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    They’re Talking About YOU!

    We’ve established that my privacy threshold is pretty low online, but this article on Forbes re-affirms my comments that people are, in fact, talking about you. The article takes a slightly different angle on your personal web presence, but I think many of the points transcend into the corporate brand as well.

    Transparency. The author tells an anecdote about her friend that’s interning at a recruiting firm. The friend has become a gatekeeper in the hiring process, and her job is to check out candidates’ online life. The thing is, squeaky clean profiles actually throw up a red flag! If there’s absolutely no negative coverage, her friend starts assuming that the person must be hiding something, because nobody is that perfect. Ever felt that way about brands? If there’s no drawbacks to their product, no bad experiences noted in the reviews, doesn’t it make you wonder if the company has scrubbed the forums or written company-sponsored Yelp reviews? Even the best corporate brands have a bad incident in their past! A completely flawless online profile might actually make you seem more suspicious, and these days, companies want transparency.

    Consistency. So your resume says you went to Harvard, but your Facebook profile doesn’t list a school. Your Twitter location shows Dallas, but your LinkedIn profile shows New York. Hmm…. that’s odd. Some of these inconsistencies could be easily explained, but in this economy, companies probably won’t take the time to hear you out. And, it’s not just companies that don’t have time, it’s customers of your corporate brand. When I’m shopping for a product or service, I want your marketing jargon to match up with customer reviews and my own personal experience. Every piece of your personal and corporate message should fit together, and inconsistent online evidence will hurt you in the long-run.

    Compatibility. The article mentions that safe profiles make you pretty boring, and companies want to know that you’ll fit in with the culture around the office. If all your status updates show that you simply go to work, simply come home, and simply go to bed, you sound like a drag. Sure, you don’t need to be posting about raging parties every night, but show some personality! Do you kick butt at the gym every Friday night? Do you love taking pictures and scrapbooking them? These characteristics might be crucial in your ability to fit in with your future co-workers. This definitely does not stop at your personal brand! The movement toward green products and ethical sourcing is growing rapidly, and many companies are trying to differentiate themselves to customers with CSR programs. It’s not enough to just put the cliche “made from 50% recycled products” in tiny print on a label, you have to show that you really care about this movement! Are you trying to get in with the artists, the cool kids, the business people, or the sports addicts? You need to show that you understand your demographic, and that your products or services are compatible with their lifestyles, values, and needs.

    Control the conversation. I’ve said it before, but I truly believe that the conversation is going to happen. Do you want to have a voice in the conversation, or do you want to let others talk about you behind your back? My name is fairly unique, so most of the content you find when you Bing me is most likely created by me. I did this on purpose! I don’t have enemies or competitors trying to ruin my personal brand, but many people and corporations do. Do you really want your competitors making the only comments in the conversation? Get involved, talk about your awesome product (for your personal brand, your product is YOU!), contribute to the online information about your services, and exert some control over your web presence. You can stay silent, but the internet will keep talking.

    I thought this article had an interesting perspective on the advice about your social media presence. They’re talking about you… but are YOU talking about you?

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