Perhaps you have noticed lately that I changed my Ning Creators profile name to Nor Cal Social Media. For several months I ran around as A Social Media Ninja. Before that I was using the more conventional self-naming practice in Anthony Reardon. One of the main reasons I went away from using my name is…because I could. It’s easy to overlook, but it can be a lot harder to present yourself any other way than your actual identity on many social platforms.
Recently I wrote about transparency, and how important it is to relate to people as a person. The temptation a lot of people have is to hide behind a brand name, give the appearance of the formal sophistication of a company, and try to leverage the traditional “We sell/ You buy” business model consumers are accustomed to. I wrote that is problematic in social media, but there’s also a fine balance. There are ways you can get a brand name out there and still be authentic as the person behind it. Just because traditional models are quickly becoming outdated in the emerging online environment doesn’t mean there are not merits to many of those conventions. There are exceptions to every rule, so if you have a thorough understanding of the dynamics you can find that perfect balance that works for you.
I spent many years developing an online brand that represented “me”. It still has a place in my work and a presence in my online social media, but on my own network I now present myself by name. Doing so serves my purposes for how I want to relate to people through my site. However, across different platforms, you may find that I take liberty to operate under a brand name. It mainly depends on how you want to relate to people.
Here on Ning Creators I’ve made the Best of the Week under a few different aliases. I imagine I could be giving somebody fits, lol! It can certainly work against me. In some ways, you need to remember the importance of building a brand or reputation over time. Being consistent is one of the best ways to accomplish that. Also, the one thing that’s surely not going to change about you is who you are. So with that in mind, we’re kind of compelled to just go by name and keep it that way, right?
The problem I have with that is it can just get a bit too boring! Really, I like changing things up once in a while. It’s easier to do that if you work with branding than your name. I also consider just what my profile name does to present who I am and what I do in some way that are meaningful to the people I meet in various contexts. By name you will not have any idea. Nor Cal Social Media is actually quite descriptive of my project- an improvement I decided to make despite some affinity with previous versions. I want to do just a bit better. That’s me, constantly evolving and pushing the envelope.
Finally, there’s something to be said about having the flexibility to do this. Just as you can be locked into who you are, a lot of companies are vested in their brands. The question might be begged then just how serious I am about the brand signatures. Is it implying all that formality, or perhaps is it just me having some fun? One of the best business people I ever met used to walk around in a shirt he made that said “Who is (his name)?”. There’s a perfect example of branding by name, and then driving that brand. He could have had a shirt that said “I am (his name)” or even gone with “(His name) is the best at (what he does)”. Why put it as a question? In fact, it got really funny when he started selling a lot of these shirts due to his success and reputation in the community. Next thing you know, a lot more people are starting to wonder, “Who IS (his name)?!”- it drew the focus in to him, which is precisely why he was so good at what he did.
I’m kind of interested if any of you put this kind of thought into how you brand yourself. What’s your position- do you prefer to go by name or by brand or some other creative approach? Do you stick to it for some good reason, or are you stuck to it? What do you do to spice up your brand life?
Perhaps changing my profile name once in a while gets you to wonder “Who is this guy?”. If you want to know who is Nor Cal Social Media, the answer is quite simple… it’s just me, Anthony ;)
Interested in learning more about my thinking on branding in social media, how I'm applying it to my network, and perhaps how it can relate to what you are doing with your Ning site? I just posted a discussion to expand upon this article on my Ning Creators group A Social Media Dojo- Check out Branding Yourself As A Social Media Personality.
Very good advice and I connect with this. That's why my name says CeddyJDusk on a lot of stuff because my nickname is Ceddy J and Dusk is part of my brand After Dusk Media. Anytime people see Dusk in something some relate it to me.
Right on Ceddy J. Thanks for sharing that. It sounds like a cool way of combo-branding name and company. I find the same principle works with my e-mail; I've got my name followed by @ my custom domain. Sometimes I give people one or the other, change it up to create a little paradoxical transposition, and then the reiterative effect of the combo-brand in my e-mail. Nice work!