I’m With The Brand Part 4: Your Boss, Your Mom, Or A Cop

I spend a lot of time online. So I suppose it’s not entirely surprising that I see people make Personal Branding mistakes every day. Many of these people would be quick to point out that they aren’t interested in Personal Branding and that they’re simply sharing their lives online with friends and relatives. That may very well be true. It doesn’t change the fact that some things shouldn’t be shared online. Ever.

A common piece of dating advice is that you not talk about your ex. There are reasons for this. Some will say that it’s because they’ll think you’re still hung up on your ex. I say it’s because they are picturing you talking about them after the relationship. No woman likes it when you call another woman a bitch. And yet, if you go to any random Facebook, you will see people trashing their exes or having actual online fights with someone they’re dating.

Another common mistake is trashing your place of employment. Sure, you might work with a bunch of people who make brain damaged monkeys look like the control room at NASA.  You might be the only one there who isn’t on drugs. Or maybe just the job itself sucks. We’ve all had the shitty job with the stupid coworkers. Some of us have had that job for years. Complaining about it online may be cathartic, but it’s not going to help you get your next job that’s not as shitty.

Yes, it’s cathartic to just go off on a rant about all of the ways you’ve been wronged both personally and professionally. It feels good to get some of that off your chest. But trashing other people is never the way to get past them in the long run.

This does not mean you shouldn’t share your bad day with the world. There are ways to do it that aren’t going to hurt your future relationships or jobs. All you have to do is use this rule of thumb: Don’t post anything online that you wouldn’t say to your boss, your mom, or a cop.

If someone is being a moron at work and making your job difficult, it’s better to say, “Managed to make some progress on the project despite challenging obstacles.”  Really, when it comes down to it, Personal Branding is just good personal public relations. What you’re trying to do is say what you want to say without causing any unintended problems.

It’s fine to have an opinion. It’s fine to be angry. Just be sure that you’re in control of that anger and use it wisely. Count to ten. Then figure out the most creative way to say what you want to say.

This is the fourth part of my Personal Branding series. If you’ve come this far, you’ll want to read tomorrow’s fifth and final post where I point you in the direction of the Personal Branding geniuses. I know quite a bit about Personal Branding but it’s all due to reading and watching these guys. See you tomorrow.

–          Jack Cameron

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I’m With The Brand Part 3: Creating Your Personal Brand

Odds are that there is something you do better than most other people. Or maybe there’s just something you love to do. Whatever the case, this is what you need to center your brand around. When it comes to Personal Branding, there’s a school of thought that you should find a particular niche and become recognized as an expert at it. That’s not a bad way to do it but I don’t entirely agree with that. If you were an expert in doorknob manufacturing, I’d be willing to bet that’s not all you ever want to talk about. You probably have a favorite restaurant. You probably have an opinion on the White House, even if it’s on what doorknobs they use. My point here is that real people aren’t niches. Real people have a variety of interests and it’s okay to talk about those.

You do not need a niche. You do need a center. If you’re a musician, then it’s your music. If you’re a writer, then it’s your writing. You want your Personal Brand to not just be about you but also about what you love. From there, you can branch out to whatever it is you want to do.

The key component here is consistency. If someone comes upon a page you created online, it should be easily recognized as one of your pages. There are a number of ways to do this. One of the simplest ways to start is by having your photo be the same photo regardless of what site you’re on. This makes it so if someone stumbles upon your twitter account and they already know you on Facebook, there’s no question that yes, this is the same person.

If you’re more into graphic design than I am, you can also help establish your brand by using similar color schemes. This is more difficult on some social networking sites where their company colors tend to be on your page.

When it comes to actual content, quality is much more important than quantity. If you have nothing to say, don’t force it. And if you write something and it isn’t up to your standards, leave it as a draft. Maybe you can rewrite it later.

Finding what you want your brand to be isn’t easy. Tomorrow we’ll talk about common mistakes and what not to do when you post things online. And then, finally, we’ll bring in the experts and I’ll show you some of the gurus of Personal Branding who’ve turned it into an art form.

–          Jack Cameron

I’m With The Brand Part 1: What Is Personal Branding?

I want to take a few days and talk about Personal Branding. I am not an expert on the subject and if you’re already fairly knowledgeable about Personal Branding, you probably won’t learn anything new. If you’re someone who doesn’t know what Personal Branding is or just someone who plays around online a lot, then this information could be incredibly useful to you.

You don’t have to be selling something to have a personal brand. If you have a Facebook or Twitter account, you have a personal brand. Your personal brand is what you tell the world about yourself online and offline. It’s you’re reputation. You’re creating it every day whether you mean to or not. Personal Branding is taking control of your personal brand and making sure that you project what you want people to know and eliminating the things you don’t.

Before we go much further, please take a look at the image below.

 

Every now and then you’ll hear people freaking out about online privacy. The simple truth is this: If it’s online, it’s not private. You can play with your privacy settings all you want. And it is good to check them from time to time.  However, if you’ve gone to the trouble of posting it online, someone has probably bothered to read it. If they can read it, they can link it or copy it and send it on to others.

Once people actually accept this, the natural reaction is to not post anything at all. I mean when you think that every little comment you make might be read by your boss, your next potential employer, your boyfriend, your girlfriend your mom, or stalker you might get a little shy about posting anything that might tell others where you live, what you’re doing, where you like to go or any of the other fun things you’ve been posting about. While this reaction is perfectly understandable, it’s not very useful.

No matter what you do, people who might employ you or sleep with you are going to Google you. They are going to look for you on Facebook. They are going to find what they can find from the comfort of their computer and smartphone. Welcome to the 21st Century. Now rather than trying to hide or being afraid of what they might find, why not give them exactly what you want them to find? This is the digital equivalent of showering and putting on good clothes.

Now that you’ve got an idea of what Personal Branding is. Tomorrow we’ll talk about how you get started taking control of your Personal Brand.

My thoughts on the whole Netflix/Qwikster thing

I went to Safeway the other day and was shocked by a new business that had opened up next door. It was a video store. With the exception of Red Box or the DVD section in the local grocery store, video stores are practically extinct. This is due in large part to the prevalence of Netflix. Netflix has changed the way we watch movies. And they are about to do it again.

Recently Netflix announced that they were going to effectively split the company in two. Their DVD by mail service that was the nail in the coffin to your local Blockbuster is now going to be called Qwikster. Meanwhile, their streaming service which you can use on most gaming consoles and Blu Ray players, will continue to expand under the Netflix banner.

Qwikster will continue to have the wide variety of movies and TV shows you’ve come to expect from Netflix. In addition to that they’re adding a video games section for an additional charge, much like they do with Blu Ray DVDs now. That’s the good news. There’s more than a little bad news. The most noticeable change is that the two sites are not going to have any interactivity. So the movie in your DVD queue and your streaming queue will no longer be able to interact with each other like they do now.

There are many who see this move as stupid. It’s hard not to see how this makes getting DVDs by mail a bit more of a pain. In this age where everything is connected, Netflix is separating things. Netflix has become the preferred way of watching movies by being ahead of the curve at every step. So why would they make a mistake now?

It’s simple really. One of the reasons Amazon.com has successfully killed many brick and mortar book stores is that Internet technology only gets cheaper and real estate only gets more expensive. When it comes to cost, technology beats traditional every time. The bottom line is not only is streaming movies less expensive, it’s getting cheaper all the time. Whereas the Unites States Postal Service has threatened to shut down entirely if they can’t increase revenues. For Netflix, a perfect world would be one where they don’t have to mail their customers anything at all.

So what’s the solution? If they simply got rid of their DVD by mail service, we would all simply go to Blockbuster or Red Box for our DVD needs. You can’t just cut people off. They’ll find another outlet. What you do instead is slowly introduce the concept of streaming. Make it available using a computer. Then make it available for people with X-Box 360, then PlayStation 3, then Wii, finally make it available on Blu Ray players. And make it part of the DVD by mail service. Eventually, even the people who don’t usually use streaming will try it out.  They’ll watch a TV show on their computer at work during lunch or something.

Once you’ve got a good audience through a slow ramp up, you can start charging for the streaming and the DVD by mail separately. The result will be the some people will choose the streaming and some will choose the DVD by mail. And some will actually pay more for the same service you were providing. Now that you’ve established your audiences, you can further separate them by making them into two separate entities. This will make even more people choose between one or the other. Since it’s more cost effective to stream movies, keep the Netflix brand and name connected to the streaming service. Give the other company a name that sounds like other failed Internet companies like Friendster and Napster. Call it Qwikster.

Now you’ve got two separate companies with two separate destinies. The Netflix streaming service continues to increase its library. Qwikster will eventually raise their prices due to the cost of postage or whatever other excuse they can come up with. And more people will leave Qwikster. Maybe they’ll have new releases only available on Netflix. Eventually, Qwikster will die. And when it does, Netflix will still be going strong with their streaming service. They’ll have cut their costs, increased their profit and retained the majority of their subscribers. It’s actually a very good marketing strategy.

While I’m sure that Netflix’s streaming service will increase (assuming the studios let them),  they won’t include all of titles that are currently available on DVD. Unfortunately, this means that soon there will be thousands of titles that aren’t available unless you want to buy them. It means hundreds of thousands of hours of television and movies that new generations will never see. As a guy who likes old movies, I think this sucks. Worse, I’m not sure that there is any way around it.

I don’t like this latest move by Netflix, but it isn’t stupid. What bugs me is that I’ll still be a Qwikster subscriber until its last day because it’s still the best game in town.

– Jack Cameron