Time for some honesty here: I have sinned.
As my boss Gary Vaynerchuk says, everyone is a media company. I’ve learned so much from working on his personal brands and those of others. It generally feels pretty obvious to me what works, what doesn’t, and what others should be doing to grow their audiences.
I haven’t been taking my own advice, so now it’s time for some public shaming on the matter.
In my mind, there are two huge sins in personal branding: 1. being inauthentic and 2. being a generalist.
My problem is number two. I’ve been too much of a jack of all trades and not enough of a master of one. In the real world, having a wide range of skills has served me well. However, when it comes to my public facing “social media” image, I think it hurts more than it helps.
The people whose brands are the strongest are those who have a real focus, a niche. These people are “specialists” in whatever their brand may focus on, whether it’s fashion, makeup, sports, art, travel, business, gaming… the list goes on. I have personal brand ADD.
It’s not until after you’ve built up your audience and are an “expert” in your respective field that you can then branch out to related (or unrelated) fields in a strategic way.
You don’t turn on ESPN hoping to catch the latest Real Housewives episode, so why would social media behavior be any different. People are reading certain blogs, watching specific YouTube channels, and following Snapchat & Instagram influencers for those particular genres.
So what am I supposed to do? I need to make some decisions.
I’ve joked before about how my social media bios seem to include everything under the sun because I don’t want to pigeonhole myself. I can (sometimes) admit when I’m wrong and this has been the wrong approach as far as crafting a personal brand is concerned. No one is one dimensional so I need to be about one thing before I can be about everything.