Social Network Personal Branding

Personal Branding Tip: Don’t Create Multiple Social Network Personas

If you focus on your personal branding, you need to grow it around your name and face, not your job, company, or latest venture. While you may think you need to grow your business by promoting your business, you also need to remember that social media is all about relationship marketing.

We know a guy here in Austin who has several different ventures, all revolving around the same type of activity/event. But since he’s trying to reach different audiences, he has different brands for each activity. And if you’re a small business owner, an employee, or even someone looking for a job, people will buy from people they like. Not brands, not companies, not products they like. They’re going to buy from the people.

For example, if he had a car repair service (he doesn’t; we just want to protect his identity), he would have a car repair service for:

  • Seniors: Anyone 55 and older who needs their car repaired.
  • Singles: Anyone who is unmarried and needs their car repaired.
  • New Parents: Anyone with children under 2 needs their vehicle repaired.
  • Newly Marrieds: Anyone who got married in the last 12 months needs their car repaired.

(You get the idea.)

So this guy has created a different brand for each target market he wants to reach. Seniors Car Repair, Singles Car Repair, New Parents Car Repair, Newly Married Car Repair. That’s fine. It’s a great strategy if you’re trying to game the Yellow Pages system or create a microsite for each domain name (like SeniorsCarRepair.com).

But here’s the problem. Our serial entrepreneur then joins the different social networks as each brand. We know it’s him because he uses his real name, so it’s not like he’s being dishonest. But the problem is he then friends everyone he can (and he has built up a HUGE email database that he imports into each new identity) as each brand.

This means if you know this guy, he friends you as SeniorsCarRepair, SinglesCarRepair, etc., on Twitter, on Facebook, on LinkedIn, on any Ning network you belong to, and on and on, and OH MY GOD! And now that everyone is aware of his practice, the only time I hear his name mentioned is regarding this practice, not the businesses he runs. I haven’t heard of people hiring him, only of people avoiding him.

He’s not a bad guy; he’s not trying to trick anyone. It’s just that he’s not letting his brand do the work; he’s letting the service offering carry the load. He doesn’t seem to understand that people would rather have a relationship with him, not with the four different company names he uses.

If you had four phone numbers for one person, would you call her on different ones at random until you got her, or would you choose one phone number and use that one all the time?

If he had it to do all over again (and it’s never too late), he should create one more identity: his own. Then he should rejoin the networks, group his contacts or friends (i.e., Twitter lists, Facebook business pages), and communicate with them by sub-group. He can communicate with seniors about their car repairs, with singles about their car repairs, etc.

He should work on getting known for his name, rather than the guy who friends everyone 4 times on every network he joins. For one thing, people won’t ignore him online. For another, they’ll get to know him better and can learn about his different ventures. For a third, he can still personally network with different groups and tailor his niche and sales pitch to that particular group or person he’s talking to.

For example, if he’s talking to a group of seniors, he can tell them about his Seniors Car Repair. If he’s talking to a group of new parents, he can tell them about his New Parents’ Car Repair. He can still visit New Parents networking groups but won’t pester the group members with his other car repair services.

If you have multiple brands or offerings, don’t flood people’s social media streams with every brand or niche you’re trying to fill. Let people get to know you and choose which brand/offering is right for them. People are smart; they’ll figure it out for themselves.

Because if you bombard them with everything you do, you’re just going to frighten or piss them off, and they’re not going to call you for anything.

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