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  • Personal Brands: Hiding From a Billboard

    We know you, not because we really know you. We know you because we cruise by you. On our way to updating our status on Facebook, we check out yours. We whiz past the big, hoary posts from people who don’t understand that FB isn’t a blog, to check out your new pics or a YouTube video you think is hysterical. If we find it hysterical, too – we’ll stop by your name more often.

    If you post a reasonably attractive mix of smart, funny, pithy, personal (but not too personal) and somewhat honest work-oriented posts: we look forward to seeing your name. Otherwise we’re going to hide you.

    I’m about to hide a former business partner. In his latest FB incarnation Steve does nothing, if it cannot be done smugly. His attitude reeks of “hey losers – look how great it is being ME!”

    What with enjoying espressos by his suburban Starbucks’ parking lot side by side with his “sexy bride” of 31 years, wearing his “amazing new Nikes! I can feel every pebble in the road!” and completing “another 5K PB (personal best)!” while occasionally traveling by airplane, “no baggage charge cause I wore everything!” while enjoying the good life “free pretzels!” Steve makes us tired and cranky.

    Stuck on “one note

    I wish I were joking, but his posts simply spout off about his great fortune of simply being Steve, in a world of people who are not-Steve. His personal brand is: It’s ME!!!! And, I am so much better than YOU!!!

    This is Steve’s latest attempt to form a sustainable personal brand.

    Months ago his personal brand was “angry, barely-informed political guy.” He carped on about how much he hated every aspect of the government, except – apparently – the right to hate the government. Think Rush and Glenn with a little Ann Coulter mixed in to get a sense of his acrobatics with the facts, plus his haughty venom spew.

    But there’s only so much a poorly informed middle class man can do recycling rich men’s talk radio chatter. Comments came from people with facts and perspective, and we just wouldn’t quit him. In his responses, Steve (and weirdly, some of his family members) turned rude. It’s not surprising that he found “Being a sarcastic jerk!” isn’t the basis for a compelling FB update. It wasn’t long before even Steve realized he seemed like a raggedy guy with a hand-lettered cardboard sign on Venice Beach, talking to himself.

    And then? When hate no longer served him, Steve fell in love. With Steve. That apparently has endless legs. To Steve.

    What transformations, intentional or not, have you made in the personal brand you are online? It’s not unusual to not know yourself well enough – or not know the medium well enough – to strike the right note of accessible, attractive, and endearing.

    Look back at your updates to see who you were and compare it to who you are now. We have all changed for real, and we may change our virtual selves for the better, as well.

    Personal brands: maybe now is the time to consider what your audience really wants to know about you.

    PS: To the woman whose brand is “angry senior citizen barking about pedophiles,” go bake some brownies and tell us how delicious they are, and post a pic.

    Nance Rosen is the author of Speak Up! & Succeed. She speaks to business audiences around the world and is a resource for press, including print, broadcast and online journalists and bloggers covering social media and careers.

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