Guest Post by Donna Merrill.
When I hear people talk about “personal branding” for bloggers, I think of the “authority” that someone builds. But in the process of developing their authority status, they are also building a “social brand”.
If someone does a good job of teaching fly fishing on their blog, for instance, their personal brand becomes associated with their authority status as a fly fishing expert.
But that same blogger may also have built a social brand that tells people something additional about themselves.
Maybe people think of them as helpful, kind or funny.
Maybe they think they are rude or self-centered.
The way people think of you as an authority or expert in your niche , is not necessarily the way they think of you as a person. Your expertise can be grown as a result of the content your share on your blog and elsewhere, therefore… your personal brand. The kind of person you are is much more clearly shaped by your social interactions, therefore… your social brand.
A Case In Point
I’ll share a quick story to illustrate the difference between your personal and social brands, as I see it.
I once followed a celebrity “health guru”. I read his books, listened to his radio show… all the things you do when you find someone’s content to be valuable.
I had the chance on several occasions to meet this expert in more informal settings. I had joined a running-walking group that he had formed in Central Park in New York. I visited a health retreat that he hosted.
After getting to know him as a person as well as an expert, I continued to value him as a leading authority in health and nutrition. The content he shared was cutting edge and artfully delivered.
But, as a person, I viewed him as conceited, ridiculously judgmental, narrow minded and self-indulged. I gained these impressions from the way he talked to people, how he answered their questions, the manner in which he socialized, the way he would present himself as teacher and as friend. I observed how he treated family members, how he handled his personal relationships, and how he viewed and treated his followers.
The Blogger’s Social Brand
As bloggers, we are climbing off the stage when we reply to comments on our posts, when we speak our minds on Facebook, or share content on Twitter or LinkedIn. In other words, when we are not actually in presentation mode, teaching or entertaining in our blog posts or videos, then we are mingling with our readers, visitors, followers and mentors.
So, how do we appear to others as “people”, all authority and expertise posturing aside?
When we reply to comments on our blog, are we helpful and courteous? Or do we come across as patronizing or even crass?
How do we show up as commentors ourselves, when we are the visitors to someone else’s blog? Do we ask questions or make observations meant to further the discussion? Or could we appear to be trying to position ourselves as knowing more than everyone else (in grade school we used to call the people “know it all’s”… lol).
Do we appear on Facebook as silly or funny, too serious or just boring? Are we friendly and authentic, amusing and vivacious?
What about in other social media? What kind of person do you appear to be to others.?
Forget, for a moment, about WHAT you are sharing. I’m asking you to consider HOW you are sharing it.
Do you seem interested in other people, or only your own image? Are you friendly, or just looking to be popular?
Are you a leader, or just trying to crash someone’s party?
There’s not necessarily a right or wrong, here.
The most popular kid in class might be mean and vengeful, but she’s cute so everyone wants to buddy up to her. It makes not rational sense, but it’s a matter of creating the right chemistry between yourself and those you have chosen to engage with.
Back To The Lab
So, I’m asking you to go back to the lab, look at the personality traits you are pouring into the test tube, revisit the formula for success that best fits your online goals as a blogger, internet marketer and more…
Are you using the right chemistry to create the social brand for yourself? Have you even considered the social brand you need? What do you think you might do differently? Where could you improve yourself in the social stream?
Again, there’s no right or wrong here, just constant improvement.