to help her with her blog. She had posted information about what she did for a living and even what the salary ranges are for her particular occupation. I will respect her privacy and not go into more detail, but I realize that the only reason she was tricked was because of the extent of the information that the online predator had about her. (collected from Facebook, her blog and LinkedIn) Curious I did a google search on myself and was somewhat surprised about the amount of information out there. I can honestly say that maybe I have been a little too lax in allowing my personal identity to be broadcast to the world.

I often wonder at times just who is reading my blog and am beginning to think that maybe having an online life is not always the greatest thing. I mean, should I worry about mentioning my professor, or my boss? Are they reading and will they seek retribution? Am I worried for nothing?

I enjoy blogging but have been told that I sometimes cross the line with my posts.

I want to continue doing what it is I do, which hopefully is reaching out to other bloggers, PR students, writers, and anyone really who is on the same wave-length as me. I do not want to put my children or career at risk however so I have much to contemplate.

Does anyone else experience this dilemma or have I finally let Big Brother get to me? Feel free to share your own experiences, positive or negative. We are all online these days and a part of a larger world than our parents ever could have imagined. Is this good, bad, or nothing new? Maybe I am a little crazy, but without comments I may never know!