Personal branding represents a tremendous opportunity to showcase your value, and part of your value is demonstrating that you have the ability to make responsible decisions about what you post online. You do have the freedom to say anything you want, anytime you want, but you need to be able to distinguish the difference between posts that are helpful and those that are harmful. Let me give you three examples from my own experience.
I recently switched my home TV and internet service to ATT. I love the product, but I had some trouble getting the rewards I was promised. I blogged about my experience very openly here and here. I referred to the company by name because they are a big company and my issue was not personal with any specific employee. My blogs and tweets helped me get my problem solved, and I am so impressed with ATT that I now speak highly of them, both in public speeches I give and in online blog posts.
A negative encounter with folks I work with inspired this blog post. But if you read the post, you will see that I never allude to any individual or organization by name. In fact, you would never even know that the post evolved from a personal experience. So although the post was inspired by real events, I did not need to provide details of those events in order to produce an effective blog post that both credited another blogger and demonstrated some knowledge I have of leadership.
I blog about social media topics on a separate site, SM@RT Social Media for Business. I posted an article there where I critiqued the inbound marketing tactics of a local ski resort. The article would have been much more effective if I had provided a link to the site I was critiquing so my readers could see for themselves what I was referring to. But I know some of the people behind the site, and I did not want to risk offending them by calling their work out by name.
In fact, I probably pushed the envelope by critiquing the marketing effort of any ski resort in my local area, even if I didn’t mention them by name. I decided to publish this post because I think it demonstrates an important point about inbound marketing that other companies might find helpful.
Be courageous as you practice personal branding, but show us that you can also be discreet.
Bret Simmons is an Assistant Professor of Management in the College of Business at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), where he teaches courses in organizational behavior, leadership, and personal branding to both undergraduate and MBA students. He has a Ph.D. in Business Administration from Oklahoma State University. Bret practices personal branding at his website Positive Organizational Behavior where he blogs about leadership, followership, and personal branding. His purpose is “to change your mind about the value of partnering with others to build healthy, responsible organizations where everyone can thrive.” You can also find Bret on Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin.