In today’s social age, everyone is a public figure. If you’re on Facebook, Instagram or any social media platform, you have a personal brand to maintain and market. Every picture you share and every post you write informs the world who you are — your personality, interests and beliefs.
Increasingly, first impressions aren’t made in person; they’re made online. A quick Google or social media search allows us to digitally “people shop” for everything from friends to employees to dates. If we don’t like what we see online, we won’t want to see the floor model in person. It sounds wrong, but it’s reality.
I joined Facebook back when you were allowed one picture and had a limited number of characters to share your interests. Today you can post all you want; you can showcase your hobbies, fashion style, food tastes, friends, community involvement — all your passions on display via unlimited selfies and text.
What does your personal brand tell potential friends, dates and employers about you? Does what you post draw people toward you or caution them to run far away?
Marketing to Potential Dates
Years ago on Myspace (Google it; it was a thing), I thought it’d be a good idea to express myself as a hopeless romantic to attract eligible single ladies. I blogged about past relationships, the baggage I carried and how I desperately wanted someone to love.
It was a terrible brand image. I came across as needy, not romantic. I was craving acceptance and affection, and it showed. Who wants to buy from a company whose slogan is, “Come on, just give us a chance…please?”
As a young single guy, I made a lot of mistakes like this.
For instance, I had friends who were girls. I’d post pictures of us hanging out together. Turns out if you’re single and you don’t want to be, it’s not always a good idea to post a bunch of pictures with you and other girls or guys in them.
I was just trying to be myself, but there were better parts of my life and personality worth sharing that would have been more appealing.
Attracting Potential Friends
Back in the day, I loved posting about my favorite pastimes, thinking it would attract friends with similar interests. I’d publish political tirades and long quotes from dead philosophers. Turns out, no one enjoys seeing that stuff clutter up their news feed.
Our favorite brands aren’t exclusive, they’re inclusive. They interact with us. We feel like we’re part of them.
That’s how I learned that my brand can’t be all about me. It needs to include the people around me and the things we have in common. It allows us to share them together.
The best brands take pride in who they are and the people who make them who they are. When I take an interest in my friends and what’s happening in their lives, that’s when our friendships grow deeper.
It’s good to build a personal brand that’s authentic, but not to the exclusion of the people around you. The goal is to draw people in, not push them away.
Presenting to Potential Employers
As a hiring manager, I’ve seen my fair share of applicants who forgot that their social media profiles are public.
I’ve seen ugly rants about previous employers. I’ve seen pictures of partying and drug use and even witnessed shared events for twerking competitions. More commonly, I see bad language and rude comments that inevitably raise red flags in the hiring process.
And I realize I’m not immune. I share all kinds of negative things that would give an employer pause.
It’s one thing for me to have a terrible day, but it’s another for me to share that for the whole world to see. I don’t know many brands and companies that vent publicly or air their dirty laundry. It’s just bad for business. It’s also bad for personal brands.
Bearing Jesus’ Brand
Dating, making new friends and finding a job are all influenced by the way you present yourself online. The images you upload, the posts you share and the things you put in your status updates matter.
The goal of branding yourself well isn’t to achieve celebrity status and have tons of followers. Instead, it can be as simple as making a good first impression so people want to pursue you in person as a close friend, an employee or a “blind” date.
Finally, remember that you bear the brand of Jesus Christ, having been crucified with Him. Someday, gathered around His throne, we will be distinctively marked as His. Today, we are His workmanship and ambassadors. So while it’s important to project a favorable impression of yourself online, the most important thing is that others see Christ in you.
Copyright 2019 Matt Stickel. All rights reserved.