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Personal Branding vs. Company Branding via Social Media: Is There a Difference?

I used to think there was absolutely a difference between building your personal brand through social media channels and building a company brand through those same channels, but now I’m not so sure.

The question I continue to ask myself is: Why do they even have to be different?

Anyone who works on building their personal brand via social media and has also worked on building a company’s brand would probably tell you that the former is easier. But why?

This is where we get to the crux of the problem. Many brands attempt to “be social” simply by being present on social media channels. Most of them still rely too heavily on broadcasting and pushing out a message that benefits the brand more than its audience. Yes, some brands are successful at engaging their fans or followers, but still that can only take them so far—you still want to continue to grow the brand’s presence, right?

But why not put the brand into the personal context?

Think about it: what makes you follow or friend someone online? Why do you watch YouTube videos? How can a blogger get you to read through everything they write?

You follow, friend, or read blogs of those who provide something interesting and relevant to you. People who, in some way, are similar to you. Maybe it’s someone who teaches you how to do things you didn’t know how to before, or who shares useful information that you wouldn’t have otherwise learned. Perhaps it’s just someone that makes you laugh every day.

As for YouTube videos, well, humor (note: video contains foul language; click at your own risk) is a big part. But it’s not the only part. It’s really more of an entertainment factor. It might be funny, it might just be a music video, or it might be your friends providing commentary on people-watching in your city.

The point is that we connect based on personality. It’s the human traits that we gravitate toward. There’s a reason it’s called SOCIAL media.

So if those are the channels that you’re using to build a brand, then why not humanize your brand?

All of the best practices of what you should do to build your brand using social media are great, but not if you don’t do them with a personality. I could read an article that tells me to tweet a set amount of times in a day, write blog posts with video, share only X amount on Facebook, link here, like that, blah, blah….but the point is I would still do it as me, with my own personality.

The same should apply to brands.

Assuming you’ve set your goals of what you want to achieve, your next step is to simply ask:

  • Who is [insert brand name here]?
  • Who is [brand name] friends with?
  • Where does [brand name] and its friends live? Spend time?
  • What is [brand name] and its friends passionate about?
  • Where does [brand name] get its news? What type of stories does it read? Who writes them?

Congratulations. You’ve just built a persona. All of this should drive the way you interact via social media.

The next step: think about how a person communicates and model a brand’s communication after that. Tim Reeve wrote a MarketingProfs article with excellent tips on this. My favorite part is that he provides a ratio of 70% interaction and 30% pitch. I’d even take that a step further to say it’s 30% broadcasting, 1/3 of which should be solely about your brand and the other 2/3 about your industry.

But the ratio is ultimately up to you. Once it has been determined, the creative tactics for playing it out are also up to you.

Whether your best route is making a hilarious video in which Kenny Powers becomes the CEO of K-Swiss, or simply crowdsourcing ideas based on your brand’s persona, you have to bring your brand to a human level where people can relate. Otherwise they won’t.

What have you done to build your brand’s persona and get people to relate? I’m curious to hear what has worked for you.