Is Social Media Improving or Destroying Your Personal Brand?

By Geo A. Ropert, APR
Along with developing and enhancing corporate and organizational brands, I’ve been doing more work in the “personal” branding arena. Everyone knows the importance of maintaining a strong, respected and recognized business brand but few professionals recognize the importance of maintaining the same when it comes to how they’re perceived; what their personal brand is.

A brand isn’t just a logo or a tagline. A brand is a promise! It’s a promise of what someone can expect when they interact with an organization; how they’ll feel, what they’ll get, and whether they’ll remain faithful and loyal. It’s the same for people.

Your brand is what people think and say about you when you’re not around. It’s what they expect when in your presence or dealing with you in a negotiation. Yet, I don’t think we realize how much our brand is being affected by what we say and do in today’s digitally-connected world.

If you’re a professional in your field, an entrepreneur trying to make a name for yourself and your business, or the face of your organization, everything you post – or that’s posted about you – is impacting your personal brand.  From your social media pages, to your blogs and any other places you appear, viewers and readers form more of their impressions of you from afar than from person-to-person interactions.

Sure, some people are compensated for sharing their thoughts, beliefs and opinions, sometimes boldly and without filters. But they are the exception and their brand is reflective of that by their choosing; think talk show hosts, political or issue writers and bloggers. For the rest of us, sharing the same must be done with thoughtfulness towards how our words and images will be perceived by our employers, customers, colleagues, friends and family.

Some of the “friends” I have on Facebook or whose Twitter and Instagram feeds I follow are either oblivious to the impact their comments and images have on their personal brand or think they won’t be judged because of them. Some are questionable at best and cruel, hurtful or hateful at worst. I think about the employee who derides a coworker or competitor on their personal page, only to be confronted by management and either reprimanded or terminated. Or the teacher whose risqué photos from summer vacation in the Caribbean end up online and cost them their jobs. What about the person who takes a position on an issue and states that those who don’t espouse to their beliefs are less of a human? Personally, my opinion of them lessens with each rant and rave.

The Internet has provided a vast place for us to share information about ourselves, and helped us to connect with others in ways we never dreamed just a few years ago. It’s also exposed us to a broader audience and we don’t know who may be in that audience or how they’ll perceive us; how they’ll perceive our personal brand.

Keep this in mind as you go about your day: If what you said or did was the top headline in the daily news, would you be proud?

Always be a great brand!