Avoiding the Online Branding Iron

onlinebrandingHow many times have you read or heard about cultivating your “online brand?” Oh, maybe 42 billion and 6, including the note I saw in a job-getting advice story in today’s Detroit Free Press. As part of that advice, job seekers are urged to start their own websites or blogs.

I started this blog a little over a year ago and have been active on Facebook and Linkedin, less so on Twitter.  It got me wondering how my online brand is perceived.  Surveying my scribblings over the past 8 or 9 years I would conclude my online brand falls somewhere between insanity and Silly String. This revelation may reveal why I’m seldom sought after by recruiters who would prefer a prospect’s brand be closer to Wonder Bread and beige.

When I first started cracking wise on Facebook about 6 years ago it was simply a lark to see if I’d get any sort of reaction. After a few successful posts I was branded by others as a potential standup comic. That was very flattering but standup comics are, for the most part, insecure train wrecks. I can admit to occasional insecurity but I always stop at railroad crossings.

As the head of Fiat Chrysler’s digital communications, social media is a big part of my job. I enjoy giving speeches, but I don’t offer a lot of advice online. The one time I did tweet something the then head of social media at a competitor cracked on Twitter, “oh, Chrysler’s social media guy is finally being social.” Nyahh. Nyahh.  I replied that I was paid to promote Chrysler, not myself. Another guy jumped in saying I should posture on Twitter as an expert. I countered that a lot of people who posture as experts are full of crap. He responded “let’s have coffee some time.”

I regularly careen between serious, sensitive and stupid. When I feel I’ve been stupid, I often delete those posts.  I have deleted dozens of posts over the years when, on second thought, I personally decided my online brand would devolve to “dumbshit.”

The fact is both in my real and professional life I’ve always taken chances and looked at new challenges as something I could handle. Would a company want someone like me who is not bound by culture or convention? Generally, it’s a tough sell, but I don’t care. I’ll tell you this. If you’re considering what your online brand is, it should be the same as your offline brand, and your off-duty brand, and your real life brand. It should be a brand with a simple name, “Me.”



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