Things I Learned at Brand Camp 2008
By: Mark Winter
Last week, I posted that I would be attending Brand Camp 2008, a Web 2.0-based personal branding conference at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, Michigan. Aside from my excitement over attending an event that was going to cover two subjects I always love hearing more about, branding and social media, I was pumped to participate in my first “live tweet” (microblogging the event live) and first official “tweetup” (Twitter face-to-face meet-up) after all the sessions were completed.
Since social media has become such a game-changer in how we position our personal and professional brands—offering new ways for us to connect with others, discuss people/companies/services and share content—it has become apparent that possessing at least a general understanding of how to make it work for you, your company or your client has become a valued and almost necessary skill set, especially in the PR world. Smart PR agencies commit to introducing every member of their account team to the basics of social media, supporting and empowering their in-house expert(s) to lead the charge. There isn’t an agency out there that would “be ok” with losing business if a client was interested in going social and they didn’t have the answers to basic questions.
While the majority of the topics discussed were directed toward those who are Internet-savvy or at least had a general understanding of social media, there were a few branding best practices and “words of wisdom” mentioned that could be applied without utilizing a computer.
Bullet point versions of what I felt were the most important and compelling topics covered by each speaker are available after the jump. I hope a few of the points resonate with you like they did with me. Now, I have to get back to shopping for brandonchesnutt.com.
Side note: due to our live tweeting efforts, Brand Camp made a huge splash in the microblogging community, appearing at one point as one of the top ten trending topics on Twitter (see search tag #bcu08). With over 2.2 million registered users, people from around the world were able to view our notes and opinions in real time, as well as ask questions that we could forward on to our featured speakers while they were still on the podium. (I’d like to recognize our tweeting team – @BeverlyCornell, @Nervus, @Primesuspect, @HajjFlemings and @BrandCamp – for doing such an awesome job.)
Hajj Flemings, author of the Brand Yu Life, on “Developing Your Personal Brand 2.0 – YU.0″
- The idea of a “personal brand” has undergone a period of explosive evolution. Just look at how we view the candidates in this latest election. Politics aside, John McCain and Barack Obama have both become a “brand.” Additionally, with the technology available, we can follow their every move, read everything they say and share it with everyone we know.
- Identify the value of your online social networks – Find out who are you connecting with, both personally and professionally, and learn to leverage those relationships.
- Evaluate your network associations – If you’re the smartest person in your network, how can you learn anything? Branch out and join new social/professional networks in areas where you are not an expert. Learn something new.
- Consistency is important in your personal brand – Are your Facebook/Myspace/LinkedIn/Twitter/blog profile photos reflective of who you really are?
- Learn how to manage your online brand – If a member of the media, friend or potential client/employer/employee Googles your name, what will they find? Do you even know what you would find? Go to Google, type in your name and hit “I’m feeling lucky” under the search bar. (People in the office laugh at me because I do this)
- Hajj also introduced his Brand 2.0 business card as a tool for drawing people to connect with him online – one side features his photo and basic contact info, the other features Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter links, as well as a Personal Brand Tag Cloud. This was a very cool concept.
Scott Monty, head of social media for Ford Motor Company, on “Using Social Media in your Career: Tips for Success”
- “If you’re using social media effectively, opportunities will find you.” – Scott is actually a great case study on how leveraging social media can help you find your dream career. He landed at Ford because of his involvement with social networks and social media. How cool is that?
- “Co-oppertition” – Social media has become a game changer in the professional world. Now, it’s all about being in a position to share the knowledge… even with your competition. Check out Scott’s blog post on the mutually beneficial relationship he has fostered with his counterpart at GM.
- “In the old world, what happened in Vegas, stayed in Vegas. In the new world, what happens in Vegas, stays on Google” – The old barriers are gone now because of technology and the Web. Your life is pretty much exposed now because we all communicate and document information online. It used to be that we all wanted our “15 minutes of fame.” Eventually, we will all just want 15 minutes of privacy.
- “80% of employers now are Googling their potential employees. More importantly, they are seeking candidates who engage online.” Brand control, especially for future young professionals, is more crucial than ever. Participating and joining discussions online is the only way to get out there!
- When it comes to your personal brand, the least you can do is buy your own domain name – yourname.com. Why leave it out there for someone else? By buying that domain, you own it forever and control it. Scott actually bought his sons’ domain names when they were born. Cool gift.
- “Blogging gives you an opportunity to share your view of the world. It gives people a place to come and comment on your thoughts.”
- “Stake your claim on social networks. Keep it consistent with the user names.” If I’m bchesnutt on Twitter, and SexyMan84 somewhere else, how will people make the connection between the two?
- Since there are so many social networks out there, social network aggregators are a great service to combine all of the different Web 2.0 services you use. FriendFeed is a great example.
- “Whatever networks you are on, make sure you fill out your profile completely with pictures/links etc.”
- Set standards on who you become friends with on social networks. Make sure having them in your circle adds value to that particular network.
- Twitter is a fantastic way to microbrand you or your company’s message and communicate it in real time.
- There is nothing wrong with a little self-promotion online, just don’t go over the top.
- Finally, there is a reason it is called “social media.” Take the relationships offline.
Marcie Brogan, CEO of Brogan & Partners, on “The Business Pitfalls of a Personal Brand”
- Sometimes, you need to tailor your brand to attract the types of prospects you’re seeking. Being a rebel won’t always attract a Fortune 500 Company.
- While social media is great, it is also important to be visible. Attend, create, and chair events that your prospects might attend. Put yourself out there.
- Be sure to join boards/clubs where your prospects are located as a complement to connecting online (The Mark Winter Philosophy!).
- Your brand reputation/character is the most important thing you have in a business. Make sure it reflects the character you want.
- On brand control: Be careful when responding to items that can speak negatively about your business or brand. Also, be sure to comment on items you’re passionate about. Don’t just sit there, be vocal when it counts!
- Your past brands, good or bad, can follow you in this day and age. Act accordingly.
Pete Thomas, from the 2005 season of NBC’s “The Biggest Loser,” on “Branding the Whole YU – Health and Wellness for Winners”
- Detroit native Pete Thomas lost 185 pounds and 51% of his body fat, or about one Tom Cruise.
- Unfortunately, people often judge the inside by what they see on the outside, which can influence how your brand is perceived.
- When you take the online relationships offline, people will see you in a whole new light. Your body is a physical representation of your personal brand.
- “Master your mind” – Winners set SMART goals. Specific, measurable, aggressive, realistic, and time-sensitive. Measurable goals are a key element to crafting both a successful personal and professional brand.
- “Winners gather around other winners. Surround yourself with the types of people you wish to be around.” This goes both personally and professionally.
- You can check out a cool and inspirational excerpt from one of Pete’s speeches on YouTube.
Charlie Wollborg, Chief Troublemaker/Founding Partner of Curve Detroit, and Terry Bean, Founder of Networked Inc. and Motor City Connect, on “PBO is the new SEO – Using Personal Brand Optimization to transform you life’s mission and achieve new levels of success”
- “Why build a brand?” You pretty much need one to get a job and make money. If you’re not a brand, you’re a commodity.
- It used to be, “what you know” was important. Then it became “who you know”. In today’s world, it is now “how you are known.”
- “Urgency is the enemy of greatness. Try scheduling a meeting with yourself sometime. Give yourself a moment. Focus.”
- “Repetition breeds reputation when it comes to branding.” (A familiar Identity saying….)
- Your “network” is directly proportional to your “net worth.”
- “Your network goes beyond Facebook and LinkedIn. Your coworkers, friends and family are part of your network. They should be promoting you.”
- SEO used to be the end all, be all. Now it is personal brand optimization.
- Treat your brand like McDonald’s, Apple and Nike do. They protect their brand with everything they have.
- Email signatures and business cards are under-utilized branding tools. There are ways to customize them to help spark conversations about your brand. Make them work for you.
- Your elevator pitch should be a specific “ask.” You should be looking for your ideal client or someone who knows your ideal client.
- In the Web 2.0 world, there shouldn’t be a line between the personal brand and the business brand. Who you are in real life is now as important as who you are within your company. You should be one entity, not two.
- Jargon and gobbledygook need to be taken out of communication. Speak at the level of the people. (I preach this often!)
- Don’t use dead words – quality, service, solutions, difference – to describe your brand. You cannot defend them.
- When describing your business to a new prospect – “don’t educate” them on what you do…. “titillate” them by discussing the basics, leaving them wanting to hear more.
- “Every hero needs a sidekick.” You should identify a protege who you can help lift up by sharing your knowledge and expertise. Additionally, you should have mentor in place who can help lift YOU up.
- Finally – “be a force for good.” You don’t get anything beneficial out of being a jerk.
I also have to congratulate Hajj Flemings, our host, for putting on an amazing and informative event. Every so often, we as professionals are given the opportunity to work on projects that involve subjects we are extremely passionate about. I have to give Hajj credit envisioning this “project,” inserting his passion about the subject of the “personal brand” and seeing the event all the way to fruition. (Bloggy disclosure – I had actually met Hajj prior to Brand Camp, since we are both members of Fusion Detroit, but had no idea his work was so heavily involved with social media and branding until this event was announced.)