Aside from the increasing number of those who make a living directly out of them, the greatest impact of the social media revolution in the years to come will be felt by the rest of us in two different yet complementary fields: the extraordinary new possibilities to communicate and interact digitally (that is after all what the social networks were created for) and what we could name as a new era for personal marketing that will open doors to achieving all kinds of personal and professional goals.
Just like the intimately related concept of personal branding, what used to be the exclusive domain of filmstars, politicians, top executives and VIPs is now within the reach of Jane and John Does everywhere thats to the seemingly infinite possibilities brought forward by the Internet and the Social Media we would be extremely unwise and ill-advised not to strategically apply with courage and determination. In fact, a cleverly put together personal marketing plan will allow us to steer our professional development making the right contacts, promoting an image that reflects our style and values, establishing our credibility, generating enthusiasm around our projects and our selves and needless to say in the best case scenarios attaining the professional goals we have set for ourselves.
In this new era, all indicators are pointing to the undisputed fact that the online will increasingly gain importance; though it will have to work synergistically with the offline (which remains paramount in some quarters). As recent statistics revealed, a majority of millennials under the age of 30 believe that an online CV/résumé is more effective than its traditional counterpart: and this is just a sign of things to come. This is why establishing an online personal branding strategy now which takes account of the latests trends and maximizes the free or charge opportunities available for those who cannot afford other more expensive channels – and most especially students, entrepreneurs, jobseekers, freelancers and the self-employed – is highly advisable.
Those more ambitious souls with a weighty contribution to make in their specific niche will for the first time be able to jump many of the traditional hurdles set up by the establishment of territorial cliques guarding their turfs and establish themselves as referents to be followed by implementing a targeted quality content strategy that addresses the needs of their peers and clients and proves the promises of excelence they make on the web and elsewhere. And that can only happen if a coherent and consistent personal brand that underscores and reinforces the explicit messages sent out in the social media is already in place.
Taking active charge of our own communication, image and PR is no easy feat and requires a profound shift in the way we lead our lives (especially online). A useful comparison can me made in this respect to the times when we applied for a job and the company interested in our application knew no more of us than what our CV disclosed and whatever information they might be able to gather from our referees (and these could of course be faked). Nowadays it is taken for granted that we all leave behind a sizeable social footprint that can be easily found in the social media and on the internet which calls in turn for a careful, sensible and well-thought-out separation between our personal and professional lives if we are to avoid some of the more unpleasant online reputation pitfalls. How much should we reveal in this new context and why? Poor judgment in this quicksand terrain threatens to damage our personal marketing and our private life and the careless sharing (amongst many other instances) of pictures, videos and/or confidential information best kept private can quickly backfire.
However, these potential risks will be more than offset by the many gains to be made and the new horizons opening up before our eyes when we begin to act, configure and position our brand guided by an unflicnhing commitment to our values and the desire to add value with our work to the common good. Marketing is no longer a priviledge of companies, organizations or the rich and famous and it is up to us to become active agents of our own success. This is both the challenge and the invitation.
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’.