The Pitfalls of Personal Branding
A personal brand has become fundamental to achieving career success.
Social media is littered with seemingly very intimate narratives about life choices. Emotionally inspiring anecdotes punctuate marketing initiatives. Professionally crafted photos embellish our profiles. We’re told to digitally announce our successes. All of this to construct and maintain a very specific impression of our worth to others.
With companies frequently using social media to vet applicants, it has become increasingly important to both commodify yourself, and personalize your business. In many ways, this type of marketing is not very different from traditional forms.
This can create several concerns for businesses and individuals.
1. Personal branding can be dehumanizing
First, there is the issue of becoming more of a brand than a person. For introverts or private people, this is particularly problematic.
In an article from BBC Worklife, the author writes that “traditional branding paints a picture of products that are flawless and consistent… humans don’t work that way.” Without diving into the philosophical puzzle that comes from looking at humans as resources rather than people, it’s safe to say that self promotion can be exhausting, restrictive and dehumanizing.
2. Being too personal in your marketing can read as false or insincere
Second, there is the issue of authenticity. For example, when a company judges a candidate solely on their online presence, are they really getting the whole picture? Effective employees may be passed over simply because they didn’t project a specific image – or any image — online. Alternatively, poor employees or companies may be hired simply because their online presence is so heavily curated that it doesn’t reflect reality. When asked about the concept of personal branding, Sheryl Sandberg remarked, “When we are packaged, we’re ineffective and inauthentic.”
3. With a personal brand, there is a risk of attracting negativity
Finally, when businesses decide to get personal in their social presence, there is a very real risk of negative publicity. It’s important for companies to show the humanity behind the product. However, it’s equally important to promote genuine skills and keep dysfunction and personal drama off the internet. Oversharing is a real hazard of online marketing.
When you’re honest about what you do and who you are — both with yourself and the public — it’s not that hard to avoid these pitfalls.
Want to learn how we can help you navigate the labyrinth that is digital marketing and personal branding? Get in touch!
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