In the Company of You – Having a Personal Brand

Personal brand: The Not-So Secret Identity?

This topic has been sitting in my Evernote folder for a while now. I recently listened to a podcast on Mitch Joel’s Six Pixels of Separation: The Twist Image Podcast, and he had a guest by the name of Ben Casnocha. Ben is the coauthor of a book called The Startup of You (along with Reid Hoffman, cofounder of LinkedIn). The podcast was very interesting and I may have to check out the book too. One topic that they touched on while discussing The Startup of You was personal branding. The internet has allowed for anyone to be an author, anyone to be a content creator, and as such, many have ‘branded’ themselves. People are no longer necessarily identifying themselves as merely an employee of a company, but as brand of their own, leasing their talent to a company for however long they are there (as Mitch and Ben put it in the podcast). It is also discussed in the podcast as to whether this is actually a good thing for businesses or not.

I can honestly say that I have my own personal brand, which occasionally collides with what I do at Main Street Hub. I have my personal blog, which I treat more as a blog discussing small business and social media, because those are the things that interest me. There’s also occasionally funny things (Found Tweet Friday) I find and interesting music or apps that I come across. I also come equipped with my presence on just about all social networks (and the many connections that come from them). At the end of the day, all of that belongs to me and not the company. Ask any social media expert, however, and they’ll tell you that companies should encourage their employees to blog and have a presence on social media. Could this hurt your company? Will it cause your employees to focus more on themselves than your company’s image? Personally, I don’t think that’s the case in most instances.

If you’re hiring the right kind of people, then their personal brand is an extension of them that can be leveraged for the business, as long as they’re interested and invested in the business themselves. Do my blog and social media presence get occasionally leveraged for use with my company? Sure. I tweet about things going on at work (we even have our own hashtag). I ‘Like’ and share things my company posts. I post Instagram pictures from crazy things happening at my group’s desk. I even link to my company and let readers know what we do. Not because the company asks me to, but because it’s relevant to what I’m interested in. As a matter of fact, I got Main Street Hub’s attention initially by tweeting articles about social media and small business and @tagging them on Twitter. Like “Hey guys, I read this and its relevant to your business. I found it interesting and you might too!” With a little perseverance, I landed the job and now my extracurricular social media activities occasionally merge with what I do for Main Street Hub.

Personal brand is only going to become more prevalent as this generation, which already use Tumblr, WordPress, Blogger, Instagram and Twitter to amass numerous followers and fans, grows into the next workforce. They are going to come fully equipped with a social standing and personal brand, and companies will have to know how to reconcile that. Simply put, embrace it, treat your employees with respect, and perhaps their personal brand will mesh with your company’s professional presence.

What are your thoughts? Do you feel you have a personal brand outside of your company? Have you used or leveraged your presence to procure a job? Or, as a business owner, did you take social media presence into account when finding or hiring an employee? I’d love to hear some comments below, and perhaps later I can gather the responses and do a follow up post. Thanks for reading.

Now go get your social on!

The Social Gnome’s Hoard – 4 New Reasons to Monitor Online Reviews

This week we’re discussing the recently increased importance of monitoring and maintaining your presence on review sites, particularly Yelp and Google Places (now called Google+ Local).

June 13, 2012:

Social Gnome hoard image

Yelp rating system
The slow, painful decline from red to yellow
  • Siri uses Yelp to search locally – When your potential customers hit that button on their iPhone and tell Siri asks what she can help them with, Siri then asks her friend Yelp for the highest rated results in that category in your geographic area. This is applicable whether you’re a restaurant, doctor, lawyer, plumber, auto repair shop, anything. You need to make sure you’re looking as clean as you can on Yelp, or Siri may not recommend you. Yes, you are now catering your hard work on your company’s image to a digital assistant. Get used to it and move forward, because this stuff is only getting more complicated.
Google+ Local Austin recommendation
I agree, Mandola’s is delicious.
  • Google loves Google+ – Google has integrated it’s search even more fully into its social network, last week unveiling Google+ Local. Companies’ reviews on Zagat and Google Places are now merged, using the Zagat scoring system, out of 30 points, and allowing rating of multiple facets of a business. Companies can no longer have an abandoned Google Places page. They will now have to create a Google+ business page, or spruce up their Google Places page now that it has ported over and become a Google+ business page. This gives you some great options, visually, but a more social search for customer equals a more complicated job for businesses.
Screenshot from Apple.com
Apple.com explains iOS6 features
  • Apple just rocked your world – The unveiling of new iOS6 features from Apple announced the dropping of Google Maps and the addition of Apple Maps. Once again, Apple is lending preference to Yelp to assist users in navigating the best spots in the very slick looking, and exceedingly functional, Apple maps. Local restaurants, take note that Apple in also utilizing Open Table to allow users to make reservations with Siri. Let the confusion begin.
Visual.Ly infographic on food critiquing
Visual.Ly shows you how much we’re all critics
  • Everybody’s a criticVisual.Ly makes a great infographic that culminates our innate needs to have our opinions heard. From quick shout outs, epic tales of a dinner gone wrong, or outright rude chastising of a business owner for not caring enough, we love to have our opinions heard. Although there are numerous platforms out there that cater to this desire to be heard, Yelp furthers the addiction even more by rewarding those who share their opinions the most (awarding them a coveted Elite status) and Google just made it super easy for Google+ users to share their experiences very, very publicly.
UPDATE As an addendum, Bing is also pushing the local search functionality. Guess what resource Bing will be utilizing for finding local businesses. Yelp. Bing has been making major strides in order to compete with Google and the social nature of Google+ Local. It seems Bing is bringing Yelp along with it.
The push to make the local experience completely interactive has grown so exponentially in the last couple of years, it’s difficult to imagine where we’ll be in a couple more. Social search has grown by leaps and bounds in a very short amount of time. One thing is clear, the phrase “Evolve or die” could not be written any clearer. Local business owners simply can not ignore the growing need to be involved in the social digital sphere. Word of mouth is still king, but that king sits on the throne made of Yelp and Google+ Local.

I recommend you give at least a moment’s look at Main Street Hub. We handle your online reviews for you. We make sure your customers are heard, acknowledged, appeased and thanked. The time is now. Take your reviews by the horns and lead them in a direction that helps your business grow in this ever changing climate of fickle customers who have been handed megaphones to share their experiences. Tell Main Street Hub that Rob Z sent you. Thanks for reading.

Now go get your social on!

Follow this blog on your mobile device with Google Currents! Go to the app store and download Google Currents for your iPhone or Android and subscribe to Robzie Social HERE!