“How do you find the time to manage all of this social media stuff?” That’s one of the most common questions I’m asked whenever I present. And sometimes, I get the sense that people are hoping that it’s so complicated and time-consuming that they’ll have a great excuse NOT to do it. Not to learn [...]
Building a Personal Brand and then Connecting
While company brand building used to be very much the focus of publicity and public relations efforts, nowadays the trend has moved more towards building a personal identity or personal brand, based entirely around individuals.
It is interesting to observe the way corporate and business leaders are following the path that entertainers and celebrities have taken for many years, in establishing a reputation based on personality, expertise and an element of the unique. Company CEOs and Managing Directors are putting themselves at the forefront of the business, both via traditional media, online and social media, talking on behalf of the company and thereby are becoming recognised in their own right as an industry authority. Very seldom do we see “a spokesperson from Company X said” anymore, if it can be at all avoided by said company -- and it’s only the really big brands, such as Coca-Cola, whose reputation now precedes any person who can put their name to the brand.
Advantages of Making that Connection
There are many advantages to this approach. First of all, as technology makes doing business or making purchases so much easier and quicker, it is also making it a lot more impersonal. Consumers are starting to feel isolated from the companies they do business with and they are also starting to feel unimportant -- more like a statistic than an individual. Automated operations might be saving businesses money because there is less human handling required, but are causing consumers to yearn for less high tech -- and more high touch.
As a result, people are starting to place importance on doing business with people, rather than just faceless businesses. We want to know into whose pocket our hard-earned dollar is disappearing -- do we agree with his/her ethics, do we connect on a personal level? Importantly, can we personally identify with them? Do we actually like the person? If we do, then we are happy to trust that person and do business with them.
An example of someone who has done it really well is Richard Branson. Here is someone who has put himself at the forefront of the Virgin brand. He has created an identity of fun, adventure, creativity, courage and possibility. He is someone many of us can relate to. He is human. Therefore, no matter what industry he decides to launch into, he has immediate support. We can trust that new company because it is part of Virgin -- a creation of the incredible Richard Branson.
New media and technology lends perfectly to the idea of creating a personal brand. CEOs and Directors have created Twitter accounts, Facebook profiles and blogs for themselves where they share their business and personal viewpoint on the world around them. Suddenly, we have direct access to the head of a large firm we are spending money with. We feel important as a consumer because we can more easily be acknowledged by the person at the top, instead of having to be passed on from one department to another. We also feel that the business is more transparent because the top dog is putting themselves out there and opening up to possible public scrutiny. But perhaps (and most importantly), we feel we can relate to these people who used to be hidden in glass offices at the tops of very tall towers. We support the same sports team, we can share some aspects of their family life, they also get stuck in traffic and enjoy going to the same restaurants we do.
While the opinion used to be that the more “untouchable” and “godlike” the authority, the more believable, it’s now quite the opposite. Consumers want to know who you are -- and they want to be able to converse and engage with you. This is the new way of doing business. Embrace it!