Something that is starting to concern me greatly is professionals blindly endorsing the brand they are working for and not understanding the implications on themselves when they do. Equally concerning is brands thinking this is good for them. It’s not.

My concern started with this article in Entrepreneur Magazine – Are You Team-Player Enough to Let the Company Post to Your Facebook Page? – and then more recently, looking at the social distribution tools of a few very large companies. When looking at these tools, I saw sites choc-o-bloc full of product and marketing content. Even more concerning is employees being rewarded for it. I’ll get to that in a bit.

But first, your online personal brand is the most important tool you have supporting your career today. While many may still be working in industries that do not value your brand right now, it will change and it will change very quickly. This is the hottest topic of the moment.

So what is your personal brand?

It’s you. It’s what you stand for. It’s what you believe in. It’s how you think. It’s how you act. It is you packaged up and presented to the world online. It’s critical today, and truly innovative businesses embrace and prioritize the employee brand above the company brand.

Your personal brand should be very focused on what you want to be known for. It needs to be clear and if you ask your community what you stand for, they should be able to tell you what you represent. If they are unclear, you haven’t got it right.

When I run my personal branding training with clients, the first thing I ask them to do is define their WHY for being on social media. The whys can be extensive. A few potentials:

  • A respected thought leader
  • Seen as visionary
  • Better connected to customers
  • A media influencer
  • To be part of a global discussion
  • To be aligned to other leaders in my field
  • I want a different future
  • To chase aspirations or career opportunities – inside or outside of an existing employer
  • I want to be known for a passion

Once you understand and are clear on your why – which gives you the drive to be on social media consistently in the first place – you need to define what you want to be known for. Look inside and ask yourself:

  • Who am I professionally?
  • What do I want to be known for?
  • What makes me stand out in a crowd?
  • When I light people up, what is it I am talking about?
  • What is my specific area of expertise? Am I unique in this?
  • What are my core values?

This is not just a brain exercise, it’s also a heart exercise. When you’re representing yourself on social media, you must connect to the whole, authentic person – which is why heart is important, because your values must shine through. That is how you stand out. If you are truly connected to your core, people believe you.

So you have your why and what you want to be known for, your next job is to only share content that is aligned to YOUR brand.

And that is why I don’t want any company pushing out content in my name – that’s my job

My personal brand is too important to allow that. I own my online professional presence and I carefully manage it every day. I dedicate a lot of time to it, because I believe it’s absolutely critical for my future and how people perceive me in the world- personally and professionally.

I also know it’s critical for yours.

So this is the crossroads we are at right now. Businesses are starting to appreciate that the most important asset they have are their employees, because people trust people, not brands. But businesses must absolutely honor their employee brands too. That’s the missing piece right now.

Rewarding employees for sharing marketing content (I’m talking pure salesy content with no end-user benefit) on their social channels is not respecting the employee’s personal brand. Occasionally, no problem, but all the time? No no no!

There are many ways I could say this, but I’m in polite company, so I’ll put it this way: you are turning your employees into complete annoyances in their online communities and you are rewarding people who are not thinking. No one in their right mind would do this! No one who is truly influential and values their personal brand would ever say yes to this. They know what it means and how important their brand is.

As a result, the strategy is completely backfiring for both the brand and the individual.

I’ll give you a scenario. To become a top ranked ‘sharer’ by a company rewarding employees, you can only reach it if you share content on every single social media channel you have – LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram and more. We’ve all got these friends in our communities and they are one thing – ANNOYING! If people do this on my channels and persist, they are deleted or hidden. Only haters get less tolerance.

I work hard to deliver value – in both the content I create and the content I share. I never EVER want to annoy my community – on any of my social platforms – and while I’ve made mistakes over the years (and learnt), my biggest focus is on delivering value to my community, and being known for what I am truly passionate about. If you’ve read this far and followed me for a while, hopefully you know what that is 🙂 If not, I’ve still got work to do.

But your personal brand is always a work in progress! It should change and evolve as you do.

So please, businesses, stop feeding your employees marketing content to share on their social channels and PLEASE stop rewarding people who blindly share it. It’s appalling and it’s just adding to the content deluge.

Feed your employees with high value thought leadership content that enables them to shine, and by default, enables your brand to shine. Also remember the content doesn’t have to be about you. Focus on creating a wonderful ecosystem of information that is going to empower your target audience (customers, employees, partners, community, etc…) to flourish – as people and as businesses.

That’s what this time is about now.

Finally, if your employees don’t understand this yet, help them value their personal brand. Help them understand they need to define a specific focus area and represent themselves in the best way possible to their world. If they don’t value their own personal brands, they are not going to be the ambassadors you want them to be, and that’s not good for your business. If they don’t value their personal brands, their career prospects will (and should) start diminishing from this moment forward.

If you’re representing a brand doing this, stop and think. If you’re an individual sharing your company content, stop and think.

I’d love your feedback? Also which brands are doing a great job? Who could improve? Would love to know what you think.

About Andrea Edwards

Andrea is a globally award winning B2B communications professional with more than 20 years’ experience around the globe, including 12 years exclusively in Asia Pacific.

In her current role, heading up content marketing and training at Novus Asia, Andrea relishes sharing her passion for content marketing and its’ ability to fundamentally transform how businesses market and sell to their customers. However, for content to succeed it needs a channel to market, and Andrea is equally passionate about training and inspiring businesses to harness the power of social media, with world-class content at the heart of your strategy.

Originally from Australia, Andrea is an early-adopter of social media and blogging, authoring five very different blogs today, with a powerhouse social presence across multiple social platforms. Andrea’s goal is to motivate, coach and mentor professionals and businesses on social media, personal branding, social selling, communication strategies, content marketing, and she is a world-class business writer and story teller.


 

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