Published August 2nd, 2018
by Steven Clark

Filed Under:
Social Media Turds

Branding used to be about marking livestock so farmers and ranchers could identify which cows were theirs while allowing different herds to graze and mingle together on open plains. In the vast open plains of the internet, where we graze on takes, personal branding serves a similar purpose by allowing others to see what kind of barn you were raised in. When almost every marketing company is staffed almost entirely by white dudes who love Star Wars, it’s important to give yourself a few unique identifiers in order to get yourself noticed. In this post, we’ll help you decide on the best approach for your own personal brand, from posting creamy feet pics to becoming a martyr for “free speech” racists.

Unfortunately this process of modern day branding no longer involves pressing any red-hot metal to sensitive rump flesh – it’s now all about the content. And what’s the best form of content? Shut up, it’s video.

The only video I should pivot for

Plenty of articles already exist to extol the benefits of video as an integral part of any content strategy. Some of these articles choose to feature video content in the form of autoplaying ads, an innovation Google recently decided was too disruptive to be tolerated. Agencies are certainly fans of video content now, with most of their websites featuring at least one slow panning video of staff pawing at computer screens, writing in notebooks, pinning stuff to walls, laughing together or deep in thought, as if working in an agency is just one big boring daytime television programme explaining fancy tech to grandmas.

Vlogging is the video content route adopted by most of today’s budding personal brand-havers. Thanks to serial entrepreneur and reincarnated Victorian child murderer Gary Vee spreading his philosophy of “Document, don’t create”, videos that amass literally tens of views are regularly uploaded and shared by eagre young business wannabes. Storytelling is an important part of producing engaging video content which means it can be difficult to turn 70-hour work weeks sitting in front of monitors or travelling to conferences-cum-self-help-seminars into stories worth telling.

Which is why most don’t. Professional vloggers that have any kind of regular captive audience choose instead to fabricate conflict or pretend to be something they’re not, like pregnant, domestically abused or kidnapped. This is what all these barely watched marketing and business vloggers have been lacking – consider livening up your next conference or roundtable discussion LinkedIn video by throwing a punch or knocking up your coworker.

If you can’t figure out how to edit video there’s always Instagram, photo sharing social media platform of choice for the oft-touted influencer. People building their brands on Instagram go out of their way to impress, photoshopping themselves into stock images or paying for photos inside grounded private planes in vague attempts to seem worldly and wealthy. When it comes to producing photography for your personal brand, creating images with a unique theme or colour palette can give you some visual edge. Local professional instagrammer and PR genius Sheri Scott has seen some success with this approach, cultivating a bright orange aesthetic on her profile which she has confused for a personality. Much like vlogs, reality doesn’t play well on Instagram – if you want to reach more people fast, consider being a fraud.

But what if you’re not proficient, confident or narcissistic enough to produce regular visual content featuring your own body parts and/or face? I’m afraid you’re stuck with the now obsolete written word. When it comes to this kind of content, those of us under 50 with diminished attention spans typically prefer to blog and tweet. The middle-aged – especially those with more established wealth and careers – develop their brands by posting on LinkedIn and/or paying or cajoling others into writing articles about how great or clever they are. When it comes to writing, where you post tends to determine what audience you’ll attract more than what you post. Ultimately, your following will mostly comprise of either horny irony-poisoned millennials or aging professional nostalgia addicts, many of whom are also extremely horny.

Honk honk

If you’re an already established and successful entrepreneur, you may want to use your status or position as an opportunity to inject more of yourself into your business, developing side hustles that relate solely to your interests and – if done right – invigorating both your business and personal brands simultaneously. For a local example, flashback to 2015 when Glasgow agency MadeBrave launched their clothing/lifestyle brand MadeBrave Originals with some ceremony, presumably in an attempt to demonstrate their eponymous bravery. Founder and CEO Andrew Donnie’s interest in martial arts led to the creation of their Signature Range, custom clothing partly designed and fully endorsed by various Scottish UFC personalities. It is worth noting that it’s important to check the audience for your combined interests pet project goes beyond yourself and your immediate friends, as MadeBrave Originals doesn’t look like it’s been updated in years and no longer appears under “Our Brands” on their main website. Evidently the Venn diagram overlap of “people who like UFC” and “people who like branded moleskine notebooks” wasn’t as large as they had once anticipated.

Of course, the savvy personal brand builder doesn’t restrict themselves to one medium, platform or opportunity. Someone capable and prolific enough to spread themselves across multiple channels and appeal to enough people can graduate to the levels of thought leader or influencer. Thought leaders are mostly industry specific and get to spend their time talking or writing about the thing that made them an authority instead of actually doing it. Influencers, on the other hand, whore themselves for various businesses and receive free goods or services in exchange for endorsing them to their large following of unpopular dullards. Beyond free stuff, having a significant following on any social media platform – though particularly on Twitter and Instagram – can open up several new exclusive opportunities to you. Most recently, those with over 20k followers or a verified account were able to stand in front of a mural, kept free of audienceless riff-raff by a large white tent and armed guards. This was ultimately revealed to be a cynical publicity stunt for an upcoming show making fun of the kind of shallow people who would find this sort of thing appealing, but so what? Don’t let all those negative nancies – who are just jealous of your success, remember – get you down.

And that’s it! All the information you need to build an impermanent simulacrum of your personality for internet points, potential free shit and a possible minor increase in employment opportunity, all the while feeding what little humanity you have left to the monstrous Orwellian machine of late capitalism. Remember, everything and everyone is a product to be sold – especially you, future digital professional – and if you’re not willing to spend hours of your spare time cultivating a personal brand then why should anyone take you seriously? Skills and talent will only get you so far – after all, what matters most to creative industries employers is always your willingness to work for free.

Business Content Digital Marketing Marketing Social Media

by Steven Clark

Steven is a designer/developer and wannabe intellectual with an obsessive personality and too much spare time. Don’t follow him on Twitter.

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