Archive for September, 2010

Personal Brands: Surprise! You Are What You Like

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

facebook-likeFacebook’s advertising model is astounding – not only because major brands actually buy those ugly little ads that stick on the right hand side of your wall. It is hard to believe the power of that little block photo and 160 characters.

What’s really astounding is how FB has engineered the trajectory and value of those mean little ads. They do it simply: by leveraging your reputation and your good name: your personal brand.

Facebook’s magical money machine is all in its signature “Like” button. Facebook isn’t selling advertisers on the likelihood you’ll buy something. Its click through rate is 1/10th of one percent versus Google’s nearly 10% of audience reached. The goal is getting your permission (without your realizing it) for the brand to announce to your Facebook friends that you endorse it. If your personal brand has taken off, you are in effect co-branding with no share of the profits.

For advertisers, this instant and free viral marketing they crave like vampires crave blood, winds up out of your hands and onto your wall. That’s how easily you become a brand evangelist.

It’s kind of like smoking or any of the other dumb things you did, which your parents credited to the other kids you hung out with. Peer pressure has a new name: it’s called “Like” on Facebook. In fact, all around the web you now find the familiar “Like” button showing up. You can give almost anything your endorsement, worth lots to advertisers and they get it as your gift.

You often do this unwittingly, changing the meaning of your personal brand by just a click or two or more.

An ad orchestrated around your profile gets more than your mere endorsement. Word of mouth or buzz from personal sources remains the number one predictor of purchasing. With the “like” feature, you create buzz with one button. No more emailing a funny ad around or sending people to YouTube. All the muss and fuss of your communicating what you think is funny, smart or otherwise likable, is now in Facebook’s hands.

All of that is free to the advertiser. As an endorser, you don’t get to sign an agreement with each brand and you don’t get paid.

If you’ve clicked on them, you know the ads are low on message and high on short engagement experiences. They are polls, contests, and other ways you can waste your time (at least 6 hours a month on average).

What’s bad for your time management is great for consumer behavior. We know involvement greatly increases the likelihood of your passing around a good word (or in this case, the most important element of your personal brand: your good name).

As you’ve seen on your wall, you can now “Like” an ad just like you like a friend’s post or photo. That’s why “Like” is so powerful – because it’s so incredibly effortless on your part. “Like” started out as a way to kind of back slap a friend, with just one click. That’s way faster than actually  composing a three word “Comment.”

Now you can “Like” ads, which lets your friends now you’re still alive, but not awake enough to actually post something.

This new “Like” function explodes the number of people who learn about a brand or ad offer, because your friends see your name attached to it on their walls, and they are then likely to “Like” it for their friends.

“Molly Jo likes Cheerios” is the big innovation. Via that caption Facebook turns a cheap, bad ad into a viral juggernaut for the advertiser. As your endorsement goes out on your friends’ walls, more join in because, after all, friends are very influenced by their friends.

Personal brands, remember you are not getting paid in any way for your becoming a spokesperson for all these other brands.

Facebook is the broker for your co-branding arrangement, every time you “Like” something. You are a powerhouse of persuasion because your name has cachet with your friends (and their friends). Advertisers exploit your personal brand, as your halo casts a gleam on their brand.

So, if you are not getting paid: why are you liking something “out loud” to your friends? For personal brands who relentlessly connect audiences to the stable and coherent meaning of who we are and what we represent: we dilute the power of our brands every time we “Like” something that obscures the message about ourselves.

Surprise! Personal brands: we will now become what we “Like” on Facebook and the web. This is fast, easy and dangerous.

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Personal Brands: Social Engineering by Social Media

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

ist2_3809540-blue-sky-handshakeFacebook is changing the way you can reject requests from prospective “friends.” You’ll click on “Not Now,” which replaces the “Ignore” button. That puts them in Facebook purgatory, under a category called “Hidden Requests.” The person requesting your friendship will see their status as, “Awaiting Friend Confirmation.”

 

Over time, they’ll think you are just too darn busy to get around to the one click that bridges them from Siberia to a place in your heart. I’m sure they’ll understand.

 

In addition, you can kick them to the curb by clicking on “Delete Request” and with one more click, you can rat them out by alerting Facebook that you don’t know the person. This blocks them from ever again requesting your friendship.

 

I can only imagine the havoc this is going to play with the high school set, where the new girl at school is awkward and unfriend-worthy this semester, but hot and popular next year. And, the weird guy who winds up the next Bill Gates is someone you blackballed when you were 15.

 

The goal is to limit people who aren’t your friends from reaching out to you. Truth is, most Facebook friends aren’t your real friends, if you have been using social media for your personal branding.

 

Facebook hi-jacked the word “friend” to mean something completely different now than what it has meant for centuries. You now are friends with people you want to influence, keep up to date on your goings-on, get gigs or referrals from, and occasionally amuse with photo of you at a rest stop along your ride across country.

 

You hopefully have some authors, thought-leaders, and other people whom you aspire to know – or like me, you’re often on the other side of that equation. You are building up a cadre of “friends” who can evangelize your personal brand.

 

Facebook re-engineered our society by calling anyone “friend.” Kind of like Mr. Rogers, may he rest in peace.

 

All social networks have in some way conducted social engineering we embrace. On Twitter you have “followers,” which assigns each of us to a pathetic, wannabe rock star or guru persona. Still having “followers” is better than other choices, like: “groupies,” “hangers on,” or “posse.” Although, given the chance I would be in Guy Kawasaki’s posse.

 

From the start, Facebook’s choice of “friend” was a catchy, clique-y moniker to assign to the abundance of near strangers who asked or responded to request for social media friendship. Prior to social media, the only longstanding group of friends I knew involved Jennifer Aniston and company. The friends never outgrew each other. They never said, “I just can’t bear having another cup of coffee exploring how tidy Monica is and how dim Joey is.” That’s what being paid a million dollars an episode will do for you.

 

Facebook also re-engineered our lives by assigning each of us a wall, plus access to almost anyone whom we could invite to read it or write on it.

 

Would we have signed up in legions if Facebook requests funneled someone into asking if they could make our “acquaintance?” Remember back in the day, when you shook someone’s hand and they said, “It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance?”

 

Almost everyone we know is a de facto acquaintance. If you have one good friend in life, you are blessed. But enough reality.

 

Personal brands: Be careful whom you kick to the curb or condemn to “Awaiting Friend Confirmation” status. As your career and reputation grows, some hugely important people or up and coming experts may reach out to you. Even among strangers whose requests you field, be careful whom you put in the cooler. You don’t know whose brother or mother is your next investor, employer, publisher, producer and whatnot.

 

Keep your Facebook page filled with updates, images, stories, links and aphorisms that intentionally reflect your personal brand. And be wise with your newly awarded power to say: Not Now.

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Personal Brands: Your Amazing Race

Saturday, September 4th, 2010

hellokittyHave you joined the rat race? Are you spending your days chasing other people’s goals, working other people’s hours, living someone else’s life?

Do your credit card debts or student loans or both; now define what you do and how much you do it for? Or is it some other obligation, like simply earning a living to gain back some dignity after returning home to the parents you once left with hopeful abandon?

Have you stacked up a bunch of mindless diversions or substances or both to make your off time tick by in slow motion? Are you a fan of sleep? Is foggy an attribute of your personal brand? Or does irritable suit you better.

Behaving just like a rat

There’s a reason we call it the rat race. It’s when you feel locked in a maze, bumping up against walls, scratching your way toward a small reward.

For the rodents among us, I hope you get your cheese. Sorry if someone moved it. There’s a Spencer Johnson book that helps you stop caring where it is. I may be wrong because I read it a long time ago, but I think his advice is to just keep running.

Personal brands: consider a different track with a different trajectory and a different outcome.

Design your own amazing race.

Make a life list. Never stop adding to it.

Start off with a blank Word doc, the notes function on your phone or – my favorite – a spiral bound notebook with a cover that represents the best part of you. If you know me, you know that my notebook cover is Hello Kitty.  Her personal brand is uplifting, chic, funny, and sometimes dark. So is mine.

Write down everything your head or heart desires. Put in experiences, adventures, access to important people, travel, occupations, friendships, and if you must: stuff.  I’m not big on visioning boards filled with photos of yachts and big houses, because I’m not sure they represent the feelings you actually want. Dealing with broken pipes and watching the deck peel isn’t really the good life.

Want to write a book? Put that in. Want to end hunger or homelessness? Put that in. Want to speak at TED? Put that in. Want to meet a life partner who takes away all the pain and anxiety of the single life?  In. Want to remain single with the freedom and excitement to engage in new romances? Also in.

Your amazing race

Your amazing race will be different than anyone else’s – although you are sure to meet the right people if you put yourself in the right places. That’s whatever is right for you.

Personal brands: take it solo or find a run buddy. Get ready, set, and go.

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