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  • 7 Personal Branding Predictions for 2011

    Every year, since 2007, I’ve made some personal branding predictions for the following year. In 2007, I predicted that we would see a surge in freelancers, which was accurate because 30% of all Americans are free agents now. I also mentioned that our education systems would start teaching classes around the new tools and web technology available then, and now many schools include it as part of their curriculum at some level, even if it’s meshed with a marketing or PR class. In 2008, I predicted that 2009 would be the year of inter-connectivity and systems that would make it easier to manage a personal brand. I also mentioned that there would be a shift from traditional to online advertising, and based on what I’ve seen we’re still headed in that direction. In 2009, I predicted that in 2010 personal branding would become more mainstream and that online background checks would be standard in the recruitment process. Microsoft reports that 80% of companies are using search engines and social networks as background checks.

    I believe that 2011 will be a revolutionary and significant time for personal branding. Here are some of my predictions for next year and please feel free to comment on each of them individually or as a whole. I’m not going to talk about mobile and video because we’ve been predicting those two trends, along with everyone else, for years.

    1. Your online personal brand will be consolidated

    A lot of the social networks you’ve heard about in the past are dissolving because they’re unable to raise more venture capital and their business model hasn’t held up. Also, as people we don’t have enough time to invest in a hundred social networks, most of which don’t have millions of “active” users. Social networks, such as MySpace, are fading, and we’re start to see other niche networks suffer as well. We will also see the decline of Twitter and FourSquare next year. The reason is because Facebook has most of our data and relationships, as well as the capabilities that Twitter and FourSquare have now. Twitter was always a derivative of Facebook anyways, since it is a different adaptation of the Facebook news feed. Facebook “places” has and will eliminate the need for FourSquare (and it’s rivals).

    This massive consolidation is going to make our lives easier because we will be able to monitor our brands on fewer services and not have to publish fresh content on multiple services everyday. The bad news is that much of the equity we’ve built up on these social networks will be lost in the process. In the end, we will be living in a Facebook and Google world, so if you’re going to invest your time in any services, they are the one’s that are positioned for success. Facebook’s new email platform (fb.com) may eventually supersede Gmail, so that’s something you should pay attention to as well. LinkedIn, which has 80 million users, will continue to grow and play more of a role in online recruitment.

    Takeaway: Start investing more of your time on Facebook and LinkedIn, and less of your time on Twitter and lesser known social networks. Stop using FourSquare and other location-based services because when those companies collapse, you will lose all of your content and the network that you built up.

    2) Soft skills become more important than hard skills

    When enough people have similar talents, and are competing for the same positions and opportunities, the real differentiator is your interpersonal skills. The way you present yourself, how you communicate with other people, whether it’s in an interview or with management at work, can make or break you personal brand. More and more people are starting to realize that the little things matter, especially in our current competitive environment. A new research report by Kelly Services of over 100,000 people identifies “verbal communication skills,” as the top trait individuals need to have for their brands. Notice how technical knowledge isn’t rated as high. Ten years ago this chart would be much different, but now since we have access to so much knowledge online, through peers, and other resources, you’re competing on your network, your personality, writing, and how you speak to other people. Soft skills will continue to become more important to employers in 2011 and beyond.

    Takeaway: Brush up on your soft skills if you want to secure a job or advance in your career or business. Soft skills include all forms of communication, including writing and spoken word, as well as how you interact online through social networks.

    3) As the economy get’s better the war for talent ignites

    I believe that the economy will get better next year, and we’re already seeing small signs of improvement. In October alone, 151,000 jobs were created. As we head into a free agent world, and the top talent has more options, the war for talent is going to be a war zone! For instance, Google just paid an employee $3.5 million dollars not to leave to work at Facebook. There are many more non publicized offers out there too.  Google is giving all of their employees a 10% raise for 2011, and other companies will have competitive offerings because your only as good as your talent. Nearly one-third of employers will be willing to negotiate salary increases for 2011 too. It’s obvious that recruiting and retaining talent is more challenging these days when the costs to starting a business have decreased substantially and when people can work anywhere in the world much easier because of technology.

    The younger generation (namely Gen-Y) is becoming increasing hard to recruit and retain. In fact, 56% of Gen-Y leaves their first company within their first year. Companies need to figure out how to please younger workers, with perks and other elements, in order to get the best of the next generation of talent.

    Takeaway: Despite the number of people still looking for jobs, the top talent will always win in a good or bad economy. As the war for top talent increases, the people who are best positioned to take advantage of it, will make a lot of money.

    4) Social networks will become completely ineffective for one-to-many marketing efforts

    The most popular, in terms of comments and shares, post I’ve written on this blog was calling an end to Twitter as a marketing platform. Ever since I published this post, there has been a lot of research developments to prove my hypothesis and main points. 71% of tweets are ignored, and only 6% of tweets are retweets, which used to be the most important statistic on Twitter until no one did it anymore. With 175 million users and 90 million tweets per day, there’s no doubt that your tweet won’t be seen by the vast majority of your followers. This is true of all social networks too, not just Twitter. These networks are meant as one-to-one personal communication devices and can’t be use as email marketing campaigns unless you’re Lady Gaga or Coca Cola, where people are dying to hear from you. Remember that the more effort someone puts into connecting to you, the more valuable they are to your career and business. Twitter followers are weak connections because there is no forced reciprocation.

    Takeaway: If you’re going to use social networking to build your brand and expand your presence, it’s in your best interest to grow your community through individual connections and word-of-mouth rather than mass marketing.

    5) Personal brands have more responsibilities

    There have been a few big developments this week that have me to seriously consider exploring our rights and responsibilities as brands. For instance, Amazon.com is selling a “Pedophile” book on their website. They didn’t publish the book, but are responsible for distributing it to their global audience as an online retailer. In this way, they are perceived to have endorsed the book, and now they’re seeing a lot of negative coverage because “Pedophile’s” are damned in this society. There are even Facebook pages that are protesting. If you have a blog, a social network, or another platform, you are also a distributor, and you have to be careful of what you publish or someone else publishes on your platform.

    The National Labor Relations Board, a federal agency which tries to remedy unfair labor practices, filed a complaint against American Medical Response of Connecticut, which terminated an employee after she vented about another co-worker on Facebook. This is a major development because it will set a precedent for future occurrences. Regardless of what the judge rules, you should never publish anything negative about your manager or company because it will come back to haunt you in multiple ways. If this person isn’t fired, they will have no internal or external opportunities because no one will trust them.

    Takeaway: Use common sense when you publish online, thinking about the end result of your actions. Think of yourself as a distributor of content, not just a publisher or reader. Whatever you publish, you endorse and that can hurt your brand.

    6) Social media becomes widely used in the workplace

    In the workplace, employee aren’t just using their corporate email anymore. They are on Facebook (58.5%), LinkedIn (47.9%), and some are even on Twitter (22.6%). More employees check their personal email at work over their work email. What this tells me is that our lives are becoming increasingly complicated and converged with technology. Personal and professionals lives are combining and new challenges will arise. One challenge is ensuring your online and offline brand are consistent, and not conflicting with your corporate goals and values. Since more than half of workers are using Facebook at work now, it’s critical that you understand who your audience is on Facebook. You don’t want to publish status updates if your co-workers can see them because then it show’s that you’re not being productive.

    Takeaway: Be smart about how you interact online because it might impact your offline brand. People will not only judge you based on physical interactions, but what they read about you online.

    7) People establishing their online brands earlier in life

    One of the most exciting trends is that people are starting to brand themselves earlier in life now. In fact, 92% of toddlers already have an online presence, which their parents actually create for them. Back in 2006 and 2007, we saw parents purchasing their children’s domain name’s before they were born and hiring people to give their babies unique names so they’re “google’able.” I also predict that more high school’ers will elect to get internships, start part-time jobs, and build their online presence before college and to get into a better college. Tufts University allows applicants to submit video resume’s now too. The sooner you start to identify your brand and develop a strong presence, the more successful you will be later in life.

    Takeaway: It’s never too early to start building your brand, and it’s never too late. You need to come up with a brand strategy and development plan if you want to be successful. I bet a lot of people wish that they had started their blog in 2004 instead of 2010.

    Your turn

    What personal branding trend do you see surfacing next year?


    Dan Schawbel is the Managing Partner of Millennial Branding, a Gen Y research and consulting firm. He is the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success (St. Martin’s Press) and the #1 international bestselling book, Me 2.0: 4 Steps to Building Your Future (Kaplan Publishing), which combined have been translated into 15 languages.

    Posted in Career Development, eBrand, Futures, Marketing, Personal Branding, Social Media, Success Strategies
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    16 comments on “7 Personal Branding Predictions for 2011
    1. avatar

      Insightful predictions, Dan! Interesting to see how desirable skills vary comparatively over the period of 10 years, and what now is perceived as commanding greater value. This resonates with me, and shifts I’m observing. I’ll be watching to see how Social Network consolidation evolves for the personal brand, streamlining the process.

    2. avatar

      I think you are right on, Dan. I am already seeing a shift in regards to your #2 topic “soft skills”. With the growth of the internet and massive amounts of information available, it’s often hard to know who to believe. The trust factor is becoming more of a big deal, and building relationships and referral marketing I think will become a bigger focus in the years to come.

    3. avatar
      Sue says:

      Hey Dan, thought-provoking post!

      There seems to be a growing groundswell rebellion against Facebook. If you check out the comments on TechCrunch’s recent post about Facebook email, you’ll see what I mean. I predict a new social network will eventually emerge to challenge Facebook’s position, one with a thoughtfully designed interface and a lot more pizazz.

    4. avatar
      Tim DAnyo says:

      I see facebook increasing in value next year, but I continue to see Twitter as a powerful B2B communications tool, It will take more work to cut through the Twitter noise though…

    5. avatar
      Jennifer says:

      I’m revamping my Linked In & Facebook info as we speak and was trying to decide how much time do I want to invest in Twitter so perfect timing for me to read this! Speaking, writing, knowing how to interview and be interviewed and getting comfortable presenting yourself in front of the camera as WebTV becomes more accessible as a way of expressing your voice and personality online!

      Never could see the benefit of Four Square so I’m with you there too. I’ve always said that the one thing that will never go away is personal/business relationships no matter what new technology develops. It’s still about connecting with a person.

      I wonder will people begin to step back a bit and gain a more local focus first, global reach secondary by still using FB, L In, & blogging? Also if soft skills improve will that cause blogging to take on a larger role? Excellent predictions…passing it on, thanks!

    6. avatar

      Not only have I bought domain names for my kids, I also bought them for my close friends as well (who don’t yet know they want their own domain name).

      Excellent insights you offer!

    7. avatar
      Caren Libby says:

      During this time of major transition in the world, the need to consolidate, specialize and effectively manage time and space is becoming more necessary than ever. Success depends on the ability to gain positive attention and build on it by offering innovative, consistent value as a business or individual. Your “crystal ball” is right on Dan! : )

    8. avatar

      Online brand being established earlier in life. Totally agree. Maybe even unknowingly 😉

    9. avatar
      Tim Danyo says:

      The best personal branding you can do for kids is to teach them to have great character and to have a good work ethic! Teach them how to handle their finances by giving them paying jobs around the house and showing them how to set up a savings and checking account and to teach them about the importance of tithing. The other stuff will fall into place.

    10. avatar
      Scott Asai says:

      I’m a huge advocate for improving soft skills. I believe the workers our of college now do not have the ability to effectively communicate. Those who learn how to develop their interpersonal skills will stand out considerably. Even if you are educated and talented, people skills are essential to accomplish anything great!

    11. avatar

      LinkedIn and Twitter are forming a joint venture right now called LinkedIn Signal, where you get real time access to posts and conversations when doing LinkedIn searches. It appears Twitter is recognizing that they could become a flash in the pan and venturing out to partner, whereas LinkedIn is trying to gain distribution. Signal could be a game changer but right now is in its beta phase. I’ve been testing it out.

    12. avatar
      Ayo Fashola says:

      Personal branding is very intuitive. If you have a sharp sense of intuition, you can actually feel the shift that is taking place before it actually occurs and begin preparing for it before your competition catches on. I began publishing a blog as early as 2006, started with video in 2008, social media as of 2006, so you can feel that changes that are taking place. This is awesome confirmation that i’m right on.

    13. avatar
      Winnie says:

      Interesting that you talk about the need to be concerned about where our information is published and who we associate with. I just confirmed my subscription to your newsletter and noticed there was this cheesy looking box encouraging me to sign up for other free newsletters, most of which were hawking make millions with online marketing types of offers. I’m very disappointed that you would do something like that and I think it detracts from your brand.

    14. avatar
      Julie Anne says:

      Hi Dan, this is really interesting! Thank you for sharing! I found it ironic that despite your recommendation that people place more of an emphasis on Facebook and LinkedIn, that this post received only 53 Likes on FB but 145 ReTweets? You always have tons of excellent content and I really appreciate you sharing so much of it with us!

    15. avatar

      Excellent post of thought-provoking predictions, Dan! Looking forward to having you on the new season kick-off of Biz Buzz to discuss — great way to start the new year!

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    1. […] 7 Personal Branding Predictions for 2011 (personalbrandingblog.com) […]

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