Monday, December 15, 2008

When I become the brand

Today I'm going to branch out a little and talk to you about social media marketing (SMM). As most or many of you may know, I work in this field. But most of you have no idea what it means.
Social media encompasses the online tools that encourage communication and interaction. For instance, Facebook- it encourages communication, networking, and interaction. Because social media cannot be explained without the word networking, you will also hear it called Social Network Marketing, but not as frequently. Personally though, I think SNM describes what I do better than SMM. And yet, we're going to keep calling it SMM.
Other SMM tools include Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, and any website that uses discussion boards (LDSLinkup, Cafe Mom, for instance). And blogging is a huge SMM tool.
My job(s) for the past year have all been SMM oriented. I represent brands or companies and use social networking websites to communicate the message the brand wants to share. Usually my goal is to get the message across, make you aware of the brand/company, and get you to their website.
Over the last few months something interesting has happened. I have become a brand of sorts. My online screenname "erinannie" has a following across different platforms (blogs, various networking sites, Twitter, and other). This happened without me really intending for it to! My blog readership skyrocketed as my Twitter following grew. And now Twitter is the #1 referring site to my blog.
Now, some people would argue that I should be more careful what I say online, as in theory, what I say reflects on my employer(s). But I'm going to go out on a limb here and argue the opposite. My name, "erinannie," has brand equity in it now. People know that when they see that name they are going to read about my personal life, and not about my professional life. What I choose to say about me and my personal life is not meant to reflect on my employer(s). Many will argue this point with me and say I should be more careful and watch what I say online, or risk my job. And this does have some weight. But I disagree.
The name 'erinannie" has brand equity and represents a single girl, her ups and downs in life, and her blunt honesty about what she really feels. This name is in no way, shape, or form, meant to ever represent another brand. It represents me and me only.
The day is coming where what I am arguing won't be the unexpected argument, but instead will be the norm. If you choose to brand who you are, and keep that entity separate from your professional identity, you should be protected. That is my argument. Currently, I'm in the minority for believing that. But I do think within the next two years this will be the norm, and more advanced way of thinking.
Many will argue with me and they have that right. But do keep in mind that I work in SMM, and that is a very very different world from other industries. In SMM if we don't use these tools for personal gain, we're not doing our jobs. Our personal and professional come very close to colliding frequently. Or at the least, we have to use one personality to help the other if we really want to do our best.
There's more to say on this subject, but I'm running late. So I'm leaving this post a little rough and open ended. I'll be back to finish it up later.

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