9 Nov 2010

Brands Gone Wild: Balancing The Personal And The Corporate

The social media world is all about branding. My company is building its brand. Our customers are building their brands. Our contacts at those customers are building their personal brands, and I am building my personal brand.

That’s a lot of messages, and they are bound to come into conflict. I think most of us would automatically subordinate our personal brands to the messages of the company and the client. You know, they pay the bills.

But maybe I just don’t have a strong enough brand. This is from PRSquared:

While we’ve all grown accustomed to the fact that prospective employers will be Googling us and scouring our Facebook profiles for incriminating photos, at some point the reverse will also be true: star employees will carefully evaluate the reputation and social streams of their would-be employers, to determine whether they want to associate their personal brand with that of the corporation. This will only accelerate as the improving economy increases young employees’ options.

It makes sense. It takes an incredible commitment to cultivate a personal brand. To go from 3 Facebook friends to 3,000 is no small feat; same goes for Twitter — to grow a personal fan base requires a savvy combination of content creation, curation, promotion and cool.

The post goes on to give some advice to both sides of the equation – basically that companies need to find ways to best use their employees’ brands, and that employees need to remember that they also need to work.

I think this says something larger about where our society is going, about some shifting balance between empowered individuals and traditional - and still necessary - groups.

But this is mostly a practical business reminder that the employer-employee power balance is shifting in the social media world, that communication is becoming more important on so many levels, and that things are a long way from settling down.

Nathan Hegedus

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