One of the harshest (and in my view, mostly unfair) criticisms hurled at personal branding is that – when taken to its fullest expression – it encourages and promotes self-centeredness, self-aggrandizement, narcissism and plain outright selfishness. Although anyone familiar with the brief yet intense history of personal branding models and philosophies in the XXI century will know that accusation to be unfounded, it is nonetheless true that many have made use of personal branding to satisfy their ego’s unbridled need for adulation and built personal brands that reflect poorly on personal branding as a concept and prove once more the silent power of what Jung called ‘the shadow’. And we all have one, no matter how much we may deceive ourselves to the contrary.
“Unfortunately,” Jung asserted in ‘Psychology and Religion‘,
there can be no doubt that man is, on the whole, less good that he imagines himself or wants to be. Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is… If it is repressed and isolated from consciousness, it never gets corrected.
So the lesson is clear: none of us is ever immune to the shadow and we are strongly advised to check against the backdrop of our actions to ascertain whether our shadows are running away with our lives without us even being aware of the fact. Such is indeed the pervasive and stealthy aspect of those repressed and unconscious aspects of ourselves that configure our shadows and are always lurking just beyond the frontier of consciousness.
Given the undisputed fact that personal branding has a very strong digital component in our day and age, I invite you to answer the following questions about your ‘Me 2.0’ persona to reflect on whether in fact your shadow side is unsuspectedly playing havoc with your brand and have become a ‘2.0 egotist’. Please be as dispassionate and truthful as you can in your (Yes or No) answer. There is a key at the end to help you assess where you are in the ‘2.0 egotism’ ranking.
2.0 Egotism Self-Assessment Test
1. Do you lecture others publicly on how they should complete their social media profiles (pictures, messages, etc.)?
2. Do you fail to give credit to other people’s contents when you make use of them or share them online?
3. Do you demand answers to your questions on Twitter and other social media as if you were entitled to them?
4. Do you demand retweets or otherwise try to impose your contents on others?
5. Do you criticize other people’s style of interaction and engagement?
6. Do you fail to read other people contents’ while expecting they should all read yours?
7. Do you spam your messages via email, Twitter, Facebook and other means without authorization?
8. Do your social media profiles include the terms ‘self-professed’, ‘self-proclaimed’ and the like?
9. Do you inflate or misrepresent your skills and experience on LinkedIn?
10. Is your social media profile picture touched up or Photoshopped?
7 or more ‘Yes’: You are a 2.0 egotist operating from a sense of entitlement. The world owes you and you regard others as a resource to be exploited and not as friends or partners. Ever heard of ‘give and take’?
4 to 7 ‘Yes’: You are in all likelihood more selfish than you give yourself credit for, and it would do you good to stop and reflect on your online interactions and the online brand you are building. Is that really how you want to come across?
1 to 4 ‘Yes’: Although there are some egotist tendencies showing up here and there, you are managing to keep your ego at bay most of the time and you could potentially become an example to follow. Why not nip some of those bad habits in the bud right now?
0 ‘Yes’: Congratulations! You are a credit to personal branding and to your online community. If you play your cards right it will be within your niche to build a community of trusted friends and followers who will be instrumental in the achieving of your personal branding goals. Just make sure you are assertive enough and that your ‘niceness’ is not misunderstood as weakness.
I hope this self-assessment test was fun and that it has revealed whether the personal brand you are crafting on a daily basis with your interactions, profiles, contents, engagement and others reflects faithfully on the person you are and – perhaps even more importantly – the person you want to become. Don’t let your shadow ruin your brand and take full control of it to steer your personal branding ship to the safe harbor of mutually beneficial relationships where everyone is a winner. Nothing else will do.
Oscar Del Santo is a lecturer, consultant, key speaker, blogger and populariser of online reputation and inbound marketing in Spain. He has been extensively featured in the Spanish and Latin American media and is included in the ‘Top Social Media Influencers’ and ‘Best Marketing Tweeters in Spanish’ lists @OscarDS. He is the author of ‘Reputacion Online para Tod@s’ and the co-author of ‘Marketing de Atraccion 2.0’.