Written by Janette Gellert
Is ALL Publicity Good Publicity? Branding Yourself for Your Future Through Social Media
Social media is a crucial aspect of today’s pop culture, and is becoming more and more important in relation to everyday tasks. Users have grown very dependent on social media platforms as a means of communication, because participants are able to produce, publish, control, critique, rank, and interact with online content on their own terms (Tuten, 2008, in Papasolomou & Melanthiou, 2013). These tools are used to communicate with other users, but also as a tool in creating a personal brand. The creation of personal branding relates to how people are able to express themselves, specifically through social media. The personal brand created reflects how users depict themselves, both virtually and realistically, and those choices affect their future.
Social networking enables participants to share information and interact with other users from all over the world (Papasolomou & Melanthiou, 2013). Without these tools, attempting to connect with old friends or companies regarding potential job opportunities across the world would be nearly impossible. Social networking has by far created more advantages for people attempting to network their way through social media in order to promote their personal brand.
The growing importance of online networking has caused the social media as a tool to be utilized in the professional realm, especially due to the countless tools available because social media platforms have enabled ‘consumers to connect, share, and collaborate’ (Hanna et al., 2011, p. 266). At this day and age, social networks are used as a tool by nearly everyone, enhancing connectivity, communication, and networking among people all over the world, in turn enhancing the possibilities for personal branding. Although social media is readily available to promote ones personal brand in order to establish a successful future; personal branding through social networking can both enhance as well as hinder the success of candidates for certain job opportunities.
Tools are readily available with the use of social networks in order to connect to other users, more so now than ever before. The motivation of connecting to people develops into stronger relationships and creates devotion towards members and the community, and the member-to-community loyalty generates a social value for the online group (Seraj, 2012). Connections that are generated through social media construct relationships, which result in an immense social network (Hanna et al., 2011). Many of the relationships generate an advantage regarding the promotion of their personal brand, because of the connections being made mean more people becoming aware of the brand’s presence, which could lead to more knowledge regarding opportunities. Hanna et al. (2011) believe that social media’s main focus is to connect users to other users, because “billions of people create trillions of connections through social media each day” (Hansen et al. 2011, p. 3 in Hanna et al., 2011), and with so many users contributing to the virtual community, one can only imagine the potential connections that are made.
Creating connections and professional relationships with users is crucial in order to increase chances and opportunities for one’s future career, and by creating connections and keeping in contact will only further the familiarity of a person’s personal brand. According to Kietzmann et al. (2011), the presence of the framework building block allows users to know where users are in both the virtual and real world and whether they are available; due to the vast increase in connectivity, this presence of the framework building block is bridging real with virtual. Online communities are prosperous in joining a particular group of people with similar passions to connect and share content with one another (Seraj, 2012). The connectivity that social media provides is crucial and is essential to take advantage of, because, as stated above, it is a tool that will enable a user to connect to other users in order to make sure their personal-brand is marketed in the most optimal way in order to achieve goals relevant to their future. And if someone is lucky, the connections made through social networks can flourish into an offline affiliation (Cova & Cova, 2002, in Seraj, 2012).
The development of social media has caused consumers’ role to move away from being a passive listener into becoming a more active contributor (Singh & Sonnenburg, 2012). Social media has opened the doors to the opportunity of communication, both personally and professionally, by enabling users to connect with other users. The communication generated from the connectivity between users enables users to communicate their personal brand and make a statement about themselves in both a personal professional manner.
The online arena can be experienced as an alternative to the real world in terms of communication, socialization, learning transactions, and recreational activities. Even companies are using online interactive platforms as a means to support their strategies (Seraj, 2012). Social networking provides people with opportunities to communicate with targeted professionals in order to construct, determine, and distinguish their personal brand identity, contributing to their job pursuit and their future career (McCorkle and McCorkle, 2012). Having the prospect to market a personal brand should be taken advantage of, and social media websites are only making it more convenient for users to do so by building professional creditability and listing noteworthy projects, associations you are a member of, licenses, or any experiences that stand out will create a personal brand, by showing them how you stand out from other candidates (Drobocky, 2013). It is crucial to stand out from the crowd in order to push their personal brand to gain an interest regarding their future career when connecting and communicating with other users.
Communication and connectivity are the basis networking; however, networking has the connotation of relating more to professional aspects rather than social aspects. “Social networking skills are becoming essential for personal branding (e.g., networking, self- marketing) and corporate/product branding (e.g., marketing communication)” (McCorkle and McCorkle, 2012, p. 157). Relationships created through social media are crucial to connect and network with other users, especially those within their niche, because it extends their resources on a global level. Kietzmann et al. (2011) continue by stating that social media platforms connect users to one another based on the content and information being exchanged between them. Therefore, if a user prefers building relationships on a more professional level, in hope that the available professional connections that are waiting for them, they are able to network with other users who encompass similar preferences. LinkedIn offers the opportunity for self-promotion through a personal profile; social networking with students, faculty, and professionals; and explore information regarding career knowledge and development and job opportunities through discussions and posts (McCorkle & McCorkle, 2012). LinkedIn offers a referral system, which enables users to encounter a person they intended on meeting through connections they have already made in order to engage with people they would like to meet (Kietzmann et al., 2011). Without the networking capabilities that social media has to offer, it would be quite difficult to communicate with another user in order to obtain knowledge regarding a potential job opportunity. Continue reading about typical problems that could arise when promoting a personal brand through social media.
How Much is Too Much Publicity?
Social media websites have been very influential in both aspects of the spectrum, personal and professional, and the impact and usage of social media is only going to increase. However, this ease of connectivity and information being shared can also bring downfalls that could potentially affect people in a negative way, especially regarding ones’ future. Unfortunately, many companies are not only using social networking as a tool to promote their brands, but they are also using it as a tool to research and analyze job candidates. The necessity to employ an in-house human resources professional is not appealing with the presence of social networking, especially because the chances of a hiring manager locating candidates in at least one online forum is quite high (McKenzie, 2010). Employers are even capable of acquiring information regarding weekend exploits, political views, opinions relating to their current employers and more through social media websites (McKenzie, 2010). Companies searching for future employees are scavenging social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, for any additional information they can gather regarding the job candidates, which is used to analyze whether or not the applicant is a proper fit for the position. It is not news that companies are searching high and low for new information regarding their applicants, however does the act of knowing what companies are doing change what personal information is actually uploaded on the Internet? The items posted on the Internet are ‘forever;’ while some items are completely harmless, others can escalate into huge mistakes affecting some of the most crucial facets of ones’ life: their career (Drobocky, 2013).
Approximately 37% of employers are utilizing both Facebook and LinkedIn in order to research candidates for the position in their company (Drobocky, 2013). Which is why it is crucial for social media users to stay updated with the content being posted, in regards to whether or not the content affects the personal brand they are attempting to promote and achieve. According to Barwise and Meehan (2010), social media has created an even greater urgency in respect to the right marketing basics, in order to develop and deliver a reliable brand promise. Geography is no longer a limitation to opportunities that are available, and relationships with well-placed connected individuals are created with social networking, and if used wisely, it is a technique of self-representation and personal branding (Decarie, 2010). Individuals must make sure that their personal brand expresses exactly what they are attempting to create, and that individuals continue to stay true to their personal brand or they may be interrupted by potential negativities.
It is crucial for individuals to present themselves in the finest possible way, even if an individual is currently employed; by disregarding their online presence individuals can jeopardize future opportunities for growth or advancement (Drobocky, 2013). Unfortunately when individuals are candidates for a job opportunity there are no “do-overs” if an incident occurs that affects them in receiving the job, especially because many hiring managers research social networks during the hiring process in order to find reasons to not hire candidates (Drobocky, 2013). The hiring process is so competitive that it makes sense to look at flaws rather than to compare and contrast the positive aspects of each candidate being considered, and what better way than looking through their personal pictures and daily updates? When is the ease of connectivity too much?
Although it is known that social media can be “social media can be utilized as a platform for personal branding” (Pihl, 2013, pg.122), individuals must be aware of the content they post and the effect the content may have in regards to their future. Brands need to make themselves a specialist in their position (Sugrue, 2013), therefore it is crucial for individuals promoting their personal brand in order to obtain a job position to be in control of what they are promoting and staying true to their brand in order to gain the attention of the hiring manager. A personal brand is maintained differently compared to a corporate brand, there are aspects of the process of branding that should be carried over. Brands that will be successful are those willing to take advantage of the opportunities offered by social media, while still being aware of their brand promise, and cautiously modifying the marketing playbook as opposed to rewriting it (Barwise & Meehan, 2010). Brands that use social media in order to make sure that their brand promise is both coherent and relevant, but they also maintain the social media activities in order to stay true to and support the brand values (Sugrue, 2013). Individuals need to maintain their personal brand as corporate brands do, especially in regards to social media, because if there are any misconceptions regarding the “brand’s” values companies will use them against them. Considering a strategy to promote a personal brand through social networking is important for marketing and PR reasons; the transparency and genuineness of one’s brand is critical, and misleading others will catch up to the brand in the end (Scott, 2012).
Social networks are used as a tool by nearly everyone, enhancing connectivity, communication, and networking among people all over the world, and social media is readily available to promote ones personal brand in order to establish their future career. However social networking can both enhance as well as hinder the success of candidates for certain job opportunities depending on how it is used. Creating connections and professional relationships with users is crucial in order to increase chances and opportunities to promote their personal brand in order to enhance their future to its potential. The communication generated from the connectivity and networking between users enables them to communicate their personal brands and make a statement about themselves both personally and professionally. In order to be successful, it is necessary for users to take advantage of all that social media has to offer, yet still staying true to their personal brand they are promoting. Make sure the personal brand being promoted makes the same statement in the real world and virtual world, because the consistency will only benefit in the brands success.
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